Worth the Candle
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A teenager struggling after the death of his best friend finds himself in a fantasy world - one which seems to be an amalgamation of every Dungeons and Dragons campaign they ever played together. Now he's stuck trying to find the answers to why he's there and what this world is trying to say. The most terrifying answer might be that this world is an expression of the person he was back on Earth.
Note that this work follows a slightly different update schedule than most, posting several chapters at once every month or two in big batches, which helps me maintain quality and not burn out trying to push out words about as fast as I can.
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This story is a bit strange to review for me. I read it for 1.6k pages, which is longer than many published trilogies, yet I didn't enjoy it for most of that stretch. It kept my interest by wanting to find out what happens next but after 10 or so chapters with minor plot progress I gave up.
It is too focused on characters and tangents of thought. There were entire pages inside () that you could just skip and miss almost no content. Why is that in the story at all? There is also a lot of focus on things that happened before the story started, which bogs down the pacing and is in most cases only tangentially relevant to where we are in the story.
It boils down to me not wanting to get through the writing, character thoughts and digressions to get further in the plot and world (the parts I enjoy).
Despite the fact that i've never played D&D, i can easly understand what the author want to tell us. And oh boy,after a whole year of reading lots of RR,chine,japanese,and korean novels,i gotta say that this one is special,got me interested in chapter 3-4. I recommend this to newcomers in the reading community and the veterans there. It's such a great read
Like many others, I've read the entirety of Worth the Candle as it has been published on other sites. I hadn’t found the time or energy to write a review for it, but now seemed timely with its fresh appearance on RoyalRoad.
The author very much has a keenly developed writing style and voice. They know what they want to say and how they want to say it. It is by no means beautiful prose and can tend to verbosity (intentionally so), which can make certain portions a slog to get through, but it is still thoroughly well-crafted It can be off-putting at times as well, with the author’s voice overshadowing the characters, but this problem becomes lesser as the story goes on.
Well. This is by far the strongest point of Worth the Candle. The author has gone to tremendous lengths to build an incredibly fascinating world that dominates the story. The entire world and how it integrates with a LitRPG system is intricately connected as each new facet is exposed my appreciation for it grows further. In particular the exclusion system is just so perfect for LitRPG novels. All of those stories with how the protagonist finds one bug/trick to work the system would certainly have a problem in Aerb. It's not merely the system though. It's the world's political system(s), the various races and their cultures that have been developed, the profound impact of history. Everything is realistically interconnected and lovingly developed like the GM Joon is. This is, of course, not the most surprising as the author readily admits that it is a self-insert story. But it is still a transcendent example of the peak of world-building.
The story of Worth the Candle is also very well done. Early on it establishes some major goals for the story and its protagonist and it does a very good job of working with those. It is a story that is very much woven into an exploration of Aerb and its system as the main cast searches for answers, much like we the readers do. Tropes and clichés are explored, subverted, discarded and played straight, all to the benefit of the plot and keeping the reader thoroughly entertained and intently reading.
Worth the Candle can be incredibly slow-paced at times, however. It veers off into digressions and side stories about the things the author (and thus the protagonist loves). The world, philosophy, tabletop gaming, character backstories, everything can and will get a story that may be only very tenuously connected to what is currently going on. While the vast majority of these are quite interesting alone, a few are quite tedious and even the interesting ones can be quite distracting from the main story. This problem seems to be inherently part of the author's writing style and is unlikely to change.
I give it 4/5 Stars.
The characters are wonderfully diverse, in every way. We have diverse personalities, sexualities, appearances, relationships, etc. As the story goes on, we also see some serious development for some of the characters and it almost never feels out of place with each of their arcs. This becomes more something noticeable later on in Worth the Candle as the author becomes better able to create different voices with nuance. Early on, as I mentioned previously, while the author presents different personalities and a very diverse cast, they struggle at times to truly separate them from their own. Even the characters who are portrayed as being more emotional and motivated by whims become absorbed into the cold rationalism of the author and protagonist. This can make the characters hard to care about as more than vehicles for the author to write the story and world. It also dampens the emotional high points that could otherwise be quite moving. While eventually the author manages to make the character voices readily distinct, the author still lapses, with it becoming less and less common as the story goes on.
Altogether, Worth the Candle is certainly worth your time. It particularly caters to the rationalist crowd, but it is much, much more. It is, most memorably, an example of a LitRPG world done right, something that is quite rare among the vast sea of LitRPG. All of the other elements of the story are at least well-done, despite their problems and make for an eminently readable story. For now, I rate the story 4 stars, with it being just some continued growth in the handling of characters away from 4.5.
