Walking My Second Path in Life(not isekai)
Why did I start reading it? I was lacking in books one day while waiting for the bus so when this happens, I open up the J-Novel app on my phone and read a preview. Walking My Second Path looked cute so I opened up the preview and fell in love. It's the first ebook I've ever pre-ordered.
What is it? Fie is a princess who had lived in the shadow of her twin sister that seemed have everything. Looks, brains, kindness. Fie was shoved to the sidelines as 'the other princess' in their small kingdom. Her parents had so little faith or love for her that they basically sold her off in a deal with her twin's new husband so that he would take both of them. Said husband hid her away and Fie despairs that she will be confined and ignored for the rest of her life Though she finds her hope in a discarded leaflet on the ground, an advert for squire tests. No backgrounds or identification documents required, Fie sees this as her only way out so she embarks on her second life as a squire.
What are the characters like? There is no one I dislike in this book, despite it's large cast. I don't feel like I got to know many of them passed the stereotypes they came off as but since the first book seems to be more of an introduction I'm happy to wait for their turn to shine and excited to see how they will affect the story.
Anyone particularly cool? None stood out to me as the character I wanted to obsess over but that's not a bad thing. I loved them all. I'll say Fie herself was a particularly interesting character. As a Princess, albeit a mistreated one, I came into the book with certain expectations about her character, then I got to the squire entrance exams and realised that Fie is much more than she seems. She is willing to do anything she needs to get what she wants, she is fearless, ruthless and devious when she needs to be. Not to the point she's evil or anything, I'd still call her alignment neutral good as she has good intentions most of the time, she just has questionable methods. You can understand, during the test, why she would be so desperate given her circumstances and at that point, I pinned her questionable actions to that...then there is a side story in the middle of the book that shows it's not just her circumstances at the time, she's always been that terrifying.
What's the bad news? The story is good and all, but isn't very well structured. It floats from event to event like a weekly TV show without much in the way of an overarching plot, other than Fie trying to hide her past. I couldn't tell you who was supposed to be the villain as any shady characters were introduced purely for the scenes they were in and that seemed about it. Also, it was pretty short. The book was padded out with three side stories, which I enjoyed but was left reading them mildly disappointed that I didn't get to know what happened in the main plot.
And the good news? Good news is, I love how it handled its core idea. Fie poses as a boy for the squire tests, not because women aren't allowed it's just simply because none have ever tried and pretending to be a boy upped her chances tenfold. Fie trying to keep her secret was at the book's core and it had fun with it, throwing in someone else who is hiding their identity that thickens the plot nicely. After that, it established what characters were aware of what. Some characters being aware that Fie is female but not her true identity, some knowing the identity of the other person who is hiding their identity and one poor guy able to see the whole mess and has no idea what to do about it. I also thought it was very progressive with one character. I won't say who because it's a nice reveal but one of the knights crosses dresses. I was very impressed by the way it was handled, the book never made it out as some kind of joke, in fact, the skill is quickly something to be admired and then to top it off, after the reveal, it's established that the character just enjoys cross-dressing. Their character (at least for now) doesn't reveal any sad backstory reason or mental health issues that lead to it, it's played off as normal from that moment on, and it's refreshing to see something like this have a good impact on the story without being seen as something wrong with the character.
Would you recommend? Yes, Walking My Second Path in Life is a quick and light fantasy read with a very interesting protagonist.
Like reading this? Then you might be interested in reading about another light fantasy light novel: I Became the Secretary of a Hero!