Based on the light novels by Kanata Yanagino, The Faraway Paladin manga by Mutsumi Okubashi is an atmospheric fantasy series that takes it’s time establishing it’s world and protagonist. This omnibus edition collects the first two volumes of the manga, so we’ve got a good chunk of story to discuss in this review.
As a baby, William (Will) was found and subsequently taken in by an odd group consisting of: Blood, a tough undead skeleton warrior, Mary, a kind mummy priestess, and Gus, a scholarly ghost sorcerer. Together, they raise Will in a secluded castle and teach him how to fight, use magic and generally fend for himself. By the time he reaches his coming of age ceremony, Will has grown into an impressive warrior who’s ready to take on the world; but there are a lot of things surrounding why his found-family is residing in this remote area, and how he ended up orphaned in the first place, that Will doesn’t know. Once he discovers the truth, Will realizes that, if he wants to protect the precious people who raised him, he’s in for the fight of his life!
The Faraway Paladin presents an intriguing world of magic and powerful gods who have a profound influence on the lives of humans. On the day of his coming of age ceremony, William will be expected to choose a god to devote himself too. Each god governs different aspects of the world and is associated with different virtues. There are even some dark and nefarious gods who oppose the good deities and are perilous to get involved with. The god whom Will feels most drawn to, and I suspect the one he will wind up choosing to follow, is Gracefeel, goddess of the eternal cycle.
The reason he’s so drawn to her is, of course, because Will has been reincarnated into this fantasy world and has memories of his previous life.
I was originally a little confused by the inclusion of this isekai element, as it initially seemed superfluous. Will could have just as easily been a normal kid, as his memories from his previous life don’t play a huge role in the plot. Or, at least, they didn’t at first.
Will has a bit of a hang up over wasting his previous life and having not been good to his family and loved ones when he had the chance, though it’s left a bit vague as to how exactly he wasn’t a good son. This lingering guilt isn’t something that drives the plot, so it didn’t seem that important to Will’s character in the beginning. Then the action gets started and Will becomes determined to do right by his family this time around and to protect Blood, Mary and Gus, no mater what it costs him!
Since the story spent so much time in the first half of the book establishing Will’s unusual family and how much they all meant to each other, it’s gut-wrenching when the story kicks into high gear in the second half and we realize how much danger everyone is in. All that slow development and ground work establishing the characters really paid off and I was completely caught up in Will’s struggle to save everyone. I’d come to love the proud and manly Blood, the caring and gentle Mary and even the crotchety and blunt Gus. They’d taken such good care of Will and done their best to teach him everything he’d need to know to survive, so it was extremely satisfying to see him put their teachings to good use and work so hard to protect them all.
In short, I enjoyed this manga a lot. The slow build up of the mystery surrounding Will’s foster family, and why they were all living in this abandoned corner of the world, was really satisfying. I found Will’s determination to protect his family compelling, and I can’t wait for the next volume to come out so I can see if he manages to succeed. If you’re an isekai or fantasy fan, be sure to give this manga a try!
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit J-Novel Club’s website.
What did you think of this manga? Is anyone reading the light novel series? Let me know in the comments!
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