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Synopsis – It has been centuries since the Sorcerer-Kings of old destroyed the world in their mad race to create ever-more-horrifying creatures. Now in the Fourth Age, known as the Age of Monsters, humanity clings to life by its fingernails, hidden behind walled cities and towns.
On the island of Daði, four kingdoms exist in an uneasy truce, ruled and protected by Cultivators with the power to break the Laws of Nature. There, Prince Erik, an unranked Cultivator and the descendant of a sorcerer’s experiment, is attacked by an ancient predator, a beast birthed in the molten core of a long dead world. And as the abomination devours him, something monstrous awakens within his blood.
Schedule – The Undying Prince is a web serial that combines the genres of fantasy and xianxia in a new and interesting way. One regular chapter will be posted every Monday at 12:00 a.m. and one sponsored chapter on Thursday at 12:00 a.m. if the donation threshold has been met on my blog. Currently on Arc 8 - https://theundyingblog.wordpress.com/table-of-contents/
Length – Each chapter will be around 3000 words long.
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I've been reading this on the author's blog for a while now. Imagine my surprise when I just came across the fiction on this site. There have been times when I've refresh-spammed the author's blog on release dates because I've been desperate to read more.
What is the story about?
Erik is a prince. He isn't perfect, and has some seriously messed up relationships with people around him. At this point, we're still trying to figure out the mess of his life.
As is described in the author's description of the fiction, Erik is a cultivator who suddenly awakens a monstrous power. This isn't a pretty power. It's a power that can easily lead to insanity, a ferocious, savage power.
Part of the beauty of this work is that it sets out to explore how Erik is warped by his power. The author expertly shows us Erik's mental state through his interactions with the world and the people around him. At the same time, the author's world building is excellent and paints a picture of a world both strange and fascinating.
Upon hearing that this novel is about a society of cultivators, you might assume that the book is like wuxia/xianxia novels. Wrong! The book reads like a normal action novel, not at all like a typical cultivator novel. We never see characters do typical cultivator-y things i.e. go into extended seclusion, or develop "secret master techniques" in solitude. No, this book is far more dynamic and original, with its narrative style and finesse leagues beyond typical cultivator novels.
Essentially... I can't recommend it more than enough! Anybody (whether or not they like wuxia/xianxia/etc.) who likes a good action novel with disturbed and well fleshed-out characters and superb world-building should give this a shot!
This is well written with an interesting story and a well constructed cultivation/magic system. The world history is also pretty rich helping immerse the reader.
I would say my only complaint is that sometimes things are a bit too convienent for the main character. Except of course, like I mention in the title, the nine consecutive chapters of dream sequence do rather hurt the story's momentum.
This story is a story about struggle. Struggle for life, love, existence, goals. And almost fittingly, the story struggle against itself.
The writing is rich, incredibly so. Everything is carefully described and the stylistic effects are inventive, immersive, creating a very vivide painting. But at some point it becomes oppressive, to the detriment of the plot. The rythm suffers terribly from all the flowery arabesques, which morph from roses into thorny vines that grind the progression to a painful halt.
By arc 5, I had the feeling I was swimming in frozen mud. Trust me, it is incredibly unpleasant and tiring for the mind. No plot nor character evolution to anchor me in a flow of prettily described but fondamentaly useless adventures.
Now here is, in disagreement with the other reviewers, what I mean. A story is composed of a succession of blocks that unfold toward the ending. And each block is built the same. The hero is put trough a trial and over triumphing, gain something. Pay attention now: something can be anything. It can be enlightenment about Life, as it can be simply moving from points A to B. It can be gaining an object, a power or it can be a lesson. It can be a question about oneself. Anyway, something must come out after passing the trial.
It is not the case in this story. Read the first 5 arcs: can tell me honestly the story progressed an inch? All we know about Erik, we learn it in the first arc. Read it again, you will see. Everything that comes after is a repeat of something we know already. Can anyone objectively tell me what Erik gains from arcs 2 and 3? Even during arc 4, which should end with a shift, given how dramatic it is supposed to be, nothing serious happen.
I understand the need to stage the action. To built up tension. But this is not staging anymore at this point, it's drowning the reader in prose in the hope he won't notice the lack of meaningful actions.
I may or may not try to come back again because I feel the potential. I only need to shape my will in the form of an icebreaker boat.
