It’s time for our discussion of volume 2 of Tearmoon Empire! We ended up having two whole posts of discussion on the first volume of this series (a hint to how much we loved it), but this time we managed to keep things down to a single post. Rest assured, though, Jeskai Angel, Gaheret, and I still had quite a lot to say about this volume, so let’s get started!
1. What are your overall impressions of the volume?
stardf29: So if there was any concern this story wouldn’t hold up after Mia no longer has to worry about death by guillotine, this volume proves that it can do just fine dealing with other events. Notably, in this volume Mia’s scope of action goes beyond just her own country and into international relations, and she does it all while still “looking out for herself” and others misunderstanding her intentions to hilarious effect. There are a lot of great character moments throughout, and overall the volume makes for a great end to this first story arc (though far from the end of the overall story). I’ll go into details in later questions, but I’ll say that, with this volume, Tearmoon Empire has become my current favorite light novel of all time.
Jeskai Angel: It’s outstanding, a brilliant sequel that brought back the prior volume’s characters and plot threads but then built upon them in fun new ways. The theme of how Mia’s influence ripples outward to change others continues to be a delight. The humor remains a highlight of the story. The goofy chapter titles are great. There was a hilarious callback to the previous volume’s running joke that Mia doesn’t care enough to remember the name of Abel’s brother. And I loved the part where the conspirators are reading Mia and Abel’s letters and drive themselves crazy trying to find their (nonexistent) hidden meaning. Oh, and the scene where the villainous Graham sets his own doom flag by saying “There’s no way she can pull something like that off again.” I have a tough time picking “favorites,” but I feel comfortable saying Tearmoon Empire is undoubtedly in the very top tier of LNs.
Gaheret: For my part, I thought this one was an interesting read. I liked the first one better, though. The first novel had sort of a balance between Mia changing things by coincidence and Mia changing things as a result of a change of perspective. I felt this one was sort of a regression in that front, with almost everything being a result of sheer luck. The conflict with the tribesmen was great, but its resolution was too clear-cut for me. The disappearance of the diary midway took out a lot of the dramatic tension. All the twelve-year-olds infiltrating a supposed warzone was quite unrealistic, mostly in how the adults reacted to it. The clash of ideals between Abel and Shion was a great idea, but I think it was underdeveloped. And I felt that the conclusion of Shion character arc was too on-the-nose.
On the other hand, I liked -a lot- the fact that Mia had earned a Royalist resistance in the last volume, the fight against the future famine, the deal with Chloe´s father, the conflict with the tribesmen (with two different political cultures and sets of values), the revolutionary secret plot and the fact that both Tearmoon Empire´s and Remno´s were “manufactured revolutions” (very interesting parallels with the French Revolution), the idea of a conflict of ideals between Abel and Shion, the Penal King/ Libra King concept and the participation of both Sunkland spies and a satanic cult of sorts as fuelers or the revolution. I´d have liked more emphasis on Tiona, I think.
2. What are your thoughts on the characters, old and new?
Jeskai Angel: One thing that struck in this volume is that Mia herself has changed. She’s still not the great sage that everyone else thinks she is, but it feels like she’s moving in that direction. She can be still be quite derpy, but she’s definitely a bit more calculating than when she started. One moment that stood out was when Mia insists on sparing the lives of Jem and the White Crows…because she realizes she has no idea how or why this die-and-go-back-in-time phenomenon happens, and doesn’t want to risk any of the baddies getting a second chance and ruining everything. Mia also remains an unusually intuitive protagonist. There’s no other way she could so frequently say or do the right thing at the right time. “It wasn’t so much reasoned analysis as it was intuition,” as Narrator-san puts it at one point.
