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Literature / Reign of the Seven Spellblades

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Oliver Horn: Don't cry.
Nanao Hibiya: Thank you.
Springtime at Kimberly Magic Academy brings a new batch of first-year students, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they begin their journey to become full-fledged mages. Among these newcomers are Oliver Horn, a studious boy equally skilled with the wand and the blade, and Nanao Hibiya, a strong-willed samurai girl from the distant nation of Yamatsu. The wheels of fate bring these two souls together at Kimberly, where they become both comrades and rivals in equal measure. However, lurking within the academy's halls are countless dangers and dark secrets guaranteed to threaten not only their friendship—but their very lives...

Reign of the Seven Spellblades (七つの魔剣が支配する Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai Suru, "Rule of the Seven Magic Swords") is a Dark Fantasy light novel series written by Bokuto Uno (author of Alderamin on the Sky) with illustrations by Ruria Miyuki, published under Kadokawa's Dengeki Bunko imprint beginning in September 2018. It has a manga adaptation by Sakae Esuno (creator of Future Diary), which began its run in 2019. Both were licensed by Yen Press for English publication beginning in 2021. It has an upcoming anime adaptation.


This series provides examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: A dark example. The academy is built on top of a labyrinth that is full of monsters, dangerous environments and unhinged upperclassmen who have no qualms about harming fellow students. The school provides very little protection from any of these things and it's up to the students themselves to look out for each other.
  • Accidental Discovery: The underlying principle of the Second Spellblade, "Creumbra, the self-racing shadow", was discovered by accident when a mage tried to create a Doppelgänger of himself and caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox that blew up both him and everything for several miles around. Other mages copied his research and managed to reproduce the effect at a controllable level, resulting in an Unblockable Attack that disintegrates the opponent.
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  • Adults Are Useless: By design. As a general rule, the instructors at Kimberly seldom intervene in problems internal to the student body: they're not even allowed to go into the labyrinth after a missing student until the eighth day—at which point it's usually assumed they'll be trying to recover bodies rather than rescue survivors. The students are expected to solve their problems themselves as part of a curriculum meant to foster self-reliance, teamwork, problem-solving, and fighting skill, which is all Training from Hell for Gnostic Hunters.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Oliver is normally a pretty cool-headed Nice Guy. He's also a Master Swordsman (by first-year standards) and a fairly accomplished mage. While it's hard to arouse him to real anger, if you pick on his friends to their faces, watch out.
  • BFS: Nanao's katana, at least by Union standards: at first glance Oliver considers it way too large to make a good athame, which are typically one-handed swords between one and two feet in length (Oliver's resembles a smallsword). Nanao quickly proves him wrong: while she's inexperienced with magic, she's a former samurai Child Soldier who was plucked from a Yamatsukuni battlefield where she had been fighting a Last Stand as the rearguard of a defeated army, even killing the son-in-law of the enemy general in a suicide charge.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Kimberly's new students have to come to terms with the fact that magicians don't operate on conventional morality. They will do whatever it takes to advance their own goals and research.
  • Breather Episode: Volume 4 has no significantly high stakes; the most that happens in it is exploration of the relationships between the Sword Roses and Nanao's broomsports matches. It's positioned between the urgent volumes 3 and 5, involving respectively the Sword Roses going into the labyrinth to rescue Pete from Ophelia Salvadori after she's consumed by the spell and Oliver and his co-conspirators plotting to murder Professor Forghieri and suffering grievous losses.
  • Brick Joke: In volume 1, after Headmistress Esmeralda gives her welcoming Dare to Be Badass speech to the new students, she asks if there are any questions, and Nanao pipes up with a suggestion of a headache remedy. It seems like a throwaway joke to illustrate Nanao's fearlessness and Fish out of Water status. Then in volume 5, Nanao encounters Esmeralda again at Flying Broomstick practice and promptly asks her if the remedy helped any.
