Light Novel Review: TaiCheat Volume 4

Who Would Like this Series/Volume?


Volume 4 of TaiCheat is a bit more dramatic in a good way. It’s nothing to grave that’d make you feel bad, but big enough to break the stale atmosphere the volumes so far have built up: It feels more like the events that unfold do matter; and it feels more like Tsunenobu is actually accomplishing something to make the girls fall for him. If you liked the previous installments, volume 4 is better in every sense but arguably the humoristic side. The jokes aren’t as hard-hitting as in the first half of volume 3, you will have your fun, nonetheless.

Difficulty


I was able to blaze right through the volume, there aren’t all too many new places to keep track of, and much less new characters. The story is fairly straightforward, solely the intrigues and political things that are going on could make you waver in your reading experience. It’s slightly above average in difficulty.

Difficulty 6/10

Translation Where?


Nothing that I know of.

Contents


NOTE: These summaries can never give you an accurate impression on how the book reads or what the book is really like. It simply gives you the gist of the novel, but don’t judge the book by this alone. It can’t be helped that things read rushed and colorless in a summary. You can get an idea by reading the conclusion and, finally, by reading it yourself!

The Whole Damn Thing

As I said in the previous volumes, a rough summary of a story with this many places and characters just can’t be good. The story is consistent, so if my summary seems confusing then the issue’s my summary not being detailed enough; I’m not taking notes while I read, I simply write down summaries off the top of my head. I encourage everyone who finds the story interesting to simply try and read it themselves.

 

Volume four starts with a short forward look of things to happen. Tsunenobu and company are in Sierra’s homeland, Terue, and apparently try to liberate an icy mountain stronghold occupied by a gang of thieves. Surrounded by three steep, icy cliffs and the only passage up to the stronghold booby-trapped, the leader of the thieves is, of course, pretty confident that this’ll take Tsunenobu and company months. The next day, however, the stronghold has fallen to the new fantasy world Amazon and the spike boots and ice picks he express ordered for everyone of his thousands of soldiers there…

Back to where the volume really starts off, Tsunenobu gets attacked during the night. Tied up and gagged, he can identify his attacker as… Natalia. All of the princesses have been called back to their homeland and since Natalia wants to be with the Emperor for a bit longer, she figured she’d just take him with her… by force. However, Malaika, Marianne, Sierra, and Yuri also turn up one by one, wanting to take the Emperor with them. In the end, they come to an agreement: The Emperor should do a foreign tour and visit them.

The next day, Tsunenobu suggests exactly that to the ministers and advisors. As they only just finished the railway connecting the Royal Capital with Brimrock, they settle with taking the chance to inaugurate the newly constructed railroad to travel to and visit Brimrock in the north-west, then Terue in the north-east. Next would be Atoma – Yuri’s home – but she states that this wouldn’t be a good idea at the time, much to the dismay of some of the advisors who take it as an insult. Anyway, Igdral (homeland of Rosalinde, I think that’s how I translated the name) is out of question since it’s still hostile, which leaves Erzurum (Malaika) in the south-east and the island of Alegranza (Natalia) for last.

Tsunenobu got an inquiry from his spec ops/idol group, whose name I shall decipher one day, and pays them a visit. Apparently, there are fans all over the continent who’re aching to see them live, and they’d really like to fulfill their wish. He’s ready to agree and let them do a continental tour, however, Chara reminds him that other countries aren’t as safe as the Empire due to bands of thieves, conspiracies, corruption, you name it. Sending his spec ops, Hilde, and Paola out into danger zones like that wouldn’t bode well. So he promises his idols this instead: He’ll set the continent at peace.

You get to read a few hints at a rich, illuminati-style merchant family called “Veiljendon” (?), who are rumored to have their hands in all kinds of conspiracies, making kingdoms collapse, getting their favorite candidate on the throne, that kinda stuff. They mainly operate through a few large trading companies, whose names I’ll decipher once the time comes.

Anyway, Tsunenobu and company are on their way to Brimrock via train. The trip, however, shall not go eventless as a ninja tried to sneak in and got apprehended by Rosali. Hilde hurries to her aid and together they manage to overpower and restrain her. Stripped to her undies to make sure she carries no more weapons, it turns out to be a beast loli like Chala. She refuses to talk. Marianne also showed up by now and suggests she could make the loli talk. That, however, won’t be necessary, since when Chala shows up, who apparently is a beast hero according to her knowledge, the ninja is very talkative. Her name’s Chiyo. She works for Count Aimar and she read on the internet that Chala is a hero for the beast race and that the Emperor is the worst evil to have ever befallen the continent and must be stopped. Checking out her “communicator” (the device everyone accesses the internet with) it turns out that it’s been tampered with and only allows access to specific sites which contain false information.

