Mother of Learning
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.
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.
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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Really brilliant story and writing that improves over time. If you read anything on this site it should be this. You'd expect the month long duration of time travel to get boring after a while but the author nicely squeezes everything interesting out of it. Also has great reread value.
I got to say, I never really paid attention to this book as I had confused it with another one which I hadn't like. Though recently I was lacking any reading material and I noticed this book had been finished. So I thought, why not?
I'm both glad that I read it now, to get the complete story but also a bit sad to not have been part of the journey. The author clearly put a lot of work into worldbuilding (Which I think is the most important part of a story as everything comes from the world).
Regardless, in terms of grammar, I did not really notice any glaring mistakes and it seemed to be well structured. In terms of style, I did quite enjoy it. Characterization is extremely well done compared to the rest of the books on this site.
Honestly, I was compelled to keep reading every moment I had as I wondered may come next. At each major plot point, I ended up realizing that I was not as far into the novel as I thought I was and would rejoice that there was more to read.
This might be telling but I'm glad there are consequences for actions and things can be explained relatively well rather than just... It's magic get over it.
But of course, there are flaws. Character descriptions are sorely lacking thus it is difficult at times to figure out which character is which if he hasn't seen them for a while. Another thing is, as I read in the afterword the usage of certain words. While not inherently the problem, due to how they spoke about various topics and the terms they used, sometimes it was hard to figure out what technology level they were at.
In summary, a very good novel with a couple of flaws but definitely a cut or two above most novels on the site.
I'd like to start by clearing a few things up. First off, I just finished reading the story less than 15 minutes ago and I binge read the whole thing from start to finish in two days. I started in the evening of the first day, then on the second day I devoted every spare moment to reading. I'd guess I spent a minimum of twelve hours on this second day reading and I'm fairly tired at this point. Tbh, I think it's likely I've spent closer to 24 hours reading than 12 at this point with only a handful of breaks. So I'm tired and I still haven't had much time to really think about the story. I've read a few reviews just before I started typing and my mind is bit all over the place, so I'm probably just going to bounce from one topic to another, get all my thoughts out, and go to bed.
First, this is so far the best story I've read on royalroad. I haven't read that many stories on here yet though and I think this is the first one I've read start to finish, so bear that in mind.
Second, Mother of Learning is better than most books I've paid for and that's coming from someone who's been reading daily almost since I could read. For me, it is absolutley a five star story, which is not a rating I give out causually the way some people are wont to do. To clarify that statement, I don't judge a book worthy of five stars based off of how flawed or flawless it is. I base it off of whether or not any I identified any flaws and, if I did, whether they impacted my enjoyment of the story. In the case of Mother of Learning, aside from typos, I didn't percieve any flaws.
Of course, once I read some reviews, they brought up some interesting points. For instance, one person mentioned issues with infodumping, especially in the later half of the story, as well as having trouble recalling bits of lore when they later became relevant. I never had any issues with infodumping but I didn't even percieve anything as an infodump in the first place while reading. It was only in hindsight, after reading that review, that I even realized it had been a thing. Looking back, I do realize it was there but at no point did it impede the flow of the story for me and on rare occasions where my focus slipped while reading, I simply reread paragraphs till I actually registered what I was reading. So, even when I was rather drowsy and honestly should've gone to bed, I not only kept reading but slowed down to ensure my comprehension of what I was reading wasn't hampered. Basically, it wasn't an issue for me.
Another similar instance was in regard to character descriptions. One reviewer mentioned a lack of character descriptions, which surprised me but rang true. When I was reading the story, I had a fairly clear, if basic, image of most of the side characters and main characters. Some I know got descriptions, like Kale and the lich guy whose name starts with Q, whereas others may have and I simply don't recall anymore. Off the top of my head, I had fairly distinct images for those two aforementioned characters, Zack, Zorian, Taiven, Xvim, Isel, Ben, Kirielle, Kana, Rea, Imara, Akoja, and more. In other words, I didn't actually realize I was filling in character appearances on my own and tbh I'm not sure to what extent I did. I'm not really willing to go rereading chapters right now to try and see how many characters actually had detailed descriptions. Regardless, the lack of descriptions had no negative impact on the story for me.
I was really satiesfied by the three acts, they felt distinct and well-organized. Reading the afterword, it made sense how the story was structured. I recall at several points in the story pondering when the climax would hit, before or after leaving the timeloop. It was in either the second or third act that I became certain it'd be outside the timeloop. I mention this because the very fact I even cared about when the climax would hit in the story meant I was invested in it in a way I rarely am with most books. Typically, I don't really care too much about the actual structure of a story or even if the plot is developing in some cases. For example, I've read some reviews of books in the Wheel of Time where entire books were considered to be largely irrlevent to the overall plot of the series. I think Crossroads of Twilight may have been one of those. In spite of those reviews, the books they were talking about were actually some of my favorites in the series and still are.
