The Daily Grind

The Daily Grind

by argusthecat

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

A terminally bored IT guy finds a sub-dimension in the back stairwell of his office building.  It escalates from there.

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argusthecat

argusthecat

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Table of Contents
211 Chapters
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Dion Sky (Csuite, Skylark)
Overall
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Genre-switching utopian uplift epic

Reviewed at: Chapter 201

Whew. I have just gotten up to speed on this story after three or four days of solid reading, and there is a lot to discuss here.

The Daily Grind is in a bit of a unique category all on its own, in that it switches genres dramatically from each book to the next. All three so far have distinct themes and, after some serious early confusion over some of the top-voted reviews on this story, I now better understand why they made the statements they did. Book One will set expectations subsequent books won't carry through with, so, if you've started reading this for a rollicking progression fantasy filled with dungeon encounters and otherworldly exploration, well, that will be true for a while and then change. This doesn't mean the story is any worse, but I can see why some readers would feel disappointed.

So let's get into some more detail.

Book 1 is the progression fantasy. It's linear, fast-paced, exploration and momentum-heavy, full of brilliantly original and creative secrets and landscapes to be explored at every turn. It contains some of the most creative and fascinating world-building I've ever seen: wonderfully surreal and delightfully detailed, with so much depth eked out of a theme I thought would be tricky to maintain. Instead, it just keeps getting better. Immensely satisfying.

In Book 2, as others have said before me, the tone, theme and pacing all take a hard turn. Without hopefully giving away too many spoilers, the scope of the story dramatically broadens from its roots. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good, in that the story has room to grow in more, equally-fascinating directions. Bad, in that with so many new directions suddenly on the table, less time can be devoted to each, which has substantial knock-on effects on story pacing.

It's not that the pacing is slow, as some have suggested - there's actually an enormous amount of plot happening at any given point - but that it's broken up and doled out in small, mostly-even portions. In practice, this means that each time you get invested in a tantalising new story thread or concept, it feels like it lasts for one or two chapters, then takes a break for another twenty or so before you can find out what becomes of it. More, sometimes. This is fine on occasion. When it applies to everything, it results in all the story's payoffs feeling like they're on an enormous delay. You're constantly waiting, even though exciting events might be happening all the time. I will admit I'm not as much of a fan of this pacing structure, and that's why I marked TDG down on style. Particularly after Book 1, it's an adjustment. However, the payoffs do come around eventually; questions do get answered in very satisfying ways. And you do still find the occasional more linear patches which offer thrilling adventures along the way. These are excellent.

The pacing isn't the only aspect undergoing dramatic change. Book 2 is the societal uplift story. Expect strong elements of kingdom-building, utopian philosophy, discussion of various philosophical concepts in general, transhumanism, technological development and logistical planning. It has a similar feel to some old classic sci-fi in this regard, particularly hard sci-fi where conceptual exploration was the name of the game. At times the story feels like a forgiving crash course for newcomers. Given the genre shift, that seems a good choice.

Book 3 pivots again, though less severely. This time the focus swings from a broad, macro view of societal progress to a more micro, character-based view focused on social issues and associated trauma. Expect significant psychological and character development, as well as heavy pacifistic utopian themes delivered 50-50 through metaphor and in many cases literal description. More than anything, Book 3 reminds me of an easier-to-read Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World (an educational novel using a fictional fantasy framework to introduce readers to the history of philosophy). Replace philosophy with utopian ethics and a far less textbooky writing style, and you're on track. But it also reminds me of the kinds of coming-of-age dramas that deal with introducing teens to heavy social issues, so there's that, too. Book 3 was my least favourite simply because it did feel the most blatantly educational (though I wouldn't class its genre as such), and the delayed-payoff pacing from Book 2 mostly remained unchanged. Although it did have one particularly stunning linear arc hearkening back to the feel of Book 1.

The world-building remains phenomenal throughout the series, and in fact my favourite aspects came in fairly late once the broader scope kicked in. This after an incredibly strong start. There are many enticing hints about the possible natures of 

The mysterious powerful entities taking their names from narrow archetypal concepts, the inner secrets of the dungeons themselves, and the older, powerful secret societies skirting around the edges. I'm fascinated by the details of each of the dungeons, and always look forward to the extended adventuring sessions where new secrets are uncovered.


Ultimately, I'm an exploration, 'uncovering secrets' and creativity kind of reader, and this story delivers all those aspects in droves from start to finish. Maybe on more of a delay than I'm usually comfortable with as of Book 2, but the originality is absolutely stellar. 

TDG is also adept at the epic climax. All three books so far come together with very satisfying, well-paced conclusions that pay off a lot of the earlier building questions and tension. Plotlines are resolved, progress is made, outcomes are achieved, and the world meaningfully changes. Superb.

