ONE BIG FAT LIE AND A FEW TWISTED TRUTHS.
Even in his past life, Cid's dream wasn't to become a protagonist or a final boss. He'd rather lie low as a minor character until it's prime time to reveal he's a mastermind...or at least, do the next best thing--pretend to be one! And now that he's been reborn into another world, he's ready to set the perfect conditions to live out his dreams to the fullest. Armed with his overactive imagination, Cid jokingly recruits members to his organization and makes up a whole backstory about an evil cult that they need to take down. Well, as luck would have it, these imaginary adversaries turn out to be the real deal-and everyone knows the truth but him!
Another [Isekai] and [Overpowered] light novel, entertaining only for those who are willing to turn off their brains and ride along with the story, in which the author had put some effort to make it interesting by putting in [Hiding True Power], [Misunderstandings] and [Secret Organization] tropes.
While most light novels with these tropes--especially [Isekai] and [Overpowered]--bore the readers to their cores, [The Eminence in the Shadow] possibly realised the drawbacks of such tropes, and rushed through the boring parts of [Isekai], which is building up and coping with new family and new environment, and went straight to the main character building up his [Secret Organization].
This, however, can also be seen as a negative aspect of the writing, because the author skipped almost all characterization of all the protagonist's family members--his mother and father spoke only once each for the whole book.
Though the author established solid personality traits for each character, that did not help with the lack of characterization, rendering each character nothing more than a tool to help the plot to progress in the direction the author wanted.
As an [Isekai], it had magic, but the magic system was not properly explained and kept mysterious, leaving the reader not knowing its working or its limitations. The main protagonist could use powerful magic, but it had not been explained to how magic could create such phenomenon.
The world-building was nothing aside from countries' names...and for some reason, French wine existed in that world despite it not being Earth.
And as to be expected from [Overpowered], the fight scenes were boring and offered only little to not-at-all excitement.
The one saving grace that kept me reading this light novel was my curiosity to how creatively the author would progress the story with [Secret Organization] aspect, which was--in my opinion--mediocre but entertaining enough.
Another saving grace was [Misunderstanding] moments that were written quite well, and by which the protagonist was put in interesting situations, resulting in creative progression of the story and funny interactions between characters.
Though one can argue that this light novel also contains [Harem], the 1st book did not dive deep into the romance aspect as it had not shown many romantic interactions between characters, and it was not clear whether the feeling each character had for the protagonist was love or just admiration.
In summary, [The Eminence in Shadow] is bad-to-mediocre [Overpowered] [Isekai] light novel, from which some entertainment can be found, but not much to be expected. There is no mind-blowing strategies, epic fight scenes or a carefully crafted magic system. This light novel has nothing remarkable enough that would leave you screaming in excitement or awe.
I will read this light novel to kill some time when I have nothing else to read. The story is engaging enough. I will keep my expectation low when I read the next volume.
I had kept my expectations low while reading this book, and I enjoyed it.
The first half of the book explored into the world's history and background, especially that of the antagonist organization. It revealed their objectives while keeping certain elements hidden, retaining some mysteries in the story, which I find quite interesting.
The second half began with a trope that could be call [Tournament Arc] as a backdrop, behind which the story progressed. While nothing much happened initially, the main conflict of this part of the story appeared out of nowhere, lacked of proper setups, and one important turning point which marked the begining of the conflict even happened off-screen.
Some characters introduced during this conflict seemed to only be used as tools for the plot. As a result of this and the lack of setups, events that involved these characters, no matter how important to the narrative they seem or how much effect they had to the world, did not left any significant impressions on the readers at all.
Those problems heavily undermined the interesting progressions of the story. I believed it was a missed opportunity that the author could have used to better characterize the the main characters and make the readers care about them. If I had cared more about the characters, I would have been moved by the climax of the conflict.
While there was dissonance of understandings between the main protagonist and other characters, the [Misunderstandings] was not utilized as much as the first book, and not as good.
Though the fight scenes had no interesting mind-blowing strategies and the main protagonist was still [Overpowered], how some of the fights progressed was written well enough to feint tension, by which the author could build a certain level of excitement for each scenes. Sadly, that was not the case for every fights.
As for world-building, countries' names and their specialties were mentioned alongside names of important figures, but nothing else. So far, none of the books had dived deep into details of any kind.
If one were to turn off their brain and ride along the story without heeding these negatives, however, one could enjoy it with its many tropes and the direction the story progressed. I would believe that this was how the author had hoped the book to be read.
There were [Harem] elements, but there were little romantic interactions between the main protagonist and other main characters. It would appear that [Harem] and [Romance] were not the main focus of the story at all.
In summary, [The Eminence in Shadow] was a carefree light novels that can be enjoyed, but nothing much to be expected from it. I believed it was inteded to be that way.
Currently, there were 3 books available, so I would finish the 3rd book and move on the something else. I could guess that I would not have much to write about the next book.