Original ONGOING Action Adventure Fantasy Female Lead LitRPG Magic Martial Arts Strong Lead

Elara just wanted to play a game. When she filled out a form for her prefered setting, she had no idea that she was signing up for a trip to another world. Now she, a husk of a human recovering from cancer, is flung into a land of scheming gods, powerful cultivators, and demon warlords. Enslaved and clinging to life, her only way forward is a forbidden power strong enough to rival the heavens.

- Beware of blue boxes

- It's a zero to hero tale. The character starts out weak and stays that way for awhile

- Cover by the handsome ssddx

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SJ Reaver

SJ Reaver

Ask not the penguin how the eagle soars!

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l nimbus
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Hits like a machinegun.

Where do i even start here?
Lets try a little story. I came here from Nighthunter, curious about Reaver's new project. Inittialy, i didn't pick it up, because i wasn't a fan of cultivation stories. But then, after hearing people talk about it, i decided to give it a chance. And it blew me away.

If this story doesn't make the top 50 somehow, then i've lost faith in what RRL considers 'Good'. Hell, scrap that, this story is great. For me, it hit all the right notes, avoided all the common pitfalls of the cultivation genre. So, i'm treating it to a Super Review. Only fitting for such a story.

 

Story:

As described in the summary, Empyrean is a Zero to Hero story. But unlike many i've read it manages to navigate around the traps of the genre, as well as the even larger pitfalls of the cultivation genre. Right from the getgo, Elara becomes a chracter you care about, and i rooted for her every step of the way. Another author once told me, that in a story, the rewards are so much sweeter if the character struggles and suffers for them, and this is proved to be true here.

Elara faces very real danger, a foreign, unfriendly world, slavery and death. And she responds to these in actual, beliveable ways. The author neither glorifies or glosses over her suffering and hardships, instead keeping it at just the right pace. The action scenes are fluid and easy to read and visualize. As are the charcter descriptions and the scenery.

It moves at just the right pace, showing us Elara's growth and the events taking place around her without rushing or being too slow. This is actually a hard thing to do, and i can say from experience that Reaver does it well.


Style:

So, easy to read. Easy to visualize. Easy to actually make you SEE what is going on. Easy to put yourself in Elara's shoes.

Do i need to say anything more? Reaver has achieved the perfect style of writing. At least to my tastes. The dialogue, descriptions and the pace all flow together smoothly, making for an enjoyable read. My only nitpick is that sometimes, Reaver appears to run out of steam right at the last sentance, ending a chapter just a wee bit akwardly.

This is my own personal preference, so just feel free to ignore it.


Grammar:


Again, nothing less than perfection here. Either you have insanely good writing skills, or an entire team of proofreaders at your beck and called. I can't decide which one of those is sacrier. Whatever you're doing here, keep it up.

 

Characters:


And so, we get to the meat of Empyrean. The characters. A better author than me once said "A story is about who it happens to." Without good characters, what keeps you tied to a story? Not much, really. A journey, not matter how epic, is empty, hollow and meaningless if the characters involved are flat, cardboard cutouts.

Elara is a likeable MC. She's not a perfect little flower, doesn't have people gushing over how she's SO SPESHUL or SO TALENTED.
She's a person.
She has flaws.
She has weaknesses.
She's made bad decisions.
Her hair isn't perfect when she gets out of bed.
Heel, she doesn't HAVE hair, thanks to cancer.
She can feel pain.
She can wear dirty clothes.
In short, she's a person.
But most of all, we can relate to her. We can put ourselves in her shoes and wonder if we have any right to judge her. If we could ACTUALLY have done things differently. If we could have done what she couldn't.

Probably not.

As of right now, we a rich, diverse cast of memorable characters. Initially, it starts off small, with only Elara and a few others. But, slowly, more names and faces begin to trickle in. Hawk follows the typical 'Cultivation Noble' mindset, but is a coward at heart. Emerald manages to be a favorite, despite me never having like ditzy characters. And Brother Buttercup will be remembered for a long time.

I could rant on and in about this section, but in summary: The characters are good. They're unique in their own little ways. They too avoid the pitfalls their respective types. And best of all, they can be relateable. Keep it up.

 


Now, on to the questions.

 

What are you trying to write?


To me, Empyrean comes of as a mix of ZTH and Wuxia. Howeevr, it carves out the elements of what i dislike in both genres. For example, ZTH's obnoxious tropes of making the world revolve around the character, and Wuxia's Flowery, nonsensical phrases and speeches. My biggest joy in this story is that i have not heard a SINGLE; "The ancient, archaic energy" or "The difference between them was like the difference between heaven and earth". NOT ONE. And i salute you for it.


So, the cultivation aspects?


