Every epic has its down-times when it slows and ponders future moves, and Berserk is no exception. But heck, even at its slightest, Berserk is still richer than many a lesser series. Schierke in particular makes out well this volume as she grapples with her place in the world, and more specifically in Guts' little band, after the death of her mentor the woodland witch. A few more of Griffith's followers are introduced as well, the Kushan begin moving in earnest, and there's a heavy hint dropped about the fate of Guts and Casca's demonic child. And of course Berserk is probably the only epic whose down-time includes a gory battle against an army of mutated crocodiles. All in all, a pretty nice mix of action, plot advancement and characterization for a volume in which little of consequence happens.
And therein lies the rub. The above isn't a list of highlights; it's a list of every single event that matters. The entire Kushan attack sequence serves only to demonstrate the mechanics of the Kushan magic and to drop the aforementioned hint. Fully two thirds of the volume, and it gives us exactly one and a half items of interest (the Kushan magic isn't really that interesting). Guts' arrival at the metropolis of Vritannis tries to make up for that with a wealth of historical background, but only ends up infodumping Holy See politics into the stagnant backwaters of our brains. Only in the last two chapters does the series start to come back to life. Schierke's solo Vritannis adventure is revealing, atmospheric, horrifying, and blackly funnyâeverything the series should have been but only sporadically was in the previous one hundred and eighty pages.