I have not read many light novels (LN) to date. So far, I've read up to current in Arifureta, about fifty chapters of Re:Monster, and about four volumes of No Game No Life, but I can safely say that Mushoku Tensei is the best light novel series I have read so far. Up until this year, I've basically written off LNs as mangas but with more words than pictures and they take longer to get through since I'm a slow reader. Though when I found out that the manga of Re:Monster was based off of a LN, I decided to check it out because the world was really interesting. While looking through the forum that was translating Re:Monster, there was a large amount of suggestions to check out other LNs and Mushoku Tensei was one of the LNs recommended the most. So, one slow evening I decided to check it out and I'm so glad I did.
Mushoku Tensei follows a worthless hikikomori who gets kicked out of his house by his siblings after skipping his parent's funeral. With no money and nowhere to go, he contemplates where he went wrong in life and what to do next until he notices a trio of teenagers arguing in the middle of the road. Due to their argument, the trio doesn't notice an out of control truck heading their way. Wanting to do something good with his life, our protagonist rushes into the street and saves the trio at the cost of his own life. Soon after his last memories, our protagonist is reborn into a new world as Rudeus (Rudi) Greyrat, the son of a knight. With his memories intact, our protagonist swears to live his new life to the fullest without regrets. And so began the tale of Rudeus Greyrat.
Mushoku Tensei's story is incredibly good because it's well constructed and it's simple. Specifically, Rudi's main goal in life is to live a fulfilling life. This plot set up great because it's vague enough to allow other smaller stories in it, which build towards the main goal. So as the story and world expands, so do Rudi's responsibilities and desires, which fleshes out who Rudi is. This weaves story progression with character growth, which is great because it makes the story feel relatable. Also, upon rereading the first few for volumes of this series, I was floored at how many elements from the beginning of the novel came up again later in the series. It was astonishing because it makes series feel like it was planned out from the beginning and it allows you to speculate on what developments could occur in the future. Mushoku Tensei's story is well constructed because it's built around a human, while making every detail in the story important.
Every character in this LN is fantastic because they grow and change throughout the series. The best example of this is the main character Rudi because at the beginning of the series, he references many tropes of games and other otaku media, but as time goes on he begins to mature and starts to take the world in front of him seriously. This character progression is great because the reader gets to see Rudi evolve from a kid who has access to a plethora of information to an adult who uses his previous experiences to make himself and the people close to him happy. This kind of character progression applies to the side characters as well though in less detail. The audience gets to see who each of the side characters are and how they might have formed their current attitude through their actions and the environment they live in, but as time progresses, we get to see how their experiences change them into more mature people. The characters in this series are simply phenomenal because every character is constantly growing throughout the series.
Despite being set in a stereotypical high fantasy world, the lore, mechanics, and the people whom inhabit this world sets Mushoku Tensei apart from its peers. In the first two volumes of the series, Mushoku Tensei spends quite a bit of time fleshing out the legends within the world in good detail. What this does is it gives the reader an idea of structure of the world without actually talking about it, while also building up the encounters with these legends. Also, Mushoku Tensei puts just as much care into the mechanics of its world as its lore. This includes all kinds of mechanics in the world, which varies from how magic works to the conversion of currencies between nations. By fleshing out these mechanics, it makes the world of Mushoku Tensei feel real because it gives the reader the impression that the world works in deliberate ways. The world in Mushoku Tensei feels vast and vibrant because the lore and mechanics of the world are detailed.
The writing in this series is really good because it has a good balance of exposition and character interactions that makes it easy to read. Like other LNs, Mushoku Tensei is written from the perspective of the main character and indulges in inner thoughts. This is a good way to characterize the main character and get through exposition quickly since the main character can summarize some parts of the explosion for the reader, but the way these inner thoughts are written is fantastic in Mushoku Tensei. Specifically, Muskou Tensei provides Rudi's thoughts on the pieces of exposition in the story, which makes parts like explaining the difference between magics that use chants and chantless magic interesting because he forms a hypothesis on the subject instead of stating the difference of this phenomenon as a fact. This approach to exposition ties back into the mechanics of the world, while also leaving open space to expand upon these mechanics. Also, character interactions are used to great effect because they're long enough to flesh out the characters in the conversation, while also providing a good break from exposition. It's just so refreshing to have a snappy conversation that's pretty entertaining after getting through a chunk of interesting exposition. Overall, the writing of this series is balanced while providing prevalent information to the story and characters.
Mushoku Tensei has a brisk pace that covers ground pretty quickly, for better or worse. What I mean is that Mushoku Tensei frequently skips through time. This isn't as bad as it seems because these time skips often occur when a status quo in the story is established. So when the main characters are traveling a long distance or simply earning money, a time skip is likely to occur. This isn't all bad because these time skips are accompanied by a general overview of what the character were doing during the time skip as well as a summary on any interesting developments during the skip. While there is a large number of time skips in the series, they occur in places where it doesn't interfere with the flow of the story and they are accompanied with detailed summaries of what occurred in the time skip.
I had a great time reading Mushoku Tensei. So much so that I've began rereading the series again because the story is so well constructed that information presented in the first few volumes are still important in the most recent volume of the series. The series is also just so easy to read that I don't get tired of reading it for such a long time. This is helped by the fact that the world and characters are well fleshed and interesting that I can't wait to see the main cast encounter a new piece of the world that hasn't been touched on or retread old ground to see how new information changed what has already been presented. The only flaw of this series is the fact that it frequently uses time skips, but the way it uses time skips is good because it doesn't interrupt the flow of the series. Overall, Mushoku Tensei is a fantastic series that everyone should read some time in their life.
You can read Mushoku Tensei here.
All images were taken from Baka-Tsuki. I do not own any of these images.
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