Mother of Learning

by nobody103

Original COMPLETED Adventure Fantasy Mystery Magic

Zorian is a teenage mage of humble birth and slightly above-average skill, attending his third year of education at Cyoria's magical academy. He is a driven and irritable young man, consumed by a desire to ensure his own future and free himself of the influence of his family, whom he resents for favoring his brothers over him. Consequently, he has no time for pointless distractions or paying attention to other people's problems. As it happens, time is something he is about to get plenty of. On the eve of the Cyoria's annual summer festival, he is killed and brought back to the beginning of the month, just before he was about to take a train to Cyoria. Suddenly trapped in a time loop with no clear end or exit, Zorian will have to look both within and without to unravel the mystery before him. And he does have to unravel it, for the time loop hadn't been made for his sake and dangers lurk everywhere... Repetition is the mother of learning, but Zorian will have to first make sure he survives to try again - in a world of magic, even a time traveler isn't safe from those who wish him ill.

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If anyone is interested, I have a story-related worldbuilding site that can be found here. I don't update it as often as I should, but there is a fair amount of content there already. It also contains a page with all the fanart, fan translations, audio books and the like - you can reach it directly by clicking this link.

I have a patreon account for those kind people that want to give me money. It also contains info for those who want to donate via paypal.

The story was originally posted on fictionpress, back in 2011. When I reached chapter 91, I started uploading the story to RoyalRoad, one chapter per day. The story will continue to be updated on fictionpress as well as here, and can be reached by clicking on this link if somebody is interested, though at this point there is nothing there that isn't also on RoyalRoad.

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The cover you see on the side has been made by a fellow RoyalRoad user Sydorow. Thank you for your time and art skills.

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nobody103

nobody103

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
1. Good Morning Brother ago
2. Life’s Little Problems ago
3. The Bitter Truth ago
4. Stars Fell ago
5. Start Over ago
6. Concentrate and Try Again ago
7. Of Gaps And Pretending ago
8. Perspective ago
9. Cheaters ago
10. Overlooked Details ago
11. Limiters ago
12. Soul Web ago
13. Any Second Now ago
14. The Sister Effect ago
15. Busy Friday ago
16. We Need To Talk ago
17. Sympathy for the Spider ago
18. The Pact is Sealed ago
19. Tangled Webs ago
20. A Matter of Faith ago
21. Wheel of Fortune ago
22. Complications ago
23. Lighting the Fuse ago
24. Smoke and Mirrors ago
25. The Unexpected ago
26. Soulkill ago
27. Cast Adrift ago
28. Cauldron ago
29. The Hunters and the Hunted ago
30. A Game of Shops ago
31. Marked ago
32. Alternatives ago
33. Gateways ago
34. Unreasonable Things ago
35. Mistakes Have Been Made ago
36. A Battle of Minds ago
37. Slow Burn ago
38. Return to Cyoria ago
39. Suspicious Coincidences ago
40. Shifting Tracks ago
41. Myriad Clashing Motives ago
42. Sum of its Parts ago
43. Overwhelmed ago
44. A Show of Trust ago
45. Fine Structures ago
46. The Other Side ago
47. Politics ago
48. Well of Souls ago
49. Substitution ago
50. Containment ago
51. Out of Control ago
52. Things Fall Apart ago
53. Phantoms ago
54. The Gate Is Barred ago
55. Threshold ago
56. Obscure ago
57. Unwanted ago
58. Questions and Answers ago
59. One Step Forward ago
60. Into the Abyss ago
61. Anthills ago
62. Improperly Used ago
63. The March of Days ago
64. Distance ago
65. Dangerous Ground ago
66. Marred Perfection ago
67. Convergence ago
68. Green Hell ago
69. Ruin ago
70. Carried Away ago
71. Shadows of the Past ago
72. Crossroads ago
73. Plodding Ahead ago
74. The Return ago
75. Soul Stealer ago
76. Critical Blunder ago
77. Testing ago
78. Grinding Stone ago
79. Crime and Evading Punishment ago
80. Enemies ago
81. A Civil Conversation ago
82. Ancient Circles ago
83. Scorpion ago
84. Powerless ago
85. Critical Mass ago
86. A New World ago
87. Agents of the Crown ago
88. Mysterious Ways ago
89. Victory ago
90. Change of Plans ago
91. A Path Paid in Blood ago
92. The Scramble ago
93. Shelter in the Storm ago
94. Ghosts ago
95. Betrayer ago
96. Contract ago
97. Illusory ago
98. Beneath the Surface ago
99. Powderkeg ago
100. Sacrifice ago
101. The Switch ago
102. Giants ago
103. Window of Opportunity ago
104. I Win (I) ago
105. I Win (II) ago
106. I Win (III) ago
Epilogue ago
Afterword ago

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Zt-407
  • Overall Score

Unexpectedly great!

