- Sexual Content
Leon and his father, Artorias, are the last remaining scions of a once powerful and illustrious family of lightning mages. After barely surviving an attack that destroyed their home fifteen years ago, they now live in the dangerous Northern Vales, a desolate wilderness far away from civilization. But those who want them dead are strong, patient, and relentless, and it is only a matter of time before they find the two they seek...
Posted first on my website, wardenreading.com, which will be 4 chapters ahead of anywhere else I post -- March 2020: Decided to stop doing that, Royal Road is caught up completely to all currently released free chapters, though my website is still there (and has maps!) -- Expect new chapters every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday around 10 am CT
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This is a semi-advanced review that focuses on the technical aspects of writing and the conceptualisation of the story at hand.
Disclaimer: All my ratings range from 0.1 (poor) to 5.0 (outstanding). As such, a rating of 2.5 might be considered average. Most scores I hand out are slightly below that.
I make all of my remarks with the intention of helping the author develop and improve his story. Harsh as my comments may at times seem, I usually invest a lot of time and effort into writing these reviews – I wouldn't if my intention were to simply bash young authors into submission and shame.
As a closing note, while I've scanned every chapter you've released (including those not on RR), I've only read the first dozen or so in greater detail. Thus, I will only discuss technical intricacies of the first few chapters. Usually, that is of little to no consequence for a review, as most technical issues present in the first few chapters usually persist throughout the story unless pointed out.
Onwards with accustomed brutal honesty.
The Storm King is a tale of fantasy, magic, and intrigue. Far removed from civilisation, miles and miles away from even the most backward kingdom and as distant from the powerful central realms as possible, deep within the hauntingly beautiful if dangerous Forest of Black and White, beleaguered by nothing but despiteous wilderness and sundry magical beasts, Leon and his father Artorias lead a meagre, isolated life.
With death not a distant threat but merely the result of even a moment's inadvertence, Leon's life is a constant routine between lessons, training, and hunting with his taciturn father, a magician beyond his son's horizon.
Life is hard but straightforward – at least until the fated day finally comes that his father deems Leon ready to finally cross the threshold of becoming a second rank mage...
Orthography: 3.55/5 – A pleasant surprise
It has proven to be illuminating to start out with orthography – something a lot of people not only consider a formality but also typically fail at.
First, the happy news: The Storm King is very much readable. Sentences are usually well thought up, the flow of the paragraphs is far above average, and there are no major problems with phrasings. Even the evil spectre of all casual authors, the dreaded punctuation, is handled reasonably well – if slightly worse than all the other aforementioned aspects.
As a side note, I can't tell you how happy I am to read a story on this site that is very consistent with its Oxford Comma. For that alone, you get a bit of freebie goodwill.
Most mistakes I noticed seem to be slips of the pen. To illustrate my point, I'll point out a few of the more glaring ones I spotted within the first two chapters.
' ‘I suppose it doesn’t matter, either way I’m getting a ton of sleep tonight.’ he thought.' [Ch2]
There's quite a bit wrong with this one. Most obviously, the full stop near the dialogue marker.
Secondly, the sentence structure fails to fully correlate with the punctuation. It's, naturally, possible to connect two complete sentences by comma; however, as there does seem little reason in this specific case, I'd always take the full stop here. It might be a point of debate for the narrative level, but since this is a monologue, the case seems pretty straightforward.
Lastly, “either way” is used as an introductory phrase. Those are, commonly, followed up by a comma.
The complete line should, therefore, probably be something like this:
'I suppose it doesn't matter. Either way, I'm getting a ton of sleep tonight,' he thought.
'[…] lies a number of vales […]' [Ch1]
'[…] the next step in the adaptation process comes […]' [Ch1]
'[…] theirs is a chaotic world […]' [Ch1] → tense
Even descriptions purely on the narrative level shouldn't mess with the time. Also, have a look at the entry under technical writing.
On several occasions, you place unnecessary commas between a complete sentence and an ellipsis.
'[...], and to justify his actions.' [Ch1]
'This mana would then enter his muscles, and saturate them with magical power.' [Ch1]
'He held it near his check [!] for a single heartbeat, and released.' If you want to emphasise the 'and released', I'd strongly advise you to use a dash.
As mentioned right at the top, you often use commas to separate complete sentences. I'd advise you not to do it, especially in phrases that already make use of commas.
'Artorias allowed a small smile to appear on his face, his son was correct, the stag wasn’t very far.' [Ch1]
This example should illustrate my point because you manage to separate three complete sentences by commas. The first one I'd replace with a full stop. The second should, the way I read it, be a semicolon.
Lastly and few and far between, there are examples of you missing a comma.
