Vol. 7 wastes no time in picking up where the peasant army left off in their siege of the castle of Schwyz. If you’ve enjoyed mangaka Mitsuhisa Kuji’s depiction of medieval siege weaponry and tactics, then she has a lot more to offer up here. We get to see the peasant army, led by the supremely capable Heinz, fight tooth-and-nail to overcome all of the boiling oil, heavily fortified doorways, and entrenched guards to take the castle. That turns out to be the easy part of their job as Duke Leopold returns with an army and siege weapons of his own. I’ll admit that Kuji is able to mine a great deal of tension from how she keeps us guessing as to whether or not the peasants will be able to hold off their attackers. That alone makes this volume a tense and engaging read.
I wouldn’t say that we’re all the way up to “compelling” yet. My concern that the series would lose its drive after Bailiff Wolfram was killed in the previous volume is pretty much borne out here. All of the action here is good for what it is, but it’s lacking the extra level of excitement which came from knowing that everything being done in the series was bringing us one step closer to the bailiff’s demise. Yes, there is an effort to make Leopold the new big bad here. It doesn’t really work as his antics here make him come off as more of a dick than a genuine villain. I’ll keep reading “Wolfsmund” because Kuji displays some good storytelling chops with the desperate peasant struggle in this volume. However, it still leaves me with the feeling that this title’s best days are behind it.