The Kept Man of the Princess Knight cover art showing a red-haired woman in armor standing in front of a "kept man"The Kept Man of the Princess Knight

Story: Toru Shirogane
Art: Keyyang
Character Design: Saki Mashima
Translator: Stephen Paul
Lettering: Ivo Marques
Editor(s): Conner Worman, Mark Galluci
Publisher: Yen Press (NA) & Kadokawa – Comic Walker (JP)

By now, everyone has heard of the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which implies that you shouldn’t judge a book before you read it. Unfortunately, that is exactly what I did before reading The Kept Man of the Princess Knight. That said, the cover art for Volume 1 is actually strikingly beautiful, and it was mainly the premise of the series that didn’t come across as much more than a guilty pleasure read aimed at adults, with its hook of a lecherous man living off the graces of his princess. After reading the first volume, it became very clear the series was so much more than that and is quite deep and complex with its world-building and character motivations.

I was still very much right that The Kept Man of the Princess Knight is aimed at adults, large “parental advisory warning” on the cover aside, as the series immediately opens up with Matthew, our lecherous main character, very much enjoying himself with the company of a lady at a local brothel in the run-down “Dungeon City of Gray Neighbor.” But then, the first volume took an interesting twist, shockingly portraying Matthew as a character with some mystery and complexity. Seeing a seemingly simple religious medallion, the lady was wearing amidst his tryst was enough for Matthew to cut his time short and immediately leave. The series could have continued by letting the readers believe Matthew was nothing more than a rough-around-the-edges good for nothing. Instead, it immediately shows that something is happening in this world, and in Matthew’s past, that bothers him enough to call an early night at the brothel.

As the volume goes on, we are introduced to Arwin, the titular Princess Knight, fending off Matthew as he is groveling and begging for a larger allowance, which she and everyone else very well know he is just going to blow on booze and women at the brothel. Where everyone around her sees his behavior as disgusting and scummy, we are also treated to a hint that Arwin may have her own reasons for not only accepting it but also tacitly encouraging it by making Matthew her kept man. Being the former royal princess of a kingdom now in ruins, which she is valiantly adventuring into the dungeons to restore, her retinue of loyal knights can’t comprehend that she may have sexual desires. The details of her bizarre relationship with Matthew remain a secret only they share, for now.

Matthew and Arwin, the two main characters, are much more complicated than initial impressions make you believe. This subversion of expectations continues throughout the remainder of the first volume as we follow Matthew selfishly curing his boredom by helping solve random problems the Adventurer’s Guild faces while Arwin is away on her adventuring expeditions. Is this Matthew’s way of helping Arwin gain goodwill and achieve her noble goals, or is this “heart-of-gold” act less than genuine and potentially a way for him to stay in her good graces to earn more spending money?

Matthew running away from some shady villains in Volume 1 of The Kept Man of the Princess Knight.
Matthew running away from some shady villains in Volume 1 of The Kept Man of the Princess Knight.

Through these odd jobs at the Adventurer’s Guild that Matthew takes on, we are introduced to more secondary characters, all of whom seemingly have their own complex personalities and motivations. These include Vanessa, an extremely helpful and friendly guild appraiser with a messy history of highly questionable taste in men, and Dez, a veteran adventurer who has seemingly known Matthew longer than anyone else.

The volume further rounds out the story by revealing important worldbuilding details, shadowy organizations that may be out to get rid of Matthew and harm the princess, a deadly plague that warps the mind of adventurers, and even some exciting revelations about Matthew’s past and his bizarre aversion that religious medallion we saw at the very start. The amount of detail the initial volume went into was beyond my wildest expectations, leaving me pleasantly surprised and impressed. I hope future volumes will be able to continue the intricate worldbuilding and delve deeper into the wild and steamy dynamic between Matthew and Arwin.

The manga edition of The Kept Man of the Princess Knight officially releases on May 21, 2024, through Yen Press at any of your favorite retailers. The series is also available in the original light novel format, with Volume 1 having been released in February 2024.

So, how does The Kept Man of the Princess Knight sound? It ended up being significantly more entertaining and interesting than I originally gave it credit for, and I am definitely going to be continuing with the series in the future!

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