Reviewed at: 9. Cheaters

The book is really enjoyable, I'm in the ch. 9 but I already love it!

Good world, good character, well wrote and so on!

Everything is great!

Vaga
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Why is it must-read?!

Reviewed at: Afterword

Starting to read "Mother of learning", i didn't expect such a story. Even if the description might seem not so excited, you will seriously undermine your opinion after just a few chapters. This book is the combination of "King of the rings" atmosphere, "Sherlock Holmes" logic and unexpected twists.

Story score is certainly 5 out of 5. All the moves and decisions made by main characters are clear and, however, very creative and unusual. And it is hard to guess anything - the plot has many secrets which the author reveals with thorough logic chain and explanation during the whole story.( A bit hard to prove without spoilers, but you will get easily).

Style score deserves a solid 5. The main reason is the magic and its creating process. Throughout the protagonist's magic development,  you understand the nature of magic, and it is shown not as something unreal, but as daily used. This feature helps to realise the power of characters and fairly explains the skills improvement of mags. In my opinion, it is one of the best advantages of "Mother of learning" - i didn't see any of credible magic mechanisms, even in the world classic books.

The next feature is low amount of description of the landscape, nature and setting at all. The best option for people who like many plot twists and non-stop story unfold. However, there are problems with characters' diversity (way of speaking, unusual habits etc.), some secondary plot lines - almost no conflicts or romans (of course, it is not the direction of the author's style, but a wider range of relationships will certainly make the sense of completed story and distract a reader from main points - in good regards). So, "Mother of learning" gets fair 4 stars for the feeling of a lack of diversity.

Overall, if you like fantasy worlds, logic decisions and plot twists (and do not like the system of levels) - it is ideal book for reading.

Hope you guys like it!

KuroInfinity
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Need I say more? Countless others have already given their reviews that describe how amazing this novel in depth. This is the #1 novel on Royal Road with the HUGE gap between it and second place for a reason. Best web serial I've read. Period.

My only problem with it is that its completed. I want more...

Jacen Solo
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A refreshing fantasy story but so much missed potential

Reviewed at: 1. Good Morning Brother

The story and setting is very refreshing. I wouldn't call it unique since it is clearly heavily inspired by D&D, but the fact that the author chose to make their story in such a world rather than your typical anime styled Isekai fantasy that is everywhere these days (not that I don't like such stories) is very refreshing.

 

That said, I feel that the story became underwhelming shortly after the second arc. There are numerous narrative issues that hold the story back from reaching its true potential; most significantly being the amount of time the reader spends in the time loop.

 

While the characters themselves spent a good amount of time in the time loop, we the readers spend far much time in it. Due to the nature of the time loops 1 month limit, there is a hard cap on how much the world can be explored and how much the plot can truly develop.

 

This is exacerbated during the post Red Robe time loop period to extreme levels, leading to a story that was interesting at the start, to a story that wanders around in the dark, losing most of its momentum.

 

That is not to say that the story is bad; just that if you were hoping for the story to develop beyond the concept of a 1 month plot into the kind of epic the first arc hinted at, then you will find yourself feeling wanting.

 

The end result of the reader spending so much time in the time loop is that there is little room for the story to progress beyond events of what we the reader have already seen many, many times already. What should have been the beginning of an epic becomes a story that is held back by narrative habit.

 

These things could be alleviated by a sequel, but even with one I feel like that the time loop should have only been the beginning of the plot and as such it should not have taken up the bulk of the story. Due to the nature of how the time loop works and the introduction of Angel and Primordial contracts and the 1 month limit, the potential of the time loop was hindered too significantly to warrant so many chapters.

