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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Monsoon117
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First off, go read this story if you haven't. It's really, really good. Now for the review.

Mother of Learning is a story revolving around a bitter and resentful teen named Zorian Kavinski. Through insane circumstances, he ends up in a time loop, repeating the same month over and over again. Throughout each rendition, he retains his memories, builds his skills, and becomes a force to reckon with. There's many foes he has to overcome however, most of them far more powerful then him. Zorian must scrap together every bit of his resourcefullness if he is to win, otherwise his entire world will collapse around him.

So I'll be rating the review on three of my own catagories. Characters, Plot, and World-building. These elements, when used well, integrate into a seamless story that takes you away. Mother of Learning does this in spades.

Characters: This is one of the novels greatest strengths. The characters are varied, different, and have a variety of motivations behind their actions. There are genuine conflicts that arise as well, and watching the sheer depth of their mental battles is something to behold. None of the characters are cliches either. They have a genuine presence that's hard to ignore, and they each act independently of the others.

I couldn't praise the main character Zorian enough, in fact. He is mediocre in many respects. The few talents he does have are far exceeded by his older brother Damien. Despite not being gifted with a spring of talent, Zorian was gifted with ingenuity and genuine intelligence. He uses tricks, clever plots, and plans that caught me off guard on numerous occasions with how well thought out they are. He has flaws, such as his immaturity and resentment of those who are better of him. At the time, this only enhances his likeability and relatableness.

Other characters share that trait. They all have flaws, and each of them makes simple mistakes. It's not done in a plot-hole kind of way either. 

Now that isn't to say my praise is endless. Quite a few times while reading, the 'voices' of the character's dialogue bleed together. This is because the author enjoys unloading tremendous amounts of relevant information about his world to the reader. At the same time, it doesn't make sense that nearly every character that describes something to Zorian does so in a complete, holistic pattern that covers everything interesting about a topic.

This isn't a crippling problem, and it adds to many aspects of the novel. At the same time, I felt it was worth noting.

Plot: The plot of the novel is airtight. It's so devoid of plot-holes that it's incredible to behold, especially for a story as fantastical and long as this. It's so hard to do that, especially as the concepts and stakes of the novel rise up higher and higher. The author accomplishes this through the use of his detailed world-building and historical integration. Allow me to explain.

The detailed world-building is so thorough and encompassing, that you're left with very few questions. Every curiosity about various in word mechanics are satisfied to the utmost, giving a near flawless understanding of the world at hand. This adds amazing depth to the plot and characters since it gives so much context to their actions and motivations. Indeed, this is one of the biggest reasons the characters are so well developed. 

This is where historical integration comes in. By weaving the history of the world into the bckground of the characters, we get added depth to them. For example, there was an event known as the weeping. It was a plague that swept across the nation several years ago, and the author ties several characters backstories to this event. That's great use of his narrative tools.

These elements create iron-clad motivations for all the characters and events of the story. This foundation is what everything is propped up on, and it's more solid than stone.

World-Building: By and large, this is the biggest draw of this novel. I've never read a novel so utterly fullproof from a world standpoint. Hell, at times I felt I understand this fantasy world better than the real world with how excellent the descriptions are. The author obviously understands many subjects in real life, and he uses those to flesh out many of the more airy concepts in this novel.

What feels hollow in most novels becomes something reliable and understandable here. For example, there's soul magic done in this novel. Soul magic is notorious for injecting total bullshit into a story and offering dues ex machinas in plots. Not in this story. It's a reliable mechanic I felt the entire story could have revolved around. That applies to at least a dozen other fields of magic.

The history of the world, as mentioned earlier, is also bulletproof. The author must have plotted out at least a thousand+ years of history in order to scope out the events of this novel. Every piece of it is relevant to the plot, and that is so damn hard to do in any novel, let alone one with so much backstory to draw from.

Overall: This story's amazing. It's breathtakingly professional, and it's just something you should support on Patreon. I know I do.

Qualms: As you may imagine, I have few problems with this story, but there exists a few elements that I felt could be done better. For starters, the action scenes in this story are told like a recap of the actual fight. This is a real shame, because the fights themselves are vibrant displays of the author's creativity. It just lacks a real punch in a lot of scenarios because it feels distant due to how the events are 'told' rather than 'shown.'

Another slight I have with the story involves the 'voice' of the characters at times. I touched on this point earlier, but sometimes characters offer up explanations that don't flow well in a conversation. They'll over elaborate to an extreme at times, and this can be somewhat jarring. It's also worth noting that while the characters themselves are exceptionally well made, some of the characters just fell short of my expectations.