I'm kind of torn on what rating to give this. On one hand this story is written extremely well. I derive great pleasure from works that have words that are new to me. The plot contains fantastic twists and turns, the ideas within are very creative (a main thing I look for in stories). All of this would be an easy 5 star rating in almost every other situation.
But... I keep getting caught up something and I know this isn't a fair criticism: it's nonsense to most people, but it's a slight irritation of mine so I can't give this story 5 stars even though it really deserves it.
What slight aspect of this story do I find irritating? The characters are too well-spoken, too immediately-clever. They're not smart. I know many people think the characters in this story might be "above average" intelligence, but as someone who is a tier or two above that myself I find these kind of characters... childish.
I think to many, the conflicts and inner turmoil of these characters might be intriguing or full of "depth" but to me all I see are basic ethical dilemmas anyone with half a brain is used to tangling with and it creates a disconnect. On one hand I see characters with a good breadth of knowledge and a vocabulary to match, and on the other I see what are essentially kids struggling with basic ethics. The fact that the MC is a self-proclaimed "utilitarian" just means that he's going to have all the predictable and fallacious ethical dilemmas that all utilitarians have: and oh hey look that's exactly what happens.
Ironically, a story about someone with a passion for world-building has a well-built world itself. And this part deserves high praise. I found the A.C.S.L. part executed very well and it was incredibly humorous.
This really is quite a good story, and I enjoy the writing style and the language used. I just find fault that the characters speak kind of same-y (the same verbosity, the same vocabulary) and their inner-struggles are rather trivial. The characters themselves are rather distinct and the quest arcs they go through are very creative, just the emotional issues they deal with are things I was better at when I was their age.
This is by favourite book of 2018 and 2019 and one of the few stories I've read twice.
This fiction is good, it is very different from other litrpgs on this site so it is definatly worth a read.
The good things are that Worth the Candle feels different from other stories, has incredably good worldbuilding, realistic characters and has very interesting monsters/abilities
There is a couple of problems I have that prevents me from giving 5 stars. Most of the character can sometimes be quite annoying and the plot can get stalled when the main character ignores certain quests despite knowing that it will create problems later on.
Overall this is an interesting story I definatly reccomend trying it out to see if it fits your tastes.
Since almsot everyone already elaborate how good this fiction is, i will write the flaw that i see in this story from my own perspective. You may not agreed to this but this is what i saw.
1. Info dumping
This is quite critical aspect for story to make sure that the reader felt compelled to know more about the world, character and lore of the sory instead of felt being forced with info. This is where this fiction failed quite few times. I would said sometimes the info is being well written into the story while sometimes i felt being forced to read. This make the story is quite boring to read at that times.
2. Phycological aspect of MC
Now, as I read along, I can see that the MC done a lot of thinking, questioning everything in this world like a mature adult. So when it comes to death of his friend, suddenly he became a edgy, selfish and spoiled teenager that think the world is revolved around him. It really, really hard to sympathize with teenager losing his best friend when you know out there, some one there is losing his family and has bleak future becaused his country is in war. Not to mentioned, the jaring feeling between this two personality.
3. Magic system
SO MANY praised the magic system when i felt this ones is the aspect that failed the most. The magic system is a mess and all over the place. The reason is the law governing the magic is not well explained. There is the sentence where the princess said the magic is already demystiquefing. If this is the case, why there is so many unexplained law of the magic. Does you can do magic with oly the will? Warder done it with the ritual, while skin magic done magic with art? Gem magic need to be understood that it is operate using light? if understanding the principle can help MC learn the magic, why he cannot learn about elemental magic since surely the TEENAGER who knows so many thing would know about the principal of element. Why there is no resurrection if you can create soul. What does define death? Why can't you catch soul and put back on the body? There is so many thing can be explored about magic and the MC is busy thinking about the stat. The magic system is so flawed, dude.
4. D&D system is confusing
This is where many will not agreed with me but i am saying this as someone that never played D&D game. The way he explained D&D sytem making me think D&D game is one hell boring and confusing. This is fiction, not complex mathematic question. I always skip the D&D thing since it is confusing and bland at the same times.
So yeah, i do think other reviewer is over exaggarated this story. It is good flawed fiction, that's all.
Read -> Ch. 26 Superman
I'm gonna start saying that this novel is a really good novel and every person that read Fantasy based on tabletop RPG (D&D, Pathfinder,...) should read it.
On why you should read it is pretty easy to say:
1) The description of person, items and places in done in a profesional way, if you are more of a dreamer when you read you could immagine easly places described in the novel.
2) The system is unique for what we saw until now (Ch. 26/Superman, latest Ch. in RR), it's easy to understand, but still have a layer of mystery of what will the protagonist unlock.
