The third volume of Unnamed Memory went in a very unexpected direction, and I had reservations about where the story would go from there.
So fair warning, it’s impossible to talk about what happens without some significant spoilers!
Last time, Oscar unexpectedly traveled back in time and chose to prevent Tinasha from becoming a Witch. This messes with the timeline, as now Tinasha won’t have the extended lifespan or power to build the tower of trials that Oscar completes. So, separated by hundreds of years, can the two meet again?
Of course they can…because young-Tinasha enters into stasis, waiting to meet her future husband who regaled her with tales of her accomplishments and their relationship.
Only…Oscar has no idea why someone he just met and had been sleeping for centuries is dedicated to him, but he’s not interested in this technically-older-but-emotionally-younger mage.
The start of Act II here in Once More upon the Blank Page means going back to Act I. We have a cursed prince who becomes king, a mage of immense power wanting to protect him, Lazar is still Oscar’s aide, etc. However, this time, it’s Tinasha pursuing Oscar since she remembers everything. While she doesn’t reveal this and insists she doesn’t have to be Oscar’s bride (or mistress), no one is buying it. Oscar immediately dismisses the idea of Tinasha becoming his wife, even if she could carry Oscar’s child despite the curse. He finds her rather clingy, and besides, she’s going to be Tuldarr’s queen again.
While their relationship last time around was just everyone wanting to smack Tinasha into realizing she loves Oscar and being rather uncomfortable by Oscar’s straightforward proposals, this time, their relationship seems more standard, the I-hate-you-but-I-love-you sort. Okay, not that extreme, as Tinasha is allowed a lot of amenities at Farsas and Oscar doesn’t want her to get hurt. Still, for those who loved how Unnamed Memory went against the grain may be disappointed this time around when you have Oscar treating Tinasha like a kid and she’s going, “He’s so mean to me!!” in tsundere fashion. Heck, Tinasha keeps breaking windows from losing control of her magic out of jealousy. Yes, others are interested in the leads, but the love triangles are rather lame since they really aren’t on Oscar/Tinasha’s radar.
When the story isn’t concentrating on Oscar and Tinasha’s relationship, it’s dealing with conspirators targeting Farsas and/or its allies. I enjoyed the opening short scenes of the antagonists, as it helps provide some anime episode-like hook instead of having the characters seemingly stumble into situations out of nowhere. I always find opening Unnamed Memory daunting, but by the midsection, the pacing hit its stride and didn’t drag as much as previous volumes.
Some of these groups may be connected to each other or with antagonists in future volumes. However, none of them have the intrigue of the five Witches. Well, three now, but here? 0. So lame after the epicness of Leonora or the other big battles of volumes 1-3, or even Lucrezia’s mischief. Tinasha’s spirit fills a little of that void, but she’s also technically a servant rather than a big sis or equal. Tinasha’s power level also seems to fluctuate. When the story needs her to be strong, people muse she’s practically a Witch, and yet at when it’s convenient for the novel, Tinasha is in need of Oscar’s rescuing.
Once More upon the Blank Page isn’t a total reset of Unnamed Memory, and Furumiya seems to have improved weaving little episodes together into one thick novel. However, messing with the canon we know removes (or at least delays) a lot of the story’s stronger points like an overly-affectionate couple and the various Witches.