 

Speaking of Angels and Primordials; this story doesn't have a villain. The closest to a developed villain in this story is the Lich, but he is not a time traveler and is underused in the final stretch of the story, largely taking a backseat to the witch and red robe, both characters that lack the kind of depth and motivation to really push the story forward. Red Robe could have become that villain but he isn't developed enough to take on that role properly.

 

Finally the way the story ends is weird. There are no consequences to the main characters involvement in the plot and from what the author has talked about when it comes to having a potential sequel, the story would not develop in a way that is consistent.

 

The events that occur at the ending of this story logically lead to a larger plot as a whole. The Lich is not dead and no longer has his crown. At a bare minimum we should expect to see him go after the main characters and become more motivated in accomplishing his goals. The story does not end in a state that will lead to kind of peaceful slice of life story the author has said would be the sequel. The story ends in a state on the brink of total war. The other continental nations are going to start prodding and the Lich is going to continue with trying to shape such a conflict to benefit him. This story ends at the beginning of an epic and then ignores the fact that such an epic is on the horizon.

 

This may seem rather harsh but I don't write this review to flame. I hope that if the author does choose to publish this story at some time that they do a major rewrite of the story.

 

And speaking of publishing, this story really needs a good editor. While the grammar, spelling and punctuation is mostly decent enough, the info dumps hold the story back, like a lot.

 

This is an issue that becomes more prevalent after the second arc, mostly avoiding this pitfall in the first 2 arcs. The info dumps go on for too long, they repeat themselves rather than being concise, sometimes outright talking about stuff thay has already been explained earlier, and there seems to be some kind of rule where the longer the info dump is in this story, the less relevant it is to understanding the plot and character motivations. It doesn't help that as the story progresses the info dumps become larger and larger, not smaller. The final act has some seriously large, not relevant info dumps, when the final act should be the part of the story that has the least amount of such a thing.

 

Some info dumps are dropped right in between sentences in a conversation, leading to scenarios where some will ask a question, and then we will get a largely irrelevant info dump that is several paragraphs long only to be followed by a concise voiced answer. This utterly ruins the flow of the later arcs and made me put the story down enough times that what should have been something that I would have read in 3 or 4 days, took me over a month to get finished.

 

On the bright side, the story is intriguing enough that even though you are likely to put it down many times, you will find yourself coming back to it giving it another chance.

 

Overall the story is good, it is just disappointing in that it didn't live up to its potential.

Honudes Gai
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Lets talk about what I didnt like.

Since every reveiw talks about all the best things, I thought I would just mention the problems I had with it.

 

The author has a lot of problems seprating Zorian/Author knowledge from the other characters, it would seem characters suddenly know what they previously did not, just because the author doesnt want to spend time rehashing the scence again. Kind of a problem with a Ground hog story.

 

similar to the above, characters will almost complelty abandon their devloped personiailties to talk and act the same way Zorian does....it will honesly seem like Zorian is just confirming things he already knows with himself, the problem being he is talking to one of the other major characters. Sometimes they arent even aware of the time loop when they are doing their best(unitended) Zorian impression.

 

Both of these problems seem to me like a author trying to rush parts out. Chapters 88-91 just confirm that, feeling like an author who has gotten tired of  his own story.

 

I still compeltly recommend reading it, because you will find few stories as good as this in the online novel genre.

Lajamerr
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This is an amazingly well-written story.

I've been following this story for a long-time now. After catching up initially, I anxiously waited every month for the next chapter release.

Zorian is a mage who due to (un)fortunate events ends up in a timeloop. At the end of the month during the summer festival he wakes up finding himself in bed a month prior. No matter what he does it seems he can't escape this situation.

The readers will be just as curious as to why this happening, going on a journey discovering clues and hints with Zorian to the secrets of this heaven-defying event. Is it possible to break out of this timeloop? Would you even want to?

k94k9
  • Overall Score

 This is very much a novel, not just a story.

 

I say that because it contains all the elements of a professional book more than most online web series. 

First off, it is well thought out. Everything from the character development to the rules governing the world makes sense and there isn't a sense of overstepping from the author. 

Secondly, it was planned. I presume...The story flows with a clear path and easy to see goals. There aren't fillers.

Lastly, the story feels polished. Like you would expect from a paperback. If that makes any sense at all. 