Few typos in the grammar - nothing much to say here. It's written professionally.

Characters, I found, were realistic, thoughtful, and given an often surprisingly in-depth focus given the sheer enormity of the cast. An ensemble this size would normally dial back the focus to a few core members, but TDG seems determined to give even the smallest bit-parts their due. It's quite impressive, although it does contribute to a large part of the later pacing issues. That's the necessary tradeoff. However, I did feel certain characters could sometimes come across like their primary function was to be a message delivery mechanism, particularly in Book 3, which contributed to its educational feel.

All in all - wow. This one has certainly given me a lot to sink my teeth into, and won't be forgotten for a long time. The later books aren't a perfect fit for me in tone or pacing, but the sheer creativity is second-to-none and kept me enjoyably along for the ride. TDG promises many more intriguing secrets still to come, and I'm looking forward to discovering them.

telesto
Overall

No gods, no masters

Reviewed at: Chapter 204

This is a story that took a hard left turn from casual dungeon exploration into "build a singular unified world, under the banner of compassion, understanding, and tolerance". That's the nature of web serials for you.

 

I have actually really enjoyed the turn into the "kingdom building" phase of the work, namely because it is a fictional account of the creation of an anarchist society - a rare gem indeed. The success of the society/culture is now the main plot arc (book 2) and I think its a pretty good take. There has not yet been quite enough internal threat to make it 100% true to life (people with superpowers would tend to moonlight, for good or ill, IMO) but it is solid enough. 

Ziggy
Overall

Don't be Intimidated

Reviewed at: Chapter 205

This review mostly focuses on the first arc of the story.

The Daily Grind is really one of the OG stories on RoyalRoad. It's been around for years with most people at least being aware of it. That, combined with the length and more critical reviews, can often make someone put off reading it for later. We all know how the idea of starting a particular new story or game can somehow feel stressful or a hassle to the point you can't force yourself to bother.

As someone who frequently feels that? It can be ignored with this story. I find being given a concrete number helps. You should know by the end of chapter 6 whether or not this is your jam.

One thing this story does very well is quickly instill feelings of wonder and magic. The world the MC explores is completely novel and you'll feel just as delighted as they are by the absurd and terrible things they come across. Those feelings are very difficult to properly capture and convey in most stories, so it's something I really appreciate.

Other reviews have valid points about how the later arcs can get lost in the weeds. But there's this unique spark to the story where I haven't been able to stop reading in spite of it. Given how critical I can be and how willing I am to drop a story, that's saying something.

Even if you eventually decide this story isn't for you? With no hyperbole, I can safely say that the first arc is one of the most fun and memorable I've read on the entirety of RoyalRoad. It deserves the chance to similarly ensnare you, at minimum.

BSNGW
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Well worth the read.

Reviewed at: Chapter 204

Just finished chapter 56 and figured I give this story a well deserved review (and a middle finger to the people who thought it was an ok thing to give a 1 star review over two guys kissing once over the course of 56 chapters).
Edit: Just finished reading ch204 and I'm still here, reading it.
I've made updates to this review to show the changes between ch56 and 204.

Story:
Great plot and magic mechanics
The basis for the plot is an office building nightmare meets the backrooms.
The magic mechanics haven't poked holes in themselves (so far) and the skill/aoe/upgrade acquisition mechanic is pretty interesting.
As of ch204: The significant expansion to different locations makes the dungeon-delving all the more interesting.
The conflicts between different groups and the interoperability of different departments in our MC's group (in later chapters) provide interesting world progression.
I've started to prefer the chapters that aren't dungeon delving, but that's just my preference and there is enough of both to satisfy people who prefer either.

Style:
There is the odd chapter that loses the flow of the story (like 4 per 50 chapters, it happens to even the best authors) and makes you want to take a break before finishing the chapter.
- If anything, that's a good thing given how long some chapters are and how easy it is to sit and binge 15 chapters in a row.
The types of words used aren't too complex IMO, so the average person could read this.
Every 10 or so chapters (on average) , a character will use or describe a word that most people might not know (e.g a character describes sublimation to another).
Unusually long chapters, can sometimes be a minor effort to read it all in one sitting.
As of ch204:  not much has changed, a few more complex words thrown in, but it's still an easy read with the odd chapter that throws you out of any potential binge-fest.


Grammar:
The odd grammar mistake ever 1-2 chapters, most of which are mistyped words or a missed comma.
Most of the mistakes can be easily ignored (they don't break sentence comprehension).
As of ch204: The author got an editor a while back and mistakes are now once per 5-10 chapters.

Characters:
Great character development.
We know about the family,pets,hobbies and relationships of all the main characters
The author managed to deviate from a template monoamorous hetero relationship without having to slap a sexual content warning on the lid, which is nice to see.
As of ch204: We've seen characters with trauma and characters with developing personalities, both executed near flawlessly.
Character development is written very well considering the writing style and the character types (ranging from a being who mostly knew pain and didn't have a sense of self to someone who

split himself into three and experienced the original die

).