  • Calvinball: In volume 6, Nanao proposes a game of "demons", what we would call zombie tag, to treat Oliver feeling uncomfortable in his own skin due to the growth spurt he suddenly had as a result of having Cast from Lifespan during the Assassination Attempt against Enrico Forghieri. So the Sword Roses spend literally hours chasing each other around their laboratory and making up new rules as they go along by collective agreement. They decide to keep the "rule" about "free hugs on request" permanently even after the game is over.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The neckties and inside lining of Kimberly student uniforms are color-coded to identify the student's grade year: first-year students wear red, second-years wear green, third-years wear orange, fourth-years wear purple, seventh-years wear black.
  • Constructed World: The world is fairly transparently a Historical Fantasy version of the Eurasian supercontinent, taking place in an equivalent to the European Union. Azia is Asia and Yamatsukini is Japan circa the Sengoku Period, Yelgland seems to be Britain, and Farnland is probably Finland given Katie's surname Aalto.
  • The Corruption: There is a phenomenon called "consumed by the spell" where magicians would gradually go berserk. This happens to Ophelia in Book 2.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Discussed in volume 4. Chela tells Oliver that masturbation won't help him deal with the aftereffects of Ophelia's Perfume: to clear it out of his system, he needs another person involved, though penetrative sex isn't necessary. After suggesting he try it with Nanao, she conducts some Intimate Healing of her own, and in order to get him to respond the way she needs him to for it to work, tells him (falsely) that she had touched herself while thinking of him.
  • Deadly Sparring: This trope is defied when Oliver Horn and Nanao Hibiya square off for a demonstration duel in their first period sword arts class. Both fighters prove themselves both Master Swordsmen, with Oliver's sword arts training matching well against Nanao's battlefield experience as a samurai. When the duel starts getting very serious, the instructor calls a halt to the match because their intensity has broken the dulling spell he'd placed on their swords beforehand.
  • Death Seeker: Nanao, early on. She fearlessly charges an enraged troll, there's the Deadly Sparring incident with Oliver where it nearly became a Duel to the Death, and then she attempts a rearguard action in the labyrinth against two upperclassmen before the Student Council President intervened. Oliver et al. finally corner her about it and force her to reveal that she's been unsure up till then whether she actually died on the battlefield back in Yamatsukuni and has been having a Dying Dream that will end if she falls. Oliver persuades her that yes, this is real, and that she should from now on only draw her sword with the intent of surviving.
  • Expy: The author has definitely read Harry Potter:
    • Katie is similar to Hermione with her long curly brown hair and activism for non-humans. Though in a case of Decomposite Character, Pete Reston got Hermione's bookworm tendencies and being a Mage Born of Muggles.
    • Darius Grenville is similar to Snape in both looks and antagonism towards the protagonists.
    • Richard Andrews has some similarities to Malfoy, as he is from a noble family and develops a rivalry with Oliver, the protagonist.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The test to enter the the third level of the labyrinth from the second consists of two undead armies reenacting a historical battle between "Rumoa" and "Kurtago" involving "swordrhinos", the "Battle of Diama". It's the Battle of Zama (the "swordrhinos" are war elephants), and the point of the test is to help the side representing Carthage to win instead of Rome. The Sword Roses use "toolplants" created by Guy to conjure fences of trees that foil the "Rumoan" cavalry charge against the infantry's flanks, allowing Nanao to make a literal Decapitation Strike against the enemy general.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Union seems to be a European Union equivalent, and Azia is obviously Asia.
  • Fictional Sport: "Broomsports" in the series consist variously of obstacle course races on Flying Broomsticks, one-on-one jousting, and team battles—the latter of which Nanao quickly excels at after a notoriously Moody Mount takes a liking to her. Oliver, who is merely okay at riding brooms, is drafted to be her "catcher"—i.e. running around with a wand below the match to magically catch anybody she knocks off their brooms before they hit the ground, or potentially Nanao herself should she be unhorsed.
  • First-Episode Twist: At the end of the first volume, we learn that Oliver enrolled in Kimberly to kill the teachers who killed his mother, which was shown in the prologue.
  • Flying Broomstick: Rather than being Animate Inanimate Objects, broomsticks in this series are stated to be a species of magical creature in their own right that feeds symbiotically on its rider's mana. Getting to ride one is akin to breaking in a horse; actual cleaning brooms are dead individuals.
