William is the lone human in a city of the dead. Born with vague memories of a past life in contemporary Japan where he failed to do anything useful, he is determined not to make the same mistake again, and that this time, his life will be lived. But what does that really mean? Raised by a group of the undead, William must discover what circumstances brought him to this city and these people as well as what it means to not just exist, but to live a full life.
Amidst all the crappy imouto fetish light novels involving writing those crappy imouto fetish light novels, all the trashy Isekai harem light novels about an all powerful yet completely beta as fuck male protagonist who makes every single virgin as wet as a drowned rat only with a single glance, who in the end may or may not *canonically* or *not so canonically* load several years worth of man yoghurt into shallow heroines, amidst all of those utter degeneracies in this darkest of all timelines which we have been destined to live in for whatever crimes we have committed, it sometimes comes a work of
literature that ever so slightly restores your belief in the light novel industry. The Faraway Paladin is one of those works.
In terms of story it starts off as every other Isekai but with a dark twist. The main protagonist Will is not run over by truck-kun, he kills himself (or perhaps starves to death, this part is left very vague). The official synopsis tells the rest much better than I ever could :
In a city of the dead, long since ruined and far from human civilization, lives a single human child. His name is Will, and he’s being raised by three undead: the hearty skeletal warrior, Blood; the graceful mummified priestess, Mary; and the crotchety spectral sorcerer, Gus. The three pour love into the boy, and teach him all they know. But one day, Will starts to wonder: “Who am I?” Will must unravel the mysteries of this faraway dead man’s land, and unearth the secret pasts of the undead. He must learn the love and mercy of the good gods, and the bigotry and madness of the bad. And when he knows it all, the boy will take his first step on the path to becoming a Paladin. “I promised you. It’s gonna take a while, but I’ll tell you everything. This is the story of the deaths of many heroes. It’s the story of how we died, and it’s the reason you grew up here.”
Mythology, good and evil, right and wrong, familiar love, friendship, sense of responsibility. Themes you barely see mentioned in other Isekai novels are the core parts of this story. The author avoids the usual Isekai tropes as a plague. Although sometimes that does give off the feeling that the author is trying too hard, most of the times it is done in a masterful way.
Volumes 1 and 3B are especially good as they both have interesting conflicts and resolutions. Volumes 2 and 3A are however a bit worse in quality. 3A is mostly setting up the conflict for volume 3B so it shouldn't really be regarded as a full story. The problem with volume 2 however was the fact that there wasn't a real conflict and felt a bit boring to read. There were a lot of interesting characters introduced in this volume.
Volume 4 consisted of a set of short stories penned by the Paladin himself. Stories are all interesting and some are very unique. There is one about bride kidnapping, something I never expected to see in a light novel. I also have some minor problems with the story. It really feels like the author doesn't know where to take the story from here. I hope I am wrong about that.
The art in this LN is my favourite LN art ever. It has some of the best illustrations I have seen. They are nothing like other LN illustrations. My only problem is that there isn't more of it.
The characters are all lovable and very unique. They all have their reasons for what they are doing and it really feels justified.
This is the LOTR of the light novels written in Japanese translated so well that it feels as if it was originally written in English. I really enjoy reading it and strongly recommend it.