3) The world bulding is done right, you know for the most part what the protagonist know and most places, items and even some magics systems have some sort of flavor text, to know why they are there, what they do, or why they exist.
For most part those are the really good points without a doubt, the another part like unique style or good grammar that most novels would be plus in this novel is kind of expected because you know in 4-5 Ch that this novel is not like most of anothers in RR, it's set a standart that most people would expect in published book of some big publisher, so saying those are good points it's true, but that does not make justice to this novel.
Because of that standart i'm gonna be pretty harsh, but i would like to say that some of those defects could easly begone in future Ch or for some of the reader those could be not even be classifed as defects.
1)The narration need to be slow in more descritive moments, but eccentric and fast in combat situation or stressed situation. The author is pretty spot on the first part, like i said he/she is really good at describing stuff, but for the second part the novel is lacking in those situations, in some situations the author does a mix of description or action that slow the fight to becoming a slowmotion of what is appening, in anothers the author throw the protagonist in situation where the mosters does an ambush and it's a run for your life moments, the author tend to skip every bit of description and tend to do a full action moment, but even then those moments are short because the author is fully focused on the fast part without caring of the more "eccentric" narration, the reader should fell tension and not knowing what would append, that is why the more eccentic narration is in there to make the run/fight a little longer, little example is trying to write what everyone is doing in a fights with a simple phrase making the reader think the fight is going much faster that should be, but slowing down the narration of the fight and at the same time creating tension. Another easy example is creating "false" sense of urgency in the reader when the protagonist is fleeing for a monster but it's "forced" to change route of escape because there are more enemys in the front or the pursuer have created a wall to slow down the protagonist.
2) The characters in the novel are 2 dimentional, in the 26 Ch i read the characters are the same at the start when they are described and still the same for what we have read, this can be easly changed in future Ch (right know the novel in another site have 100+ Ch.). Writing a backstory of a character does not mean that character is realistic, writing a somewhat bipolar character does not mean it's not 2 dimentional. To make a character not 2 dimentional is writing something small or something that explode, everyone have a personality, but we have limits and defect. Stress is the most basic way to try to make a character "true", writing small tick in the face, not stoping to walk, whispering something, making the same question over and over, or in some cases full rage because of too much stress. Insecurity, agitation, and a bunch more. A person is not only the good stuff, and for what i read (Ch.26/Superman) the characters are pretty much robots that have bad luck, most of the times when they screw up is bad luck and there is no emotional mistake, no exitation, and in this novel that seems like realism seems an important point, this is a pretty big defect.
THE LAST POINT IN NOT SPOILER FREE SO BE AWARE
Spoiler: Last point
3) This is the most important part, and the most personal one. For some of the reader this one can or cannot be shared. Since 2-3 years ago most people that read web novels have always lamented about edgy/depressed protagonist in novels, well this one is a new peak of edgy/depressed protagonist genere. The backstory of the protagonist does have a reason for him to be depressed, but this is a new level of depression. On the real point of the third point i would like to say that the protagonist is beyond mentaly sick, i understand that he thinks that everything is a game, but after all have append, him almost dying and all, he still think everything is a game. I would have appreciated a part of a Ch of him saying that he does not know if this is real or not, but still move on on a more real thinking, with some D&D element in there since he does not have time at the moment to see what is real or game. The worth part of the novel is pretty recent (Ch 24/Like a Glove), when he thinks that Aerb failed him, the world does not revolve around him and i would like to see him relize that this is not a game and maybe it's real. It's frustrating to read all the description of everything, the world building and all, and read the most 2 dimentional character ever made in a novel that have a preatty realistic take on everything. I really hope it's changes in future Ch., but i have small hope of changes, meanwhile the first and second point are "easly" fixable.
There would be more difect, but those are more personal that another, so i will not write it since are more dislike of the style that somewhat objective "mistakes"
Like i said at the start, this novel is worth reading for fantasy readers, and i really hope the future Ch are even better that what we have right now.
I will update this Review when more Ch are publised in RR.
First take (11/06/2019 European date format - latest Ch. 26/Superman)
It's not bad per se, I just hated the MC. I wouldn't like him as a real person, and liked him less as a character.
He didn't seem real. I know other people feel differently, but it seemed like more of a thought experiment by someone who hasn't actually experienced life, rather than actual emotion.
But I'm 50, so maybe I see things differently.
After dropping the story for some months(again!!!), i come back and still find myself skipping multiple paragraphs to the extent that i spent less than 5 minutes on a chapter, and i could still get the gist of the chapter.
Lots of pointless inner monologues and SJW b***********t, and my earlier love of the story can no longer keep me going.
I guess it's time to delete my bookmark and leave the story for good, but it was definitely worth the read especially for the earlier chapters and that's why I'm giving it 4 stars.