Review of Reki Kawahara’s SWORD ART ONLINE: UNITAL RING IV

Sword Art Online 25 by Reki Kawahara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to hand it to Kawahara-san: balancing two seemingly unrelated storylines within a single volume (without losing the tension or flow in either) isn’t easy. Yet he mastered the task well in the latest edition of this story arc, tying up one question while deepening a mystery on the other side. It demonstrates a deft hand (not that it’s any surprise).

Of course, the question of how Mutasina came into possession of her magical abilities remains unanswered. As does the revelation of Eolyne’s true identity. Both sit on a tipping point of frustration, lying just outside the realm of acceptability (recognizing I’m discussing a light novel concerning VRMMOs). Before, there’s always been a rational explanation for the antagonists in the plot. It makes me wonder why Kawahara-san hasn’t dropped in at least some defining element this time around. Instead, everything sits a little too far-fetched. While still an enjoyable read, it requires that much more extension of disbelief.

Particularly when reaching the Afterword and his promise that the two worlds – Unital Ring and Underworld – will end up linked. How does he plan to accomplish that? Especially given the stark separation that’s been laid down until this point. One more reason to continue reading, I suppose.

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