And she stays true to character in that, although she (wittingly or unwittingly) nudges people and events in the right direction, she’s still very much dependent on her friends and allies. For example, I loved this passage during Sion and Abel’s fight: “Did her words truly reach no one? No! Absolutely not! Though they fell on the deaf ears of the dueling princes, the bonds she’d forged would carry her voice. Whither would it go? Who was listening? Why, her faithful subjects, of course!” The seed/plant metaphor that runs through the book speaks to the same idea. Mia is verging on becoming a real leader — she doesn’t solve problems personally, but she does inspire others and point them toward the best course: “After all, Mia might be incompetent, but she’d surrounded herself with people who were anything but. When the Mia Brigade was on the job, problems didn’t stand a chance.” She’s a joy to read about.
stardf29: One of my favorite Mia moments in this volume is when she’s trying to figure out how to get the army away from the forest, and she decides to play up her perceived selfishness as an excuse to get the army out of there. That was quite a big brain play right there; it’s one thing to act “selfishly”, and another thing to know that people expect you to act selfishly and leverage that to solve a problem.
And yes, she’s definitely changed overall. I especially like the line at the end that says “when it came to happiness, she wanted every last piece — for herself and all those she held dear…” The old Mia would have only thought of herself, but now Mia has people she cares about and wants the best for them as well. (Even if she’s still primarily concerned about herself first…)
Gaheret: And as for her, well, I find her amusing and relatable, and I like her random strikes of brilliance, how she has come to care a little more for others, Abel especially (whatever Narrator-san may say) and also her lazy/tsundere-ish/go-with-the-flow usual personality. As I said, I enjoyed her sudden anger at those who judged and condemned her. I was puzzled by her “seductress of the Empire” behaviour with Shion, both because she seemed more carefree than I had thought (given the situation) and because she knows it could have been a huge problem for Abel´s self-esteem had he even suspected it. Giving that she is, in body and emotions, if not memories, a 12-year-old (and that, in any case, she wasn´t a very mature 20-year-old), I didn´t find her behaviour creepy, as the narrator maliciously implied, just puzzling. Why go there?
Jeskai Angel: Am I the only one who felt the narrator was a bit mellower than in the previous volume? Still dispensing over-the-top criticism of Mia and associates, to be sure, but not quite as a harsh or vicious about it? I found it an intriguing change (or else I just imagined this change exists, LOL). It was also fun seeing Narrator-san use that razor-sharp wit to go after the bad guys. The first volume didn’t actually have any real villains, aside from Mia’s flashbacks — even her future-past enemies like Sion, Tiona, and Rafina are still just kids. As a result, all criticism was directed toward Mia and her friends. But with this volume, the narrator could start taking potshots at actual evildoers, and I loved it.
Jeskai Angel: I feel like Sion was the big winner of this volume (besides Mia) when it comes to character development. He got some great introspective moments where Mia (sometimes unintentionally) challenged him to reconsider his simplistic, black-and-white view of justice. There was also the cool contrast between the austere “Penal King” of Mia’s first life and the more beloved “Libra King” we learn he’ll become thanks to Mia’s influence. I recall that the LNC had some criticism of Sion back when we read the first volume, and it seems to me that vol. 2 goes a long way toward acknowledging his flaws and then helping him grow beyond them.
stardf29: Yes, Sion’s development in this volume was great. That moment when Mia calls him out for planning to enact justice on Abel if necessary without first trying to set him right was a wonderful moment, both for Mia’s personal vindication over her issues with past-Sion and also for Sion to realize that maybe the beliefs he held on to up to now were wrong.
The real highlight, though, was the chapter that showed what (probably) happened in the previous timeline after Mia’s execution. It’s very easy to appreciate how much better things are in the current timeline when we see how bad things got beforehand, and this definitely applies to the character of the “Penal King” versus that of the (future) “Libra King”. Past Sion’s story is a particularly tragic one; I can imagine few things worse than “dying unloved”. But now that he finally knows what it’s like to be in the wrong, and to have to deal with guilt, he can finally become a respectable ruler.
Gaheret: Well, that was a lot of teasing, both by Mia and by the novelist. Shion clearly liked Mia in the previous volume, but in this one, it´s hard to tell. He clearly admires and respects her and is willing to fight to help her, but has to be aware of the fact that she has chosen Abel. He doesn´t show any jealousy, is sincere when asked about his ideals and motives and reacts to her teasing (without knowing that it´s intentional) in the way any boy his age would react. Yet, the novelist keeps teasing us, maybe to make fun of Mia´s tactics of… revenge? Beautiful celebrity syndrome? I don´t know. In any case, as stardf29 and Jeskai have commented in detail, we are shown how he learns to have mercy, a much-needed development for his character.
