Worth the Candle

by Alexander Wales

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

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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Alexander Wales

Alexander Wales

Top List #50
3 Review Upvotes
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
2nd Anniversary
Word Count (18)
Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Taking the Fall ago
Thickenings ago
Solely Responsible ago
Reaver ago
Goraion ago
Cold Comfort ago
Twenty Questions ago
Diamond and Iron ago
Making Magic ago
Sewer Rat ago
A Winding Course ago
Life of the Party ago
Time Out ago
ELEVATOR facts ago
Whys and Wherefores ago
Kindly Bones ago
Voting Blocs ago
Communal ago
Montage! ago
Desert Course ago
Cliff Racer ago
Rolling Need ago
Siege ago
Like a Glove ago
Rocket Man ago
Superman ago
Fears ago
The Impish Inn ago
Greychapel ago
Plot Relevant ago
The Loyal Elf ago
Be Still My Heart ago
Tenth ago
Weik Handum ago
Friendship is Magic ago
In Which Juniper Stares At His Character Sheet ago
Paths ago
Don't Split the Party ago
Strategic Reserves ago
The Feminine Mystique ago
Truth and Reconciliation ago
A Pleasant Interlude in Kansas ago
In Search of a Quest ago
Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats ago
Keep Magic Weird ago
The Market of Blood and Bone ago
At Arm's Length ago
Doe or Doe Not, There is no Try ago
Math.random() ago
Copse and Robbers ago
Blood in the Water ago
Culmination ago
A Tiptoe Through the Tulips ago
Looper ago
Bond Girl ago
Vacation Vocations ago
Place Your Figs ago
Panopticon ago
All the Myriad Ways ago
Aggressive Negotiations ago
Animus ago
Drift ago
The Chemical History of a Candle ago
In Which Juniper Stares At His Character Sheet, Again ago
A Kindred Soul ago
The Long Night ago
A Helping Hand ago
Seeing Red ago
In Mutual Congress ago
Moral Agency ago
The Soul of Discretion ago
Tripartite Talks ago
Amaryllis ago
The Mouth of a Long River ago
Stats for Nerds ago
Date Night ago
Lies and Damned Lies ago
The Sacrifice ago
Rule Zero ago
The Princess and the Pea ago
Musings on the Elder God ago
Aboard the Lion's Tail ago
The Familiar and the Foreign ago
The Party Line ago
The Great Train Robbery ago
Headwater ago
Down And Out ago
The House of Solitude ago
The Face of a Place ago
Head of House ago
An Open House ago
Shades ago
Bottle Episode ago
Grayscale ago
Time Enough ago
A Portrait of the King as a Young Man ago
Rapping at my Chamber Door ago
Letter 15 ago
Enough Rope to Hang Yourself ago
Immanentizing the Eschaton ago
The Adventures of Valencia the Red ago
Contract ago
Consolation ago
Notes ago
The One-Hand Warder ago
Name of the Beast ago
The Dream That Skewers ago
The Veil of the World ago
Bubblegum ago
Peer Pressure ago
Egress ago
A Hell of a Time ago
The Meeting of Minds ago
Communicative ago
Therapy ago
Beast of Burden ago
Breaking Loose ago
Depths ago
Deceptions ago
Maddie ago
Raven ago
Medieval Stasis ago
Fight Club ago
The Remnants of the Past ago
Ever Onward ago
Full House ago
An Open Book ago
Schemata ago
The Abject Despair of an Uncaring World ago
A Cypress Waits ago
Uskine Nervedah ago
The Critical Path ago
Safe Mode ago
Holding ago
Krinrael ago
Darili Irid ago
Stats for Nerds II ago
Piece of Mind ago
Commingling ago
Monty Haul ago
Sound and Silence ago
Manifold Paths ago
Skewered ago
Freshman ago
Terrors of the Black Age ago
Good Vibrations ago
Sing For Your Supper ago
I Have to Hand it to You ago
Than One Innocent Suffer ago
The Mind's Eye ago
The Time to Talk ago
The Temple ago
Above From Below ago
Mome Rath ago
Mome Rath II ago
The Bird on the Fence ago
OP ago
The Dome Away From Home ago
On the Merits of Oblivion ago
Reimer ago
Deus Ex ago
Level Heads ago
House of God ago
Politics, blah, blah, blah ago
Brownian Motion ago
Beached ago
Hollow ago
The No Sleep Club ago
On Treating With Dragons ago
Blood is Thicker Than Water ago
Respec ago
Passions ago
The Blade of the Self ago
High Concept ago
Warrens ago
The Erstwhile Manor ago
The White Room ago
Hilbert's Paradox ago
Dumbest Entad ago
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream ago
Painless ago
Transgressions ago
The Further Adventures of Valencia the Red ago
Mirror Room ago
Paladin ago
Penndraig's Rules of Order ago
Common Law ago
B-Side ago
To Know One's Onions ago
Overwhelming Violence ago
Cooldown ago
Coda I ago
Coda II ago
Family ago
Notes II ago
Second Degrees ago
Prurient Interest ago
Nearest and Dearest ago
Feeling Blue ago
The Aviary ago
Star Pupil ago
Where the Streets Run Red ago
Open Veins ago
A Bloody Mess ago
Parallel Lines ago
An Elevated Monologue ago
On the Merits of Eternal Suffering ago
Orison ago
Push and Pull ago
Gilding the Lily ago
Spilled Ink ago
The Endless Toil ago
Glass Houses ago
Post ago
Bureaucratic Melees ago
A Dragon's Roost ago
A Grueling Calm ago
Homecoming, Part I ago
Doecent ago
Targets of Opportunity ago
Clerical Errors ago
A Lost Friend ago
We're Here, We're Deer, Get Used to It ago
Runination ago
Fires of my Heart ago
Homecoming, Part II ago
The Fel Seed Incident ago
The Road ago
The Palace ago
Hellfall ago
Department ago
Tartarology ago
Heck if I Know ago
Interval ago
More Dakka ago

