Review: Ascendance of a Bookworm – Pt 2: Apprentice Shrine Maiden (Vol 3)

After the trouble during the trombe removal, Myne’s life just seems to be getting busier. With the Spring Prayer approaching, a new bodyguard appointed and the imminent birth of her baby sibling on the horizon, its hard for a girl to keep up! Plus, all is not as it seems as forces far beyond Myne’s expectations have gained an interest in the oddball apprentice blue shrine maiden.

The Apprentice Shrine Maiden arc of Ascendance of a Bookworm continues with volume three; the sixth novel within the series overall. Written by Miya Kazuki and illustrated by You Shiina, English translation was done by Quof for J-novel Club’s edition. The digital ebook release was published in April 2020, with a print edition following in November.

As this Apprentice Shrine Maiden arc has continued to develop over the past several books, it has become obvious that despite all the knowledge of future technologies and modern life Urano has from her past it can’t help her within a society with such a segregated class structure. Her previous lessons and warnings about the futility of challenging the status quo are starkly proven throughout this book, making it that much more obvious how hard change will be. The paired circumstances of her reincarnation and her potent Devouring allowed her the opportunity to make small changes and spread relatively revolutionary ideas amidst her peers without too much backlash, but this third volume shows exactly what the larger consequences of that has been within the upper echelons of society.

First things first is the successful development of the metal type by the young and talented Johann, following Myne’s complicated and detailed order. Whilst the completion of the set is a cause for Myne’s celebration (and affectionately renaming the young apprentice to Gutenberg), the excitement is rapidly soured when further development has to be halted. Ferdinand explains that the ease of mechanised printing will directly encroach on scribe work for nobles, and as such cannot be permitted—the vested interests much more powerful than those Myne has encountered in the past.

It’s not just the printing press that has been causing waves within high society, and as more and more powerfully dangerous have been taking notice the High Priest has been working hard to protect her.

His solution and ultimatum for our protagonist is her adoption into a noble family. Within two years she is expected to leave her commoner past behind and join the house of a trustworthy Lord. In this decision Myne doesn’t have a choice—leaving her family, friends and way of life behind in order to protect them from noble ire. This hits especially hard knowing how excited she is to be a good older sister.

These aren’t paranoid fears that Ferdinand has though, and it truly does feel like the priest is working with Myne’s best interests in mind. Without the protection of a noble name supporting her and her ideas, she’d very likely be imprisoned, enslaved or killed immediately for causing problems. This point is made even more obvious when the carriage procession for the Spring Prayer is attacked en route—with Myne as the obvious target. It’s only with the combined effort of Myne, Ferdinand and the newly introduced, aggrivatingly childish Sylvester that the worst is avoided. The untimely death of the Ink Guildmaster who had been investigating Myne and her methods also comes as a terrifying warning. Because of all of this, its deemed too dangerous for Myne to travel without a guard at all times—the newly-appointed Damuel forced into the role.

That’s not to say everything is doom and gloom in the book though, as the exciting arrival of Myne’s newest sibling caps off the main story. Aside from being the sweet introduction of baby Kamil, bringing the little family even closer, it’s an fascinating opportunity for world-building. Showing the celebration of new life along with the very real risks of childbirth and infant mortality amongst the lower classes.

Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2: Apprentice Shrine Maiden volume 3 signifies a real turning point to the consequences of Myne’s actions thusfar. Up until now her main adversaries towards her goal were a lack of physical health and pre-existing methods or materials. Now she’s coming face to face with the overt power imbalance within a class society, and how dangerous it can be defying it.

Gee's Rating: Highly Recommended

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