For once, they manage to make sense. Mostly. I can never wrap my head around dantians and pillars, no matter how hard i try. But, Empyrean keeps it simpler than that. I'm not going to spoil it by jumping in and explaining. Rather, i'll leave that to the reader to find out. Also, like i said above, the most annoying parts of the cultivation genre is blessedly missing. No spending entire chapters admiring inner natal palaces, folks, Elara has better things to do.


The actual character growth?


Pretty well done, in fact. This is proven by Elara's slowly changing mindset over the series. But, unlike others i've seen, she doesn't become, say, a stone cold killer because she's thrust into a world where it's normal. Her beliefs and morals are what helps her here. I've seen many a 'reviewer' bitch and complain about an MC that refuses to kill anyone in their way when they're thrown into a new world, but contrary to that belief, MCs like this are the bigger man/woman, because they refuse to let it change them.

And again, with combat. Elara foesn't magically pick up a spear and become a master, or train for two weeks and steamroll people who've trained for years. She's not a SPESHUL WIDDLE SNOWFLAKE. She's a person. She was feelings. She feels fear. She can crack and falter under pressure. This is going to be off-putting to those who want a generic powercreep MC, but i don't care. She's a great character, and her evolution so far has been well handled and engrossing.

 

Will it please fans of the genre?


Most likely. I can't really speak for everyone, since people have different tastes, but i myself disliked cultivation, but found i was engrossed by the story. Some of the hardcore fans may not like it, as it lacks what they want, eg: Mile long speeches and snobbery contests. But, anyone else, it should please.


Are there any glaring flaws?


No. While people will nitpick about what they don't like, there is nothing about Empyrean that made me want to put it down. As i covered above, it has everything a good story needs. Now, all it needs are dedicated fans. I honestly can't find anything wrong with the story. Even after taking off the rose tinted glasses and leaning back to objectively view it, there was nothing flawed about it.


Conclusion:

A great story, written by a better author than me. That's all i have to say. Go and read it.

jpuntuned
  • Overall Score
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I'm sad I didn't come across Reaver's work at an earlier date. The writing is exemplary. The prose is well thought out, structured and has an easy to follow flow. The author has an extraordinary vocabulary and a good handle on the English language. Besides the occasional typo, there were no faults in the writing.

As far as the story goes, Empyrean is a solid piece of work so far. I like the fusion of western cultivation and the 'system' mechanic from GameLit novels. While most authors use it as a crutch, Reaver does not. It exists as a bonus to the excellent storytelling.

I like to save the best for last, and it has to be the characters. Elara and Hawk jump out at the reader. I like how she is clawing to survive and enjoy some degree of normalcy as far as health goes. At the same time, I want to punch Hawk in the face and tell him to get over himself. However, since he's a fourth rank water cultivator, my attack would miss or be countered, or he'd look at me as no more than an Unclean fly and let my phalanges shatter against his hardened skin.

redman s trials at writting
  • Overall Score

As the title suggests, I love this fiction, it clicks most of my buttons in a good way.

Really this is great for the most part except for some nitpicks I have, that and I would like to share my personal opinion, of course my personal opinion will have no impact on the score of this review, only the true nitpicks that are objectively true will.

So let's get started BUT BEWARE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST 13 CHAPTERS! And maybe light harsh language.

I'll start with the biggest thing I have seen that I found to be not to my tastes.

-The ''villain'', you see, in this fiction the main antagonist, at least by chapter 12, is Hawk, a 'petty and arrogant noble who sees all of those weaker than him as nothing more than insects'.

His character is wasted.

Why? 

It's boring, to be honest he was m favourite character for the most part of the book, I agreed with his way of thinking and apart from the parts where he acts arrogant, which objectively speaking, is just a cheap way to make someone more hateable, he seemed like a good person, and I really found it odd that the mc truly was so ungratefull, as he stated, he gave her everything she needed and more, sure she had to do chores and sleep inn the stabled, but does that seem that bad when compared to her previous life style?

Is the fact that you are a servant or a slave really that meaningfull when someone just up and gives you everything you need? Because that was one of the main arguments the mc made against him, he enslaved her.

And that was really MEH to me, it felt like a weak argument and that the 'antagonist' which I thought would have been a main character would have turned out to be just harsh not the mess which he turned out to be.

But that was because I forgot that most authors don't follow the same rules and way of thinking I take for granted.

Which brings me to my most major nitpick, whatever the mc thinks of a person it true and is also the way the author thinks.

That is a flaw.

People get wrong impressions all the time and making it so your mc was able to deduce that just because the 'antagonist' was 'petty and arrogant' by the fact he wanted her to call him master, which once again, I found to be a eally weak argument for thinking that, actually most of the things the mc resents the 'antagonist' for are really minor in my opinion.

