The rulers of the Belgarian Empire trace their lineage to L'Empereur Flamme, a warrior famed for both his tremendous strength and his fiery red hair. By the time of Emperor Liam XV, however, the bloodline has started to run thin. No redhead would be born into his family until the fourth child, the tomboyish Princess Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria... who by the age of 14 would run afoul of court politics and be "rewarded" with command of a dangerous border outpost.
Regis Aurick was an inept, timid soldier of common birth, who somehow managed to reach officer rank when a marquis took notice of his sharp mind. Unfortunately, when one of his superior officers got the marquis killed, he would become a scapegoat and be demoted to the front lines. This leads him to be scooped up by the notorious Princess Argentina herself, aka "Altina", as her personal tactician... and her first confidant in her plans to seize the throne herself.
Haken no Kouki Altina (覇剣の皇姫アルティーナ)Translation is a Low Fantasy light novel written by Murasaki Yukiya, describing the struggles of Altina and Regis to bring an end to the pointless Forever War that the nation is constantly locked in with its neighbors. Launched in 2012, the series has 15 books as of September 2018 (1-14 and 7.5). A licensed translation under the title Altina the Sword Princess is available from J-Novel.
A manga adaptation has been produced, running in Famitsu Comic Clear and compiled into four volumes.
This series provides examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight:
- Volume 4 revolves entirely around the Succession Crisis in High Britannia that immediately preceded its invasion of Belgaria, which began at the end of the previous book. The two main characters are Altina's older brother Bastian and Princess Elizabeth, the designated heir of Britannia who faces off against her ambitious sister in a palace coup and fails, with her and Bastian barely escaping with their lives.
- Volume 7.5 takes the attention off Regis and Altina, and focuses on numerous background characters.
- All Just a Dream: How the Overlord/Altina crossover is resolved.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Even among the named characters, the number of aristocrats who are not either evil or completely compromised by those who are can be counted on one hand.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Belgaria does have a powerful navy, even including ships that can match the firepower of High Britannia's top-of-the-line battleships, the Princess-class. However, in order to do this, their design sacrifices speed and maneuverability: the Poseidam-class is essentially a sail-powered ironclad and is exactly as slow as you'd expect, in addition to its broadside being outranged by Britannian guns. Regis credits this, more than anything else, as the reason High Britannia utterly curbstomped them on the open seas and hopes that particular line of ships is retired from service. Especially after he deliberately sinks one as part of a gambit to lure the Britannian fleet into a trap.
- Black-and-Grey Morality: The world of the story is not a kind place. While some of the antagonists do have sympathetic motives and backstories, and even a HeelFace Turn is not unheard of, most of the antagonists are truly atrocious villains, and even the main characters often have to perform morally dubious actions to survive.
- Constructed World: The best way to describe the setting. There is no actual magic in the series aside from the "faerie steel" that Altina's BFS is made from, and the most unrealistic thing about it is that a fourteen-year-old girl can use such a weapon effectively. Everything else is loosely based on the real Europe and relatively well-researched.
- Corrupt Church: Combined with Miles Gloriosus. The country of Hispania is a theocracy that originally held itself as the bastions of righteousness, and led by example, but slowly began to think "since the other countries are not followers of our god, it's okay to steal from them." They then let themselves believe their armies are invincible both at sea and on land. In truth, their navy disguises itself as pirates and only attacks unarmed merchant vessels, in order to rob from them, and hasn't suffered losses in land-based battles because they've never had to fight on land before. The moment they face an actual fight, their upper echelons run and hide and then turn to despicable means to deal with the enemy, that they themselves provoked.
- Decadent Court: All the royal courts shown are like this. Siblings attempting to assassinate each other to seize the throne is quite common in the story. The nobles bearing witness secretly take bets to see who would be the victor.
- Dungeon Bypass: Regis's strategy to capture Fort Volks. He bombards it with artillery incessantly for a week to disguise the vibrations from the Beilschmidt Border Regiment digging underneath it.
- Enemy Mine: The war with High Britannia in volumes 5-7 has numerous mutually hostile parties in Belgaria working together. Most especially, Altina's main rival for succession to the throne, Prince Latrielle, is also her direct military superior, and while he does have the sense not to actually sabotage her since she and Regis are probably his best chance to have a throne to inherit in the first place, there isn't any love lost between them, either. Regis is well aware of this and acts accordingly.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The country of Belgaria is eerily similar to France or Belgium and has geography with its neighboring countries, Germania and High Britannia, that is very similar to the European geography relating to France, Germany, and England. Then there's Hispania which is similar to Spain of the Iberian peninsula.
- Fatal Flaw: The empire of Belgaria has a truly glaring one, Suicidal Overconfidence, and it tends to punish any soldiers who don't subscribe to the Leeroy Jenkins school of warfare by branding them "cowards," and treats them accordingly. This thinking leads to Regis being an Ignored Expert several times, all ending in disaster.
