Light novel 2 in The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life really develops the world and some of the characters. Some darkness is introduced and more history about the status of alchemy and alchemists, and the Labyrinth, is really the focus of the volume. This means both more story and more world building. The biggest problem from book 1 gets a little worse in book 2 though, and that’s Mariela. She’s supposed to be the main heroine, but she’s totally flat as a character and she stays that way. And none of the other characters seem to care; they all take notice that she seems kind of ordinary and immature for her age, but they all enable that and it gets old fast.
Mariela’s secret about being a real alchemist is a place where that kind of thing is incredibly rare and hugely valuable also starts getting out. Having the two leaders of the Labyrinth Suppression Forces find out makes a little sense given some of the details of the adventure they go on in the deeper parts of the Labyrinth, and they’re both good guys; also, having Malroux finally figure it out and being a little dismayed that Dick knew it before he did is actually kind of funny. However, Mariela seems to make no effort to hide it from new friend Caroline, and even though it’s a good excuse to describe how making a link with the Ley lines actually works, Mariela’s childish carelessness is really irritating, especially since there are a few moments where she displays some actual emotional IQ when things get unusually serious.
Honestly, it seems like only the side characters are the one with personality, especially since Sieg doesn’t seem to develop much either. Elmera getting a secret identity is a little silly and predictable but she’s already kind of kick butt personally so why not let her do it physically too, Dick actually has serious skills and perception in spite of being a goof. Even Leonard and Weishardt have a little character rounding and they’re almost secondary secondary characters. Dr. Nierenberg and Lord Robert both have a good bit of personality, and they’re new to this volume, and Robert likely won’t be back. So why can’t the main duo evolve too? This story is generic but entertaining fantasy, but it could be so much more if the main characters had more character.