Part of WC's Mutual Reviews. All opinions are impartial. Read uptill Chapter 6.01
Overall: A very well thought out and intricately crafted high fantasy story with lots of memorable characters, good grammar and vocab, and an interesting storyline. I really enjoyed the immersive nature of the story, although I don't particularly enjoy high fantasy, and felt like the details were introduced slowly, with very little direct exposition. The descriptions were fairly vivid, although unnecessary at certain points, and the author might need to tweak the way their story flows because it does become hard to follow, attachments to characters do get nulled by constant deaths and dream sequences, and action seems lose their momentum because of flashbacks, unrelated descriptions, and other stylistic choices. The narrative is dense, as expected of high fantasy, but could use some trimming to clean that up a little.
Style 4/5 This, I felt, was the strangest part of the story. The descriptions and vocab the author made use of was great, it crafted images that were immersive, and really made the story shine. Yet, the PoV shifts, flashbacks, and other breaks in narration were, I felt, somewhat poorly executed. These things are very powerful tools that can make a story even better and add layers of narration that propel the story to greater heights, but not when they are inserted into places where they suck the impact out of the scene and don't have the time to be effective themselves. Some of these were done very well, such as after characters died etc because they carried weight, and served as mini denouements of sorts. However, putting them inside fight scenes is a bit much.
Story: 4/5 The plot itself is very detailed, rich, and full of tons and tons of different players, situations, influences, gods etc. The whole world is so rich and well defined, its just great overall. However, the story feels a little aimless at times. The author pushes this problem away through short character driven arcs, but the overall objective of the story isn't particularly clear. As such, although I found myself wondering what the MC will be doing next or how he will get out of whatever predicament he was in, I rarely wondered about what would happen afterwards, or how the story would unfold in the long run.
Grammar: Not perfect, with some typos. But way better than anything else on RRL. Plus, great vocab and use of varying sentence structures. 5/5
Character: The part that really shone for me. The characters were well defined, easy to relate to, and I actually cared about what happened to them, despite the fact that no one seems to die for real in the story (which could be a complaint I guess? But it did make a few scenes particularly memorable.) Asbjorne (sorry i can't make the accents on my keyboard) was my favorite character, and that scene in the dust was very impactful, imo.
Overall: 4.75/5 High fantasy is incredibly difficult to master, and requires a lot of investment on the author AND reader's part. However, baron has done a very good job at making the world immersive, the characters round and likeable, and the author's vocabulary and experimentation with different storytelling techniques - although confusing and not perfectly implemented in parts - is something worth appreciating in a landscape littered with stories that reiterate the same, tired old formula.
If you read this, I recommend enjoying it slowly and sticking through the first few chapters until you begin to feel like you're a part of the world. Trust me, it's worth it.
If you seek to gorge yourself upon a tale of grim woes and bloody trials, Baron Blackwell’s The Undying Prince may be for you. It surges across a less trodden path than its contemporaries, melding fantasy elements with xianxia according to the author’s synopsis. Less evident, though nonetheless present, are dashes of psychological horror and Lit-RPG.
If I were to describe it in one word, I’d have to go with “complex”. One should take into consideration all the fair and foul traits such a label implies.
The world pulls along both Eastern and Western mythical aspects, placing qilins upon the same lands roamed by dire wolves. By the story’s start, sorcerers have already fouled up the ecosystem to the point that stepping too far away from civilization is a very good way to end up as the meal of some unfathomable monstrosity, or worse, their incubator. Characters living in this world reflect such a reality in their harshness and survival oriented dispositions.
Speaking of characters, the important cast seems rather small for its setting, though everyone has distinct voices and backgrounds that we can draw bits of worldbuilding from, little by little. At times, it does seem like certain people only serve as mouthpieces to get information that the natives should already know downriver to the readers, but that’s a sin kept to a tolerable minimum. If something were to prompt one to abandon ship, it would be the thickness of the plot.
A myriad of conflicts start and end with Erik, something permissible within the specific spoiler-filled stations of said plot, but it still leaves one yearning for a lengthier look beyond the young prince’s fears and inner demons.
Especially true for the genres upon which The Undying Prince skirts, the point where the main character stops interacting with the world, and simply spins it on a globe is where interest dies. The focus isn’t harsh enough to reach that point, not for determined readers, but it leans close at times. Alleviating this, are supporting characters whose brokenness matches the environment perfectly. Watching them do what little they can to keep the shadows of reality at bay provides an interesting clash with the overarching atmosphere. As bad as things are, the people persevere, it is in that perseverance, that much of the personality development lies. I firmly believe that the author is fully aware of this, setting up and concluding miniature arcs that convincingly drop flecks of hope into the starless night. The elevated, almost poetic diction lends itself well to this kind of storytelling.