'Leon had a little trouble, as the stag was quite large and he was only a first-tier mage, but Artorias […]' [Ch1]
[The stag was large] and [he was a mage] are both complete sentences and would – usually – require a comma. In this specific instance, however, I'd propose you shuffle the sentence a bit to reduce the number of commas. Purely aesthetic, but my own first idea was this:
'Leon had a little trouble; the stag was quite large, and he was only a [...]'
There's hardly any problem with this. First chapter, I only noticed one teeny mistake that was clearly an oversight.
'“Thanks.” Said Leon.' [Ch1]
Comma instead of full stop and 'said' in lower case. Self-explanatory.
Language: 3.55/5 – up to snuff
There isn't too much to point out – which is good!
To make it beyond 4.0, I expect authors to have casual elegance in their phrasings, offhanded humour, cutting precision. To be honest, that kind of level requires incredible amounts of dedication and work. Considering writing is probably not your full-time occupation and you likely can't afford to brood over each sentence for minutes, I wouldn't give it a second thought.
Your language is otherwise good enough to nearly make it up to 3.75/5, but there are a few things I need to point out that take away from your score. Nevertheless, the second pleasant surprise!
The speech level of the narrator's voice
You mostly do a fine job at this, but there are instances where your narrator's voice is a bit too informal and lax.
'ok' [sorry, can't give you a reference here] is not an accepted spelling in formal contexts. It's either 'okay' or 'OK' – your pick.
Consequently, 'comfy' [Ch2] isn't acceptable either, at least not for the narrator. It's perfectly okay for your characters, but your narrator really should use 'comfortable' or at least 'cosy' (or 'cozy' in AE).
'east-west and […] north-south' [Ch1] This also doesn't work. Write it out, please. The use of hyphens to replace 'till' or 'from...to' is much too casual.
'Father-son pair' [Ch1] would be my last example. By now, it should be fairly obvious what I'm alluding to.
There are, surprisingly to me, a few cases where you bludgeon your reader to death with a few choice words. I'm not sure if that's an oversight or a choice. I'd advise you to have a look at them regardless.
1. 'Though the blade seemed to be made of good steel, it seemed to be of a quality that any city blacksmith in the southern kingdom could make with little effort. […] But no ordinary blacksmith could make this plain-looking sword. Despite how ordinary […]' [Ch1]
First of all, these sentences lack...flair. They're extremely dry and the wording is dull and repetitive. Also, this paragraph is plagued by filler words.
Especially words like 'to seem', 'nearly', or 'like' often take away from your writing.
Draw your sword (pencil/mouse), and cut them down! Adverbs are the enemy.
Google 'Filler words' if you're unfamiliar with the problem. There's plenty good advice on the internet.
2. 'He breathed in, held it for a moment, then breathed out. He breathed in, held it, then exhaled. He breathed calmly and consistently, holding in his breath for several seconds each time. As he breathed, Leon’s heartrate slowed.' [Ch2]
That's a bit too much breathing, seriously. (Also, 'heart rate' are two words.)
Variation in punctuation
I believe I've made my case already, but the sparing use of emdashes, semicolons, or even brackets can really be a breath (:>) of fresh air. You don't need to overdo it, but refusing to make use of them is...strange – and a missed opportunity.
Technical aspects of writing: 2.95/5 – above average
Before I come to the main gripe I have, I need to point out that your first chapter starts in simple present tense before you arbitrarily switch to (the more commonly used) simple past. There are exactly two very unlikely situations where that is allowed – and only those two.
if your whole story is wrapped in a frame narrative that takes place in the present (apathetic or personal)
if what follows is a flashback to be later revealed as such (and your real story is written in simple present)
Otherwise, I'm afraid, it's simply bad.
Secondly, I want you to have a look at this sentence:
'Without Artorias, Leon would've long been killed by the beasts of the forest.' [Ch1]
In what follows, I'll try to point out why I really dislike this sentence, dislike it enough to dedicate it an entire paragraph.
Firstly, this part of the narration is apathetic (there's no change in 'colour' of the narration due to a person's influence. → See below), the reader comes to the conclusion that your hitherto impersonal narrator is making a judgement call about your characters. That alone is more than just unfortunate because your (impersonal) narrator should be descriptive, not judgemental.
In short, this is the same category of faux pas as writing 'Leon really was a coward.' Even if he was, you shouldn't put those words into your narrator's mouth. Firstly, because readers might feel alienated if you try to dictate them what to think. Secondly, because it reveals a lack of effort.
Second fictional example: 'Artorias is a shady ne'er-do-well.' This is a strong example, but you practically feel that this sentence is off – wrong somehow. That's because the narrator tries to force an opinion on the reader.
This, in essence, is why it's better to show than to tell.
Even if Artorias were shady, it might be better to portrait him drinking, wasting his life away. The reader can come to his own conclusions that way, and you actually paint your world.
If Leon is a coward, you need to write about his nerves, his short breathing, his eyes that dart from left to right.