Spoiler: Spoiler

There yah have it. From one author to another, I must say this is damn fine work that you should be proud of. Publish this please, and go become a professional author. With talent like this, it would be a crying shame if you didn't finish some of the other novels you might have an idea for.

Blue09
  • Overall Score

Just have to give this review as my ultimate gratitude.

Reviewed at: 106. I Win (III)

Ive read this story for years on fictionpress. Most authors do not preserve writing their story. Not for... almost a decade? O_o

I do not know why, but this story was actually always my favorit. Maybe because the MC is not super overpowerd and has to mostly rely on solving his problems more with wit than just power through. Maybe because he had to strugle so hard to get where he ended. Maybe because of the awe inspiring world building. Or maybe because the long years that ive looked forward to the next chapter release.

Most likely, because all of these ressons.

Alas, all good things have to end. I dont realy think there will be a sequel. Its possible, the month is over, so zorians advantures AFTER the month could be written - but then, would it be like MoL? Its propably the sentimental attachement i have to this story and the knowledge that only the epilog is missing before the story ends that makes me wish it would go on forever and ever. Parting is such bittersweet... >_<

Dear Nobody103, i thank you for all these years and this great story. Thank alot man, my best wishes to you and your future endevors. =)) So 5 stars. No other rating i can give you can show you what this story meant to me.

 

Blue

Armal2015
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My first review! The only thing that I have to say is... this is. A. Masterpiece. It has been a pleasure to be here from the begining to the end.

Pankaic
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This story is, without a doubt, among the best on this platform. Not that it's without its own flaws, but I really didn't notice, and neither do I care in retrospect. The story and the characters just draw you in and hold you captive the whole way through, and boy is it a wild and memorable ride. Now that it's over, I'm realy looking forward to a fully edited and published version to be released. I'll definitely be among the first to purchase a copy!

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.

sleepy fluff
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The idea of time-loop is well written and explained. The worldbuilng is very nice and easy to understand while leaving some things to the reader's imagination. The best part is the character development, which takes Zorian from a very whiny teen to an adult. Also I didn't get tored of the repetitive characters, because in each new loop we would see sonething new in each of them. Overall one of my favourite stories.  

Tea777
  • Overall Score

A compelling web fiction for fantasy readers

Reviewed at: Afterword

To begin this is a sufficiently written story with a winding plot and an engaging. It is a substantial commitment to read given sheer page count but the writer delivers consistent quality with enough variety in characters and setting to keep releases relatively fresh.

This is late review. Nonetheless here are some musing.

 

 

TheHoblit
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Mother of Learning is easily one of the best novels I have read, ever.

 

The main character makes sense, is rational and smart, the world is thought out and realistic, the plot is amazing and interesting. There is always something interesting happening and going on, and I always want to see what happens next

 

read this novel.

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

Specificmice
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Fortune wrapped in existential terror.

As of Chapter 92 on authors Fiction Press.

Story: Nobody has created a massive and sprawling world thinking through the politics, society, technology, theology and culture of mages, sentient psycic spiders, liches and hilariously stone age humanoid wasps; and how all of them would clash or cooperate with each other in tribes or countries over contenents.  The story reads like it was completly planned out and executed with a goal in mind. Not a stream of consiousness.

   MC time loops one month for years of subjective time.  Exploring learning and going to war with anything that stands in the way of not surviving (he dies sometimes)but existing.  

Style:  The Narration is Excellent and is consistent in following the actions of MC and some of his internal thought processes.  The Narration style is consistent and feels like a narrator telling a story.  Not a drunk bipolar schizophranic telling lies in a bar.  The mechanics of how Nobody shows the story while telling it seems natural and seemless. Narration stays in the present tense throughout.

Grammar: Better than mine ^^.  You can go through dozens of chapters and not notice anything that would distract and stop the flow of the story.  Very rarely there is a mispelled word.  Syntax and word choices make for a flowing enjoyable read.

Character Score:  I think this is where the story really shines.  Other characters see actions and emotions of the MC,  react and judge him in diffrent ways because of it.  All characters feel like real and unique people that grow or dont grow as a mechanic of the time loop.

The premis is good.  The characters are equal parts enjoyable and annoying.  Magic, the fallout of absent gods and politcal intrige run wild.  Pick it up you wont regret it.