Cheesemaster
Overall

This to be hosest is one of my most favorite stories on Royal road. It has a large cast of well deloped; likable; thought out characters. I really liked the magic system and the rest of the world building. Lastly the story itself is really well thought out and is probably to good for this site.

Theo Promes
Overall

Genuinely original, thought out story

Reviewed at: Chapter 204

I read a lot. After a while, genres have a tendency to become well-tread, and as a reader one notices certain tropes and patterns that can start to feel a bit samey. Doesn't mean the stories are badly written, doesn't mean none of it is fun anymore, but there is a certain limit of how many stories along the same tropes one enjoys.

This story? Holy cow.

It is well-executed, good prose, excellent characters and all that good stuff but really, what it is is unique. Its not "just" urban fantasy, it is urban fantasy with different systems of magic colliding, interacting in unforeseen ways and messing with/used by a thought-out group of people that have actual goals and purpose beyond "accumulate power". People who look at these powers, look at the world and decide to try better, and start a teleportation-based EMT operation. And magically clone transplant organs.

If you like worldbuilding, you are in for a ride.

oort object
Overall

Local Man Finds Calling

Reviewed at: Chapter 204

a fun story that evolves greatly over time. argus manages to deftly balance a dramatic and inexorable expansion in cast, stakes, and agency with a continued theme of remembering the small things that matter. a lot of cool fucked up shit too, both magically and emotionally. well worth the time

Bearbarry
Overall

Very well written and challenges assumptions

Reviewed at: Chapter 202

I like this story.  It is very well written, challenging assumptions and engaging. I have tried to be a critical but creative thinker my entire life.  Someone who does not suffer knee-jerk reactions to life experiences.  Someone who is kind and perhaps trusts to easily.  But I have learned so much.  One of the main characters is very much the same. But they also work hard to change the status quo.  Love this book.  It is definitely worth the read! 

Unmaker
Overall

This series has several positives:

---The viewpoint is written clearly and fluidly, making what is happening easy to follow and understand.

---Even though the premise isn't new, it is an interesting variant.

---The character's actions and reactions are consistent with what we know of him and his motivations.

---It handles suspension of disbelief nicely by having a clear demarcation between 'real world' and 'here be dragons'. It looks like that might blur as the story progresses, but the initial separation makes it easier to get the story going.

---The balance and timing of action versus the character thinking about and reacting to what just happened is good.

On a 'could be a plus, could be a minus' note, the protagonist looks like a slow developer, as opposed to immediately OP or quick growth. I personally like stories either way, so this isn't a negative for me.

So, overall a solid start. It is an open question as to whether this has a plot / larger theme or is more slice of life, but it looks like it could do well with either.

 

Felix Helixihare
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I decided to do over my review, and put together more of my thoughts into the matter. This is also due to the fact that Book 1 and Book 2 are quite different in tone and theme. I love this story, and I will continually follow it. The grammar is quite exemplary, but it does sometimes leave me confused to what event led to some to some of going on.

This story dips esoteric mumbo jumbo that I particularly like and is a fairly rare theme. Book 1 relies heavily into this. 9approaches epilogue. This is not a necessarily bad thing. This sharpened the focus of the story. Instead of aimless exploration, suddenly the gang had a vague goal.

The feeling of Wonder was laced near the beginning which eventually dissolves to Mystery. We were shown these new things and we look around to inspect this new thing, then we discover that there may be new things that we're not seeing.

If you're thinking that this feeling continues on to Book 2, you'll be sorely disappointed. Book 2 is a different beast. Instead of Wonder and Magic, suddenly we're entrenched in Politics and Intrigue. Instead of shenanigans of a hobby group, we're looking at an organization with a serious purpose. There are way more characters than the story highlights.

While the Mystery is still there, the Wonder is almost out of it. Instead, it feels infuriating and dangerous. A large part of the story came to betrying to uncover that Mystery and fragments of the Mystery stopping them from unconvering.

As for the characters? There's not much I could say about them. I like Secret. There's a fair amount of character growth as the books progressed. In Book 1, it felt like they were globs of clay getting bigger with character potential. As Book 2 rolled around, that character potential were molded as expectations, roles, and responsibility rolled over them. This had the effect of them being more defined and focused, but it also had the unfortunate effect of flattening them. They felt like paperweights being moved around the story so that the narrative wind doesn't just blow away the story. Some characters seem to exist.

Some characters had themselves trimmed of extraneous traits while not necessarily getting new interesting ones. However, this is compensated by certain traits of theirs seem to be amplified. There's not a lot of character growth, but there is a lot of focus and trimming. The only character that seems to be growing is Secret.