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Literature / The Faraway Paladin

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The Faraway Paladin (最果てのパラディン Saihate no Paladin, "Paladin of the End") is a novel series by Yanagino Kanata. Originally a Web Serial Novel that was first released on Shousetsuka ni Narou in 2015, it was picked up for publication in 2016 as a series of Light Novels with illustrations by Kususaga Rin.

A young boy named Will, who reincarnated in another world after a wasted life as a shut-in, is raised by three undead in a city of the dead: the boisterous skeletal warrior Blood, the motherly (and mummified) priestess Mary, and the spectral mage Gus. The three undead teach him the ways of the world and he grows to adulthood under their loving care, but when he turns fifteen, disaster strikes as their patron, Stagnate, the god of undeath, comes to collect on the Deal with the Devil they made with him decades ago. He didn't reckon on their Happily Adopted child. Will plants himself between his surrogate parents and the Echo of Stagnate and fights for them, and when all hope seems lost, once again receives the blessing of Gracefeel, the kindly goddess of the cycle of death and resurrection who brought him to this world to serve as her paladin.

The Faraway Paladin mixes Western fantasy with the popular isekai genre, and lampshades, homages, and reconstructs a variety of tropes common to its source material. The series is being translated by J-Novel Club and released digitally. A total of five light novels have been released in English.

A manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi began production in 2018, published by OVERLAP Inc.; it entered English production in two-volume omnibi from J-Novel Club in 2022. An anime adapting the first two volumes first aired in October 2021, and can be found on Crunchyroll; the second season, adapting The Lord of the Rust Mountains, began airing on October 7, 2023.

The Faraway Paladin provides examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Justified in volume 5. Bishop Bagley refuses to let his adoptive daughter Anna marry Reystov, so Will and the others arrange a bridenapping. Bagley doesn't actually oppose the marriage but would lose face with the nobles if Anna married a common sellsword, so he goes along with what is essentially an elopement with extra steps (quoth the priest he sends to get her back from Torch Port: "I am drunk. Oh no, I took a bribe.").
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The demons are consistently portrayed as wanting nothing more than to kill all other forms of life, going so far as to fuse each other into monsters like chimeras to do it.
  • Answer to Prayers; Will is a paladin of the goddess Gracefeel and swore a mighty oath to her service. When he prays to her, she regularly speaks back to him directly.
  • Batman Gambit: Will's arrival in the city of the undead was Stagnate's doing. Mary, Gus, and Blood would never harm or abandon an infant, and they wound up taking care of him and raising him. Stagnate knew that should any of the three come to care more about Will than guarding the seal, their souls would be forfeit and Stagnate would gain the fealty of some of the most powerful undead around. Mary and Blood do fall for it, and Gus very nearly ruins things by almost killing Will as he realized that this would happen and wanted to keep the world safe, but Gus couldn't bring himself to finish the job.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Discussed. Gus points out that the conventional religious view of gods as "good" and "evil" presents an incomplete picture. For example, Volt presides over order and judgement where his brother Illtreat is a god of chaos and destruction. Conventionally they're viewed as essentially invokedLawful Good and Chaotic Evil, but Gus argues that Volt also presides over tyrannical and corrupt governments and Illtreat supports revolutions that overthrow them. His conclusion, therefore, is that "good" and "evil" are subjective viewpoints of the gods' followers, and that the truly "good" gods are the ones whose ways of thinking don't pose a threat to society.
  • Boring, but Practical: While teaching Will how to use the Words of Creation, Gus makes a point of mentioning that a big pile of cash can often accomplish the same thing as sorcery without half as much fuss. He also encourages Will to be creative with low-level crowd-control and disruption spells in order to even the odds of tough fights, rather than rely on big flashy spells.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • According to myth, Top God Volt, god of lightning and rulership, and War God Illtreat are brothers who have been engaged in an unending Divine Conflict that ebbs and flows. Volt supports government, Illtreat supports revolutions. Volt always wins in the end because his wife, the Earth Mother Mater, steps in to support her husband.
