Mother of Learning

by nobody103

Original HIATUS 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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Next Chapter Target Date: November, 2019 (No Exact Date)

The story updates with a new chapter every 3-4 weeks. I aim for one chapter every 3 weeks, but real life sometimes interferes with that and I end up taking an extra week to finish things.

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

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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
Reviews

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DrJones
  • Overall Score

Good story, but lack of tension.

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 in most 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.

On average 4.5, but -0.5 for pettiness (or to restore balance to the for-... to the overinflated other ratings - YOU made me do this!)

 

Tl;dr: It is a beautiful story full of wonder and possibilities, that somehow manages to become less. And - I feel filthy just typing it - 'overrated'.

djeruknipis
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An Example Other Author Can Take Notes From

Hi other readers, I'm a cult member number 7. I'm active on r/rational whenever this fiction released a chapter. Not the three people who race to post the thread, no. Nor the other three whom I recognize has better recollection on whatever happen in this fiction than I am. Nor LeTouriste or the other guy who seems to be haunting all places discusing this fiction (I consider them my junior). Well, the point is, I freaking love this fiction to the point I can remember other fellow rabid fan username. I reread this fiction at least 6 times (I feel 11 times is closer to the real number), and consider time spent on it well spent. I religiouly check each chapter posted here, go straight to the comment section, to see whether our illustrous cult of Dragon Below has new member today. I think more webnovel author should aim to write as good as this.

This doesn't sounds like a review. I think I lost faculty for coherence due to how much thing I could write about this fiction. I should get on with it.

-- deep breath -- 

Mother of Learning is an example on how character interaction should be written. Conversation is not a tool to blatantly dump exposition, nor it is an opportunity to meander wastefully. Conversation is a tool to flesh out your characters. Each participant in any conversation must have something to take with them. It could be to make them comfortable with each other, or to alter their motive and goal. Bonus point if it flesh out the world. But to reach that goal, any author must do it subtly. If you are too blatant with it, rewrite, reiterate. Do over until you satisfied with it or you've gone through 10 iterations. I imagine that's what Mr Kurmaic did, because I can go through them effortlessly while unfailingly feel tempered skill behind them. I find 80% of conversation in Mother of Learning a delight to read. I can even feel myself closer to its characters. (BTW, that 80% number is pulled out of my ass, Silverlake style). Each time the author posted a chapter laden with delightful conversation I point it out. Because I crave them. I want more.

Mother of Learning is also an example for Point-of-View discipline. Along the way, you will find characters whom inside their mind is attractive to know. Some of us get curious and curiouser, unable to stay shut and profess their wish for other character POV. But so far, the author never give. Everything that happen within Mother of Learning universe is filtered through Zorian eye and I lauded author for that. I love that mysteries stays mysteries until it need to be revealed. I care about many other characters tbh, but I only interested living Zorian's life. So, to authors who cannot do without multi-POV, I suggest to restructure your story. Authors who tempted to do multi-POV due to popular demand, I preach you to hold.

OK, that's the good point.

The bad point of Mother of Learning is its elementary usage of language. Like Zach who criticise Zorian's skill on combat magic, I'd say author skill is rather basic. It's serviceable, but style is scarce. One character is not that different from another. I once pointed out that Quatach Ichl doesn't sounds like millenia old powerful mage. Author sufficiently did a justification at the following chapter, but I hope he have someone to help him rewrite. I never point it out before but Zach doesn't sounds like 30 years old. He can be easy going, but his brand of easy going should be different from teenager kind. Typo also frequent in MOL chapters. Upon reread, I find earlier chapter get some correction love, but later chapters hasn't. I urge author to do something about it. Maybe by putting them on google doc and crowd-source some grammar Nazi. I know you are an ESL and I know I'm not in position to criticise you (an ESL myself and my command in English is not better than common highschooler). But I wish this fiction be the best it could ever be.

