I've been reading Madan no Ou to Vanadis like crazy lately. I think I might have a new favorite light novel series. Seriously, I didn't expect to like these books as much as I do. They really surprised me. It's a very political war story in a light fantasy setting. There are some legendary magic weapons and a few demons manipulating things from behind the scenes but don't expect wizards or elves or dwarves here. The core of the story is very down-to-earth (reminds me a bit of the classic Conan novels in that sense...). There is lots of politics, many battles, and a whole lot of talk about strategy. Romance of the Three Kingdoms in light novel form, almost. Here's a light spoiler description of the first few novels (keeping things pretty broad here, no specifics, but some people might not want to see it regardless):
The main character Tigre is a noble in charge of a minor, poor, but mostly peaceful territory near the border with another kingdom. He participates in a battle over a minor border dispute with the neighboring country and since their side has far more troops it's expected to be an easy win. In fact, the king sends the crown prince to lead the troops. It's his first time doing so and the king wants him to gain some experience. But the battle turns out to be anything but easy when their opponent launches a surprise pincer attack. The prince is killed and the troops rout.
Tigre stumbles on the opportunity to attack the enemy commander with his bow and does so. Yet it turns out that she's a "Vanadis" (hence the name of the series) who wields a magic sword that can control wind and avoids Tigre's attack. Even so she's impressed with Tigre's archery skills and decides to take him captive rather than kill him.
During Tigre's captivity civil war breaks out in his home country since the crown prince (who was the king's only child) was killed. The king is distraught over the death of his son and secludes himself and there are two major noble families with loose ties to the royal family fighting over the successorship. One of them, realizes that Tigre's territory is largely undefended in his absence but thinks it would be too much trouble to capture and hold. But he doesn't want anyone else to use it (armies always need food and water) so he sends his son to burn the place to the ground.
Word of this pending attack reaches Tigre while he's still a captive and he ends up pleading with the Vanadis for assistance. In exchange for his territory and service she agrees to lend him troops to defend his territory. In the process he kills the noble's son who was leading the attack.
Even though Tigre did all of this just to to defend his territory the fact remains that he lead a foreign army into the country and he's branded a traitor. And the noble who's son was killed obviously wants revenge. So all of that is really just the setup for Tigre and the Vanadis reluctantly entering the fray as a third force in this civil war.
I love all of that, but on the other hand it's still a light novel series and as a result the author (or maybe his editor/publisher...) apparently felt the need to shoehorn some fanservice in. Not that I'm not used to that sort of thing, but it's typically in a more light-hearted or comedic-driven context. Here it feels forced and unnecessary. Completely out of place. For what it's worth the main character is a very serious and diligent person, not the perverted type at all. Yet for some reason he keeps accidentally walking in on woman bathing and stuff. Seriously, it's happened at least three times now. At least don't be so goddamn cliche about it. I don't even necessarily hate ecchi stuff but I hate this lazy, tacked-on ecchi stuff for sure.
So, to connect this topic to anime (since this is the anime thread...)...apparently there is going to be an anime adaption of this series sometime next year. And I'm really, really worried about it. It could be very good. Some of my favorite animes of all time are politics and strategy heavy (like LoGH). But then there's that...other aspect of the series I just mentioned. Even though in the novels it's really a minor part, I could easily see an anime adaption emphasizing it much more heavily if they think that will sell better. It all depends on who's doing it, I suppose. I believe it's Media Factory but they haven't really announced specifics as far as I know.