  • The Glomp: Nanao does this to Oliver at lunch in volume 4, after imbibing a beverage that turned out to have a lot more alcohol than anybody realized. Oliver has to run for the bathroom to cool off because the proximity to Nanao set off Ophelia's lingering Perfume.
  • God is Dead: Explained during the first astronomy class in volume 5. Ancient mages in alliance with demihumans killed the planet's god fifty thousand years ago to free intelligent life from its interference. However, this had the unintended consequence of making the world look like easy pickings for every other planet's god, forcing the creation of the Gnostic Hunters to battle the resulting Alien Invasions.
  • Intimate Healing: In volume 4, Oliver is still fighting the aftereffects of Ophelia Salvadori's Perfume, causing him to become uncomfortably aroused when a drunken Nanao glomps him. When Chela realizes it, she corners him in the restaurant men's room and advises him that, As You Know, if he's still feeling the effects after this long, the only surefire way to clear the Perfume out of his system will be to satisfy the urge, and not by himself. Though she questions whether he'd rather sleep with Nanao (both of them having admitted to their attraction at this point, though neither is willing to call it "love" yet), she solves the issue with a magic-assisted handjob through their clothes. Justified because Sex Magic was involved in causing the problem to begin with, so it makes sense that a similar effect would be useful in resolving it.
  • Last Stand: In a flashback, Nanao led the rearguard of a defeated army, holding a mountain pass. This ended in a cavalry suicide charge when the enemy general brought up their archers, with Nanao making it almost all the way to the general and killing his son-in-law in passing before the ashigaru got her surrounded with a wall of spears. At which point a Union mage suddenly arrived and pulled her from the battlefield.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Oliver and Chela are the de facto co-leaders of the Sword Roses (he The Hero, she the Team Mom), and the two are social peers as mage Blue Bloods and get along very well. However, Oliver is in love with Nanao, and though Chela performs some Intimate Healing on him in volume 4 to address the aftereffects of a villain's Sex Magic, it's motivated solely by concern for his health, and she feels very guilty about low-key manipulating him into it afterwards.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Nanao starts to draw comparisons from various characters who knew the deceased Chloe Halford: they're similarly talented at sword arts and Flying Broomsticks, even bonding to the same Moody Mount due to their similar mana signatures. Oliver and his close relatives are the only ones present who know that Chloe was his mother.
  • Love at First Punch: Nanao speaks of the samurai ideal "shiawase", of a Duel to the Death with someone they love and respect—which she felt towards Oliver when their swords crossed in a classroom sparring session, and was torn up when he turned her down for a rematch. All of which is much to Oliver's chagrin when she explains it:
    Katie: Um... to sum up... you got all depressed because Oliver rejected you?
    Oliver: Sorry, Katie, but could you shut up?
    Nanao: No, she is largely correct. Was I infatuated with your blade or the man behind it? Perhaps there is little difference between the two.
  • Love Hurts: In volume 4, after the Sword Roses get The Talk from Oliver and Chela, Katie asks Nanao in their dorm room if she's in love with Oliver. Nanao admits she has feelings for him, but much to her chagrin she also hasn't been able to kick her desire for a Duel to the Death with him. The scene is made extra painful by the fact Nanao knows Katie has an unrequited crush on him as well.
  • Love Triangle: Oliver Horn quickly attracts crushes from both Katie and Nanao.
  • Magic Knight: Justified: as is explained during the first session of the "sword arts" class, within a certain range called the "one step, one spell" distance, a physical weapon can strike a mage faster than any mage can cast a spell. Mages adopted sword training (referring to swords as "athame") a hundred years ago after a prominent archmage was killed in a duel by a Muggle swordsman this way.
  • The Magocracy: The government of the Union is not discussed in detail but is strongly implied to be this. Mages sit firmly at the top of the class system, to the point where non-magic expectant mothers sometimes approach random mages hoping they can cast a spell that would make the unborn child a mage (the existence of such a spell is explicitly stated to be an urban legend by the protagonists). Meanwhile, demihumans are firmly second-class citizens at best: only a select few species even have civil rights, though there's a strong mage movement to change this.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Kimberly is built atop of an ancient labyrinth that has a tendency to encroach upon the school buildings after nightfall: Oliver, Pete, and Michela return to a classroom to retrieve a forgotten textbook only to discover when they try to leave that the door now opens into the upper levels of the labyrinth.
