Song of Helheim: Homecoming

by Zachary Dugas

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Content
  • Traumatising content

Five years, five years spent in hell in the endless toil of a Kurtz labor camp.  It had broken most men, it would have broken him as well, if not for her…


When the opportunity to escape appeared they took it, and she followed him home, home to Helheim.  Home to a nation of industry, a nation wishing to leave behind the sorcery of the past and embrace the machines of the future.  


None of that matters to him, he only wants a safe place for her, a place where neither of them has to worry about the Kurtz empire or anyone else ever again.  In order to achieve this goal, he is willing to wade through rivers of blood, gunpowder, and sorcery if needs be.  


For not all homecomings are joyous...

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  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
  • Character Score
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Zachary Dugas

Zachary Dugas

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The Start of Something Great

Style: 4.5

What impresses me about this story is the 3-dimensional feel is gives off. It just pulls off this militaristic, flintlock vibe with ease. Rather than just a regergutated smathering of military jargon, you feel plopped into this grounded, magical world tinged with hints of decay and loss.

Grammer: 4

Definitelty above average compared to most Royal Road offerings. There are a smattering of mistakes, run on sentences and mispellings, but too infrequent to ruin immersion.

Story: 5

The highlight for sure. Not neccesarilly ground breaking, simply executed very very well. That being said, the story is still in it's infancy, so there is a lot of room to expand and grow. It's a tale of loss and betrayal. Of the struggle to pick up the pieces left behind. And most of all revenge.

Character: 4.5

And speaking of revenge, Adrian practically raidates it. He's not some dark edge lord, catering to sloppy wish fufillment, but a man struggling to reconcile his burning desire for justice with the broken remnents of his life. He isn't perfect and comes across as a man trying to hold it together and losing more often than not. Which makes his thirst for revenge all the more interesting.

Can't wait see where the story goes from here.

J P Koenig

Strong Story and Great Characters

The Good

The Song of Helheim: Reparations is an excellent read that draws you in from the first few paragraphs.  The story of Adrian and Isi is engaging, the wrongs against them egregious, and the narrative is strong.  The dialogue flows smoothly and doesn't feel stilted at all.

I'm impressed by how much depth the characters have, and how the author has been able to convey a feeling of history and complex emotions so quickly.  I can empathize with all of the characters, and none of them are your typical one-dimensional stereotypical characters.  It is certainly many levels above the standard Royal Road offering.

The Bad

There is a bit of info dumping early in the story, and the chapter that describes Helheim and its history needs some serious revision.  It was hard to follow and didn't flow smoothly.  Also, one of the first combat scenes that described muskets being loaded and reloaded needs another pass for clarity.  The author found his groove with the battle scenes quickly, however.  Lastly, there are some scattered errors, including some mispellings, grammatical errors and missing words.  They are infrequent enough that they were jarring when I came across them.

The Takeaway

I strongly recommend reading this story.  The pacing is great, the story is entertaining and the characters are believable.  It's also nice to see a fantasy story not set in medieval PseudoEngland.  


A Good Story with Great Characters

The tldr of this review is that it is a wonderful premise. It is not rushed so far, nor is it the type of novel that should have fast plot progression. The characters are all great; no one feels cardboard and one-dimensional. Quite a few grammatical errors though but that can be corrected over time. Overall: would recommend reading this. 4.5/5

Now, onto the more in-depth analysis.


Style: 4/5

It is very well done. Not much to say but that it is coherent, direct and leaves no room for confusion of understanding. Objectively, it might be right to say that there is no fault with the style.

However, my personal bias has rated it lower because of:
a) there's a bit too much info dumping. Though it might be necessary and done right, I feel like it's throwing a bit too much at you that you're meant to absorb and remember.

b) Though not incorrect, the formatting is a bit block-like when it comes to speech. Might be wise to work on that a little (with a few more paragraphs for example).

Story: 4.5/5

I don't want to spoil it for future readers as I want them to experience the story, but I will say it's excellent. No typical harem, op mc, everyone flocking to the mc's side and all the other cliche trope. No, this is different.

The reason I docked a half star is that there are a few iffy moments that could raise red flags in the future. However, the way you've done it so far has me trusting your judgment. The plot progression itself is somewhat slow, but going any faster would probably ruin it, so I advice keep your current pace. Continue doing what you're doing and this can easily turn into 5 stars.

Grammar: 3.5/5

On the whole, it's decent. Some spelling, punctuation and other grammatical errors but they don't take away from the reading experience too much.

