Our look at the light novel version of Overlord continues! Now that all the introductions are out of the way, the story kicks off into high gear with one of the most infamous moments in the series, at least from anime fans can remember. Let’s get into it after the cut!
One of the things that surprised me about Overlord when reading (and watching it) is how it decides to make Ainz live two lives, as well as his hesitance to straight up god-mode the entire world. The ruler of Nazarick is cautious individual, not wanting to run into a world that might be too powerful for him, nor risk the lives of his subordinates. It shows a degree of consideration and care that is something I hope will grow as the series goes on. The floor guardians, the Pleiades maids, and everyone else in Nazarick remain Ainz’s only connection to his guild and old world.
Those duel lives make up the bulk of this book, as Ainz, with the help of one of the aforementioned Pleiades, Narberal, goes out into the world under the disguise of the Momon, a black armored adventure. There he goes on a few quests, meets another set of adventures, and starts to make a name for himself, not as the undead king, but as the black warrior. Of course this brings him into the cross-hairs of members of the Black scripture, a special forces unit of the Slain theocracy. Most notably though, this brings him the attention of Clementine.
Now almost all Isekai, even those that don’t lean heavily into it, are often stories about the main character using their unbelievable power against the new world they find themselves in. Overlord is no exception, and despite his cautious nature, it is quite clear that Ainz is the most powerful thing on the damn planet. So watching him go up against Clementine, to toy and play with her, giving her the idea that she might win, only to turn things around and literally crush her, was a fun read. The switch from confidence to terror for Clementine, who thought she had everything under control, until she didn’t was done well in the anime, and it holds up well in the text too. Her death is gruesome and unsettling, and Ainz despite being a man of mercy, shows her none. It is a satisfying climax to the story so far, and still feels fresh.
Overlord has always been at its best when it focuses on Ainz, and as you’ll see as we get into the later books, I found that every time the story pulls away from him, that it starts to fall apart. While the secondary cast feels original and unique, they don’t have that fish out of water feeling that Ainz (and all Isekai leads do). The extra depth from the light novel has started to flesh them out, and I am glad that Narberal, one of the lower level servants was chosen to go with Ainz instead of say Albedo as it helps vary the cast. She may be the door mat, who hates everything about humanity, but she is a good foil to Ainz’s curious and permissive nature, and her level of power, for just being one of the battle maids, shows you just how dangerous everyone in Nazarick is.
The second volume of Overlord continues the good times I was feeling from the first novel. The story decides to go small, both with the stakes and the cast, but it never forgets what makes the series so good. The action is blood-pumping, the results are gory, and the prose of the author is still on point. As I said last time, these are not the typical anime light novels that one would expect from the genre. These really are the dark fantasy novels someone would expect from the west, and I have enjoyed my time with them so far. And while it still remains to be seen if I’ll be able to get over the hump I’ve had with the series before. I can safely say that I am really seeing the reason why Overlord earns it place among Isekai’s big four.