Jeskai Angel: First, it throws me off every time Dion’s last name comes up, because in my head, Alaia is the name of an ancient Forthorthian princess. His last name should be Sanders. LOL. Dion was most notable “new” character of this volume, and I liked how the story retrofitted him into Mia’s history. The guy operating the guillotine didn’t really come up in vol. 1, but logically someone had to do it. It was a cool way to bring in a “new” character who had “always” been part of the story. Mia fainting upon seeing him was good for a laugh, but also a reminder that she really experienced that first life and bears scars from it. I liked that Dion feels more analytical and mature than most of Mia’s associates (Ludwig being the exception). It’s perfectly fitting, since Dion is older, more experienced, and exhibits qualities needs to become a general, but it’s great that the author/translator can successfully communicate that difference. There’s also delightful irony of role reversals, as Dion goes from Mia’s executioner to her bodyguard.
Gaheret: About Dion Alaia, I´m with Mia (sorry, Jeskai): I find him unsettling. What sort of Colonel Kurtz figure wanders out of the forest after his men have been killed in action and avenges them by personally executing the 21-year-old daughter of his king? Or infiltrates a foreign Kingdom, there being peace between it and the Empire, and provokes the most powerful fighter of the troop to a duel to the death? “Dion shot her a glance before letting out a very conspicuous sigh of reluctant resignation and plunging both swords into the ground. Then he gave Bernardo a questioning gaze, who tsked and lowered his “spear” with a grimace”. Dion´s loyalty seems to depend on his judgement about the cunning of his superior in any particular decision, he acts as if he had a death wish and joins Mia´s team because he thinks it will be fun. On the other hand, he is competent and effective, and the flashforward chapters tell us that he will be loyal, too. Even so…
stardf29: All I’ll add to this is, Dion was looking like the guy that was most likely to see through Mia’s “not actually that great of a Sage” thing, but then Mia pulls a genuinely brilliant move (mentioned earlier) and now he’s got as bad of a case of Mia-itis as anyone else. But yeah, it’s cool to see Mia’s executioner in the past show up here, and have him ally with her as someone who can handle some of the… grittier? parts of Mia’s reforms.
As for his connection with a certain Rokujouma character… I’m sure I can come up with some kind of convoluted way the two are related if I really wanted to.
The new villains
Gaheret: I liked them. I felt Jem was an appropiated villain, sinister, clever, a fanatic, fearsome and unafraid of death, with the most generic plebeian name in the country he has infiltrated. I would have liked more personal details about him. Similarly, the unnamed assasins, Graham corrupting the Sunkland spies sounded realistic to me (reading about people like Kim Philby, Guy Burguess, James Jesus Angleton or Yuri Noshenko makes you realize how confusing and potentially corrupting the world of intelligence and counterintelligence is). Concerning Monica Buendia, I was thrilled to hear that she had killed Prince Abel in the previous timeline (with Marat and Mata Hari vibes), and I symphatize with her troubles. In a way, encountering her meant that the new Abel was confronting the old, which was especially welcome given that he had larguely been absent. That said, I´m not a fan of how things were played out, especially the melodramatic white crow/black crow thing. I´d rather prefer that we hadn´t been told what she had sent.
Lambert, the so-called Frontman and Firebrand, was a character I liked. Probably my favorite villain of this novel. A very young, orphaned, impoverished nobleman with a gift for discourses, popular and clever, with a loving but very worried sister, Lynsha. He starts talking about politics in a tabern, and ultimately leads the uprising against the Remno Government. We know that the people are being manipulated. While angry, they don´t want a war, or their king killed, or a bloodbath. Lynsha thinks that he is being infatuated carried by the situation, and blind to the consequences. But it turns out that this is not the case. He is fully aware of the plan, and is on board. This could have made everything much more difficult, given that there was a personal angle on both sides of the conflict, but it didn´t. Lambert is pardoned and we probably won´t see much of him. It´s a pity, I think he had potential.
