Fantasy series are full of royalty, and those characters are often noble, incompetent, evil, or ambitious. But how about a genius prince who is plain lazy? That’s the protagonist of The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?). Read on for the review of Volume 3. (For my review of Volume 1, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
After narrowly dodging a marriage proposal, Prince Wein is accosted by a messenger from the Kingdom of Cavarin, which can only mean bad news…and unfortunately, he’s absolutely right! The messenger cordially invites him to the Festival of the Spirit to celebrate the biggest religion in the western side of the continent: the Teachings of Levetia. Oh, and this event just happens to coincide with a gathering for the most influential group in the West, which is also in Cavarin. Either way, it’s not an invitation Wein can turn down easily, even though he knows he’s just begging for more trouble!
The third volume is a continuation of troublesome Western affairs that began in Volume 1. To recap, the truly despicable King of Marden ordered an invasion of Natra, and Marden wound up losing its gold mine to Natra and its remaining territory to their southern neighbor.
That southern neighbor (which was “Kavalinu” in Volume 1 and is now spelled “Cavarin” in Volume 3) gets things rolling by sending Wein an invitation to the Festival of the Spirit, a religious celebration in their capital. And this year’s festival also happens to coincide with the gathering of the Holy Elites, the top leaders of Levetia, the West’s most influential religion. Wein has no choice but to go, and unfortunately, the route to the Cavarin capital passes through an area where remnants of the Marden Army are struggling to take their territory back.
Quite a few old characters from the Marden conflict return to the story–and some with surprising jobs. But a new country coming onto the scene means new players, backstories, and agendas. While Falanya’s lessons are a blatant information dumping device, they do the trick of quickly laying out key bits of history and introducing Levetia. For the Western nations, there’s definitely no separation between religion and state. Rather the two are deeply intertwined, and much of the first half of the book is Wein trying to figure out the motivations of the Holy Elites and how he can best use them to Natra’s advantage. Toba-sensei keeps things interesting with the varied outlooks of these powerful individuals, but despite their “Holy” title, the group is sadly a corrupt bunch who twists religious texts to further selfish gains.
In addition to navigating that particular political landscape, Wein also winds up unexpectedly indebted to the Liberation Front, the remnants of the Marden Army led by a royal who survived the Cavarin invasion. As such, he agrees to sneak the Marden diplomat Zeno into the Cavarin capital by passing her as part of his retinue. Zeno is interesting and so are her interactions with Wein. However, Zeno’s perspective that the reestablishment of the Marden royal family is a righteous cause feels odd given that the last king was a terrible, incompetent ruler who abused his people, especially those at the gold mine. It’s even odder no one in the Natra contingent calls her out on it, considering MARDEN was the aggressor against Natra just a year ago. Anyway, if you can overlook this odd lack of bitterness between former enemies, all the twists and turns of these elements of international politics, religion, and military are pretty engaging.
The biggest surprise is Wein’s ultimate decision regarding King Ordalasse, the guy who invited him to Cavarin in the first place. I actually stopped to make sure I hadn’t misread the text because I was so stunned by what Wein does. It’s certainly not what you’d expect from a guy who wants to slack off his entire life. However, the treatment of a certain white-haired aide is a significant factor in this scene, and the series has already demonstrated how Wein is when it comes to Ninym. So while Wein’s response is shocking, it is also definitely in character.
The volume closes with a chase and military clashes. Some of the action scenes are difficult to follow, and the tone by which Hagal’s execution is announced immediately made me doubt its veracity. Overall, though, there’s plenty of excitement, close calls, and upsets to keep you eagerly turning the pages till the end.
Extras include the first eight pages printed in color, ten black-and-white illustrations, and afterword. The artwork, by the way, is heavy on the fan service, which, in my opinion, is completely unnecessary.
Wein sets out to Cavarin, the kingdom that conquered the country of Marden. What begins as a trip to establish diplomatic ties with Natra’s new neighbor turns into a bizarre encounter with the most powerful leaders in the West. Toba-sensei does an excellent job of throwing Wein into tactical and strategic quandaries, large and small, that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
First published at the Fandom Post.