Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Violet Knight
After having been saved from imminent execution by Vivi, Yuki sets out to try to reunite with Luca. The only problem is that she doesn't know where he is – and with her appearance altered by Vivi, no one recognizes her as his Master. When she's rescued by Rifaenotis, a mage living in the forest, he arranges for her to go to Adolunde with a traveling doctor and his Knight. But Vigo and Selena, along with Rifae, have ties to Ryvdom, the kingdom once ruled by Yuki's family, and once they realize who she is, war becomes more than just a threat.
The second novel in Yohna's isekai fantasy series The Violet Knight appears to have gotten to the story where the author wants it – fully moving towards the consequences of heroine Yuki's father having vanished all those years ago when he was spirited away to Japan. As the story reminds us (with almost too much frequency), his kingdom, Ryvdom, was essentially destroyed in the first major war to rock the continent in centuries, and now it exists as a tortured province of the kingdom of Maruk. Since this all took place only twenty-odd years before Yuki's arrival, memories are still very strong and revolution has had plenty of time to foment – and now that the previous king's daughter has shown up, the revolutionaries have what they need to really get going.
That's the political situation Yuki finds herself in for most of this book, the longest yet released by Cross Infinite World. Yohna does a good job of making it the least of Yuki's concerns, however, reminding us without explicitly stating it that this is a young woman who was raised to believe that all war is bad and that there's never a reason to involve the regular people in the disputes of kings, especially if it's going to get them hurt or killed. While this does make her come off as irritating naïve at times, or at least as someone who never had to take a civics or history class, it stands as what truly separates her from her people: not her appearance, status, or magical gift, but the fact that she's grown up in a world where trench and field warfare is largely a thing of the past. This may eventually lead to her being able to institute a more modern form of diplomacy, but in the short term it simply shows how little she is able to comprehend the time and place where she's landed.
Yuki does seem to actively resent that at times. Not just on the war front – she's not prepared for the emotional stress of where and when she is, and she also has trouble with the state of medicine and other basic needs. The former becomes a major piece of the story with an outbreak of what is known as Ten Day Fever, a disease that appears very similar to the measles. With long-standing vaccinations, Yuki (who has already shown that she's not a great student of history) doesn't make this connection, and she also appears not to know the basics of vaccines, meaning that she's unable to do anything but stand by and watch as the disease ravages the land. This is a bit frustrating, but it serves a purpose within the story, working as a catalyst for the reveal of the real proof of her royal heritage. Like her father before her, Yuki has a healing power, and once it is accidentally discovered by Vigo, the doctor she's currently traveling with, she becomes the one-woman cure for the Ten Day Fever.
This is where Yohna shows us that Yuki's naiveté is very much a deliberate piece of both her character and the story. Vigo keeps his discovery to himself, a controversial move by anyone's measure, and simply uses Yuki without her knowledge or consent – and later, when she does consent, without telling her everything. On the one hand, it absolutely allows for her to get closer to her goal of finding Luca and helping people, but on the other, it's a cruel thing to do, and it presages Yuki's future as the last (forlorn?) hope of Ryvdom's people: she's not so much a person or a princess as a tool for them to use to reestablish their kingdom. It's also selling Yuki short, because while she's naïve, she's definitely not stupid. During a stay at an orphanage in Ryvdom she forges a friendship with an important figure from Maruk, and she's already got a major tie to Luca, a prince of Adolunde. She's essentially laying the groundwork for a diplomatic solution to the problem, and once she becomes (or is allowed to become) fully cognizant of her status and powers, she'll be in a position to carry that solution out. Whether or not she'll be allowed to is another question; she'll likely not only face opposition from Maruk and Luca's mother, but also potentially from her own people, who appear to be thirsty for revenge.
It is in this second novel that we have to begin to believe that Yuki's name, regardless of what character it's written with, must stand for “courage,” because she's really coming into her own as best she can. That it isn't easy makes the evolution more impressive, because even with the deck stacked heavily against her, she's still making progress. Yohna does use names to indicate something about characters, making it more likely; Selena Beautante, a new introduction to the cast this volume, has a last name that deliberately translates to “good aunt” in French, which is very much in keeping with her personality and her treatment of Yuki. Her first name, Selena, also has ties to maternal feelings, as Selena is the representation of the full moon in the Greek moon triad (although often spelled Selene or Mene), which is the “mother” portion of the “maiden, mother, crone” trinity of femininity.
The Violet Knight is shaping up to be one of the darker, more interesting of the many isekai series currently on the market. With a heroine who shows a measured development, characters who all have their own partially concealed motives, and an interesting world, it's worth reading if you haven't already. The digital-only nature of the release may be a deterrent for some, but if you don't mind reading on a screen and are looking for a female-led light novel, this is one worth picking up.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Yuki shows measured growth, warring character motives work well to create tension, story continues to build at a good pace
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