The rest of the villains are proud, vain people in positions of power who cause trouble by their arrogance and egoism, as Viscount Berman, Remno´s king or, to a lesser degree, Mia´s flippant father. Part of the diplomatic game consists in appealing to the things they value or respect (status, military honor, Mia herself) to solve the conflict without violence: I liked that approach. While they need to be corrected, I think that, when possible, this is the best way. After all, blessed are the peacemakers.
Gaheret: Concerning the heroes, this novel has a similar structure to the first one, with Anne and Ludwig, fiercely loyal but blinded (to a point) by the achievements of Mia, helping her deal with the Tearmoon Empire, and with Shion, Keithwood, Abel, Rafina and Tiona playing a role in how she dealt with her social life, romantic life and international troubles in the second. Chloe´s merchant father Marco, Viscount Berman, the Lulu chief, the honest priest of Rafina and the Outcount of Rudolvon were credible characters with their own personality and motivations, and I liked that, and also how they were played (though I felt that the resolution of the Lulu´s chief conflict by pure coincidence was not as interesting as this could have been). Tiona´s maiden and Tiona´s brother, on the other hand, were less developed, and I feel there was a certain degree of Bakarina syndrome in how they were dealt with.
I liked Lynsha and the Diamond Spear well enough in their small supporting roles. In this volume, Rafina supports Mia and advises Anne, but to me, she still seems to be ready to cut ties and punish you in the second you do an evil deed. Chloe has a short appaerance, and I would like to see more of her and Mia acting as friends. Tiona appears briefly in the first volume, writes to Mia, doesn´t show signs of being in love with Prince Shion and, outside a significant moment in which she defends Mia´s honor in front of the king of Remno, inspiring the Diamond Spear to do the same, remains mostly out of the scene. I think she would be a very interesting rival/friend, but things don´t seem to be going that way. In general, I think it´s sad that to this point, Mia consistently can´t let her more carefree, tsundere-ish, impulsive personality show in front of anybody except (to a point) Anne and Abel. Her friends love her, but also misunderstand her, and she should be known and loved for what she is.
Anne and Abel had less protagonism that in the previous volume, while Ludwig´s position was similar. I liked how, at least, the first was able to see Mia being Lazy, reprimand and advise her, and then save her. I hope Mia manages to tell her the truth about herself, or some of it, in the future. Concerning Abel, he is now a gallant knight and a full-fledged prince who behaves as such. I´m not 100% sure, but I think he was not wrong in carrying out the orders of his father and leading the army against the popular uprising (heh, just like him), and then trying to reform the country from the inside. My only complain is that, with so little time, we don´t see his development. Ludwig remains loyal, clever, useful and kind, but I think he and Mia have lost the personal connection they had in their previous life, and that helped her so much.
stardf29: So Lynsha is a cool gal. She obviously realized something was wrong and did what she could to find a way to resolve it, even if she did resort to some kidnapping to get it done… Anyway, I mention this because she has enough of a presence in this volume that I kind of wonder if she’ll show up more in the future…
We see a bit of Abel here, but perhaps most interesting regarding him is his effect on others back in Remno, particularly the maid and spy Monica. Realizing that he had grown into someone capable of changing Remno’s misogynistic ways and then basically exposing the White Crows’ plans, she shows just how Mia’s “sowing the seeds of hope” have grown. And again, it makes me wonder if we’ll see more of Monica in the future…
(Am I saying this because of certain things I’ve read in the prepubs of the third volume? Maybe…)
3. This volume introduces a greater evil force that is trying to bring the world into chaos. What do you think of this addition to the story?
Jeskai Angel: I didn’t much care for this twist the first time I read this volume, but it grew on me when I reread the volume for our discussion. This may sound ridiculous, but part of what bugged me about Jem’s group (not the White Crows, but whatever organization he really works for) was it’s unhistorical nature. I adored the many nods to real history that appeared in the first volume. Since the French Revolution was not the result some evil international conspiracy, so it felt jarring to have a sinister organization of chaotic evil in Mia’s world. It was like the first volume had a lot of historical allusions, but then the second one turned around and said “Forget history, let’s have a secret evil conspiracy instead!” But, as I said, the second time I read vol. 2, I found myself more accepting of this plot twist.