Pimelea
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Time loop: the fantasy

Reviewed at: Afterword

Amazing series that I think everyone will love. Not only is it the first major fantasy to use a time loop, it was also executed very well, with years of planning and work to pull this off.

Characters

There was an impressive range of emotions and personalities and so many aspects that brought them to life. I think it's almost impossible to forget Spear of Resolve and the impressive giant spider society or Xvim and his hard-ass tutoring style that we're forced to undergo loop after loop.

Then there's the family. Kirielle was adorable and Damien was a great demonstration of MC's POV vs an actual cool guy and the misfortune and hyperopia of family issues.

There's such an impressive cast and they all have distinct and great personalities.

Still, I am only giving a 3.5 star, because the loop is not actually taken full advantage of to demonstrate the different possibilities of most characters and there was a lack of follow through on the promise of all the characters when they were introduced.

In other words, the cast was amazing, but the character development was poor.

There's never any sustained discomfort or conflict between 'friendly' characters. This is always a bad sign in my books. There were a few stern characters, a hard-ass tutor, Alanic, but there was only 1 character that produced tension, Silverlake, and it was all somewhat unemotional.

Of the bad guys, Qatach-ichl was developed pretty decently, but that was it. Maybe the necromancer had some development with his family backdrop?

Red robe seemed really unnaturally stunted, despite being such an important character. He was the dark shadow planted to great effect early on, but we only learn about him all in a rush towards the end and he's a bit of a removed paper mache villain. It was similar with the vampire girl, who I hardly remember.

I also didn't feel the characters had any proper conclusion... Basically, there was such big promise in so many characters introduced, and then they were often left by the wayside, like Rainy or Tinami, for instance

There was no follow through on romance or even really family. Perhaps that was in character? Zorian ultimately remained, in my view, the same as he was before the loop started. A somewhat distant, arrogant kid who wanted to help others and manaaged to get rid of his social anxiety and disdain for his brothers, at least, but didn't actually develop into someone with compassion or even just a single strong relationship. Even his relationship with Kirielle remained somewhat tepid in the end.

... Which means that I'll happily upgrade to a 5 stars if you write a sequel outside the time loop with more on some of our favourite characters and how the personal relations side of the equation pans out!

Story

What's not to like about a magic academy with a magic system that has various subjects and intricacies? I loved the different settings and arcs, whether it was at school, in small town grocers' espionage, the dark forces of the necromancers.

I did feel that the story was getting too ambitious in the third arc though. Instead of sticking to all the great details and developing them further, we were taken for sudden trips to other places, with the OP powers of the MC, which had grown a bit beyond what was teneable for dramatic relationships. I did actually enjoy some of the foreign travels, but that was mostly because we met Damien and his new family, who remained underdeveloped, and because we sort of got to know Neolu better. But the rest was just action sequences with little emotional investment.

The ending was epic and... for me, dull. Other than silverlake, who added great complexity which I'll leave unspoiled, the rest was just action sequences and this magic trumps that one, with lots of power trips and interventions from great powers... But it really missed all the points I had expected of the early characters, only showing a few of them mostly because of 'charity' of the MC, rather than any investment actual interactions.

So, I can't really say it was a bad ending, but I felt the plot peaked in interest aaround 2/3rds of the way through, and then slowly fell off.

Grammar and style

 There was a lot of planning involved in Mother of Learning that you can see in the measured pacing (that was somewhat wearing thin by the end... but it was a long journey, after all).

The only style problem is the same I've been discussing in terms of characters and conclusion. So going to match the character score there.

Thanks so much for writing Mother of Learning! Fantastic series! And overall gets 5 stars from me!

SiliconWolf
  • Overall Score

Only 2 major problems I see

Reviewed at: Afterword

1. Your cover art looks like it belongs to a children's book.  As an alternate design, I suggest the timeline symbol on a mottled-black background with randomly placed eyes of different animals.

2. Your first few chapters are kind of boring.  I wasn't immediately hooked.

To say my two problems a different way: I skipped past this book several times because the cover art was unappealing.  And then when I finally gave it a try, I nearly quit after the second chapter because I wasn't hooked.

Ignoring these two problems, the rest of the book is fantastic!  Thank you so much for writing this!

Scott Fenton
  • Overall Score

Not really much to say. It is probably the best web novel ever written. It is so good that it makes it diffcult to read other time-loop stories.