So to make it short: There’s a Count in the Empire who sent out one of his assassins to murder Tsunenobu. However, the assassin isn’t the smartest, so it’s considered to be a warning: Stop with your reforms and weakening our position in the process or we’ll kill your a*s. The Count takes in a lot of poor folk and abuses them. He gives them those sabotaged communicators to feed them lies, makes them work for minimum wage, puts them in meager houses and even takes vast potions of that minimum wage for them for rent, leaving them with hardly enough to even eat yet works them to the bone. All the while making it look like he’s doing them a favor even though he is exploiting them for cheap labor.

Again the large trading companies are mentioned and how they have their hands in various governments like Igdral and Brimrock as they’re bankrollers, foreshadowing that Tsunenobu and his reforms will probably make him and those companies come to blows.

Short fun scene with Cuore bursting into Tsunenobu’s room in a string that she express ordered online, delivered by Yuri who’s being used as a way of express-express order, since she can literally just warp herself to a location. Welp, Tsunenobu tells her to stop abusing Yuri as a delivery option.

Aaand he got abducted. Even though he should wake up in his room on the train, Tsunenobu opens his eyes and is with the elven queen, Fatina. She doesn’t really state why she took him and he doesn’t really ask, but here’s the stuff she’s telling him: She knows he isn’t the “original” Emperor, he “smells” otherworldly. Elves also have aliases, their real names are well-protected and only told to the person they literally commit their lives to, since knowing their true name makes them very vulnerable (the “original” Emperor died from a curse because of that, after all). Bice has a dead younger brother, seeing him die and no one being able to do something about it since elves were circle-jerks was the trigger for her to force elves to open up to the outer world. The elven queen’s blogging and no one cares (kappa), so Tsunenobu has to promise to try and promote her blog. Overall, she just seems worried about Bice and wanted to get to know Tsunenobu.

Bice finally arrives, complains a bunch to the queen about abducting the Emperor, and takes Tsunenobu with her. There’s an intimate talk between them where she feigns to be weak so that Tsunenobu carries her, gives him a kiss on his cheek and whispers her real name into his ear, demonstrating her devotion. Before long, they run into Marianne and Rin. Taking the chance to ride Rin to Brimrock, they talk about dragons on their way. Apparently, elves are raising docile dragons as – for instance – animals to be used in something like the fantasy air force. Rin, a legendary dragon of old, despises the idea to turn dragons into docile pets who blindly follow their master, so that’s a topic to avoid in front of her.

Paola and the other girls are already waiting for Tsunenobu in Brimrock. He meets up with the King of Brimrock, and surprises him in a pleasant way: They speak a different language in Brimrock compared to the Empire. That, however, means nothing to Tsunenobu. After all, Paola’s cast a spell on him that makes him understand any modern language back when he first arrived in this world. So Bice is quite surprised that Tsunenobu is fluent in whatever language is spoken in Brimrock. She, on the other hand, isn’t quite as fluent, so he has to “translate” some for her.

After the meeting with the King of Brimrock is over and they both emphasized that they wanna be on good terms, it’s night already. Tsunenobu’s asleep and, again, awakes somewhere where he shouldn’t be. This time, it’s on Rin’s back. She is, of course, in her dragon form and has something to show to Tsunenobu. It’s about Duke Canteloube. I think it’s both the name of the nobel as well as region. Anyway, Marianne is in a meeting with her advisors and Rin dragged Tsunenobu to outside of the briefing room to make him understand the problem. One of Brimrock’s biggest industries is tourism, mainly hot springs. Being a kingdom in the cold north, there isn’t much else. The Duke, however, practically monopolized the hot spring business, bought up a bunch of them, yet lets them degrade and only takes good care of a few spots, which he then rents out for outrageous prices. Mind you, the price alone is the luxus, you still get something average at best. That hits the hot springs business and hence Brimrock’s economy overall, since less people are visiting. Just killing his a*s is not an option, since he’s gained enough backing during the years to potentially split the country on the matter. However, if this keeps up, Brimrock might collapse financially. Again, it’s suggested that the Veiljendon family has their hands in this. Rin roundabout tells Tsunenobu to help Marianne out.