Characters: 5/5

As I said in my tldr, no one feels cardboard. Everyone has their characters shaped and defined to a tee.

The MC is shown to have his strengths and weaknesses and his lover is acting as a great support to him, showing how deep their bond is. The other side characters have their roles too.

I also love how Isi speaks her own language! Don't see that often and the way you get the readers to understand what she says via the MC is amazing. Keep it up!


That's it for my review. I believe what you've done so far is great and that you keep it up, but take my critiques into consideration so that you can improve in the future. I'll be lurking and reading your novel from the sidelines.

Good luck!



Unique and Compelling Narrative

Abridged: With the unique world, good characters, straightforward plot with great potential for twists due to the political nature of the main character, sets up a compelling story. If you like mid-colonial empires mixed with magic in a revenge narrative, then read this book!


Style: This would be his strongest feature of the story. A mixture of Germanic Roman Empire mixed with mid-colonial era mixed with magic and sorcery. The author mixed a unique blend of different categories to create something enjoyable to read.



Story: The author has taken a narrative trick to good effect: starting a story halfway through. We meet Adrian and Isi at the end of a story arc we only see passing glimpses of; an arc the characters would rather forget. We are also given a strong motive; Adrian's desire for revenge and justice. This creates a compelling story that hits its full stride by chapter 10.


Grammar: There were some typos, but I will not judge harshly as it wasn't enough to truly break me out of the story. A quick edit will iron it out.


Character Score: Adrian and Isi are compelling characters with broken pasts. The fact Isi is hesitant to speak the main language, even around Adrian, is a compelling mystery; as are her abilities to face melt someone. Adrian himself has a clear motive and no BS attitude, forged from years of slavery. He has clear cut motives, interests, and flaws. I desire to read more of Adrian and Isi's adventures.


Go read it!

Noah Elowyn

Different, interesting, and very promising!

There's something very pleasant about Zachary's writing. It doesn't beat around the bush, but goes straight to the point, presenting a very enticing world with a very peculiar magic system, which in my opinion can lead to some amazing things.

I must say, in the first chapters, I was a little confused, and had a bit of trouble immersing, yet that went away extremely quickly the further I read. I believe the writing and the characters improve with each chapter. Mostly because of Adrian. I wasn't understanding him well enough at the beginning, but as I mentioned before, it improved vastly as the story progressed.

The only thing that can be improved is the grammar and some of the sentence's structures. I must say the grammar is way better than 99% of the stories on this site, but there were some spelling mistakes, and some sentences that needed one or two commas to be more readable.

Overall, very very good!


Alright, I've only read the first nine chapters of this story, so ignore me if any of this changes later on!

World-wise, I love the setting. This isn't a generic swords-dragons-and-elves fantasy setting, which is a major plus to me, and the magic system is orginal and I hope to find out more about it. It reminds me a little of the Mistborn series, so, epic. 
Story: has a solid start so far, I'm curious how that will spin off into the main plot. 
Characters: Adrian seems pretty real, as he has his flaws and as least once actually seems aware of them. They way Isi is portrayed feels a bit off, but that seemed to improve in later chapters, and I'm pretty hopefull she'll come into her own later.
The grammar is alright, but the spelling errors are my main negative point with this story. There's some run on sentences, but most of the spelling mistakes are nothing autocorrect/a second read through/spell check shouldn't solve. Adrian is referred to as Adria at one point, things like that. 
Style wise, I have no major complaints. Sometimes it takes a moment to sink in where they are at the moment, but again, that improves in later chapters. The POV's switch around a little, but it's always done in third person, so that's defenitely not a problem. 

All in all, this story so far is a solid start with a lot of potential. Defenitely give it a try, especially if you enjoy non-traditional fantasy settings! Again, the magic system and setting are both great.


The start of something great

Reviewed at: XXVI

The story has a great start we are thrust into a new and interesting world that we want to learn more about, especially the magic system. Adrian is a very human character, not some trashy-isekai. Which is a breath of fresh air to see a character with depth!

The story starts off running and it doesn't stop, that is a good thing because the author is not repeating himself a million times. Also it is true to its synopsis. 

There are some mistakes here and there, but we here on royalroadl are not professionals with editors so there is some leeway given.   

My advise or take away is to take your time developing this world and story, avoid info dumps and build off with what you have going for you. This is a great story and you can keep it up. 