And, lastly, if Leo really would be killed without Artorias, you need to describe how Leon feels safe with his father, how he trusts his commands, how he sticks close to him. If you want to stress the point, have him relive a short(!) memory of a more drastic learning experience.
If you don't like any of that, at least phrase it impersonally or without making a judgement about your characters by the grace of the narrator. Like so:
(apathetic) The Forest of Black and White was dangerous. The creatures lurking within could tear up the body of a boy twice Leon's size.
The difference between this and your sentence is that neither Leon's fate nor definite strength is anticipated.
(impersonal) Anyone would have agreed that it would have been madness for a boy Leon's age to wander the forest alone.
(personal) Leon didn't hold to such follies as misplaced pride; he knew the forest and the beasts within would kill him if not for his father.
The following part of the review is rather technical in nature. For those uninterested in literature studies, feel free to skip it entirely!
I don't want to go beyond the scope of this little review, but there is one issue with your story that – frankly – irritates me a bit. I might have to point out that, by occupation, I tend to look for and notice other things in writing than most people would. As such, these tend to be rather technical problems 95% of your readers might either a) not notice or b) not care about.
I'll point them out anyway because, from a standpoint of literary criticism, they are structural deficits.
By now, you might be confused as to what I'm even talking about. I am, in too many words, babbling about perspective and narrative styles.
Most people writing in third person know of 'omniscient' and 'limited', believing that to be the extent of all things possible. That statement is so drastically wrong that I'd need at least five pages to illustrate the many possible ways to categorise 'perspective' in writing. But, for the sake of simplicity, let's stick to what most people are familiar with and carefully expand upon that.
'Omniscient' is understood to be exactly what the word implies: a narrator who knows everything. Usually, that manifests itself in the disclosure of multiple characters' thoughts.
'Limited', by contrast, expresses the understanding that the narrator will only 'dive' into one character, usually following him around.
In truth, perspective in narratology isn't a dualistic thing at all. Rather, it's a set of attributes. One such attribute is 'spatial perspective', another might be called 'focal point' or 'personal perspective' – you might also hear stuff like 'modus' and (importantly) 'tone'.
Thing is, I can write a story that sticks to one character's perspective without revealing anything more than what is apparent to an invisible third person, completely disregarding the person the narration follows. I can write an omniscient narrator who still sticks only to one character's thoughts. I can write a story that only appears to feature an omniscient narrator who, in truth, is another character in the story and who knows these things because he's telling the story. I could also, theoretically, write a very confusing story that only reveals character A's thoughts while following (in the sense of describing the events around) character B. I could write a story where character B describes everything character A experiences.
I can write a story that follows a bunch of people without revealing anything more than what is apparent from a neutral standpoint.
...and those are only the easy examples that defy the apparent dualism.
BUT, and this is the important part, in casual literature aimed at a broad audience, you want to pick one style of narration and stick with it – to the bitter end. You might, at times, bend the rules. Often, you find that happening with (what the uninitiated call) 'limited' because it can prove to be extremely tedious or difficult to explore the past or background of your story with that style.
I usually like taking Harry Potter as an example, because everyone has either read the novels or watched the films. Rowling makes use of a rather strict 'third person limited'-style. However, her storytelling reaches its limits when she tries, for example, to explore Tom Riddle's past. How could it be possible for Harry to first-hand experience his nemesis' sob-story? Realistically, it isn't, but – conveniently – she invents the Pensieve (and the diary) which are pretty much plot devices to overcome the boundaries of the perspective she is stuck with. Otherwise, Dumbledore would have at least twenty pages of monologue each book.
Now, why does she go to such lengths? Because it is extremely bad form (not to mention irritating) if there is no continuity in the narration, and that includes perspective.
And now, we finally come back to your story.
From the start, the reader gets the vague (but justified) sense that Leon will end up being the protagonist. You're not engaging in any shenanigans.
Your style of narrating the story, on the other hand, is extremely muddy.
Let's have a closer look at some of your early sentences:
'By virtue of his strength, Artorias had no trouble finding the stag […]' [Ch1]
This bit of writing is impersonal (we cannot truly identify the person influencing this sentence) but reveals more information than a neutral bystander could feasibly know (Artorias' true strength). As such, let's call it apathetic/omniscient for now. But the sentence continues.
'[…] but this was a learning opportunity for his son.' [ibid.]
Yikes! What happened here?! Suddenly there's talk of 'his son'. Suddenly, the sentence gives off the impression of free indirect speech, which would be a very personal style of narration. 'His son' and 'learning opportunity' clearly indicate (personal/mental) perspective, namely Artorias'. At this point, the narration could either be limited (on Artorias) or omniscient (with switching mental and spatial perspectives).
Let's look further ahead.
'Leon needed to learn how to kill.' [ibid.]