First, it occurred to me that there are certainly evil spiritual forces working unseen in the world. If I reframe Jem and his ilk as anthropomorphized quasi-demonic agents, working in unseen to lead people astray and cause chaos and suffering, then their presence in the story is more palatable. This is especially true in light of the existing supernatural (time-travel) element of the story. If we posit the existence of some benevolent force that gave Mia a second chance, it seems possible that there might be evil forces, too. I don’t expect this series to become high fantasy or anything, but it’s certainly plausible that supernatural forces’ role in the story will go beyond just Mia’s unexplained time travel. So, basically, refocusing on the supernatural premise of the whole story made me more accepting of the sinister-agents-of-chaos twist.
Second, I more fully appreciated the narrative function of Jem’s organization this time around. When I first read the book,I only saw Jem’s group as a regrettable divergence from the historical flavor of the tale. This time, though, I recognized that establishing a “greater scope villain” creates a bridge between the initial “Prevent the
French Tearmoon Revolution” story arc and wherever the story might go from here. We can accept that Mia has successfully altered the timeline enough to avoid the guillotine, while not completely abandoning the story’s initial premise. Having this plot thread keeps Mia’s struggles thus far from becoming irrelevant to her continuing story.
Gaheret: I think I may go on a little about why I liked this development. At University, somebody told me to read Aristotle´s “Poetics”, and I remember this idea that a tragedy is simply history, but told as if the events were an unavoidable, chained to one another until the inevitable conclusion comes. This is why they are great means to learn about the world of human passions and human flaws. Mia´s story was like that: As the Marie-Antoniette of popular culture, she was the embodiement of a corrupt, cruel, vain and egoistical aristocracy which, in a way, brought her own demise upon herself by enraging their people more and more with their capricious and unjust behaviour. And thus, we saw how both the Tearmoon Empire and Mia´s personal world were bound to fall, and what were the deep and superficial causes related to her flaws as a person.
On the other hand, Tolkien observed how a story with a happy ending usually includes a “deus ex machina”, an “eucatastrophe”, which breaks this chain in the darkest moment, offering a path towards hope. Tearmoon Empire was unusual in that this eucatastrophe happened at the beginning. The story played with the fact that people are generally aware of how the French Revolution developed to subvert expectations. It worked, and it still works. It would seem that an evil cabal planning the Revolution, or it suddenly happening in Remno and not the Empire, or to setting Abel´s and not Mia´s flaws as the possible cause, may undermine the message. In fact, I think it deepens it.
How do revolutions work? It is interesting that they happen at times of reforms: It seems counterintuitive, but these are times of unrest and political struggle, after all, when ideas are in the air and everything seems possible. There are ideologues. There is propaganda, and manufactured incidents are very common. As we discussed, unlike Mia, Marie-Antoniette never said the famous “feed them with cakes” line, which had been attributed to a variety of unpopular aristochrats before the Revolution. There were only seven political prisoners at The Bastille when it was stormed. Jacques Necker, the man whose role is played by Tiona´s father in the story, was used as the proximate cause of that uprising, yet when he resigned there was general indiference. The faults are real, but they are also exploited by those seeking to destroy this specific order. I like how [Graham] and Jem literalize that concept.
What I felt lacking in the portrait of the Tearmoon revolution were the ideals of the revolutionary leaders, and whose immediate effect was the dire persecution of the Christians of France. I think it is telling. A totalizing regime, an utopia, will often divinize itself and try to get rid of what it cannot subdue. That is a sign of pride, and as Jeskai Angel said, also of Demonic temptation, masking as glorious freedom what is really self-deception and servitude. While I believe that revolutions can be legitimate in extreme situations, the destruction they bring is enormous, the cycle of violence cannot be ignored, and solving political problems by destructing the opponent has a dangerous appeal. Utopias are usually revolutionary, purporting the destruction of the present order to substitute it with the ideal one. In the end, getting any sort of power may easily make us think that to us that we could do better, if only we could get rid of the human obstacles interfering with our glorious vision. Certainly, the French Revolution, which rename the months of the year, executed the nuns who would not abjure and viciously killed its own leaders, had this approach.