The idea is to pep up a spot who isn’t under the Duke’s control yet. So Tsunenobu uses the Empire’s power to quick-build a large and luxurious, yet affordable hotel on the spot and tells Chala to make a commercial for it. The commercial, well, turns out to be pretty damn suggestive (as was the production process) but makes the internet explode thanks to that. Also, the spec ops/idol group will hold an exclusive concert there. That should be enough to help attract tourists and boost Brimrock’s economy. Also, Tsunenobu has to leave for Terue, he’s on a tour, after all. Marianne suggests to take Paola, Bice, and him there. On the way, she gets close to Tsunenobu and asks why he did all that hot spring stuff. He doesn’t want to sell out Rin and even though she’s still kinda suspicious of him, he manages to persuade her that he did it just for himself to get a vacation house going.

And so they arrive in Terue. It’s a kingdom which originally consisted of eight smaller kingdoms, whose strongest dynasty got to reign the country, while the other seven became ministers. Tsunenobu is meant to meet with the current King, Leonard II. They’re welcomed by Sierra, who he asks to take them to the King (a command), but she refuses and runs away (since she gets to enjoy pleasure from that subordination magic Paola cast on her way back). In any case, they manage to find the King, who seems to act quite weird. His subordinates seem to be quite worried whether he can keep it together, too. Finally, he breaks down and it turns out that he is actually a transsexual (behaving kinda like the swan-guy in One Piece). That, of course, is something the public mustn’t know, since the ministers would revolt and start a revolution instantly. For the same reason, the King also doesn’t do many public appearances, since he can barely restrain his true self. Instead, his “wife” – his childhood friend he mock married – tends to public relations. All of his children are adopted, he has no blood related heir to the throne.

That state of affairs is, of course, super suspicious and the ministers, all of them hungry for the throne, keep plotting and stirring in the background. While Bice and Paola are doing something else, Sierra is alone with Tsunenobu and asks him to come up with a new way to boost their economy to lead the public interest away from the throne and ease some tension. Tsunenobu gives it his all and finally comes up with something: The aurora lights in the north. They don’t seem special to Sierra and people living there, but to others they’re special occurrences that could be promoted like the hot springs in Brimrock. Seeing Tsunenobu try-hard like that does also stir Sierra’s affection in a non-perverted manner (for once). The idea is to extend the railway to make it continental and provide a safe mean of travel (which there isn’t now, bandits etc.), and then connect various countries to make extensive vacation trips possible. Reminding Tsunenobu that connecting countries by railway also makes them vulnerable (quick invasion route), Sierra agrees nonetheless. However, there’s still a bandit problem.

Those bandits are likely financed by one of those rich merchant families. The scheme more or less goes like this: The trading company provides the bandits with arms and supplies, they rob their merchants, the trading company then sells those hot goods on another market and gets insurance money at the same time. If that doesn’t work, they contract the merchants and make the merchants themselves pay for any losses en route, burdening them with a huge debt in the process and effectively turning them into slaves. Since they’ve no evidence against the illuminati, Tsunenobu promises Sierra he’ll take care of the bandits for her instead.

Which leads us back to the very beginning, where the bandit stronghold falls within a day. They manage to get intel out of their leader suggesting that the Veiljendon family represented by a guy with a pigeon mask ordered them to do so. Emergency notice from Brimrock: They’ve received terrorist threats.

Back in Brimrock, it appears that the Veiljendon family does their best in the shadows to try and stop Tsunenobu from revitalizing the economy by trying to make them cancel the live concert. To try and find out who’s behind this, Tsunenobu and his gang spy on Duke Canteloube. He’s in a meeting with his advisors. Since Tsunenobu managed to disperse all their attempts on disrupting the peace around the planned concert so far, he sees no other option but to attack. It’s also suggested that the hot spring well of his region, Canteloube, has run dry. To protect his citizens from becoming poor, he has to secure new land (or something like that).

He, by the way, suffers from a specific dragonrider disease. Dragons have much more magical power than humans and it basically oozes out of them, the rider is exposed to that oozing magic, and over the years it’s more than the body can take, poisoning the rider in the process. That makes their body turn blacker and blacker until they eventually die. This is only mentioned later but I’ll just get it out of the way: Marianne doesn’t seem to suffer from it even though Rin is even more of a magical power blob.

Anyway, they follow one of his advisors with their spy drone and find him going into a secret room with the pigeon mask guy inside. As all bad guys do, he basically spills all of their plans unknowing that he’s being monitored. So they indeed did that stuff in Brimrock, they tried to get a marionette King on the throne of Brimrock after causing a civil war, they made the Duke sign a contract that’d hand the region over to their trading company once he dies (if I remember correctly).

