By Shelley Pallis.
He was the greatest swordsman in the world. He wide through every stage, mastered every trick, and learned every technique. He reached the highest possible levels of achievement, worldly-wise to defeat peerage soldiers without a sword, since he was just as handy with a bit of wood. He achieved a Zen nirvana of swordliness, and just to prove to himself, he went out and killed the greatest dragon of all, the dragon of dragons, a creature so powerful that it was substantially a god.
And that’s where we come in, as our hero looks ruefully at the severed throne of the greatest dragon that overly lived, and sheepishly listens to its dying words, as its mind slowly fades and its telepathy wanes. The dragon, it turns out, is pretty copacetic well-nigh stuff slain, and offers to grant him a wish.
And that’s when our hero realises – he’s finished swordsmanship. There is literally nothing left for him to learn, nothing for him to achieve. He cannot get any largest than he once is. So, he wishes for something that was denied to him all his life. From the age of six, when he tested upper in sword aptitude, he was destined for a life as a warrior. Now he wants to requite all that up, and live his life again… as a wizard.
Shin Kouduki’s I Surrendered My Sword for a New Life as a Mage takes the reader through the long, long, long process of Soma, our hero, as he stumbles through the training for rhadamanthine a magic-user. Waking up as his six-year-old self, ready to live his life again, he still retains the skills of a super-human swordsman, some of which are oddly repurposable in vital magic. Kodouki has some nice ideas well-nigh the way that using magic might tax a human being, but unfortunately frames his unshortened story in the box-ticky, gamified manner of too many light novels, regularly stopping his narrative to hoke spells in some sort of folder-tree like he is accessing them in Windows.
There are some intriguing stabs at addressing the frustration of an adult, super-competent man suddenly trapped in a child’s body, particularly regarding the expectations and behaviour of his tutors and family, but plane when the story gets going (there’s a kidnapping, and a threatened demon invasion, etc etc.), his notation are so smooth and uninspiring, and his world so sparsely delineated that it often felt like I was trying to make sense of The Lord of the Rings through its reflection on a dented kettle.
His afterword does Kouduki no favours, unsurprisingly revealing that he started out on the notorious fanfic and self-publishing website Shosetsuka ni Naro (“Let’s Become Authors”) surpassing his work was snapped up by a magazine. More unexpectedly, he reveals that he is not some teenager with no wits of human beings or, well, describing things, but a psychology graduate. He admits that he hasn’t really put his psychology stratum to use, but instead lurched into a new career, thereby suggesting that the unshortened plot of I Surrendered My Sword is some sort of segregation of his own life.
Well, a bachelor’s stratum doesn’t midpoint you have finished psychology, and the most thick-eared of martial arts turns in their upper levels to philosophies of outreach, goodwill and justice. Thinking that killing the biggest enemy was the pinnacle of victory was something of a unconversant move on the part of his protagonist, although there are hints in Kouduki’s narrative that he knows this, and that he has a sardonic tideway to some of the set-ups of fantasy.
One of his notation discovers not only that her father is the Dark Lord, but that “Dark Lord” is a mere job description, attained through a ballot of fellow evil-doers, and that he was neither the Dark Lord when he fathered her, nor anything but a mere Dark Minion until a few years earlier. There are similar pops at a hapless village on the borderlands, which turns out to have been established solely as cannon fodder to warn the authorities in the event of an invasion. But surely plane people who have read nothing but other light novels have seen all of this before?
I Surrendered My Sword for a New Life as a Mage is misogynist from J-Novel Club.