The word needed is important; it does two things: it practically disproves a neutral, omniscient narrator (because that one wouldn't make judgement calls about the characters), and it is evidence that Artorias' (personal and mental) perspective is seeping into the narration. It's important to note that the phrase quoted is not in quotation marks that would indicate direct thoughts of a character.
As such, this is either a personal style of narration or another example of free indirect speech.
Thus, at this point, we have to come to the conclusion that you're – unwittingly – writing third-person limited focused on Artorias.
But that simply can't be true because, disregarding what happens in the story, your spatial perspective is almost exclusively limited to Leon. That's especially evident during the short altercation between Artorias and the Ice Wraith(s?) during the first chapter; the narration stays with the son – not the father.
In short, you make use of a personalised, omniscient, spatially bound perspective that changes its tone based on the most prominent character of the scene.
It's a structural nightmare.
Now, as I said before, most people won't find this very disturbing or even take notice. But, in addition to annoying people such as me, you'll find a more practical negative side to that problem; your readers will be less invested in your main character.
The easiest solution would be to delete all personalised comments within the narrative and go for third-person omniscient.
The, for your story, probably best solution would be to read over all the scenes and try to stick to a narrative style that focuses on Leon.
Technical realisation (concept): 2.25/5 – Uninspired and predictable
I don't want to discuss this in detail. If you have questions, I'll be glad to answer them per message. To make my point, I'll only look at the concept of the first chapter, which acts as a kind of prologue.
A common mistake I see, especially on this site, is that the first chapter isn't nearly polished enough. Frankly, the first chapter needs to completely sweep me off my feet, leaving me nonplussed, angry, tenderly moved, shocked, spooked – anything!
The first chapter, more than introducing characters or describing your setting, needs emotional engagement commonly referred to as 'a hook'. And not just at the end, mind you. There are two very important parts the first chapter of every book should excel at. The very first paragraph, and the last line. Both of those need to leave strong impressions.
Your first chapter, on the other hand, reads like an exposition to your world. If that kind of narration would draw in readers, the Silmarillion and the Old Testament would be perpetual bestsellers.
Your entire first chapter makes a good job of giving us a glimpse of how both characters' lives are. We don't learn too much about them personally, but we get some clues about the world they live in. That's not bad. What your entire first chapter completely lacks, however, is some kind of story hook.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that your first chapter is just a description of a typical life of your characters. That might be – forgive my cynicism – enough for a reality show, but it's not good enough, not nearly good enough for a novel.
From a narrative standpoint, it – frankly – serves no purpose whatsoever. The only reason you'd go into such detail would be if their everyday life was about to undergo some dramatic shift. Even then you'd need something to forebode their dire fate.
The Storm King, however, doesn't really have any kind of tension heights until the ritual – and that's chapters in. This is the same kind of problem most reincarnation novels fall prey to: the pacing is off. Slow pacing is only acceptable if you have an underlying tone of threat.
Have you read the Lord of the Rings? Even though the first hundred pages are extremely (!) slow-paced, literally only featuring character- and world building, there's still the looming threat, the vague sense that something's off.
And that bit needs to stand at the front. If the first three sentences fail to deliver a hook, no publisher would ever accept the novel, no matter how good it is.
I usually give the following advice: Every scene you write, you need to ask yourself: 'Does this scene further my characters, my world, and my plot?'
If it doesn't, there's a very high chance something's wrong with it.
The plot of your first chapter – brutally exaggerated – is this: 'Father and son walk into the forest to hunt, the father easily drives away a few monsters – no worry – and they return. Fin.'
Let me repeat: You handle the world building beautifully, the character building decently, the plot building...badly. It's like your painting a beautiful but empty scenery; I love the colours, but there's nothing to catch my interest, nothing to look at.
Story: 2.95/5 – badly paced drama in beautiful colours
This is one of the easiest points I've ever had to grade.
Your world building is extremely good (around 3.9/5) if somewhat heavy on stereotypes. That's not necessarily a big deal though. I adore what you did with the Forest of Black and White, for example.
On the other hand, I didn't particularly like what happened after the ritual. I don't want to include spoilers, but – from a story building perspective – that sort of thing might possibly drive you into a corner. I've seen it happen dozens of times. On the other hand, it might instil a sense of urgency and clear opponents. It comes down to how you handle it, in the end.
The real problem, however, is the pacing. It feels like you, as an author, needed twenty chapters to finally start rousing from a state of drowsiness.
I've said what needs to be said, but – again – building a world is not enough for a good fantasy story.
As a minor issue, I think you mentioned Artorias wields a longsword? There were a few scenes that left the impression that he uses it with one hand only. Might have been me flying over the script, but – in case I'm right – you need to change either the scenes or your description of the sword; longswords were always two-handed weapons.
Characters: x/5 – score withheld
I can't, in good conscience, rate this as I can't guarantee that I didn't misread some parts (again, I practically flew over some later parts of the story).