What would have been better to do was make it so the mc was wrong and instead of turning the  man who had taken her in, given her food, basically saved her from being treated as a demon and only made her really do minor chores into a 2D cardboard cut out in the shape of 'A cold ruthless man  with no feelings, a massive ego and genrally poor judgement' I think it would have been better if the mc was just wrong about him.

I know you want your mc's start to be sad and hard and pitifull, because that is what the synopsis says and because you want to make sure we understand that this is an harsh world but apart from cancer, which I admit was depicted in a very satisfactory manner, at least by my standards, both her liffe in the jungle and in the mansion were fairly chill.

Well, maybe the jungle life bit was hard, true, but apart from the very first experience she had with it, it soon turned into a fairly soft routine.

Antoher thing wich personally irked me was the whipping scene.

It was...

Meh.

Really, I expected something more.

The reaction the mc had to being lashed felt odd.

And, sure, I would hate being lashed too but if the lashing was a result of my own weakness then there isn't much I can get angry about.

But I guess humans are weird in their own right so she still got angry?

Either way the amount of hatred she feels for hawk is far more what I would have expected and the things she syas and thinks they are so...

so... 

Rash? Dumb? Wastefull? Really she just screwed herself over with the 'I hope you get eaten by the devil beast' statement.

An overreaction to punishment brought by not being able to handle basic emotion.

It was around this point that I realized the author wanted me to hate Hawk.

It's just that I couldn't come to hate someone I agree with.

I'm also pretty sure she researched what chaotic energies were since she had several nights and a whole library filled with book to pick knowledge from and she could have used that to play to her advantage in order to do something else with it.

Also, I wonder, can only humans use qi? 

If not then why not just transfer the chaotic stuff to an animal? 

And if Hawk wanted a slave to purify the qi found in the devil beast for him would it not have been a better idea to geth is slaves to experiment how to do so for him with the cores he keeps filling up on his own?

Afterall, the way he is depicted is that of an opportunist and a cowardly man with a decent enough intellect to know how to keep a slave from just escaping on their own.

And the smart coward knows that the best tool is one that loves you and is properly groomed.

Maybe distilling and purifying the chaotic energies would take too long for someone else to learn to do.

Maybe it has to do with the person themselves and their constitution?

Actually, I don't get how this whole purification thing works.

If he is the one filling up the orbs then he isn't purifying the devil beast core but he is just wasting perfectly good slaves in a messy trial and error method of experimentation to look for the perfect purificting machine?

I mean how is he meant to absorb that energy for himself  if someone else purifies it?

And even then, if he needs to purify the energy himself anyways how does wasting resources onn throwaway slaves help him?

When the mc absorbs chaotic energy he doesn't seem to study her, he is just impressed by the fact she hasn't exploded yet.

Then there is the fact that after all of that he just leaves a perfectly useable tool laying there in an abandoned mansion while he goes off to reclaim his throne.

But that is enough about Hawk for now, a quick summary would be 'he was my favourite character until the author remembered we were meant to hate him and made him dumb'.

Why don't  I get on to my next point?

-The mc.

So far the only thing I don't like are the characters. The system, and the cultivation things are really nice even if lacking in description but they are fine.

Anyways, the mc.

What to say about her?

She's an idiot.

And that is good.

Up to a certain point that is.

She still holds a lot of Earthly morals and standards and just won't realize that if she wants to accomplish anything she needs to learn how people think and behave accordingly, she does as her master tells her to but she feels no respect for him.

And having no respect is fine.

Showing that you don't isn't.

You see, if she acted more gratefull and just acted like her master wanted her to like she managed to do for a while instead of spouting idiotic remarks like ' I hope you get killed' and she instead pretended to have learnt her lesson her master wouldn't have gotten as suspicious of her as he did.

And no that is not talking about the fact that he caught her reading books, the very fact that she didn't bother to triple or quadruple check if she was leaving any major clues is another point in favour of my 'she is an idiot' argument.

What I do mean is that since she said that he wanted him to die she will never actually get a chance to pull it off.

Of course, being as paranoid as he is Hawk would have never let her get any such opportunities as is shown by the fact that he won't allow her to cook for him.

Again, the mc's idiocy shines through when she doesn't realize the reason for that.

But an idiot mc is fine as long as it's done on purpose which seems to be something the author wants, if so take my earlier statements about her being an idiot as a compliment if you will.

Then there is the fact that the gods are on her side and that they believe what Hawk did was horrible and whatever.

I don't know about you but I get a sneaky feeling that the gods aren't as nice and honourable as they seem.

And that is all I have to say about the characters.

Well I get a chinese vibe from the names, which usually means they sound like shit in english but you can get over it with enough patience.

The last point I have is...

-Monsters.