I still have quite a number of thing to convey (I reckon there are at least another 3 topics to breach) but I feel I've rambled too long. So maybe I'll finish when other opportunity present itself. Good job author. Keep going. And readers who's still reading, what the hell are you doing? Go do a reread!

Ljsquared
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one of the best stories I've read online or off

Great story with a great premise, its in the time loop, style similar to groundhog day just closer to groundhog month lol. It is extremely well executed and not overly repetitive despite the looping. The author doesn't get wrapped up in describing every single little thing the character see's and fixes throughout the loop, towards the beginning there was a little emphasis on this to demonstrate how the loop worked but he was also thinking and discovering things in real time. Instead of repeating an act over and over (which he does sometimes it just isn't illustrated) its more like hes exploring and discovering new things he didn't notice the first time through. The characters are all individuals they aren't a big mash up of the same person just with different names. It has been a little while since I read it (they are releasing fairly slowly atm) so I can't truly comment on the grammar however I don't remember any large grammatical mistakes. Overall it is a great story and if you haven't read it already then you definetly should.

Zethuron
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One of the peaks of Fantasy Webfiction

Mother of Learning is a extremely well written story of Groundhog day in a Fantasy world.

Each of the repeats, how the little details change, especially the characters not involved in the time loop (And Xvim, well....)

This has gone right to the very top of my favorites among webfiction for many good reasons, only outdone by A Practical Guide To Evil in just plain epicness and poetry.

 

Do not miss reading this ever, it is fully worth it.

Bookman
  • Overall Score

I tought the intruduction sounded kinda lame. Going back in timer over and over again? sounds boring so i skipped it for quit some time.

Oh boy was i wrong.

 

This is a masterpice that delivers every aspect of a novel you want in right quantity and high quallity at the right time.

I spend the last 16 hours reading non stop and there is only 1 other novel where i did that.

Luke Scheffe
  • Overall Score

A truly amazing fiction, with logical mechanics

CasualReader411
  • Overall Score

One of the best novels on RoyalRoad

Great story with interesting plot and charactors. Well paced and quite long without being a slog. 10/10 would recommend.

Paul Bao H Ngo
  • Overall Score

A bit slow on release of new chapters recently

What can I say, nothing except PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE continue to write this great book. The release has slow down significantly since MC woke up in the real world. I cannot imagine not being able to finish this book.

Azranova
  • Overall Score

All of My Favorite Elements

This is very subjective, but the story has my favorite themes: time loop, high fantasy, the character gaining strength over time, and much more. It is quite literally my favorite story I've ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone considering reading it.

Kikanolo
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Excellently Constructed Time-Loop Story

Mother of Learning is a time-loop story following a student in a magic academy, who repeatedly lives through a month-long time loop which always culminates with an massive attack on the city. The main character tries to learn about the attack while also working to develop the skills and strength to fight back against it.

The story is very well thought out, with a plotline that is clearly planned in detail, a unique and finely-crafted magic system, a varied and interesting cast of characters, and a fleshed-out world.

Firstly, the magic system is a detailed and multifacted one that has many progression paths. The characters learn and focus on some branches of magic, but also study others in a way that avoids info-dumps while still giving the reader an excellent overall picture of the the system. Progression and development of magical skill is very well written, with the MC working both hard and smart, resulted in a impressive power curve that feels fully earned. 

The worldbuilding has been slowly and methodically performed over the course of the story, and has constructed a complex and intruiging world. The plotting has been very well done, with the level of planning that went into it on clear display. 

Finally, the characters are all well-developed individuals with consistent and evolving personalites. The main characters are all likable and interesting once we get to know them, making their adventures very enjoyable to follow.

If I had any criticisms about the story, it would be that it starts a bit slow, and that the MC is slightly annoying early on. However, the story very quickly ramps up in pace once the plot gets going, and the MC's early behavior is fully intended and has an explanation.

The story is very well-edited, and it flows very well. Finally, its only a few months from being completed, so a conclusion to the story is guaranteed.

I would strongly recommend this story.

(As of Chapter 101)