(The Faraway Paladin)
by 柳野 かなた (Kanata Yanagino)
Author: 柳野 かなた (Kanata Yanagino)
Japanese Level: JLPT N2 ~ N1
Genre: Fantasy, light novel
English Summary (translation by Japanese Talk Online)
A desolated city of the dead,
where a child and three undead beings reside.
Will, a boy raised by these former heroes,
is bestowed with skills, knowledge, and love.
The mystery of these undead heroes past slowly come to light,
and when he finally knows the truth he will set out on the journey of the paladin.
Why You Should Read 最果てのパラディン
最果てのパラディン (The Faraway Paladin) is one of those rare light novels that has a complete story in one book. Most fantasy light novels I’ve read have consisted of dense info-dumps, extreme misogyny, and over-powered protagonists. It’s been hard to find a fantasy light novel that has a plot from start to end and doesn’t waffle on for the first few hundred pages and where the main plot doesn’t kick off until after volume three. (Please let me know if you’ve read a fantasy light novel that doesn’t do this! I would love to be wrong!)
I was about to give up hope until I picked up 最果てのパラディン for my book club. Where I expected an OP protagonist who every female instantly falls for, I found an interesting introspective protagonist. Where I was expecting dense info-dumps I got an engaging story where explanations of the world are revealed through conversation which are relevant to the scene. There’s foreshadowing and a number of mysteries which are hinted at early on and then slow revealed throughout the novel. This novel is the first in a series but it has a beginning middle and end!
The story isn’t groundbreaking, it’s not a massive adventure with a complex narrative like 鹿の王, but there are real stakes and believable growth in the protagonist. He’s not strong for the sake of being strong and he doesn’t easily resolve anything. And despite how strong he is, he still has crippling anxiety and fears.
This light novel spoke to me on a level I wasn’t expecting and was pleasantly surprised by it. (Also the art is sooo preeetty!)
Why Japanese Learners Should Read 最果てのパラディン
High fantasy novels like 鹿の王 are great for N1+ kanji, vocabulary, and advanced (classical) grammar and fun accents. A light novel like Log Horizon is great for discussions about complex systems with advanced vocabulary and kanji (although Log Horizon did suffer from nothing happening for 250 pages).
However, if you’re interested in fantasy but don’t want to jump right into extremely difficult or complex language, then I’d say 最果てのパラディンis the perfect book for you!
This book has, I think, a nice balance of common language with a sprinkle of advanced Japanese. The grammar is pretty standard at roughly N3-N2 level, and there are times where N1 vocabulary and kanji are used to give it a fantasy feel, but the language is never too obscure or archaic. It’s a comfortable read if you enjoy fantasy novels.
The scenes are also not complicated or convoluted. There are a few lore-heavy parts (such as about the gods) but these aren’t too long and they’re clearly structured. Most scenes focus on conversations between Will and his undead family, which makes reading those parts where you learn more about the characters and world go fairly quickly.
This is a great fantasy novel for people who want a challenge but not something that’s too challenging. I would say it’s the perfect book for N2-N1 level advanced Japanese.
The story itself isn’t amazing but it is pretty good! I highly enjoyed all the characters and the plot as it unfolded.
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