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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Reviews
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Alina Zhou
Overall

How is this novel the highest rated novel here?

Reviewed at: 102. Giants

This novel is terrible. It relies on a groundhog day like gimmick. The characters are flat, not terribly nuanced, and don't transform themselves much over the course of the story. Furthermore, the plot has no surprises.

The entire novel falls flat.

Zonzog
Overall

Every single character aside from MC is annoying. Sure, this seems deliberate at first, but all I get from reading this is annoyance. Even after family was dealt with, all newly introduced ones where annoying at least in some ways.

Horrible names. Impossible to remember, or pronounce. Desire to be different for the sake of it.

Excessively verbose, to the point that everything proceeds at a glacial pace.

In just two chapters there already was a completely unrealistic encounter - A girl with a bicycle. A little girl alone in the city. How realistic is that? And nobody has bothered to approach a crying girl, until MC came along. Yeah.

How is it top rated? I figured out why - it was positive review-bombed to give it anomalously high rating.

Underload
Overall

To nobody103,

First of all, thanks for the amazing story. it was a blast to read something like it. It was such a long book I feared getting bored in the middle, but that didn't happen. it was great. Alright, pleasantries aside, I have something to say about some characters. 

First of all, Kael, the genius alchemist was underused. For all his worth and talent at making potions that could have helped Zorian get over his lacking physical capacities, our alchemist friend only acted as the connecting bridge to Alanic & Lukav.

Secondly, Lukav: No matter how I Look at him, he comes out as a completely unimportant character. 

I think it would have given the story more weight if Zorian had found out about Alanic through the Church, allowing bypassing kale and Lukav entirely from the story and allowing you to bring the cats in the story much sooner since they are more important. 
Nochka, the cat girl, was enough to take Kirielle from Zorian's hands and allow deeper character development.

Thirdly, it seemed like you got distracted around the 40th or so chapter because after that the telling just took over. I truly believe that was the time you could have started experimenting with multiple character povs. It woudl ahve allowed you to greater work on the character interactions with the environment. Currently, everything after the fiftieth chapter reads like a summary. 

And I have a question. Was the Red robe supposed to be Zach's simalacrum and the idea got dropped somewhere? Because it sure as hell felt like so. Zach's tempered mind and the clear disappearance of his classmate seemed like a distraction. I thought you put all the soul related restriction on Zach so he couldn't find out about the missing copy running around. And him remembering the scroll on the pirate boat meant it had left a deep effect on him. 

It would have been a great twist if red robe was Zah;'s clone. The primordial could have made him a new body in the real world and everything could have been the same otherwise. 

Alright, that's it for me. I hope e get to read the sequal sometime soon. Thank,s agian fro writing something so mazing. 

Mr10K
Overall

Start Over... Start Over... All You Need is Kill, HakoMari Vol.1, Groundhog Day. Seen this premise done well many times, yet I was surprised by how expertly this amateur author handled it. Set in a world undergoing its industrial revolution and with a rather expansive magic system, to eventually offer an explanation for the global phenomena. Yet leaving enough mysteries for the story to remain compelling.

And as for Zorian himself... I couldn't help but appreciate the parallels to our scattershot method of learning. Being taught the importance of "Anchors".  Plus I like that his family situation reminded me of Malcolm in the Middle, but the overall situation being grave enough to spur on some decent character developments (not just for him). Offering so many engrossing character moments, where I end up concerned about so many side-characters I could care less about in previous chapters. And to finally come away feeling satisfied from a web novel's ending.

Isa Lumitus
Overall

It's the top rated story for a reason

Reviewed at: Afterword

This is definitely the best webnovel I've ever read. Better than Dungeon Keeper Ami. Better than HP:MoR. Even better than Worm.

The story is technically a high fantasy, but it doesn't feel like one. The main character is not the Chosen One. The main character isn't some kind-hearted farmboy with a tragic backstory. There is no evil overlord to defeat, nor is there the standard adventuring party to carry the hero toward his destiny. Instead, the main character is basically a college student who ends up way over his head.

I would instead describe this as a Groundhog's Day story. What makes it different is that the main character is not the only person in the loop. Instead, one of the villains is a looper, and more experienced than the main character. Instead of the hero using infinite retries to make a "perfect run", he's in some sort of shadowy chess match trying to figure out just what he needs to do.

The spot where MoL truly shines, however, is the planning the author put into it. The villains are intelligent, and take actions that make sense for what they know, even if that isn't immediately obvious. The mechanics of the time-loop are foreshadowed, and make sense within the rules for how magic works in the story.

The main character, Zorian, is another area that the author truly handled well. He's been described as flawed, and maybe he is. But for me, I found him to be the most identifiable hero I've seen. He's not some Purity Sue, or Friend to all Living Things. He's not the typical Idiot Hero, either. He's smart, driven, and sick of the morons surrounding him. And then, when handed freedom from all consequences? He grows up. Unlike most time loopers I've seen in fiction, he becomes less of a monster over time.

I've described this story to others as being basically the opposite of Xianxia. Instead of getting the power to steamroll opposition, he gets the power to work on wide scales. Instead of pushing past his limits to reach a new level of power, he explores new abilities, which he then finds ways to synergize with his other skills. Instead of charging in recklessly, Zorian schemes. Instead of finding the Infinity Plus One Sword, he makes his own tools. If that's the sort of thing you like, this is the story for you.