My general impression is that you neither fail nor stick out. Not messing up is good, but I feel like you're a bit too cautious. I don't have any problem with Artorias; his taciturn nature and slight, justified paranoia are well done.
Leon, by contrast, feels a bit...empty. He's the son, he's learning, and he's the protagonist. Those were the only really important impressions that lasted. He's not...quirky enough, not fleshed out – he lacks contrast. That might, in part, be because (like his father) he's on the quiet side, but you also missed a lot of opportunities. The scenes with the other squires, for example, come to mind. The only thing those did for him were establishing him as, understandably, slightly socially awkward.
I don't know if I can love that kind of protagonist.
Verdict: 3.05/5 – enjoyable if flawed, imaginative adventure
This gets a 'cautiously recommended' from me.
In plain text, that means the story still has several flaws (narrative, pacing, characterisation), but it's also generally enjoyable.
All in all, I commend your effort. It's very apparent that you're taking this project rather seriously, and that much is appreciated. It also has to be pointed out that an established number of chapters per week is a very good thing. Personally, I feel like I could immerse myself better if the chapters were a bit longer, even at the cost of fewer per week, but that might – I guess – come down to preference.
As a last notice, since the pacing problems were a big part in the score (and the pacing substantially improved since the beginning of the story), it's quite likely that the score might automatically rise as the plot unfolds and the early weaknesses become less of an issue in the grand scheme of things.
I didn't really like it overall. There will be some spoilers in my review. It's meant as constructive criticism. If this weren't the writers first, I would've rated lower. When he gets the patreon after the first arc it gets a little better, but never markedly improves. Worth the read if you have nothing else to read, but it's not even really decent yet. Just being honest. That said, here's what I think...
There's not actually any sexual content. Not like some harem or erotic books for instance. It's really rare, implied or talked about, but not very descriptive. So that at least wouldn't turn you off the series.
The first thirty or so chapters are pointless filler and more a prologue than a story following a protagonist as he traverses his world seeking to fulfill his ambitions. The perspective changes are many, jarring, annoying, and confusing. Often giving you the same events happening by inconsequential characters and then the mc more than once.
The protagonist is acerbic, standoffish, weak, dense, rude, not very creative with his powers, and just plain boring.
The pacing is all over the place. Mostly it's too slow, spending too much time on things that really needed a time skip, and often the story flow seems like someone else is narrating the facts of the situation that's happening to a stranger they didn't actually see themselves with no emotion. Like a journal entry from some soulless automaton. “Leon got some groceries and everyone was mad with killing intent." Not, “Tiberius is looking at me, better go over here instead!" I.e. He's a cold fish with little character development, and no charm. Three years pass and he's still just an asshole to everyone with the same basic abilities and powers relying on stronger people to keep him alive. He has no real friends, has built nothing, and the only redeeming quality is his relationship with Elise. Which he handles poorly overall. Not really taking her advise, learning from her example, or doing anything for her despite him supposedly feeling inadequate. He's got a whole tribe of stone giants that swore to back him that he doesn't use, and they sent one of their own to guard him and he never uses them either. He gets a eighth tier women interested in him and he treats her like dirt. Despite her saving him more than once. Then there's Valeria who he should've gotten close to if just for more information and to win her over. He's a shitheel to be blunt. Power should serve a purpose, but Leon doesn't really have one. Everything is distant or indistinct, but it's too little too late pacing and story wise.
Then there's the plotholes, plot armor, and convenient saves. Of which there are many. Making the story feel forced at times or extremely cliche and on the nose.
If this was going to be published it would need to be severely edited and rewritten. Cutting out perhaps even over a hundred chapters worth. There's just not much going on after you cut out the filler content, like the entire academy arc, and all the pointless perspective changes. Many of the chapters could be condensed down into one and lose little. The author is chronically bad at showing and not telling. In that he doesn't do that, he tells you everything three times.
The storytelling and characters motives are all kinda obvious and too flat.
The villains and nobles are all too simple. The plotting is to obvious, to the point that you wonder why some people walk into the open knife, no matter how much they want to believe in morality or trials or something. if the already know armies are being pulled together against you by someone openly declared hostile... jesus how dumb...
the first half was still ok but at 300+ i feel like skimming every other chapter only reading the first words of every paragraph to see where actually something happens.
Love surely is a simple thing here^^ generally world, the plot, the magic, the characters involved are all quite well aligned but... it is still too trite and simple.
This story is basically a westernized version of a Chinese cultivation story. Cultivators are instead called mages, but they’re basically super powered humans that fight with martial weapons. Instead of Chi or Heavenly Energy, they increase their longevity and refine their body and souls with mana. They even have “soul realms” and “soul palaces” that are just basically the equivalent of a cultivator’s “natal palace” combined with a spatial storage function, and with a less nonsensical name. The aesthetic seems fairly western though, with knights, paladins, vampires, werewolves, nymphs, gorgons and such.