    • Gracefeel and Stagnate, like their father and uncle Volt and Illtreat, are estranged siblings. Stagnate was once aligned with the good gods and aided in the reincarnation cycle, but was driven over the Despair Event Horizon from seeing too many grieving family members and turned to undeath as a way to free people from such grief. This drove a wedge between the sisters.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: In this case, more like a jealous goddess. Gracefeel is not happy in the fourth book when we (the readers) find out rather humorously that Stagnate is a female goddess and has apparently decided she is in love with Will.
  • Coming of Age Story: The first volume of the light novels, the first two volumes of the manga, and the first five episodes of the anime are devoted to Will growing up under Mary, Blood, and Gus' care as they prepare him to leave and experience the outside world.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Demons are conventionally divided up into four broad tiers: Soldier, Commander, General, and King. The vraskuses that Will fights in the first two volumes are considered Commander-tier, while in the prologue to volume 3 he and Menel slay a wilderdemon General that has captured and cursed a major forest spirit. The High King sealed in the city of the dead is in a league all his own.
  • Determinator: Blood explains to Will that this is near universally true of Dwarven warriors, who are always contemplating the reason that they risk their lives to fight.
    Blood: The day they find that answer, they'll step into battle with their souls burning with the fire of valor. And they will never once fear death.
  • Failed State: From its heyday in the Union Age, civilization on the continent of Southmark collapsed into banditry and warlordism following a massive demon invasion 200 years ago: the Three Heroes Sealed Evil in a Can but were forced to spend the next two centuries guarding his prison, and a dragon occupies the former kingdom of the dwarves, whose effluent is also poisoning the neighboring elven lands. The Kingdom of Grassland has a coastal colony in Whitesails, but until protagonist Will joins forces with Duke Ethelbald and begins leading adventuring parties south to clear remaining demons and monsters out of Beast Woods in volume 2, they have zero control over the hinterlands.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The Word of Entity Obliteration is a mighty spell of destruction that usually has to be cast by an entire team of mages. Gus ambushes the Echo of Stagnate with it in volume 1, since he's just so powerful and skilled of a mage that he's able to triple-cast: i.e. speak and scribe with his fingers a total of three different lines of Words simultaneously. Will is able to copy this tactic and tries it against Valacirca, who shapeshifts into wind to evade it.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Multiple gods are known to exist in the new world, each offering their blessing and protection to their followers. While Gus explains to Will that describing the gods as good or evil is somewhat arbritrary, they're generally divided into two groups: the benevolent gods (Volt, Mater, Blaze, Whirl, Rhea Silvia, Enlight, and Gracefeel) and the malicious (Illtreat, Dyrhygma, and Stagnate). There was also the original creator deity who spoke the world into being, but their name is lost to history (and they might be dead).
  • Fatal Forced March: The dwarves survived this, having to flee their homeland when the Demon King invaded. However, it remained highly dangerous and difficult, and killed many of their children. Recounting the extreme struggles of it brings Grendir to tears, and he mentions a bright young girl who died from a cold as he carried her on his back.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The dwarves of the world are. They were forced to evacuate the Iron Mountains that they lived in two-hundred years ago after the Demon King's army invaded it, with their king and most experienced warriors having stayed behind for a Suicide Mission to lure the enemy into traps in their country's underground passages and giving the refugees time to march away. They are still wandering as they hope return to the mountains and reclaim them.
  • God of Evil:
    • Surprisingly averted with Stagnate, considers the fact that people have to be torn apart by the cycle of death and rebirth a tragedy, and would rather all people live eternally as they are. She was once considered one of the wisest gods of the setting's pantheon, and while part of it was a gambit to gain three powerful followers, her desire to defeat the Demon King who threatened all life was genuine, as her goal is to preserve life as it is.
    • Played straight with the God of Dimensions, Dhryghma. He's repeatedly referred to as an evil god and the patron of all demons. He empowers the demons to slaughter all other forms of life, fusing demons into horrible monstrosities solely to spread carnage and devastation.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: In the fourth book, when Stagnate decides to help Will, she points out to the titular Lord of the Rust Mountains (an immensely powerful dragon) that he is in the fallen dwarven kingdom, where an army of dwarves died.
