In the war-torn land of Cyraveil, four heroes strove to overthrow an empire. By cold steel and elemental sorcery, they brought peace to a warring land on the brink of destruction. As the flames died, the realm needed strong leadership, and who better than the champions who had saved the kingdom? But when the people sought out their saviors... they vanished.
Matt, Blake, Jen, and Carl: the four mysterious companions, who together had deposed an insane ruler and saved countless lives, were gone—spirited back in a whirlwind of magic to a sleepy suburb in Mellbridge, Oregon, never to return. The friends found themselves home in the real world, exactly as they'd been the night they were taken, as if no time had passed... except only three came back.
Hi there! This was my entry for National Novel Writing Month, because why only write one series at a time? The more the merrier! (meanwhile, my keyboard bursts into flames...)
I'm also the writer of The Last Science, an ongoing low-fantasy/speculative sci-fi series. If you're familiar with that, you know what to expect here: lots of character-focused drama and dialogue, not a whole lot of traditional action. However, I'm writing a bit differently than usual here, and in a very different structure, so there should be some surprises for returning readers. I hope you enjoy it!
[Discord] — for those of you who want to hang out and chat.
Cover art (fullsize): Path of Revelation, by taenaron (Tobias Roetsch), modified by Etzoli. Normally I like to do my own cover art from scratch, but I was in a rush for the contest. Might be replaced down the line if I get time.
[participant in the NaNoWriMo Royal Road challenge]
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One of the best stories in the genre. Mature characters who developed through the years, scarred by war are stranded in earth not knowing what to do and how to go back to their previous life. Plot is developed through reminiscence and yet the fantasy world feels complete.
The only flaw i could find was about going back. Going back to the same time they left seems silly,
especially with the additional character.
Style: Absolutely wonderful. The story takes a worn genre and addresses in from a new perspective in a way that evokes dark slice-of-life mixed with a little bit of drama for flavor.
Grammar: The grammar was at the only level that matters, good enough that I didn't notice it while reading.
Story: So non-spoilers first, the story is very much a mystery/ slice of life where we follow the days after a return to Earth from the viewpoints of each of the Isekai Protagonists with plenty of snippets of memory and dialogue that slowly flesh out what life was like in the other world and what their story over there was. Some of the characters know more than others so the delivery reads as part mystery, part drama.
The mystery of Blake's death keeps the readers invested while the major events surrounding the big moral dilemma of whether or not returning was a good idea, and whether or not to leave Earth unfold.
As the entire story is so heavily character-focused, there isn't really a story so much as a series of events that affect a moral dilemma. I wish to stress this as there isn't really a story. This is closer to a theatre production with intense monologues and introspection surrounding events we have no real knowledge of.
That said, the story is a page turner. The interpersonal realtions, deep history, and wildly differing viewpoints of the main characters on their situation drive the story forward with repeated and rapidly escalating interpersonal conflicts.
I removed a star because of Jen.
The driving force behind the tension in the beginning of the story is the fact that there is no return to fantasy-land. The main characters have to figure out how to live normal lives with all their PTSD and trauma. They have to decide whether to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them. OR! I just found a get-out-of-jail-free rock in the woods by pure chance! Wow! Jen finding that return stone with no effort is a lost opportunity for development, and tilts the hand of the story's end chapters in advance. It kills both tension and mystery in a single chapter and swings the focus of the story into whether or not to ditch Carl. Story wise...not great.
Character: OH BOY LET'S GET TO IT.
This entire story is built on a scaffold of character development. Literally all of the tension and conflict and mystery AND story comes hand in hand with charater development. This story is told first person from the perspective of damaged and confused characters; the story IS character development.
That said this story does character phenomenally. I can probably list thirty other stories I've read that make me hate a character as fast as this one, and less than ten that had me sympathizing as readily. These characters are incredibly human*. *mostly To sum it up without giving you too much to read, nearly every character feels real.
I took off a star because there is one who doesn't.
JENNIFER. GOD**** JENNIFER AGAIN. Honestly she isn't even that bad. The fact I hate her can be a testament to quality writing but my big issue is the fact that she isn't treated fairly by the rest of the world. That is to say, she is the slice of life's equivalent to a Mary Sue. She's strong despite being in a body that barely ate right and spent most of its time shopping. She assaults and threatens multiple people with NO people EVER confronting her about it legally or personally. She spends the entire story being tiptoed around and coddled like an injured duckling rather than arrested like the mildly sociopathic armed crazy person she is. She stabbed someone who KNEW HER and he didn't report to the cops? He was beating his wife for losing face seconds before? The wife is clearly on his side so she'll back his story up?? Why wasn't she reported????
Anyway sorry, off topic.
The characterization is very clean with one minor blip.
The story is good; It's engaging, well written, and exciting. If you like a short, tidy story: read this. If you want to learn how to write well developed characters: read this. If you want to see why this story has so many good reviews: well guess what bud you should probably read it.
This was a fantastic story. I'm ashamed to admit I scrolled past quite a few times before I finally read it. Tight, focused, and compelling. Everything moves the plot forward, no fluff. The characters are believable and interesting. The hook is unique - what happens to the heroes when the adventure is done?
A quick epilogue to a story that was not told. Just enough detail to pull you in an satisfy, but not enough to tell the complete story.
Words cant do justice as to how good this story really is. It's completely original, has interesting characters, and is a very excellent read. Do yourself a favour, expand your horizons, and read it now.
At somewhere between 90,000 to 100,000 words this is slim by Royal Road standards, yet for all that it was certainly a tour de force. Fantastic premise, well drawn characters, convincing action done without telegraphing everything to the reader far in advance, I'm not sure what praise I can omit from this one. Who knew a reverse Narnia premise could work so well? Because it certainly did here.
The only two minor grouses I have? The first one is a bit of a spoiler, so read at your own risk:
The method by which they return was a complete mcguffin, dropped in and never explained. Almost like the author didn't really know how to proceed, so, oh, look...magic rock!
The second being that the police procedural stuff candidly just doesn't reflect my (admittedly limited) understanding of these matters, particularly regarding missing persons investigations.
But beyond that? Fantastic read. The second instance of a RR book I may actually read more than once. (The first being the now sadly deleted Author of Eternity...meaning this is the only extant title I'd re-read.)
This story was amazing. The way the author threads in small tidbits of the other world through each characters thoughts and actions is flawless.
You're right next to the characters as you try to reason your way through what's going on, and before you know it, you're invested. In the later chapters I was literally holding my breath, afraid to scroll down and read any further. Genuinely afraid.
I STRONGLY recommend anyone reading my review to give this story a read. It was amazing. (PS: the review by "Evershadow" is right on the money)
The premise of the overall story is quite interesting. However, the real strength in this story lies in the characters and their interactions. The three main characters feel like they naturally mesh together perfectly.
I really look forward to seeing where this story goes.
Update: It's finished now, but I still want more. Moar!
Epilogue is a masterful work of art which follows a group of four whom have suddenly returned to earth from another world. Each of the four characters returns broken emotionally and mentally from the events which occured in the other world. The characters in Epilogue will draw fourth complex emotions which will allow you to feel a sense of identity for each character. The background world building leaves you desiring more which in combination with the extremely well written characters creates a wonderful short story which could be built upon in the future.
The three characters are so great here I could read them forever. Please dont stop writing them. I love how you do worldbuilding too. I really want to hear more about Cyraveil and I love how the characters dont just tell me about it. This is the best kind of worldbuilding.