My favorite moment of the novel was Mia basically saying to Shion: Okay, I had terrible flaws, you were right to be angry, but why didn´t you try your best to reform me? Why did you believe the worst? Why didn´t any of you had a little more hope, a little more patience with me, instead of trying to suppress me? I didn´t like everything (in particular, I thought it was a terrible idea to warn us beforehand, as a sudden revolution in Remno and the slow discovery of the propaganda campaign behind it would have been much more vibrant this way). But I think it is a great answer, a great statement of the central theme of the novels, and a great lesson to the rest, to Shion, to Dion, to the villains, to Mia herself. Don´t give up, even if you are flawed, and dealing with what is flawed. There was unsuspected hope, and there still is. Our Lord answering the pride of the Devil with His own humility and hope, and bringing us out of what would have been our tragedy.
stardf29: While I definitely also wasn’t sure if this was the best path when I first read it, as the story went along I definitely started to really like what was going on here, particularly with the hints that this villainous faction may in fact be a demonic cult. Sure, it might not be as “historical” but then again, the idea of a “devil” trying to cause problems in the world is definitely Biblically true for our world, even if there’s no explicit historical records of such. It also helps paint a better picture of what actually led to the revolution that ended Mia’s past life, and how just because her execution might have been averted doesn’t mean she’s “out of the woods” yet.
Also, I love how these “villains” get bamboozled by Mia in various ways (especially when it comes to horse shampoo). They’re a threat, but certainly nothing Mia can’t handle.
4. Last volume we discussed a number of topics about the world itself like the nature of the time travel and whether this story’s world has a “god” or not. How has the second volume affected your view of the story world?
Jeskai Angel: On meta level, I know light novels and anime almost never include the kind of all-powerful, one-of-a-kind deity found in religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. (The only exception I can think of is Invaders of the Rokujouma!?.) So from that angle, I don’t expect the story’s world to have a “God,” at least not one that bears the least resemblance to the Lord we serve. This volume hasn’t changed that view.
However, it has made me more inclined to think this world/story will have supernatural forces. This volume gave us the scene where Mia’s diary disappeared once she altered the past enough, and also the self-erasing anachronistic history book Mia found. Beyond that, there’s the unconfirmed but possibly (?) supernatural associations of Jem’s group, and the hint that Mia is going to end up interacting with one of her distant descendants. If the only remotely supernatural aspect of the story was Mia jumping back in time after dying, the story could probably get away with leaving it unexplained. As the story adds more “doesn’t normally happen” elements, the need for an explanation increases sharply. (The story could also take a sci-fi turn and use advanced tech as its excuse for time travel, but based on vols. 1-2, I think the supernatural is way more likely.)
Gaheret: In the epilogue, we have this: “Whenever demonic cultists or large bandit brigades sought to sow chaos, Dion Alaia would arrive on the scene, his sword offering a swift and deadly rebuke to their ways”. Coupled with Jem terrified reaction to the prospect of being brought to Belluga (while normal bandits smiled knowing that they would be better than usual there), I think we can assume that Jem and Garret are part of those “demonic cultists”, if not downright possesed. That would explain why Jem is not affected by the perspective of death or torture, but Rafina scares him. It makes sense only if Rafina (or her people) has some kind of power to banish or exorcise them.
Rafina´s Papal parallels are now almost complete with the dialogue between Mia and the priest and this description just before: “Offering guiding sermons of salvation to the populace was the Holy Lady, Rafina Orca Belluga, who dedicated her life to maintaining peace between nations”. We come to know that Mia has providentially frustrated the plans of [Graham], so I think we can safely assume that whatever god Rafina and her church represent is the god of this world, working behind the scenes with the purpose of frustrating universal destruction, saving the Empire and/or Mia´s betterment.
It may be, too, that Jem´s terror of Rafina or Belluga is merely superstitious, but having other supernatural elements in the story, I don´t think so. Mia says that it is “As if someone had fabricated this incident to purposefully incite revolution… Or indeed, as if it were willed by God, and the invisible hand of fate were pushing the empire toward its ruin”. It may be just the translation, but I think it may be intentional. So, it is not God or Providence/fate who wills the destruction of Mia and the Empire, the Continent…, but a demonic power, and “God” is fighting against that through Mia.