MC seems to be a pretty stock mary sue – not all that much in the way of personality, but not really unlikeable either. He’s a scion of a fallen noble house, possessed of a long lost, mysterious, legendary beast bloodline, raised by his father in an unforgiving wilderness -- pretty standard cultivation fantasy fare.
There is A LOT of exposition at the beginning. Until about 14 chapters in it is all exposition and set up. Hell, the real inciting incident -- the uncle ben, origin story moment -- doesn't happen until chapter around 32 to 34. Grammar and sentence structure seems fairly strong, but you can tell that the author is heavily influenced by translated Chinese web novels because you’ll occasionally see awkward or unconventional turns of phrase that are endemic to that sort of literature such as “improving by leaps and bounds” and “you can now be counted among the ranks of second-tier mages.” (you know, as opposed to “you are now a second-tier mage”) Thankfully, I have yet to see “ ... is like the difference between heaven and earth”, or “... like leaping over the dragon’s gate”, but it is still early on in the series. Nonetheless, the writing is generally solid, and the author has a decent level of mastery over the English language.
The plot so far is interesting but not masterpiece level. There are a number of fictions I’d recommend reading before reading this one. That said, if you’ve read those fictions up to the most recent chapter, or they aren’t your thing, this fiction is definitely well worth your time.
Competitive options, in no particular order (i.e. ongoing fictions that I feel are as good, or better than this one, and that people who enjoy this one will likely also enjoy):
Everybody Loves Large Chests
The Daily Grind
A Gentleman’s Curse
Paradigm Shift – New Beginnings
I want to keep my review simple there will be spoilers, caution. Story started great, you can criticize the academy part but still concept was good. But -there is a big but- there are so many pointless events which makes no sense like Altorias said his name to his enemy. Can you imagine? Your entire kin slayed and you run with your child and lived in forest 15 years and then some knight asked your name... and you said it. why? meaningles. There is more events like that.
And the harem part. Leon-Elise things was good and reading was fun. Then naidia came. Abused and tried to rape Leon, she couldnt but then she forced herself with a pact. Its okey so far, sad events but noting can critized then Leon fall in love with her? How? I never understand how fall in love? Leon-Elise thing happened in a year with constant communucation but naidia and leon thing happend because they fucked each other? It is not like Leon emotionless character, so dont get how he fall in love with so enthusiasm, just happend.
And Leon's motive. There is no motive, he just act. Early chapters, motive was revenge but then "leon and valeria needs to hook up" so revenge thing no more and Leon's motive is Nexus thing which is so abstract for readers.
Leon's clan destroyed, this was strong event. Strongest family in kingdom destroyed by 3 men. No one can forgive them just because they are not enjoying their jobs. Enemies are not enjoying too but killed like killing cockroaches but when there is a need for new harem member, all revenge thing is died which was main motive of the novel.
Leon's revenge motive is died for pretty lame reasons, while reading these dialogs i regretted for starting this novel and reading 400+ chapters of it.
Consequently, i dont recommend for readers who selective but if you have time to lose for nothing, you can read this. If you are horny teenager who looking for less serious more sex chapter, then i could say; horny things happens at late chapters so dont bother, there is other sex-novels which short and not serious.
I read about chapter 450 in the author's original site, wardenreading.com and finally dropped it.
Heavy spoilers ahead.
The initial chapters - the father son relation, the hunting, blood line awakening etc is very good. However, the story drops in quality after that is achieved. There are glaring plot holes which hasn't been fixed. When it came to building the harem, the story just did a steep logical drop for some participation in the harem.
The grammar is ok, there are definitely mistakes, but nothing immersion breaking.
Style can be really better. There is too much exposition and even that isn't disguised well. Whenever the MC gets late to a meeting we get a rundown of what happened, how the war is progressing and the way it's fitted into the narrative is revolting. Too many Chekov's guns here and there. And a chapter isn't complete if 'lile hot knife through butter' isn't used.
The characters are bland as they come and is a Mary Sue (Seems like the author doesn't want to call him that, so he can't ride horses well). They are boring and fit a prop. Nobles, Octavian and the whole party fits this. Another main character, August is too weak in character. He went from meritocracy to dismantling the nobility and confessing about it because of a conversation with his uncle. Even the word he gave isn't as restrictive. Then there is the uncle, who is a great military leader. The ambush felt too unconvincing for him to fall for. His main girl seems to be a virgin with all her lascivious behaviour, I don't get why the author needs to even mention it. She doesn't have a personality sort from being for the MC and disliking her mother. Then there is the 8th tier monster who fell in love with the MC just because he exists and won't talk with her. She wanted a relationship with him after seeing how he treats his main girl. The princess wants to go out and play with others. Isynos girl is head over heals for him and jokes about them having sex with the MC... The squire's job is to be a companion to the MC and follow him everywhere. The MC will apologise to the squire if he doesn't permit her to follow him everywhere. The MCs behavior with the King just doesn't make sense considering his personality. Thunderbird seems too mellow, the exposition which came from her could have been better written.