Jordan Stufflebeam

This is a very enjoyable read. I will say that right off the bat. Its brutal, dark, but real. Like other reviews they are correct when they give extreme depth with this story. The author makes it quite easy to dive in and visualize the world in his adept way of describing the visualization. The characters alone are deep and dynamic and it feels as though they are real.

The grammar ultimately is clean, has errors like any other but overall is great compared. Heck, much better than mine! 

You can tell this author has a passion for story telling and has put their time and effort into this story, as such, you diving into this will be a great read. Zach gave strong context, strong beginning and so far it has carried all the way through. I am only on chapter 15 but man! I cant wait to keep going.

One of the better gems I've discovered!


Military fantasy in the works

This is military fantasy with a splash of explicit sexuality. It is also very good.


The story is set in the fantasy version of the Europe of the sixteen hundreds. And it's the Americanised version of such a world with only two nations on the entire continent.


Hence the story never has to handle the eternal diplomatic backstabbing that was the bread and butter of the real Europe of the time.


We have the usual male lead betrayed and on his road to redemption by means of superior leadership. Yep, it's a trope, but it's quite honestly a good one for this kind of story. Add a female lead with powers of her own instead of merely being his bedroom companion, and you have the setup of two very well written main characters.


As of chapter sixteen, which is how far the story had progressed at the time of this review, our hero has turned his ragtag command into a regiment of veterans by means of superior commanding skills. The unit is also firmly entrenched in their first major encounter. This basically means we're just leaving the beginning of the story.


Well worth a read. It's well worth a read even if you skip the sex scenes, should those not be your cup of tea.


Now for the stars.


Style: Four stars. Wavering between third person limited point of view and third person omniscient point of view as an excuse to start head hopping like mad between paragraphs isn't a good enough excuse. One star yanked.


Story: Five stars. I did mention this was a very good story.


Grammar: Four point five stars. As usual this includes me adding half a star to compensate for Royal Road's subpar requirement in the grammar departement. The story is liberally sprinkled with spelling errors, grammar errors and the occasional homonym inserted for unintended humour value.


Character: Five stars. Even the supporting cast come with personalities of their own.


Overall: Four point five stars. Style and grammar are the only detractors preventing this story from receiving a perfect five star score.


TLDR: This story is amazing! If you want to experience a fleshed out world with 3-dimensional characters, and you don't mind a few typos/grammar errors, then you should definitely give this a read!

Style: 4.5/5

  • Honestly, this is just a really unique story. It's incredibly immersive, and the wholesome or comedic undertones don't feel out of place at all in the gritty and dark world that Adrian lives in. In fact, I think it's those undertones that really make it unique and set it apart compared to your stereotypical grimdark fantasy. The only real issue I've had is that sometimes it can be a bit difficult to tell what's going on since the story is written in 3rd person while its narration occasionally takes on a more 1st person-esque method of 'switching' viewpoints.

Story: 5/5

  • All I have to say about the story is that the level of worldbuilding is insane. Everything in this world feels like it has reasoning behind it, the characters' actions actually affect Helheim, and it never feels like the world only functions when the main characters are around. Even just the first few chapters paint an extremely complex world, and every chapter afterward only adds more color to the painting.

Character Score: 5/5

  • Oh boy, where do I even start with the characters? Well, first of all, the thing that made the biggest impression in my mind was just how fleshed out Adrian and Isi were as characters. Neither of them are overly cliche cardboard cutouts of characters, and their relationship/interaction really highlights both their strengths and weaknesses as characters. Isi only being able to speak her own language was a really cool and unique aspect to her character, and as for Adrian, well, the best way I can describe it is that he just feels human. He's understandably a little lost after escaping his 7 years of torture at the Kurtz workcamp, and his actions and relationship with Isi just feel like what a normal person would do. His reactions, thoughts, and emotions are always within the boundaries of reason, and he understands that there are consequences for them too.

Grammar Score: 4/5

  • Well, now that we've gotten past the good, let's come and look at the bad. Now, I admit that perfect grammar and spelling is really hard (I can personally attest to that), but there are a good amount of typos riddling the entirety of the story and a lot of places are missing proper punctuation. On the bright side though, it's by no means unreadable and most of the time the errors are basically irrelevant because of context clues. Honestly, I think that the grammar is pretty above average for RR.

All in all, this story is amazingly unique, and the author has clearly taken the time to flesh out both his world and characters. So if any of that appeals to you, then give this story a shot!