A side story of Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka. It covers the story of the strongest 1st class adventurer, Ais Wallenstein, the "Sword Princess," and her desire to reach even greater heights with her friends in the Loki Familia.
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria has been published in English as Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria by Yen Press under the Yen On imprint since November 1, 2016.
I'm a huge fan of the original DanMachi series, but for some reason I held off on reading the spin-off books for a while. I wasn't sure how a DanMachi series could work without Bell as the focus - especially given how aloof a character Aiz can be. But I finally took the plunge and ripped through six novels in a short period - so this review is based on the first six novels in the story.
This series felt like a bit of a gimmick at first - we'd just see the same story but through Aiz's eyes instead of Bell's. That's how it was
marketed, anyway. Turns out there's a ton going on with some newish characters (most notably Lefiya), and Bell just pops up here or there as a minor plot contrivance - mostly just to keep us aware of where we are in the series' timeline.
The major flaw with the series is that - as I worried - Aiz isn't very emotive. She's quiet and doesn't say much and despite her incredible coolness in battle, she's kind of boring. So the author tries to supplement Aiz's quieter nature by giving Lefiya a major role in the series. Except that Lefiya comes off as a bit of a strange character herself - she's obsessed with Aiz, jealous of Bell, and has a lot of her own self-esteem issues. So the character front is really where this series loses a few points. The main protagonists just aren't that interesting (at least through five volumes). What does help is that characters that were very minor in the original DanMachi play bigger roles as supporting characters here - I especially like Finn and Riveria (and series favourites like Hermes and Asfi are around a bit). Bete and Loki were two characters I really didn't like in the original DanMachi, because we're seeing them largely from Bell's and Hestia's perspectives, and there's a rivalry there. But Bete and Loki really grew on me in Sword Oratoria when viewed from the prism of their own familia.
Also, it should be noted that the sixth volume focuses very heavily on Tione and Tiona, and it does a wonderful job with their backstory. I had always viewed them as two write-off comic relief sidekicks prior to Sword Oratoria (the lovestruck Tione and the air headed TIona). But Volume Six really pulled me into their story.
Sword Oratoria follows a pretty linear story through five volumes, with the Loki Familiar tracking down the mysterious viola monsters that are wreaking havoc in the dungeon. It's pretty much one big, long mystery that dominates the story through five volumes (and into the sixth). There are some epic moments through those five volumes, but it gets a little tiresome just fighting the same monsters/villains over and over.
Overall, Sword Oratoria doesn't quite reach the heights of the original DanMachi series. I would have given it a 7/10 through five volumes. But I was really blown away by Volume Six, so I bumped the overall score up to an 8. If the author can keep cranking up the intensity, the way he has with the main series, I can easily see this score growing higher (I think Volume Six of the original DanMachi was the same point where I went from thinking it was a pretty good series to thinking it was a great series).