    Stagnate: This is the Iron Country! The mountain where brave warriors of fire linger in regret of falling to an army of demons and a foul-dragon! Now return! Your allies and descendants have come back and with them stands an unmistakable hero! They have returned to defeat the demons and take on the dragon, and reclaim the mountains that were your home! Slumbering lost, he is no warrior who would stand by now! I call upon you to take up the sword of revenge and bury your regrets! Feed the fire of courage once again! Warriors of the dwarves! [Cue the thunderous march of thousands of boots and the arrival of a glowing spectral army of dwarven warriors]
  • Harem Genre: Parodied in book three when Gus wonders why Will is still single, and rattles off a list of cliche situations where a Stock Light-Novel Hero would normally have met a girl or three.
    Gus: On a more serious note, is there really no one? There’s normally something when you go adventuring. You know, like rescuing a strong-minded woman captured by bandits, or gallantly saving a merchant adventurer who lost her bodyguards, or recruiting a dependable swordswoman, or protecting a polite and proper lady of a fallen kingdom. Any number of things. Why are you giving me that look?
    Will: All of those were guys.
    Gus: (laughs his ass off)
  • Henotheistic Society: Everyone selects one of the gods and goddesses that watch over the world as their patron once they come of age. The particularly faithful and favored may be granted a blessing by their patron deity so that said deity can achieve something through their blessed champions. Among adventurers, it's not uncommon for one to call upon the name of their patron deity as a Battle Cry. Of particular note, Will is sworn to champion the cause of Gracefeel, goddess of light, flux, and reincarnation, but he also prays to his adoptive mother Mary's patron Mater, whose blessing of nutritious bread kept him fed growing up.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: An In-Universe example. Blood, Mary, and Gus are remembered as the three leaders of the Hundred Heroes who slew the High Lord. In truth, they couldn't slay the High Lord and merely sealed him away with the help of Stagnate.
  • Honor Before Reason: This is the elves' hat. They are so locked into this that the heroes basically have to blackmail them to HELP them.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Meneldor calls Will a barbarian that relies on brute force, Will says that he has way more tricks up his sleeve than barbarians, and his tricks are even more powerful to boot, so then he actually relies on super brawn which is stronger than any barbarian anyway! Meneldor and Al just silently give him a look at his exuberance proving Meneldor's point.
  • Kill the God: After giving up on his plans to murder Will to prevent Blood and Mary from voiding their contract with Stagnate, Gus instead tries to concoct a plan to kill Stagnate's echo before it can claim their souls.
  • Language of Magic: The Words of Creation are words that when spoken can produce magical effects when pronounced properly. According to Gus, everything has a name, and it is through these names that people and gods define the world around them. As such, invoking and layering Words of Creation are what produce the phenomenon known as "magic".
  • Latin Is Magic: The Words of Creation, which produce magical effects when pronounced properly, are depicted as Latin.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: The final ruler of the dwarves' Iron Country Lord Aurvangr, who was a quiet, intelligent and mild man who was well-loved by most of his people as he reigned over a prosperous and happy time, though their warriors reeled about a lack of respect. But when the Demon King came their country and sent an emissary who proposed that the dwarves could forge weapons for him to be spared from invasion, Aurvangr told the messenger rhetorically that the Demon King could have the weapons they were going to fight him with as he beheaded it, rallying the warriors who were doubtful of him for all of the years prior. He then announced he and the most experienced troops would lead a Suicide Mission as they lured the demons into their underground passages to spring traps on them while the other dwarves would flee the mountains together. Stagnate further attests to this by telling Will and Al through a herald that Aurvangr wounded the enormous dragon Valacirca's eye in the Iron Country's last stand.
  • Mood Whiplash: Bee's storytelling of the Three Heroes (which were his adoptive parents) understandably brings Will to tears. Then he gets a bit of ribbing from everyone for crying because no one else knows that and Bee assumes she's just that good at her telling. Then he's internally quite happy to know that plenty of people still remember his beloved adoptive parents. Then Meneldor makes him realize that, quite humorously, he's essentially become a lord unintentionally...