- Firearms Are Revolutionary: Cannons are present in continental wars, but infantry still fights with melee weapons. When High Britannia invades the Belgarian Empire in volume 5, their muskets and more advanced cannons prove devastating against the outclassed Belgarian army. At the end of the battle in that volume, the narrator states point-blank that the age of the Belgarian pikeman's dominance is over.
- For Justice: Volume 7.5 reveals a group of fanatical High Britannia citizens, the "Loyal Soldiers," who are truly nothing more than a roving gang of thugs, abject failures in life, and resent those who aren't. Thus they spend all their time "looking for someone to swing the hammer of 'justice' at." Peaceful, law abiding Belgarian civilians trapped in high Brittania thanks to the outbreak of war find themselves easy prey since the local law enforcement happily turns a blind eye to their plight, even if other Britannia citizens are harmed in the process.
- Genre Savvy: Regis enlisted in the army in the first place just to earn money to buy more books, and the secret to his proficiency as a tactician is his ability to apply ideas he's learned from his books to his present circumstances.
- Hell Is That Noise: Regis and Altina make to capture the impregnable Fort Volks by bombarding it with cannons for days, day and night. They do no appreciable damage due to being beyond their cannons' effective range, but the noise helps to demoralize the troops inside, as well as disguising the vibrations of their own troops tunneling into an old mine shaft to invade the castle from beneath.
- Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Invoked, as the world is essentially a fictional analog of 18th-19th Century Europe.
- Opposites Attract: The title character, Altina, is a Hot-Blooded Leeroy Jenkins Princess who prefers to talk with her hundred pound sword rather than read a book or study proper royal etiquette and a Wide-Eyed Idealist. Her top strategist, Regis, is a hopeless Bookworm who if sent to the front-lines literally trips over them, and is both a Misanthrope Supreme and Humble Hero to the point of timid shyness. They fall madly in love with each other.
- Revolving Door Revolution: Belgaria has a history of them, the most recent occurs in Volume 7, chapter 4.
- Rock Beats Laser: The key problem Belgaria faces in the war with High Britannia is that, while they have a numerical advantage, Belgaria is stuck in The Late Middle Ages with pikemen, mounted knights, and sailing ships, whereas their more industrialized enemy has muskets, longer-range cannons, and steamships. Regis turns the war around by pursuing innovative strategies to overcome the disparity in firepower.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Aside from Princess Altina, there are several other royal characters that take an active role in the story. Her older brother Bastian and the former crown princess of High Britannia, Elizabeth are prime examples.
- Schizo Tech: The technological levels in the series vary wildly, from barbarian tribes with battleaxes on the Belgarian-Varden border, to Belgaria's use of cannons, mounted knights, and pikemen for a circa 16th century tech level, on up to industrialized High Britannia's introduction of muskets and steam/sail naval ships equivalent to the first half of the 19th century.
- Shout-Out: A subtle one to the Tales of the Arabian Nights is made in volume 7.Regis: "Well, not to the extent of 'tell me an interesting story every night or I'll kill you' like that person."
- Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: One of Regis's favorite tactics is to use explosives to make the enemy panic, breach a weak point in enemy defenses, or smash "unsinkable" ships by hiding the explosives within places no sane enemy commander would expect. Oswald does this as well, but by using suicide bombers.
- Storming the Castle: Regis has been on both ends of this. Volume two has Altina's regiment try to conquer an "impenetrable" fortress, and at the start of Volume 5, he has to defend it when the country that originally owned it tries to take it back.
- Unperson: This is the ultimate fate of the people whose country is conquered, as highlighted by Regis in volume 5 and 6. They have no rights, their property is seized, their names are stricken from all records, and if they're lucky, they get to die quickly.
- Uriah Gambit: There are several in the story. The most notable ones are sending Altina to the front lines to get rid of her, and when that fails, sending her to capture the "impregnable" Fort Volk with less than one tenth the forces of the last expedition, which failed miserably. All the nobles, including the Emperor, are shocked when she succeeds, thanks to Regis's vastly superior strategy.
- War for Fun and Profit: Without exception, all the villains in the story have this mindset. Some lean more heavily for the "fun" aspect while others, like Prince Latrielle, lean far more heavily towards the "profit" aspect.
- War Is Glorious: Many of the soldiers shown have this mindset. In fact, numerous factions outright hate pacifistic leaders, no matter how good peace actually is for their nation.
- War Is Hell: A fact that the seventh division learns first hand in volume 5. This is not helped by the "brilliant" strategy put forth by Vincent, and the condescending tone of their commander, who realizes too late that he should have put more faith in the main characters.
- We Have Reserves: Aside from Altina and Regis, and to a lesser extent Latrielle, after some Character Development, military commanders in the world setting think the best answer to any difficulty is to just keep throwing more and more soldiers at a problem until it goes away.