Nigh completely digestible grammar, a unique style, and distinct use of tonal manipulation paves the way for a book-worthy text over all. Very few times, have I felt the need to stop and re-read a section for mechanical purposes. You’d be reading a very different review were this not the case. A great depth of attention and willful immersion is required to traverse the narrative and arrive with a clear picture, however. This is largely caused by a predisposition towards shifts in perspective and narrative device with little warning and less immediate sense beyond the influence of a certain hungry guest in the confines of Erik’s soul.
Though they may seem illogical to some readers, they are most likely a feature, not a bug. Given time, the disjointed pieces come together and one forges an understanding of who Erik truly is. This of course, comes at the price of a more intuitive sense of pace, but those who enjoy the battle at the center of the mind are in for what seems to be a great payoff over the horizon.
All 4 and halfs because I believe that this story in and of itself Is a good one but I digress. The grammar is great but not perfect. But as my teacher says perfection no existe. The characters are deep and have much background and are real as you call it everything else is for you to think about.
Ever since i first found this story i have been captivated by the world this author so fantastically created.
Mankind, that has lost its spot at the top of creation and strugles tu survive and rebuild in the wrekage of a broken world, full of perils and an intriguing lore that slowly unrabels as the story develops, always leaving you wanting more.
The characters are all well developed, each with a distinct personality and a role in the story, not just decorations in the background meant to showcase the main character. There are not two alike and they werent writen to fill a stereotipical role.
The writing style is fantastic, easily pulling you into the story, where you find yourself inside the minds of the characters shearing thyr experiences.
I can't recomend The Undying Prince enough
Humanity clings to life with its fingernails. And Prince Erik, with the monster trapped in him, is losing his.
The story starts off with a rather striking image - an imprisoned dragon crashing down from the sky. It's a take-a-step back moment. And it's not the only one in the story. The writing lingers on these images, painting them to great detail. There are a couple of more brilliant moments like these, where time slows down as two characters fight. Some of these hit like a physical blow. And that is what it gives such weight to the story. To the setting, the magic system, the politics, its characters and their inexplicable motivations. It feels thick, a thing to relish, something to sink your teeth into. (Like Erik is kept being told to).
But there are times when the story stumbles, when one scene transitions to the next, especially in the opening arcs. The timeskips, both back and forward, are not very clearly explained and sometimes you have go back and forth to figure out what is happening. And sometimes the feeling of weight to the story becomes a little too much. It feels like too much packed into too little time. It is probably here, with the narrative arc of story where the story feels weakest. We spend too much time in dream sequences, or jumping from one plotpoint to another without adequate conclusion.
One of the most interesting parts of story was Erik's conflict with the monster trapped inside him. This is probably a repetitive plot element in most fantasy stories, but this is one that I am personally biased to, so I loved it here. It’s probably not a very different take, but there is a feeling of consequence to way Erik’s life has been changed. It’s not just a prop for the protagonist but a real problem. And boy’s he already got more than his share of them.
The other thing that shone about the story was the world building - it's heady mix of different influences. I could taste traditional fantasy(I've seen another review call this High Fantasy, though I am not sure), some wuxia by the way of the magic system, and deep streaks of grimdark added in, and a dash of Norse Myth... and well, doesn't that intrigue you already? And you're always left wanting more - there are no weighty expositions, most of it is explained as it becomes relevant to the characters and never before. And despite almost fifty chapters in, there's a lot still left unexplored. This is probably the part of the story that shines brightest.
I recommend this story very highly. Compared to some of the tired, uninspired crap littered in RRL, this has heart. The amount of effort put in by the writer shows with every word. It deserves to be read. Go ahead and read it right now. It’s worthy of your time.
Note - This is part of a review swap.
I'm not gonna lie it goes from good to bad to worse some of the reviews have to be biased but that is just my opinion
4/5 for the start a 3/5 for mid and 1.5 to a 2 for the end for me
Author style is live and amazingly stimulates imagination, little oneiric in nature and sometimes overwhelming, but first class of writing.
The problem is that plot lost himself in this style and despite rich the world, plot is too simple in comparison to style and for my even boring.
True is that character are (mostly) multidimensional, but they motivation for my are not convincing. I can't worry about their fate. The author can write short emotional fragments which are deeply characterised characters, but readers can't attach themselves to them because the plot jumping often from the past to the present, making that after such a long story fragments, explaining character action and motivation lost impact.
To this the fact that I'm bored with the enemy the main goal contains killing the main protagonist and this story has this motive.
This is not a bad story, but the disappointment with the above-mentioned greatly reduces the pleasure of reading for my.