  • Myth Prologue: The manga version opens on a recitation of the setting's Creation Myth, which is important to the magic system: the unnamed creator deity used the Language of Magic to speak concepts like earth and sky into existence, and then declared the result to be "good"—which caused "evil" to also be created, leading to his death at the hands of the newly formed evil gods. (In the original Light Novel, Gus explained this myth to Will in the middle of chapter 1, after a prologue of Will waking up in his new world.)
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Back during the Unity Age, the demons ravaging the southern continent were led by a man known as the High King who reveled in violence and death. Blood remembers him as a young kid with cruel eyes. Mary, Gus, and Blood defeated him before they became undead, and were aided by Stagnate in order to keep him sealed, as Stagnate is the god of undeath because she doesn't want anyone to die and be separated from those they love. As such, an omnicidal maniac directly goes against her dogma.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The dwarves are said to have been originally fae of earth and fire that became enamored of humanity, so Blaze, god of fire and craftmanship, gave them humanoid bodies by request. Like most depictions, they're gruff mountain folk who are good in a fight. This series adds that most dwarves are stateless refugees because their kingdom in the Iron Mountains, now the Rust Mountains, was destroyed by a demon invasion led by the elder dragon Valacirca during the war with the High King of the demons 200 years ago. Will takes their exiled prince Al as his squire in volume 3 and then leads an adventuring party to slay the dragon in volume 4.
  • Our Elves Are Different: On the surface they're standard fantasy elves, but there's some differences. According to myth, the elves were originally fae of wind and earth who became enamored of humans, so Rhea Silvia, goddess of the wildlands, gave them Long-Lived humanoid bodies by request. The elves see themselves as stewards of the forest, and unlike other versions, they do eat meat and cut trees as a consequence: keeping a forest healthy means removing sick trees, and their famed archery skills are a result of their hunting tradition. This makes them excellent defensive guerrilla fighters: Blood told Will that getting in a fight with an elf in the forest is suicide.
  • No Man of Woman Born: In volume 5, Will and Menel challenge Kittelsen, a giant from the age of the gods who has Nigh-Invulnerability and is blocking a crucial road and blocking a nearby village from accessing a spring. The giant is invulnerable to all damage that doesn't both come from something with a definite form, and is bigger than him—which would be a neat trick since Will doesn't come up higher than his ankles. On their second attempt, Will and Menel bet him that they can overcome his vulnerability, and if they win, he'll hear them out. They then trip him so that he's damaged by the only available thing bigger than him: the ground.
  • The Paladin: It's right there in the title. Will absolutely is one: a Magic Knight who serves a goddess as her "warrior priest", gifted with healing powers and able to slay demons. Will hews strongly towards the Good over the Law, preferring to subdue living opponents non-lethally and guide them back into harmony with the world. He'd make a good follower of Ilmater or Sarenrae.
  • Patron God: The gods may grant blessings to reward the faithful and select champions to achieve their will through. For instance, Will is blessed by Gracefeel, the goddess of flux and reincarnation. Through her blessings, he is able to perform benedictions to heal and protect others as well as send the undead to the afterlife.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Duke of Southmark and Bishop Bagley, representing the secular and religious authority of the city of Whitesails, are both quite level-headed. Bagley shouts a bit more, but it's part of his public persona.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Most characters in this series are fundamentally decent if not outright heroic, and even sometime Arc Villain Stagnate is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who hopes to remove the possibility of grief from the world by eliminating death. Only the demons and the foul-dragon Valacirca are true villains.
  • Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: Blood, Mary, and Gus made a Deal with the Devil: be turned into undead so they could guard the demon lord's prison forever, but become the servants of the god of undeath, Stagnate, if their attachment to this duty ever waned. They became attached to Will and so the Echo (avatar) of Stagnate came for them... only for Gus to spectacularly blow the avatar away with a Fantastic Nuke, on the grounds that a deal made out of desperation didn't count. It doesn't work—Stagnate had a second Echo prepared just in case—but it was worth a try.
    Blood: So, let's see, Grandpa Gus. You outright ignored the contract, then tried to beat the hell out of him when he came to collect. And then, you failed! What a guy. Never change.