Time-travel and sudden inspiration would be the means.
Oh, and the diary. Which, as I mentioned, I don´t like very much. Having it vanish in a ray of light midway, especially, suggests that the threat against Mia and the Empire has already been prevented, which makes the rest of the action less dramatic.
stardf29: As interesting as it was to ponder how this world likely has a “god” that took Mia back in time, it’s even more interesting with the aforementioned “demonic cult” implying there may be a “devil” as well, in opposition to said “god”. Now, depending on how exactly the time travel works, and if the timeline in which Mia was executed still exists (and given the story of Penal King Sion, it very well might), the “god” of this world might not quite have the power or intention to completely stop the actions of the “devil”, but at the very least, can prevent it in a different timeline. And the fact that this “god” chose Mia to be the “divine envoy” and for her to be so effective at it… that is both awesome and hilarious.
And yes, this is a great way to provide a deeper conflict that persists even with Mia’s execution stopped. All things considered, there actually aren’t all that many explicit “god vs. devil” stories in light novels these days, huh? The trend seems to be moving towards the “devil” side actually being good, or at least the “god” side being just as bad or worse as the “devil” side. So I do like this more classic “good vs. evil” setup, with plenty of Mia hilarity in the mix.
On that note, I like how Mia considered that, if she was able to go back in time as she did, it’s possible that Jem could also do the same if she were to execute him. That’s actually a very smart perspective to have (and one that I haven’t really seen as much in other time-travel stories, though admittedly I haven’t read that many of such). Whatever we as readers might figure out about how this time-travel works, Mia is completely right to consider the same might happen to other people.
5. At the end of the volume we see a possible future for Mia’s story. What do you think of this future, and the fact that Mia ultimately rejected it?
Jeskai Angel: It was a fun what-if scenario (Mia’s reaction to having eight kids was especially amusing), but I also understood Mia’s logic in saying “No, we can do better,” in terms wanting a future that doesn’t cut Abel off from his family and home. It’s also a cool illustration of Mia’s growth: she started the story wanting to make her own future better, but now she’s valuing Abel’s happiness so highly that she’d also reject a future that isn’t good for him.
Gaheret: I would love to have a large family, so Mia and Abel having eight kids sounds great to me. That said, I think I would do as her: Except for prophecies or warnings that may be a calling for us here and now, I don´t think it´s wise to live constantly thinking about the future or the best outcome.
stardf29: Yeah, as good as that future might have sounded, it’s a great sign of growth that Mia would reject it if it wasn’t the best for Abel. Plus, with Remno basically completely against Abel, does that mean that in that future, Remno will continue to stew in its misogynistic culture? Mia definitely was right to see that as an unideal future, and it definitely makes it interesting to see where her story goes from there.
Jeskai Angel: The main extra thing I wanted to bring up was a statement in the Ludwig-and-the-Penal-King sidestory. Describing Ludwig’s respect for his late princess, the narration says “That was the story of his regent — a princess who struggled against her fate in the worst of times.”
Am I crazy for thinking that’s a reference to the famous opening line of A Tale of Two Cities? Charles Dickens’s novel set during the French Revolution begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I can’t read the phrase “the worst of times” in a context with links to the French Revolution and NOT see it as a literary allusion. Kudos to author and/or translator if this is intentional and not just coincidence.
Gaheret: I 100% agree that this is a literary allusion.
Abel may be my favorite character, so I think the moment will be this: “Prince Abel. I’ve missed you.” Her argent hair reflected the sunlight, emitting a soft glow like the moon. Wisdom radiated from her eyes, deep and coruscant. Then, there was her pearlescent skin… It was all as he’d remembered. With all the breathtaking beauty of that night at the dance party, Mia Luna Tearmoon appeared before Abel”.
stardf29: This volume concludes the first major story arc, but it’s not over yet! Volume 3 comes out on December 12th this year, and in Japan volume 6 has already been scheduled, so there’s still plenty more to Mia’s story. I definitely ready to be following Mia’s adventures for the long haul!
Jeskai Angel: Finally, if you read all this way but still haven’t read Tearmoon Empire, hurry up and go read it already! It’s awesome.