European fantasies about women becoming warriors will never not be my jam. Prince Freya from mangaka Keiko Ishihara focuses on a young village girl named Freya who has been tasked with becoming a prince and saving her country from war and ruin. Living a royal lie has been difficult with all the people she’s lost over the last few volumes. In volume 3, we saw Freya turn her grief and anger into a weapon that helped her fight and inspire her troops during the siege of Fort Leren. Now, Prince Freya Volume 4 picks up immediately where the last one ended: with the Kelds riding in to help save the day and with Alek, who everyone thought was dead, with them.
Prince Freya Volume 4 is localized in English by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint. It’s translated by John Werry and features touch-up art and lettering from Sabrina Heep. While the last volume was action-heavy, this one is slower and more focused on Freya developing her diplomatic skills and learning that not everyone is on their side—even if they aren’t with Sigurd. This is the one element that she realizes Tyr can use to their advantage. While Tyr doesn’t have allies, Sigurd’s campaign of conquering has led them to amass enemies, like the Kelds. As Freya learns these dynamics, we get the chance to see a different side of her: an inventive side that not only understands how to read people but how to strategize.
Additionally, the romance around Freya is pushed even further as Alek begins to move on his emotions. No longer having to hide his feelings for the sake of his brother, Alek has to deal with guilt and love as he tries to make moves but also does so while not understanding where Freya’s heart lies. This comes after Freya and Sir Julius shared a kiss last volume and the small moments that have made it appear that Julius’s commitment to Freya isn’t just because she is Prince Edvard.
With all of that said, Prince Freya Volume 4 is a sharply different narrative that aims to build out the political intrigue involved in the narrative. That said, it falls short. Not because it doesn’t provide much needed political elements to the series, but because Freya loses herself in them. This volume isn’t bad by any means, but it is hard to see a love triangle unfolding when so much of the last volume was dedicated to showcasing Freya’s strength and power. It is shojo, so this is to be expected, but Ishihara’s strength in writing Freya is showcased when Freya is filled with emotion, hate, anger, and grief created a compelling shojo heroine. Now though, Freya seems more docile again. Is she intuitive and creative? Yes, but she’s begun to shrink to the men around her.
It’s clear that Prince Freya Volume 4 is a set-up volume for larger elements, but the time spent expanding Tyr and its history isn’t thrilling to read and it’s presented in a clear expository way that makes it hard to find enjoyment in. The success of this volume comes from Freya’s interactions with Alek and Julius but beyond that, it was hard to build up interest in how she confronted other characters.
Overall, Prince Freya Volume 4 is the weakest part of the story so far, but that’s understandable given the strength and impact of volume 3. Truthfully, I just hope that Freya’s strength comes back to the forefront as she travels across the countryside to build allegiances against Sigurd. More specifically, I hope Ishihara can write Freya on her own as strongly as she can write Freya when she’s with Julius and Alek.
Prince Freya Volume 4 is available from booksellers on January 5, 2021.
Prince Freya Volume 4
Overall, Prince Freya Volume 4 is the weakest part of the story so far, but that’s understandable given the strength and impact shown in volume 3. Truthfully, I just hope that Freya’s strength comes back to the forefront as she travels across the countryside to build allegiances against Sigurd. More specifically, I hope Ishihara can write Freya on her own as strongly as she can write Freya when she’s with Julius and Alek.