  • Self-Damaging Attack Backfire: Being interrupted while speaking a Magical Incantation usually causes a Magic Misfire: Gus recounts an incident where a mage blew himself up because he was so furious with his opponent that his incantation turned into Angrish. This can also be Invoked with the spell "Tacere! Os!" (literally "Mouth! Shut!" in dog-Latin) which causes the target's mouth to snap shut, disrupting any spell they were trying to cast.
  • Standard Fantasy Races: Humans, elves, dwarves and halflings are all known in Will's new world. Background lore describes them as servants of the benevolent gods. The malicious gods have their own minions as well: Stagnate, the god of undeath, has, uh, the undead; Dyrhygma, god of dimensions, has the demons; and Illtreat, god of tyranny, has the goblins.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: In a flashback to the Three Heroes' campaign against the High King, Blood tells Mary that she's staying behind when they go to fight him, because he's in love with her and doesn't want to risk losing her in battle. Mary replies that if he leaves her behind, she'll kill herself. Blood drops that subject and asks her to marry him once the war is over.
  • Support/Utility Party Member: About midway through the second novel, Will makes friends with a halfling bard, Bee, and a traveling merchant (currently down on his luck), Tonio. Neither are fighters, but they help a lot with smoothing out more prosaic problems like building a reputation for him and connecting him with local merchants to buy supplies.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The undead have the strength and abilities that they had in life, but Will discovers when he fights a skeletal vraskus (a third-tier demon resembling lizardfolk) in the ruined city that undeath doesn't suspend conservation of mass: an animated skeleton still weighs the same as an un-animated one, which is typically less than ten percent of body weight. He uses this discovery to his advantage when he duels Blood later.
  • Title Drop: After being officially knighted and joining the local temple congregation, Will declares that he's become "a paladin in this faraway land".
  • Troperiffic: The story uses all of the Standard Japanese Fantasy Setting tropes, such as an invading Demon King, the Standard Fantasy Races, patron gods and goddesses, the separation of magic and benedictions, as well as the protagonist being a reincarnation of a Japanese person from Earth. But Tropes Are Tools is in full effect, and the setting, while familiar, remains distinct through its examination and usage of these tropes—as well as occasionally poking fun at certain concepts.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Blood, Gus and Will frequently insult each other good-naturedly (usually more between the other two, but Will isn't immune to doing so) but remain clear friends.
  • We Can Rule Together: Stagnate offers this to Will after seeing how powerful a fighter he is.
  • What Is Evil?: Reconstructed. Gus observes in volume 1 that Volt, god of lightning and rulership, is worshiped as a deity of justice and public order, whereas his brother the War God Illtreat is feared as a figure of chaos. However, he then notes that Illtreat also supports revolutions against corrupt and unjust systems where Volt works to uphold them. He concludes that, contrary to the conventional teachings of the world's religion, the gods run on Blue-and-Orange Morality and that the actual "good" ones are those whose ways of thinking don't pose a threat to mortals. This is borne out in the series: even one of its primary villains, Stagnate, the god of undeath, is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to free people from having to watch their loved ones die.
  • When He Smiles: Off-screen example, Anna says part of what she loves about Reystov is that he has a wonderful smile. Will and Bee are left shocked at this statement considering the man perpetually looks intimidating.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The two-part Lord of the Rust Mountains is essentially The Hobbit with a nastier beginning and a happier ending: Al is the grandson of the last king of the dwarves of the Iron Mountains (Thorin Oakenshield), who were unhomed by a dragon named Valacirca (Smaug) during the war with the High King, and now an adventuring party travels back to the mountain to slay the dragon and retake it. This version adds that Valacirca was a mercenary hired by the demons, and that he's a "foul-dragon" who generates toxins that also poisoned the elf forest at the foot of the mountains (Mirkwood). The dragon also never leaves the mountain to ravage the lands below: Will slays Valacirca indoors after a bruising battle that involves Divine Intervention from both Gracefeel and Stagnate, ultimately finishing him off by burying Overeater in his neck and vampirically absorbing his remaining strength.

Alternative Title(s): Saihate No Paladin