Summer Reading — Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress

The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress

Today we’ll discuss The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress volume 1. Lots of spoilers in this post!

This was a story that turned out quite different from what I originally expected. The fun title and bright cover made me think it would be a comedy slice-of-life of sorts, but it ended up being a much more serious fantasy thriller. It reminded me a lot of Valkyria Chronicles actually. That was also set in a World War-era fantasy Europe, dealt with bigotry, had lots of bread-baking, featured an ancient legend that proved significant to the lead heroine, and involved a magical ore with a similar-sounding name (rezanite in Combat Baker, ragnite in Valkyria Chronicles).

I had mixed feelings for Combat Baker while reading it. Starting with the good–the best thing going for the story I felt were its lead characters, Lud and Sven, both of whom I found interesting and sympathetic. Easy to root for, as I like to say. I enjoyed most of the scenes where they interacted with each other. They are cute.

There were also aspects of the story itself I quite liked–particularly the reveal at the end regarding Daian, the head of the secret weapons division. His big plot essentially hinges on the Sven and Lud romance working out, which is a clever twist on things. I like the concept of dramatic (and presumably negative) repercussions ensuing on a continent-wide scale should the two leads actually become a couple.

Unfortunately I did not care much for other aspects of the story. Subplots with secondary characters felt very by-the-numbers, backstories were mostly told blandly rather than shown, and there were a number of plot holes that bothered me. For a quick example, there’s the scene at the mine I liked for the conflict it created between the two leads in the form of Lud harshly disagreeing with how Sven handled things and then the two each feeling bad about it all. At the same time though, I was perplexed by why Lud never for a moment thought to ask about how in the world Sven was able to effortlessly win an arm wrestling match against the bulky muscled miner. For a while I assumed this meant Lud secretly suspected Sven was special in some way (i.e. a robot), but no, it appears he’s still unaware of this even at the end of the volume.

The novel as a whole was also in need of a lot of editing, I felt. I’m sure it’s partly because editing was my focus in college, but I really wanted to revise quite a bit of the prose in this one. All the grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors gave me the impression it wasn’t properly proofread, which is a shame. The fact this is a digital-only title means it should be possible for the issues to be fixed, so hopefully this will become less of a problem over time. And hopefully subsequent volumes will fare better, because I do want to find out what happens next for Sven and Lud.

Now it’s time for all of you to share your thoughts! Be the first to leave a comment, and I will cry tears of joy, just as Lud did for his first customer.

4 responses to “Summer Reading — Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress

    • The story ended up being quite different from what I expected it to be, but I thought it was a pleasant read too overall. Thanks for commenting!

  1. I agree that Bookwalker could have spent a bit more time on editing. It was a bit jarring to see Lud being called Luke instead, and I think even the translator got confused with Europea and Europe. Also, some parts didn’t really flow well together and felt a bit jarring, especially Jacob and Sven’s talk. Not to mention their browser app’s floating ellipses and it kicking me out every time my internet went slow.

    I found Jacob and Milly to be fairly good secondary characters. They’re both children, but really avoid falling into the childish or annoying category. Milly’s story made me feel bad for her, but at the same time I can understand her actions. She’s mad and upset, but God isn’t burning down Wiltia nor can she go attack a whole country, so she’s taking out her frustration on Lud, who symbolizes what took her father and called him a coward. I’m glad the author didn’t have her completely become buddy buddy with Lud at the end, because she’s been angry for so long it’d feel a bit sudden for her to be okay at the end. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing her slowly opening up to the others. Jaocb’s background isn’t the best, and it left me confused about some of his earlier comments, but besides that I like him enough. He’s fairly mature and smart, which sets up a nice contrast to Lud. He really had Lud’s well being in mind, and I enjoyed their friendship. Even though Jacob is so much younger, it’s nice to see Lud treat him like a friend instead of a child. The nun’s betray did surprise me, but her heel face turn did feel too sudden and like more of a requirement for the plot. Compared to her, I much prefer Milly and Jacob. They’re not as important as Daian or the female officer who will appear in next volume based on the cover, but they’re pleasant enough that I want to see more of them.

    Lud not making cinnamon rolls at any point is a huge disappoint, okay that was a horrible joke, but really Lud is a cinnamon roll. He’s so sweet and it was adorable how he just wanted everyone to think his bread tasted good. Also, it’s good that even with Sven being a robot Lud just isn’t useless in a fight and can hold his own still. When I saw one of the color pages I was expecting it to be Sven kicking everyone’s butts on her own, but Lud proved himself to still be able to fight even after being out of retirement. The name for Tockerbot was so bittersweet it really had me feeling sad. Now that you mention it, I’m sure if that story and Milly’s had been told through their eyes as flashbacks the emotional value would have been way stronger. Still, Lud’s such a selfless guy and he acknowledges what he did during the war, but at times he does seem a bit scatterbrained. With all the information he gathered on pricing, how did he not realize setting up in a mining town his country annexed would cause him problems? For the plot hole, I was gonna say maybe he was too preoccupied with other events, but it really does seem like protagonist scatterbrain strikes him whenever Sven does something that makes her seem unusual. It’s still hard to believe he didn’t figure her out.

    Sven, I want to see her develop out of her short temper and getting jealous so easily. I’m not fond of the easily angry jealous girl trope, and she has room to grow and mature emotionally as she gets used to having emotions. Seeing Sven become more human as the series goes on will be interesting, because she has a lot of room to grow. She can get a better hold on her emotions, and learn how to do things for herself instead of trying to always make Lud happy. Out of everyone so far, Sven definitely has the most room for development, and I hope she gets it. Well, at least she won’t have to yell at the slightly newer truck, hopefully. I agree the fight she had with Lud was really handled well, and it didn’t feel too drawn out to me.

    As of now, I doubt Daian’s plan will work out. Sven wouldn’t be a Queen if Lud can’t be her King, and as it is, Lud would much rather be a quiet baker. Unless this changes later on, I can see these two ignoring the prophecy and running Tockerbot instead. Combat Baker is a cute light novel, and it has just enough to make it not feel like every other light novel available in English. I’m looking forward to more, but hopefully Bookwalker can work out a few of the kinks in time for next volume.

    • Thanks for sharing such an in-depth response, Chaikamachi!

      I didn’t notice the Lud/Luke errors that I saw other people mentioning, so maybe those at least have been fixed. The story as a whole definitely needs to make the rounds at least once more though. The floating ellipses bothered me a lot too, and I didn’t like when the characters literally said “Grin” in their dialogue to denote they were smiling.

      I more or less agree with your thoughts on the secondary characters. They worked for what they were needed for in the story, but I didn’t feel that attached to any of them. They will hopefully develop more in subsequent volumes.

      And while I said I like Lud and Sven, there were moments that did feel like the author was shoehorning them into specific character archetypes, either for the sake of a joke or to force the characters into the next scene that the plot requires. I see good potential for both of them, so I hope they can act a little more naturally in the stories to come.

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