Anyway, the sturcture of this book is quite good, that's my point. The mystery elements are handled extremely well. It doesn't just feel like you're piecing together a jigsaw puzzle by discovering a puzzle piece here or a piece there as you journey along, it feels like as you progress, you realize that thing you may or may not have overlooked was not just a puzzle piece but you now have an idea of where it goes or might go in the puzzle. It's an extremely satisfying feeling, especially when you correctly predict things based off little to no foreshadowing, though doing it based off foresahdowing feels good too. Speaking of which, the foreshadowing is quite good too.
As an example of what I mean about the puzzle pieces analogy, I distinctly remember Zorian's first encounter with Nochka and the feeling of absolute certainty I had that the little girl who had dropped/lost her bike in the river/creek/whatever was going to be very significant later on. I didn't have the slightest clue how but I was totally certain and when so very many chapters later I was proved right, it felt great. In fact, I felt the same way about the cranium rats when they were first introduced prior to the timeloop but I think that was quite clear foreshadowing and thus wasn't as exciting.
I could keep rambling like this but I'll go ahead and conclude my thoughts by saying I loved the world, characters, plot, and resolution. I sincerely hope the author does one day write his slice of life style sequel and that if he does, I get to read it. To me, it always feels like a waste when an author writes an epic fantasy, which is what I consider Mother of Learning to be, with a well-developed world and then doesn't revisit their setting after completing a single series. Oftentimes, It feels as though they fail to exploit even half of their settings' full potential. Of course, this is just my opinion and I understand their are plenty of reasons why authors might not want to revisit a setting or why it may be difficult to write a good story following a major series. I'm just the kind of person who wishes resolutions where books unto themselves though. I can gladly forgo a plot for the sake of continued exploration of a rich world and memorable characters.
I've been following this story for years on fictionpress. Sometimes, I'd impatiently wait the whole month for a chapter, and sometimes, I'd patiently stop reading for a year or two, just so I could forget the story and reread it all from the start. It's been a wild ride.
I would spend time between the chapters to look for more stories like it, but none had that same exciting fantasy magic feel while still maintaining a systematic view of it all, nor did they have a character like Zorian, who I've come to love and support with all my heart. It's an amazing story and I love it. I feel excited about the fact that it's now on RR and that many more people can enjoy it's charm. I hope the author publishes the story and also that he continues to write such amazing fiction in the future. I look forward to his future stories.
But for now, its time. Sayonara. It's been an amazing journey.
One of the first webnovel/webfiction I read, and have since read it twice.
The time travel element is a nice way of ensuring that the character growth does not feel unrealistic.
The naming of the story is very apt, seeing as the MC is a very studious learner.
Very little romance may be a + or - depending on what you like.
The spiders are fantastic x)
With the young age of some characters, their immaturity was at times somewhat grating but nothing that bothered me too much.
I don't really have a problem with this, but I can understand how some might feel that the story feel a bit "on rails" without being too dynamic due to the fact that you know that none of the actions in the story have lasting consequences (with the monthly reset). The majority of the story is focused on the MC learning more about the situation and furthering his magical abilities, less about big dynamic changes that significantly alter the course of the story or the characters. I think that is a given with a monthy reset, however.
Mother of Learning comes with an intricate plot that just kept surprising me, even though I was avidly following it for years as each chapter was published. Zorian (and Zach) really has to earn his happy ending, through a lot of work. I loved how the mystery was unravelled one tiny piece at a time, like chipping away at a rock face, not just one big reveal. (In fact, usually the big reveals are revealing something unpleasant.)
The author is a fluent, but not native, English speaker, and that shows up in the wording from time to time, but it doesn't create a big problem. Originally there were a fair number of spelling and grammar errors, but he's responsive to reader feedback, so a lot of them have been cleaned up.
The characters weren't always the highlight of the story, but they were a solid support to it. Kirielle is adorably annoying, and Enthusiastic Seeker of Novelty managed to steal the show even though she actually had very little screen time. Kudos on having villains with more depth than just being cacklingly evil, too.
What really sells it for me, though, is the world building. The magic system is well thought out, the world history is reasonable while preserving many unanswered questions, the politics are tangled. It's a really rich setting, and the story showcases a good amount of it without exhausting it.
After reading the afterword of the author and what he wants to improve i just wanted to say that i think you succed on what you wanted to do that is what i love inthis novel how the character interact in same but differrent scenerio
PS. dont be pressure that the next story shoiul be as good as this or even better than this the bar is reallly high now
absolutly brilliant story!! well thought out world with exciting characters that you care about. Even the villins are interesting not just charactures. I look forward to more
Nothing much to say except its amazing. The only timloop series where the loop does not get old at all at any point
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.