The only good character with good development is Gaius.The one star is actualy for him. There is actual progression, thinking on past mistakes and correcting, love which doesn't sacrifice his intellect. Though at last he seems to have been made just a spoilt noble brat.
The story is a mishmashed collection of words. The thread is strong and has very good potential if the author thinks on what's he is writing and not want to increase the word count. When it comes to later chapters, you can just skim and yet won't lose track of the story. The academy arc was poorly done. Length is too much and there isn't any result. In any situation, the MC will be the only competent and reliable man who exist, especially during the valsan inversion arc and the war arc. Difficult to think that an espionage team doesn't exist at all, especially 2hen invisibility rings are available.
The plot holes I noticed.
Someone who is living in exile won't say his original name to a random person, especially knowing he is a paladin of the bull kingdom.
He was identified and confronted due to his lightening. We know that Ar. is at least 7th tier so he can very well take care of wraiths without using lighting. Even if he uses lightning he can just disguise it like Leon did, making it golden. It's inconceivable that he don't have some equipment like that.
Isynos not confronting Leon or ordering better surveillance struck as something really odd. He has suspicions and he wants dot get out of the plane as soon as possible, so it's inconceivable that he wouldn't try better.
So overall I like the story. It is solidly written, has its own magic system, and decent action scenes, as well as nice if slow, progression. I ranked it overall as a 4.5, even though really I would prefer to give it like a 4.43 or so, which is where it belongs in my opinion. But, since I can't give that score, it chose the next closest, i.e. 4.5.
Overall, I rate stories in relation to the rest of the stories on RR. So a score of 4.5 means that it belongs to the better stories, but certainly isn't one of the top stories on RR. What prevents the story from scoring higher are the following issues I have with the story, which also mostly explains the detailed breakdown in the score for the story, etc.
Overall Score: Already explained above
- Well, so there are some annoying issues with the story that have vastly decreased my enjoyment with the story over time. For example, the MC is socially awkward, and this is stressed at EVERY (in)opportune moment. The author should accept that the reader knows about this after 1000+ pages, so it doesn't have to be repeated all the time. The issue is also way over the top, with the MC telling himself how much he hates being in public/or a social setting, and being rude to people that want to be social. While that is ok in principle, just a character trait, the execution is often pretty bad.
- The MC likes a girl but wants to keep his distance because her father may or may not be involved in the killing of his father. He doesn't want to tell this to anyone though, even his lover, and closest person, who happens to be the closest friend of that girl... why? Trust issues? I don't get it. Talking is part of a good relationship, and this behavior is just weird. Same about the demon... why keep secret from your true love? It makes no sense to me. Speaking of the father's death... why keep the distance to Roland, even though the relationship to his father's death is tenuous at best... just annoyed me after a while. It is fine to be mistrusting and all... but once he had demonstrated fairly clearly that he is not a bad guy it is time to move on...
- Also, the character has lots of emotional responses that are... odd. They are just not appropriate for the situation.
- The magic system is a bit lame, in my eyes... with nothing happening much, apart from mostly combat applications. Oh, and killing intent, whatever that exactly is supposed to be. This could be explained better and explored. And then during the latest chapters, the MC puts his mind toward learning how to fly... why? He already has a freaking griffin for that. It is just... not quite reasonable for him to be so obsessed. I get it that he might like it and I can see it as a side-project... but not like that. Admittedly, that is a personal preference.
- The villains in the story are just too villainous... not real people any longer. Over the top, in my mind.
Grammar score: grammar is just fine. I think I noticed a few small mistakes here and there.. but nothing problematic.
Story score: so this is the positive for the story, with decent world-building, that introduces a fairly detailed country to the reader, with different societies, people, conflict, etc. And then there is the leveling, which I enjoyed, even though it is awfully slow. But that is fine. The story is what keeps me going, even though I find some of the issues outlined above frustrating. And it also is what keeps the story closer to 4.5.
Character score: This was already discussed in the style score... so there is no point in repeating it all... but many of the characters in the story are a bit annoying, unrelatable, or just plain odd.
grammar a 5, style a 3.5, story gets downed by the character score i so critically gave a 0.5.
I read ahead on your own site but to give my honest opinion, its getting a bit 'he is a little too special' center of the universe.
Overall its about leon, he's the MC, but he has done hardly any work/effort of his own to get somewhere in life. resources are bought, power found or given, a background of training off-script. which is why i scored it so low, your side characters have shown more growth then the MC.