  • Military Mage: Kimberly Magic Academy is accurately, if occasionally derisively, referred to as "vocational school for Gnostic Hunters", these being an order of wizards who essentially act as counterinsurgency operators. Their job is rooting out and destroying cults of the gods of the solar system's other planets, which have the potential to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Name Order Confusion: Discussed. Nanao initially introduces herself in the Eastern style as "Hibiya Nanao", but then notes that by Union custom she would be called Nanao Hibiya. Her name is left in Western order from then on.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight: The origin of sword arts was a swordsman killing a noted mage in a fair duel, after which the mages realized that from a mutual cold start, a man with a sword can close with and strike a mage twelve feet away in the time it takes for that mage to cast a single spell.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Oliver catches Nanao bathing outside, stripped to the waist (in full view of the boys' dorm, no less). The novel art uses a Boobs-and-Butt Pose camera angle to hide everything but some sideboob; Oliver is more focused on her collection of battle scars than her assets. In the manga we get a frontal view but her nipples are whited out in one panel and given Barbie Doll Anatomy in the second.
  • Overly Long Hug: Oliver and Nanao have their first real public display of affection in volume 4, after Nanao's first senior-level broomsports match. Intending it as a reward for getting through the match without injury, Oliver gives her a big hug—and then neither one of them can bring themselves to end the hug for a full ten minutes.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Nanao has a trait called "innocent color" which causes her normally black hair to turn white when she draws magical power. Oliver's narration explains that it only happens in mages with exceptional magical circulation and a crystalline hair structure that allows uninterrupted flow of magical particles.
  • Questionable Consent: In volume 4, Oliver is suffering aftereffects of the previous volume antagonist's Sex Magic. His friend Chela corners him in a restaurant bathroom after he has an episode, and informs him that, As You Know, if he's still feeling the effects of succubus Perfume this long after the incident, then the only way to clear it out of his system will be to satisfy the urge, and not by himself. After suggesting he try approaching his Love Interest Nanao for sex without getting a response,note  she manipulates him into some Intimate Healing that amounts to a magic-assisted handjob through their clothes, to which he never clearly consents. To Chela's credit, she feels extremely guilty about it afterwards: they're not attracted to each other that way and she worries she might have irreparably damaged their friendship by trying to help him.
  • Sadist Teacher: The majority of the teachers are this. The headmistress of Kimberley openly states during orientation that about twenty percent of entrants will not survive to graduate. It's meant to be Training from Hell for battlemages called Gnostic Hunters.
  • Students' Secret Society: The Myth Arc of the series revolves around a conspiracy by a secret society of students at Kimberly Magic Academy to assassinate seven professors to avenge the torturous murder of their former student Chloe Halford in the prologue to volume 1. They are led by main character Oliver Horn himself, who is Halford's secret son, and most of his coconspirators are members of his extended family.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot: The attack on Katie at the entrance ceremony. Another first-year cast a spell on Katie to make her run towards the parade of magical creatures. At that same moment, the troll made a break for the exit to try and escape from Miligan experimenting on him. He didn't mean to harm anyone, he just became disoriented when everybody nearby panicked.
  • Super Breeding Program: A lot of magic traits can be inherited, and the mage world customarily places pushing the limits of sorcery above all other concerns. This means that mage aristocrats frequently try to breed more powerful mage children and add new traits to their bloodlines. Even Kimberly participates to an extent: the school tacitly encourages Teen Pregnancy by explicitly permitting third-years and up to conceive children and supporting child-rearing. This also leads to Nanao and Pete being approached repeatedly for dates by other students starting in volume 4, since both are Mages Born of Muggles (and thus don't pose any risks of inbreeding) with rare abilities (Nanao's Innocent Color and proficiency with sword arts, Pete's reversiism). Oliver himself comments in his internal monologue when he's forced to admit his feelings for Nanao that he doesn't "want their relationship reduced to reproduction and inheritance", and so declines to specifically answer whether he wants to have children with her.
