Blade & Bastard: Warm Ash, Dusky Dungeon Novel Review

Blade & Bastard: Heat Ash, Dusky Dungeon Novel Evaluate

As much as I like Goblin Slayer author Kumo Kagyu’s work on Blade & Bastard, I’m having trouble thinking of any light novelist who might be a better fit for writing an adaptation or spin-off of the successful role-playing game series Wizardry. This take on the well-known series works well with Kagyu’s dark RPG-inspired fantasy, which expertly mixes classic names (like Lygamyn) with more current tropes borrowed from a plethora of other game-based/inspired light novels. The plot is gloomy without being cringeworthy, and although aficionados of the Wizardry series will find some Easter eggs, even those who haven’t played the original games will have little trouble following along.

The protagonist, Iarumas, is a mystery swordsman who has lost all memory of his life. This is a major concern since his body was discovered in an area of the dungeon that has not yet been examined. How did he get to that spot? When did he leave? The narration informs us that the dungeon happens every few hundred years, which means that Iarumas was probably dead for centuries—and that if he can recover his memories, he’ll know more about the dungeon than anyone alive today—even though most of the book’s characters don’t know this. However, he is something of an outcast among the adventurers due to his lack of that expertise and his unconventional combat style, which involves the use of a katana and magic. Even if everyone knows who he is, Iarumas may not consider more than a few of individuals to be friends—if that.

So, when he ends up having a couple of kids as a vestigial party, it surprises everyone—including Iarumas. Swordswoman Garbage, who seems speechless and can only bark like a dog, was a slave until she was de facto emancipated due to mysterious and unanticipated events. They nearly unwittingly become members of Iarumas’ gang, and Raraja is the only one who manages to escape his exploitative party. It seems that in both situations they start following Iarumas and he takes care of them without thinking, which might be a clue to his history. Since Raraja lost a companion whose corpse was left behind by their party when she died, he may find some solace in the fact that his stated work of carrying the bodies of dead adventurers to the surface for revival remains unaffected by their contribution to his life.

Everyone has a certain class, and terms like “levels” and the like are prevalent, much as in Goblin Slayer and other light novels influenced by role-playing games. The use of “focus” (a gamer phrase) is typically encapsulated in parentheses after a more commonplace term, for example, “focus (HP).” To some extent, it is both startling and bothersome. Although many readers are tired of the oversaturation of the genre, it helps convey the concept and seems a little more natural than if it just employed gaming language. Each party venturing inside the dungeon should have a minimum of six individuals; any fewer than that and the dungeon will suffocate them for reasons nobody can fathom. A thief, a tank, and a swordsman/magician make up Iarumas’ team; the absence of a priest is often seen as a significant threat. Though I did use the term “tank” here, it is important to note that the book does not use it to describe frontline warriors like Garbage.

Although it has many redeeming qualities, it does have its share of dreadful moments. The writing of the nun Ainikki verges on being irritating due to her possessive and domineering characteristics. Additionally, the fact that “Iarumas” is just “Samurai” spelled backward (along with another character whose name is “Mage Five” spelled backward) is a little corny. The combination of strong action sequences and quiet character moments, along with the strong statement that slavery is inherently bad, and the fact that neither Iarumas nor Raraja ever see Garbage as a possession but a person, more than make up for the book’s flaws.

I think Blade & Bastard was the kind of narrative that belonged in a hardback. You are not need to have played the original game in order to enjoy it, much like the golden age of the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books. Get this if you’re a lover of swords and sorcery in fantasy; it’s reminiscent of the genre’s golden age in the greatest possible sense.

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