Brave Chronicle: The Ruinmaker, how did it come to this? When I heard we had access to review copies of some light novels, I was quite excited. I’ll admit, I jumped at the chance to review one for the site. I had never read one before and thought this was the perfect opportunity. There were so many choices, and since I wasn’t familiar with any of them, I did what I do whenever I’m presented with equally valid choices and I’m unable to decide; I leave it to the fate of the dice. Or in this case, Google’s random number generator. I gave it a roll (click) and out popped Brave Chronicle. How did my first light novel go? Well, let’s just say I couldn’t stop reading it when I first picked it up, much like one can’t help but watch a train flying off the tracks…
Brave Chronicle Overview
“Meet Kurono Kokuya, a student in the lowest rank at Star Gate Academy – the world’s cutting-edge training facility for star sorcerers, the beings who use star sorcery to protect the Earth from otherworld invasions. His childhood friend Yukihime Yukigane just happens to be the world’s strongest star sorcerer, and she never lets him forget that fact. One day, their days of peace are interrupted by a powerful threat from another world. Kokuya and Yukihime stand on the front lines, risking their lives to protect those they love, but will they be able to defeat the Dark Lord Redge and his cruel minions?” – J-novel
This book is definitely trying for a younger, most likely male, audience. Given all the tropes present, familiarity with anime or manga is almost a requirement. I wouldn’t say this should be anyone’s first foray into Japanese media, that’s for certain. I don’t know if I would really recommend this book to anyone, but if you are a fan of action fantasy series with fanservice, you might be able to find something here.
The good… well… this will likely be the shortest part of this review. Don’t get me wrong, the story does have some marks of quality, but they are so few and far between that the bad far outweighs the good.
For one, I do think the world presented in the story is interesting. I’m a sucker for series with varied magic powers, and this one has some that are quite unusual. Basically, all “star sorcerers” fall into different categories, from basic elements like fire and ice, to abstract concepts like time and space. The concept based magic is something I haven’t seen before, and some unique things are done with the spells.
For example, the main character, Kokuya, possesses the time element. One might wonder how you can use time manipulation in battle. Well, he isn’t strong enough to stop time or other people, but he can affect himself. So he uses his power to accelerate his own movements, or cause his mind to think faster, increasing his reaction speed. I would have liked to have seen varied uses from other people’s powers as well, but the book focuses on a limited number of characters.
Another thing the book has going for it is the fast pacing. It may not be the most interesting book I’ve read, but it did move along quickly (minus one part I’ll talk about in a minute.) The action and dialogue flow along at a good pace and it never feels like the story halts for exposition too often. I found myself blowing through the first half of the book, wondering what was going to happen next. Admittedly, this was at least partly because I was getting a vibe that it wasn’t going to be a great piece of literature, and I wanted to see how bad it could get. Well, you’re about to find out.
Whooo, buddy. Let’s start with the “characters.” Why is that in quotes? Well, the “characters” in this book are only that in title. To be a character you have to have, you know character? Which nearly all the people in this book lack. Kokuya feels like your typical self-insert main character. He’s your usual, “he’s the weakest, but because his power is sooo unique, he’s actually one of the strongest.” It’s quite tiresome at this point. I know I complemented his power earlier, but I did not like the way his power was handled.
Next up is his sister, Towa; you’ll see in a second what my main problem with her is.
See? What in the world? And that’s not just a random image, she actually says that in the book. She takes Kokuya shopping with her and they go to a cosplay store so she can find a costume for a Christmas party (given all the other weirdness, I’m just going to ignore the Christmas costume party). He picks out various outfits for her: a miniskirt Santa outfit, a school gym uniform, a bunny outfit… are you noticing a pattern here? Yep. Kokuya really likes his sister.
And unlike in most stories, she isn’t oblivious to it. He mentions buying her the knee socks she’s currently wearing and she snaps them for him. Not only is she the sister of the series, but she’s also the loli AND well endowed to boot. It’s like they were just going down a checklist of characters they needed for the story and decided she could be three at once. Creepy.
The last character I’ll cover is Yukihime. She’s your typical tsundere character with a flat chest. She has a strict sense of duty, but with a kind heart. Did I mention she’s the most powerful magic user on the planet AND the headmistress of the school? You’ve seen this character numerous times as well. Her character arc makes her slightly more interesting than Kokuya, especially given that her role in the end of the story was unexpected, and I will give the writers credit that I was genuinely surprised. But even she isn’t free from the fan-service spree that makes up a large portion of the beginning of the book.
As you can imagine, the secondary characters are even less developed, so I won’t bother to go over them other than to say this certainly feels like it is supposed to be the beginning of a larger series, rather than just a one-off book.
Another criticism I have is a little harder to pin down than the bland characters, and that is the writing itself. Specifically, there are numerous instances of the same word or phrase being used several times in a short span. I remember one four-line paragraph that had the word “slash” four or five times. Now, this could be because of two things: one, the original work was simply repetitive, or two, the translation reads that way.
Not that I can’t fault the translation either; for all I know, it is a very faithful translation, but was poorly adapted. There is an important difference between the two. Say there are multiple words that translate to “slash” in English. English just has the one word, and generally, would use another word to change the meaning. But the problem with directly translating would be just what happened here, in that it can sound repetitive. In most native English writing, care is taken to avoid using the same word, unless there is a specific reason to emphasize the word, which I don’t think fits in this case.
The last commentary I have is the massive tone change about halfway through the book. The beginning is full of light-hearted banter, fan-service, and some battles that mainly exist just to show off the powers of the characters. Then, suddenly an event happens that threatens to change the world, and the tone immediately shifts. Gone is all the fan service, replaced almost entirely with battles and dialogue about duty and revenge.
And how are we introduced to this drastic shift? The book changes narrators for five pages before switching back! Yeah! The majority of the book is in first person mode from Kokuya’s point of view, with third person views of events he isn’t present for. But for just a few pages, Towa is the narrator, with the perspective switching to her internal monolog. Then it switches back to Kokuya for the rest of the book.
I had to read the section multiple times just to be sure I knew what happened. I have no idea why the author chose to do this. It would have been just as effective to have her tell her story to Kokuya. I know it was there to present some background of her character and general backstory, but I felt it was handled in a very confusing manner. It was so jarring, I actually put down the book for over a week before returning to finish it.
This book is begging to be turned into an anime, and not in a good way. It feels more like the writer is trying to hit selling points more so than making a compelling narrative. Sister? Check. Tsundere? Check. Bland, self-insert main character? Double check. The book presents itself with this large world and does little with it. It uses an interesting setting as little more than a backdrop for tropes and cheesy dialogue.
In the end, that’s really my main gripe with this book. It’s not that it’s bad (nor is it great by any means), but that it has interesting ideas that feel wasted. I do like the world and I think the magic system is well put together. The problem lies in the characters; they are just too bland to make the basic plot become any more than just that. After you finish, it feels like one of those anime that just come out, people watch, no one really talks about, and it gets forgotten. That’s this book’s biggest crime, being forgettable. That being said, if you are a fan of battle anime with fanservice and light plot, you might get something out of this. But I can’t say I’ll be going back to it anytime soon.
I would like to thank J-Novel for giving Yatta-Tachi the opportunity to read this light novel and give my honest opinion. You can read Brave Chronicle: The Ruinmaker on the J-Novel website!