  • Supernaturally Validated Trans Person: In volume 2, Pete Reston turns out to have a magical trait called Reversi that causes him to switch his biological sex overnight. He still identifies as male for the moment, but alludes to having experienced possible dysphoric episodes. The Kimberly Wizarding School turns out to have a student club for mages with gender- and sex-linked magic, which non-binary upperclassman Carlos Whitrow invites Pete to join.
  • The Talk: Reconstructed in volume 4. After Nanao and Pete are approached a little aggressively in the dining hall by other students, Oliver and Chela host an informal sex ed seminar for the group, focusing particularly on consent and the peculiarities of mage sexual relations. One of the things that comes up is that the Union's mage aristocracy has what amounts to an informal Super Breeding Program, and Nanao and Pete's unique traits are highly sought-after additions to mage bloodlines as a consequence.
  • Their First Time: Discussed when Oliver and Chela give the Sword Roses The Talk: Chela mentions that statistically, about eighty percent of Kimberly students will have had their first sexual experience by the time they graduate.
  • Tournament Arc: The main plot of Volume 2 revolves around a sword arts tournament among the first-years, organized by Tullio Rossi, an Ytallian student with a (mostly imagined) rivalry with Oliver. Each participant is given a medallion and duels others to take theirs, with the students with the most medallions at the end of the week advancing to the playoff round. The tournament is aborted before the playoffs when Ophelia Salvadori is consumed by the spell in an unrelated incident and kidnaps several of the participants.
  • Triang Relations: A multiway Type Four example centered on the relationship between Oliver and Nanao.
    • Oliver and Nanao are strongly attracted to each other from book one on. Katie also has a crush on Oliver starting in book one, and Pete starts to act like a tsundere towards him in volume five. Oliver doesn't return their feelings that way.
    • Meanwhile, Nanao also has her own suitors, notably Tullio Rossi. It's entirely one-sided: Nanao is 100% Oliver-sexual.
  • Unblockable Attack: The eponymous "Spellblades" are a set of (initially) six offensive techniques merging magic and sword arts, described in an epigraph to volume 1 as "A strike that can be neither dodged nor blocked, thereby guaranteeing death. Fulfill these conditions within the one-step, one-spell distance, and you have what is called a 'spellblade.'" So far, three have been identified in the series.
    • The Second Spellblade, "Creumbra, the self-racing shadow", which exploits the explosive consequences of a mage's failed experiment in magically duplicating himself to disintegrate the opponent. Used by Theodore McFarlane in volume 4 to slay an unidentified man attacking mages with a knife.
    • The Fourth Spellblade, "Angustavia, the thread that crosses the abyss", which explores possible futures to find one where the wielder succeeds in striking down their opponent. Previously learned by Chloe Halford, her son Oliver is able to use it in extremis by drawing on his mother's Ghost Memory from her soul contained within him. He uses it in a one-cut duel with Darius Grenville, and as a Finishing Move against Enrico Forghieri.
    • The currently unnamed Seventh Spellblade, with which the wielder uses sheer force of will to simply cut everything between themselves and their target, even the space between them. Invented by Nanao in her and Oliver's fight with Vera Miligan, in order to defeat the basilisk eye on Miligan's left hand when she's out of range of a conventional strike. Nanao herself doesn't know how she did it and is unable to duplicate it.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The driving ethos behind Katie's civil rights activism for non-humans. Since the story takes place in a setting where non-humans like centaurs, elves, etc. exist with humans, there are issues surrounding just which species gets to be considered "human" and given civil rights while others are treated as mere beasts. Katie comes from a family noted for its activism on behalf of intelligent nonhumans, which puts her in conflict with students tied to the conservative factions early on.
  • Wizarding School: Kimberly Magic Academy practices Social Darwinism towards its students, with the student body expected to solve problems without the intervention of the faculty. There actually is a reason for this: Kimberly is effectively a vocational school for Gnostic Hunters—elite battlemages who travel to other planets of the solar system to battle Alien Invasions commanded by those planets' gods.
  • Wizard Duel: There's a dueling class, and the second book is focused on them.
  • You Remind Me of X: Nanao reminds Oliver, Theodore, and Esmeralda of Chloe Halford. This might even extend to her broom, which once belonged to Chloe.

Alternative Title(s): Nanatsu No Maken Ga Shihai Suru