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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Brexit21
Overall

I read this book on fiction press. Awesome. He made time travel interesting unlike most stories. The plot advanced covering the same territory in new and interesting ways over his hundred odd chapters. 

I especially like that he doesn't fall into the usual good and evil fantasy tropes. The grammar is correct, but it could use some editing. But the story is so good i don't care.

I highly recommend.

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.

Hypocrite1
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Time Loops Are Kinda Cool

Reviewed at: Afterword

By webnovel standards, this book is definitely one of the best I've read.

The plot is solid and maintains an appropriate pacing throughout most of the story, with only the end feeling perhaps a tad rushed. I haven't seen too many time loop stories outside of fanfiction so to many readers this should be a novel take on fantasy. The world is very fleshed out and consistent and the magic system is simplistic but well built.

The grammer is pretty consistently great as far as I could tell with only a couple of spots that had noticeable typos, but that is easily fixed with a round of editing which the author seems to plan on doing.

The writing style is good but a little bland with some spots where descriptions or explanations drag on longer than necessary and other spots where more imagery would really help flesh out the scene. Particular scenes didn't deliver the impact that they should have because the writing didn't manage to build up a proper atmosphere or the required tension.

Characters have believable roles and actions but don't particularly stand out from each other. They felt fairly similar in their personalities and could do with a bit more development.

Overall its a great fic with mostly minor flaws and definitely one worth reading.

Orrm
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

The closest thing to a perfect novel I have ever seen throughout the interweb

Reviewed at: Afterword

I love this story and adore what it represents, a genre done right. Characters gain power at a good pace, characters are explored magnificently, plot pacing is heavenly and there is never a boring part or lull which would result in leaving the story to 'continue' it later. 

A hallmark in virtual novels. 

 

I'm going to be honest here, the beginning of the story was captivating, but a bit slow, however, the plot progressed and the author really displayed his skill and grabs your attention to the point where you find yourself blazing through the story in its entirety with a fervent passion akin to a raging inferno as it caresses a wooden house. 

There are very few plot-holes in the story, despite its length and characters are flushed out so well!

This piece uses that small cast and does wonders with it, and from beginning to end its one hell of a ride becuase you learn so much through sk many different events. Every chapter is novel in some way and ALWAYS introduces some new element or piece of information to the story. 

These additions are never irrelevant. 

There are no great leaps in logic, no plot-convenience nor and McGuffins or concrete elements.

Power is balanced in the story and it goes through great lengths to clearly express to you, the reader, that regardless of power, you can die. 

Beyond that, antagonists and protagonists, as well as the supporting cast, all have a sense of depth and while this depth may vary depending on screen time, it's done in a way that allows you to easily understand what you're reading and possible long-reaching consequences of various courses of action. 

Also, the author is an expert at integrating modern ideas or references in a way that makes the world your ead seem foreign to what you know. Frankly, I'm impressed. No author I've ever read from gas managed to do it so thoroughly and so convincingly as this one has. 

Also, there are occasional theory-dumps, but those mainly occur at the last few chapters and are quite small, the only inconvenience is that you won't understand how the very complex magic functions. And the author sometimes fails to properly integrate certain jargon or trips over modern terms. Though, this only occurs 3 times in the story. This story is 108 chapters long. I find that almost complete lack of errors/blunders, amazing. 

Magic itself, is astounding in how well it's presented. The way its explored is astounding and the growth which occurs throughout the story is both believable and logical. That's a very hard thing to find in ANY story.

And in later chapters there are some grammatical errors, but I chalk that up to them not being edited yet. 

Dear me, I almost forgot the fights! Nothing in battle is ever static and every single one is unique, never once have I grown bored reading a fight in this story, quite the opposite. I don't know what is going to happen and I cannot accurately predict how their new skills will apply. Also, the style makes the scenes very concise and to the point. 

Redundancies are an extinct species in this novel. 

All in all, despite some minor gripes with the story, it's a thoroughly captivating experience that I would recommend to everyone. 

ravensiris
Overall

Best story I've read so far.

Reviewed at: Afterword

Just a great all-rounder.

Would recommend to everyone, at least try it.

Refelctions0
Overall

Mother of learning? More like Mother of great stories.

Reviewed at: Afterword

One day I was looking around in RoyalRoad, since the stotries I was following were yet to be updated with more characters. In a sense, I was hunting for more things to read. And then I came across this story.

I had seen it pop up several times before, but the synopsis didn't quite entice me. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go. And so, I started the first chapter, which did spark that tiny flame that drove me to finish the whole story in 2 days, killing my sleep schedule in the process. 

All in all, an extremely enjoyable read that, while I do regret not giving a chance sooner, I am glad I finally did. The sad part about finishing is that now I need more stories to read... but such is the fate of a reader. I just hope that nobody103 writes more, since I've been entranced by their prose and style. 

Nemorial
Overall

Great time loop novel

Reviewed at: Afterword

Mother of Learning does something extremely well: the Timeloop. Zorian is constantly learning and adapting new things. He is progression with character and skill month after month. Sometimes taking breaks because he can't endure the mental stress without pause.

I always was interested what happens next and I am looking forward to some kind of Epilouge in which we can see the future of Zorian and his friends.

k94k9
Overall

 This is very much a novel, not just a story.

 

I say that because it contains all the elements of a professional book more than most online web series. 

First off, it is well thought out. Everything from the character development to the rules governing the world makes sense and there isn't a sense of overstepping from the author. 

Secondly, it was planned. I presume...The story flows with a clear path and easy to see goals. There aren't fillers.

Lastly, the story feels polished. Like you would expect from a paperback. If that makes any sense at all. 

precinctomega
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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.

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.