So here’s how it’s resolved: Tsunenobu imposes himself on the King of Brimrock and Marianne – who’re about to set out to war with the Duke – telling them to not do anything, he’ll take care of it (the scene with Marianne is especially good). He tells Cuore and Yuri to teleport scientists from the Empire to Canteloube and Sierra to help them dig up another well. Paola helps him construct a honey-trapped “fake” town for him to attack, and he contacts the elven queen to help him confuse the dragons they ride. So in the end, he captures all of the attacking forces in the fake town without a fight, after the dragons’ navigation got fooled through the queen’s efforts and the riders themselves thought they were in the right place because Tsunenobu saw through the outrageous plan of rebuilding a whole landscape. Anyway, Tsunenobu lectures him on how much of a fool he is for trying to kill himself in a fight with Marianne and that it wouldn’t’ve helped his retainers if he died etc. etc. Then he surprises him by showing that he dug up a new well for his dumb a*s.

They also managed to capture the trading company agent, pigeon guy. He, of course, is very confident that the illuminati will free him soon. Instead, however, there’s a bunch of assassins jumping him all of a sudden. Those assassins are being taken care of by Chiyo, who also appears out of nowhere. Masato sent her and he basically ordered her stupid a*s to stay with the Emperor for now (probably got tired of her).

The volume closes with Tsunenobu enjoying a bit of hot spring time for himself. Of course, Rin turns up before long, in her girl form, and has a talk with him. Soon after, Marianne and Sierra show up too. And I sh*t you not, this is what happens: Marianne is now all serious about becoming Tsunenobu’s wife, gives him a hand job with Rin and then right before Rin can put his thing into her, Yuri appears and teleports him to where Malaika is. There’s no hint whatsoever that what I just said could be a misunderstanding or something, the author really seems to have gone this far. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Conclusion


Volume 4 Cover

Volume 4 of TaiCheat is already ambitious in its premise: Tsunenobu sets out on a journey throughout the continent to improve and strengthen political relations with the neighboring countries. However, such a journey can’t fit into one volume, hence we’re dealing with a whole story arc here. Considering how fast series can get shot down these days (Kusoge), a bold move. Usually, such arcs start off kinda unsatisfactory since they’re just slowly building during the first part and then end in cliffhangers. I won’t say that volume 4 doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but Tsunenobu manages to visit and resolve issues in two countries, so TaiCheat doesn’t disappoint on this front.

The front it does disappoint a bit on, is the humor. After the first half of volume 3, I had high hopes for what jokes and quirky characters the author would come up with this time around. In the end, it got a few laughs out of me, but what made me grin the most were the dramatic scenes since the lead-up and how they were resolved was just so satisfying. Volume 4 is carried by its story, not its humor, which I’d rate above average; a welcome garnish to the great story.

Story-wise, we’re in illuminati territory: In reality, most countries are being controlled by a super rich family, owning multiple trading companies across the land, ruining economies to cause civil war only to put their own puppet on the throne. It’s a weirdly serious premise for TaiCheat: Former volumes went a more lighthearted, ridiculous route. It’s uncharacteristic that a series breaks with its style this early on, but it’s weirdly fitting and well done on top of that. The author’s definitely able to pull this kind of story off, too. We aren’t in dark fantasy territory, mind you. All that’s changed is that the story is less ridiculous, it’s nothing offputting.

The world building this time around is excellent. You get lots of background information about neighboring countries, hostile forces behind the scenes, specific characters, and heroines. There’s really little left to be desired in this regard, everything bad I’ve to say would just be nitpicking.

Even the characters do mature in a way. A bunch of ulterior motives are being taken out of the way to open them up for the true harem and make them behave more “honest.”

That leads to a quite astonishing thing I’d like to point out: At the end of volume 4, a heroine actually tries to sleep with Tsunenobu. Not just the usual chickening out of it before anything serious happens, she literally gives him a handjob and then he gets teleported away right before she can put it in. That surprised me big time since I’ve never read something like that in a light novel, it’s usually the line they dare not to cross, but yeah, there you have it. Of course there might be some sort of clarification in the next volume about how the phrases they used were something completely different, but there’s no such thing in volume 4 and the illustrations doesn’t suggest otherwise, either. We be reading softcore porn now, boys!

All in all, TaiCheat volume 4 is an excellent light novel that improved in all regards but the humor. I keep saying about this series that nothing special happens, that Paola is annoying, that it’s just too sexual, but in the end this series is the only that I can stick with reading in one go these days (I’ve started reading like 15 novels (no joke) at the moment, hence the lack of updates, they just can’t keep my attention). The only thing I can truly criticize volume 4 for is how ridiculously sexual it can turn. Sex sells, but the sex in this volume can look pretty cheap and clunky. Nevertheless, I feel like I’ve to do TaiCheat volume 4 some justice and give it a 9. My guts tell me 8, but screw my guts. I’m surely interested in volume 5 now.

Rating 9/10

 

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