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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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.

ravensiris
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Best story I've read so far.

Reviewed at: Afterword

Just a great all-rounder.

Would recommend to everyone, at least try it.

Nemorial
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Great time loop novel

Reviewed at: Afterword

Mother of Learning does something extremely well: the Timeloop. Zorian is constantly learning and adapting new things. He is progression with character and skill month after month. Sometimes taking breaks because he can't endure the mental stress without pause.

I always was interested what happens next and I am looking forward to some kind of Epilouge in which we can see the future of Zorian and his friends.

DrJones
  • Overall Score

Good story, but lack of tension.

Reviewed at: 81. A Civil Conversation

The story started great, pulled me right in and kept me there. And then... went on... and on... and lost me.

In most stories (95%+) you can tell that the MC survives until the end of the story and, often, also survives said end, simply because it is a story. Yet there is still plenty of tension. Somehow, poooooosssibly related to the very central mechanic, this story has even less tension after the initial chapters.

It just... petters out.

Usually my reading style is: Start - ignore rest of the universe - finish.

It worked for Harry Potter, LoTR, GoT, Malazan, and if you ever needed an example of straining patience with long-winded fluff: Wheel of Time. Among others. All of them and plenty of 'lesser' works (some of them on this site, some of them all over the place: Chinese LN's? Sure, read plenty).

This story though?

Don't get me wrong the start (and what I would have considered the middle, but now looking at the length of the story so far was still the early third) was amazing, but then... less so. Where is the tension? Where is the emotional impact? There are nudges of both, but...

Which in essence describes the story pretty well: "Good, but - dot - dot - dot"

By the time there are the 'great twists' I already stopped caring for most characters. As said before, usually I start a story and if I like it I just steamroll it to the end. There are stories that just turn me off pretty quick, but this one might be one of the very few where I read it a lot at first, then stopped, tried again later, stopped again, tried again a few more times, but simply did not manage to get myself to finish it. Not because it is 'bad', simply because it could not hold my interest anymore.

It turned stale so to speak.

That said, it still is a really good story, simply not quite my cup of tea. Usually not enough of a reason to write a review, and I don't mean to badmouth the story and it also makes me feel a bit bad...

BUT

Does it deserve status on the first page? Probably.

Does it deserve the top spot? Oooooooooh, no, sireee, most definitely not.

 

Why did I bother to write this possibly incoherent review?

A shit-ton of fans are further distorting an already twisted 'Best Rated'.

So in essence, I am writing this out of a heavy dose of pettiness.

 

Early on I would rate this story 8 out 10, while ever so slowly pettering out to a 5 out of 10 (until I stopped reading around Chapter 70 or 80) - or to use RoyalRoads standards: 5 stars to 4 stars.

 

Tl;dr: It is a beautiful story full of wonder and possibilities, that somehow manages to become less.

Iscrej
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Good novel but has its own issues

This story can basically be summed up as extremely well written, but ridden with plotholes. For instance there are times when he talks about remaining hidden and not exposing his relation with the spiders, but then blabs about them to other people who the rats can easily pluck information from. Furthermore, he seems a bit unwilling to use his time loop to its max ability for example ritual sacrifice to learn soul magic. After all after the reset the people will be back, but his magic won't disappear.

Overall, while it's one of the best written novrls out there the plotholes are rather infuriating

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?

blash96
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Best Timeloop Series I have read

Reviewed at: Afterword

Nothing much to say except its amazing. The only timloop series where the loop does not get old at all at any point

Hypocrite1
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Time Loops Are Kinda Cool

Reviewed at: Afterword

By webnovel standards, this book is definitely one of the best I've read.

The plot is solid and maintains an appropriate pacing throughout most of the story, with only the end feeling perhaps a tad rushed. I haven't seen too many time loop stories outside of fanfiction so to many readers this should be a novel take on fantasy. The world is very fleshed out and consistent and the magic system is simplistic but well built.

The grammer is pretty consistently great as far as I could tell with only a couple of spots that had noticeable typos, but that is easily fixed with a round of editing which the author seems to plan on doing.

The writing style is good but a little bland with some spots where descriptions or explanations drag on longer than necessary and other spots where more imagery would really help flesh out the scene. Particular scenes didn't deliver the impact that they should have because the writing didn't manage to build up a proper atmosphere or the required tension.

Characters have believable roles and actions but don't particularly stand out from each other. They felt fairly similar in their personalities and could do with a bit more development.

Overall its a great fic with mostly minor flaws and definitely one worth reading.

NorskDaedalus
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One of the best stories out there

Reviewed at: Afterword

Now that it's finally done, I can concretely say that this is one of the best pieces of fantasy fiction I have read, and heads and tails above almost everything online.

Characters are believable and have great arcs, the story and mystery are both gripping and have satisfying conclusions, and the world around the story is one of the best I've come across.

An absolute must-read.