Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol 1: A Review

A young-adult light novel series that promises a “realistic” take on the isekai genre- does it deliver?

My reading list has been teaming up lately with epic, world-spanning fantasy books, which is a big departure from my usual comfort zone of light novels, which can be characterized as more contained stories with lighter themes (although this is not always the case).

Not wanting to completely give up yet, I decided to try a series that I have heard good things about for a while: Grimgar. It promises a break from the usual affair of overpowered, unchecked protagonists in the light novel fantasy/RPG genre. It focuses more on team dynamics, and this is evident clearly with the cover.

Our team is dropped into a world that is set alike in many other novels of this genre, a medieval fantasy setting with goblins and humans, among others. Our characters are not born with a innate power, and have their memories wiped out, which prevents them from implanting new ideas in the current civilization (although I remain doubtful they would have had much impact otherwise).

The majority of the book is spent exploring the team dynamics of having a group of people suddenly drop into a new entire world with strangers and try to work together to form a sort of cohesive group, with ups and downs that come along the way. While there was some unrealistic game elements (and even some characters referring to their situations being game-like), it is very much grounded in a conceptual framework of team building and friendship (I know how corny that sounds).

Now, what did I think of the series, or at least book one? Well, I felt like it had a decent and engaging enough premise, but the novel lacks good pacing and the writing seems like it could be expanded upon. Now, admittedly, part of this is due to the translation from Japanese, which is a common problem of translations in general (the dilemma of balance vs new flavor).

Now, I guess, should I read the next volume? Perhaps. Maybe. But when I have book like the Eye of the World and the Rhythm of War next to me, I would probably have to wait a long while before I get to it- not that I mind, of course 🙂






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