The monsters here are really simple.

If that was done on purpose then good job because they are as casual and forgettable as can be.

Actually, casual and forgettable aren't the right terms.

They are simple, so much so that they barely get decribed and are often just plucked stright from real life which is not something common in this kind of story.

But there are some ''''original''''' ones, like 'the horse sized komodo dragon' or 'the horse sized cat god' or the 'horse sized panther/tiger or whatever cat it was, devil beast' or 'the hummingbird' and needless to say these are meant to be special in some way.

They are not.

I'm sorry to say this but they are on par with the ' a panther but it has antlers' description I so much hate.

They are bland, generic, under described, forgettable and generically simplle as far as monsters go.

I'm really just surprised because when I saw that the main danger interest would be giant monsters I was disappointed to see how meh everything was.

Not even giant, just very large, at least as far as I have read that is how far they go.

A tip I woul have to fix this is by

1)Never mention directly which animal you picked as a base for the monster.

2) going into hyper description, basically, describe every little thing you can imagine, from the way it's eyes shine to the way the claws of a monster dig trenches in the floor.

And lastly but not leastly, 3) Give descriptions as the character you are describing does things, for example.

'I saw a long, thinly framed monster crawling about on it's four relatively short legs, it's torso was so thin it looked like a wet noodle, judging by the way it's torso bent in and around itself it probably had the phisical properties of one too, makes me wonder why it even legs if it's going to pseudo crawl around and barely use them anyways.

As the weird creature crawled around it left slimey goo in it's wake.

"REEEEE!" As the small creature opened it's relatively large mouth to scream I couldn't help but notice a file of serrated teeth that reminded me of needles because of the way they were shaped.

[insert character name here] tried to stomp on it, her light blonde hair bobbed upwards slightly when she raised her foot sending a small wave of the sweaty earthen smell that was on her hair my way. '

 

I'm not sure I was able to give you the best example I could so I'm sorry for that.

And that was it.

Those were all of my nitpicks AND personal opinions.

Sorry if I sounded a little arrogant or like a  know it all or angry for that matter, during this short review of the things I didn't like but just know I love your story and hope my advice was at least mildly helpfull.

Oh RIGHT!

There is one thing I really thought I saw coming.

Remember when her master called her to have dinner that time right after she started getting more beautyfull?

I had suddenly predicted that a rape scene would have been inbound.

But then I relized her appeal was still very low so....

Good job on avoiding that landmine.

Thanks again for reading this stupidly long block of text that makes up my review and good luck on your journey as an author!

Cheers and best of luck to you!

Drazcmd
  • Overall Score

So far this is shaping up to be a truly excellent novel - keep up the good work!

13lack12ose
  • Overall Score

Another thriller by Sj Reaver

Sj Reaver (also the author of the fabulous 'Nighthunter') has begun writing a beautiful story.
Yes, the premise is overdone. Yes, everyone knows the main character will (eventually) be OP.

But the world building and elegant writing style overcome these drawbacks.

Come immerse yourself in this world, trust me, you'll enjoy the ride!

octonus
  • Overall Score

Good Writing, Glacial Pace

Let's start with the good -> the writing is amazing, the characters are good enough (though a bit flat), and the setting is good.

Now the bad -> as of 23 chapters, there has been very little plot. Reading a chapter is like watching an episode of DBZ: 20 minutes of someone getting ready to throw a single punch. I would compare the pacing to Ayn Rand or Dostoevski, but both of those writers manage to pack more plot into a page than this one.

Celsica
  • Overall Score

Finally a good mix of wuxia and blue boxes

An overall decent piece

I really recommend a fan of either of the genres to give it a try. Although there's a big Deus ex machina moment, I liked how the main character actually ended up failing spectacularly, in a believable way. It feels like the failure had consequence as well.

Grammar has a few mistakes that are quickly corrected by the author when pointed out, and overall the prose is of excellent quality. Few repetitions. The world building is decently paced too and not invasive. Same for the blue boxes.

I hope the author has a lot planned for this because it's off to a great start!

 

WednesdaysJest
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This is a good story and I recommend it but be aware that the author is being serious when they say that this will be a slow build. 

The MC makes shortsighted decisions, poor assumptions, is only selectively proactive, and cannot handle pressure.  These are recurring traits that the MC struggles with and, much like real life, they are unable to move past them without a lot of effort.  So, on one hand you have a well written and believable character, but on the other you have a MC that keeps making the same mistakes repeatedly.

Outside of the MC there is some inconsistent characterization and the characters offer little in the way of surprises.  Their interactions are well crafted, but sometimes lack the depth you expect from previous examples.

The world is looking interesting and well developed.  Cultivation stories have some common tropes and those same ideas are here, but they are presented organically.