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.

**********************************

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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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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precinctomega
Overall
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Deserves its place at the top

Reviewed at: Afterword

It took me a few goes to get started with MOL, but I persevered because it was the most popular piece on RR so I figured there must be something there that was worth pursuing.

And there definitely is.  The plotting of a narrative over one month, repeated hundreds of times, blows my mind.  Early on, there was the occasional sense that the author was ever so slightly making things up as they went along but, soon enough, you began to see the opposite: that the apparent dead ends and throwaways were (mostly) relevant and important.  The density of the cast is handled incredibly well, with distinct personas each contributing a definable archetype without falling into stereotyping (at least, more than the fantasy genre accommodates already).

I also appreciated that the MC wasn't really the hero of his own story for much of the narrative, with a touch subversion of traditional Chosen Ones tales.  The story also draws upon themes from both isekai and LitRPG without being either, which I think is one reason it is so popular on RR.

If I were forced to be critical, I'd say that Zorian's lack of sexual or romantic encounters over the course of his years of entrapment seems at odds with my impression of his developing adulthood.  The issue of an adult mind being trapped in an adolescent body is entirely ignored.  I admire the author's restraint in staying firmly away from this topic but, at times, it felt forced given that the MC is explicitly not aromantic (although he could be asexual).

That, though, is a minor gripe.  Early in the narrative I wondered how on earth the author could sustain the basic conceit of the plot over more than a hundred chapters.  But the fact is that they do so brilliantly, compellingly and with every chapter contributing meaningfully to the story.

Style

The style is deft and professional, but distinct.  The story is a pleasure to read.  There's a little growth still to be had in the mastery, but one senses it is well within the author's grasp.

Story

The strongest part of this tale is the quality and depth of the plotting, which staggers me.

Grammar

Grammar and spelling are near-perfect.  I struggle to recall any problems.  I reserve 5 stars for writing that makes creative or imaginative use of grammar as a tool, which this story doesn't.

Character

I think the weakest part of the story is in the development of the MC (and Zach).  That's not to say that this is bad or non-existent.  But there is a degree to which the author equates "grows more powerful and knowledgeable" with character development, which is a bit of a shame.  It is odd, to me, that Zorian develops his relationships with his parents and two of his siblings but basically ignores his third sibling.  I sense that he was one of the very small number of forgotten or abandoned threads.

Overall

MOL deserves its place at the top of the chart. nobody103 is certainly somebody to watch.

Imperator of Benera
Overall

 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.

Jacen Solo
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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.

Celes
Overall

Apex of Webnovels

Reviewed at: Afterword

Mother of Learning is something that should be as known as Harry Potter is, and the author as greatly rewarded likewise. It's a beautiful story, intricately woven and incredibly gripping. Absolutely read this. It's delightful in its imagination, the main character is absolutely believable, and the decisions he makes are heart-wrenching and intelligent.

 

HeavenBreath
Overall

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.

Sanderson Fanatic 103
Overall

I loved this book.  I became hooked and binged the whole thing in a week.  It's one of the best things I've read in ages and it's so remarkably amazing for a new writer.  I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for him to put out new work.  I have a few gripes with the pacing, especially in the second part of the story, and I wish it would have continued on just one or two more chapters.  I'm hopeful we see more of Zorian, either through the sequel Nobody103 mentioned might be more slice of life style, or through new stories with him being seen in the background.  I'd love to return to this world.  It's simple and complex at the same time.  I'm enamoured.

Eligos
Overall

You already know what it is

Reviewed at: 1. Good Morning Brother

Read the title. You already know what it is. You see it at the number one slot. The Daddy of all daddies. It's perfect. I've read it twice. I've dreamed about it at least three times. It's the GOAT. I've read at least a hundred time loop stories, (I'd say hundreds, but I'm not sure there are that many) traditionally published and otherwise. This is the best one. Hands down. 

The Dragons Tales
Overall

A unique story that instantly ensares you with a unique magic system, and a mysterious loop, with the only lead being a dangerous tine traveler that might be under the control of a far more sinister force. In the first read through, the simple mystery leads you forward, always making you guess on what could be next. We watch as Zorian slowly becomes an Archmage, and discovers the secrets of the loop. Even after reading this book half a dozen times I still love it every singl time. It's characters are all unique, the magic system feels organic, and the loop is still amazing and fun.

The Shadows Mistress
Overall

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

Animan
Overall

HOW COULD I FORGOT TO RATE THIS GEM

Reviewed at: Afterword

It's beautiful. And I have forgotten to rate it untill now (have read it while it was still getting realeased). I am a true sinner.

 

The setting: At this point not very original, but what setting can be... too much was covered. Too much. But the execution? Flawless.

Plot is deep, and well paced.

Characters are nicely fleshed out. Even after ... more than a year?... Have passed I still vividly remember even some 3rd plan guys, which honestly isn't common for me.

The main char power is interesting and very nicely developed over time. It really is extraordinary, how much can be done in the span of a given time when you know how to connect the right resources together, and Zorian with every repetition, of course, does it better and better.

 

That's it.  Needed to amend my sins, and write it.