To much happens around Leon that is either given easy, show cases him as the best or displays him as special.
Talking points (arcs?):
1- prison and demon contract
2- star of the school
3- super rich inheritance and in-laws
4- the barbarian invasion
5- very first mission
6- the prince granting him a position
7- the vampire
My view on it:
-1: Handed extra power in the form of a demon contract, because he happen to come across a conveniently placed prison en-route to the bull kingdom. if he had heard rumors from his father or a warning that 'if in need of a hiding place go to' about the prison location it might have gone a bit less like 'he wants revenge, but he needs more power, well... here's free power', being that it was early on i can forget about it in favor of something like 'well this sets him off on his dual element path' as a story driven mechanic, but more freebies pile.
-2: star of the school, i can totally be fine with this, those nobles were high and mighty and have a 'you are just a backwater barbarian' kind of view, and he shows them wrong. besides it was indeed explained by his fathers training, which is something realistic, i'd train my son as well during our self imposed hiding from enemies of my clan.
-3: I always felt such things are gimmicky, the 'now he wont have problems with money or getting things'. basically he wont have to work for everyday life and can solely work on getting power... which he then gets for free as well... the in-laws i can write off as the towermasters informing eachother and knowing the raime family, but it is power. for free. again. just in the form of connections.
-4: We already had that 'nobles look down upon barbarians' mechanic, commoners can be bigots as well, but everyone of those trained soldiers being useless and all of them putting their bigotry above safety, duty and honor, then him being the sole star that saves the day. fresh out of school less believable. would have been better if that commander (the one not a bigot) more actively guided him toward eventually saving the day instaid of a fresh soldier doing it all by himself.
-5: This one gets me the most, the way its written now he just gets free power, again convenient, if you had him interact with giants mayb the giants want to test the bullking's soldier worthyness of trade, by having a few duels, then having leon display a uncontrolled amateur burst of lightning mid duel and the chief seeing it, then inviting leon for private talk and then direct him to the cradle, it would have been easier to accept.
5.5- oh and dont forget a rare pet. also free.
-6: This one i can accept more then 1/3/4/5, the prince personally knew his grandfather and could see the resemblance, it is a position of honor/power given to him for free yet again, but at least it makes sense.
-7: its a bit much in the way of 'luck' or 'fate', its not a good read to write it off as 'he is part of x and y clan/blood' with no knowledge about said places at all and then just coming across them first thing isn't great to read.
true like you said he has inherited blood, i must admit it slipped my mind. just don't give him some free or easy power/connection/contact again from the vampire or those listening in.
If you ever rewrite, try something like the suggestion of the giants scene in *-5*, it would turn 'for free' into 'circumstances let to'. It would make for a smoother powergain.
I somewhat like her as she is portrait, her pov's helped with that, it gave her a mind of her own.
Leon's squire: (forgot name)
She feels more like shes there to bounce the illusion of 'leon has social conversations', sure its her duty to follow leon around, but she can have hobbies right? a personality?
Charles and co:
We do get some background and them being recurring characters shows promise.
He's the only one that feels alive atm, with his self reflection, thoughts about his choices and views.
Haven't had much time of their own, the 2 knight girls had their pov with leon in the spring and the get together with elise and leon watching tournament, but not enough to get a full picture of their being, if you know what i mean. a few of the school tier 3's got some decent time but they are minor characters.
The guy who got cut off from the bank is still clueless about the why, that would be the first thing I'd want to know if the bank cut me off, I'd at least investigate, except hes ok with not knowing and trying to make money other ways.
i might keep reading to see if it gets better, mainly because i dont like to leave things unfinished and its by far not the worst RR has to offer.
I really liked the start it was a cool concept, but the mc who wants to avenge his family doesn't train to get stronger and his brain shits down at the first sight of a woman. It is very slow and after 70 chapters i think a month has passed.
Not my cup of tea.
First of all, I did like to read the Storm King. It is an interesting take on magic and cultivation, the world has intersting features, the story is mostly well paced, though slow at times.
However, what I find really frustrating, is that the protagonists dont act strategic at all! I dont mean to say that they are stupid, there is just hardly any long-term plannig exept of "getting stronger". The MC wants to avenge his family, fine, so why doesnt he at least try to build a better relationship with some of the less obnoxious nobles? Like that axe guy. Or tries to find out more about the stone giants, so that they can be reliable allies? Or digs into his own families history? Or tries to understand the political situation of the Bull Kingdom?
Same with the Royal Family! Octavian is the only one who seems to have some kind of plan! The King and his brother want to weaken the nobles, why dont they do the most obvious: Disseminating the knowledge about meditation among the commoners?
There are a lot of other issues in my opinion, especially in regards to the characters motivations and irrational actions, but the above mentiones irks me the most. I hope that the author continues to enjoy writing and improves on some points :)