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The good kind of mature

Formerly the top original novel in AO3, what separates Worth the Candle from the other stories in the genre is the maturity with which treats its main characters.

The heroes are shitty to each other, but they're called out for it, and learn to become better people. They get hurt and still continue to deal with the consequences several books later. Denouement is denied even when it would make for a "kickass" scene. And the eventual payoffs are so much better off for it.

All this combined with the right amount of action, humor and messing around with extremely original magic systems make this one of the best fantasy stories I've ever read. Glad it's finally here.


Enjoyable, but skimmable. Parentheses? Ew.

Reviewed at: The Fel Seed Incident

I want to start this by saying that I enjoyed reading it up to a certain point, though it's become a hurdle as of late. The references, and the humor, though? On point.
Grammar is great. Honestly, it is as good as it gets on this website. While there are a few hangups with punctuation, they are minor and can be overlooked in favor of the better state of overall grammatical structure. Another minor gripe is that the author tends to overuse latin words and convoluted expressions, and sometimes they're just outright wrong/misused. Again, that's a small complaint, doesn't really detract from the novel. This last one is just an observation: every character talks exactly the same, and the author absolutely LOVES to say "so far as I know". If you made a drinking game with that sentence, you wouldn't last a chapter. Party members say it, shopkeepers say it, the young and the elderly say it. I wouldn't be surprised if, on a quiet night, the wind whispered "so far as I know", in Joon's ears.

My real gripes are with character development, the story, and style.
Sometimes, when a character has a revelation, it feels like they will just take five steps back in the next few chapters. For some characters, there's no depth in which this can happen; for others, the depth just seems artificial, crafted... It is a rehashing and replaying, or at least winking at, of conversations that, sure, could be found in a therapy session, in real life, but that's not what I, and I'm only speaking for myself, want to see in a fiction. It takes the enjoyment out of it; it is just repetitive, and it adds nothing -- it feels like filler.

The story... It started out very strong, and I mean it. I enjoyed almost all of it. All that flashing back to his time on Earth, though? Hated it. It is nice to know what happened before Aerb, but it's mostly blurb. I started skipping them all after the fifth one, and I honestly don't feel like I missed on anything. As was mentioned in the paragraph above, everything is rehashed, and you can just skip those sections, because it's just some flavor that will be brought up again at a later date, if not in full, at least with the important-ish pieces.
Anyway.. After the fallout from the first big enemy, I started having doubts. After that useless entad business, I felt I was reading a story about retconning... And it hasn't really gotten better. Successes started seeming temporary -- every inch of progress has been met with a weird wall of filler, backpedaling and second-guessing that left a bad taste in the mouth. The last, I don't know, 30 chapters, as of Fel Seed Incident, I've just been skimming, mostly reading dialog, skipping paragraphs at a time. It's become a mix of stale and unnecessarily convoluted, and I don't really feel like spending time reading every line anymore.

Now, for style. There are two things that I will talk about. The first one is the narrator; the second is the abuse of something that shouldn't even be used in a novel: parentheses.
The narrator is Joon, our protagonist. Sometimes, there is a change in voice, and it is explained, with an astonishing misuse of parentheses, with something like "(((You might be wondering how I know this, but it's because she told me what happened)))". This is just one of the many examples of the narrator beaking the fourth wall for no reason. Sure, it would usually prompt a connection from the reader, and could be a boon, but in the many instances when it occurred in this novel, I only felt annoyance, because it felt like a forced pull, like it was trying to emulate a tv series narrator. 

Now, for the parentheses. They're an important tool, when used in informative text, to interrupt what you're saying, and to bring extra, generally less useful information. The thing is, you want continuity in a work of fiction. You don't need, nor want, to interrupt yourself during dialog every other line, and you certainly don't need three paragraphs of text inside parentheses. If that information is needed, remove the parentheses; if it doesn't fit, work it out with commas or semicolons. If you're not sure about a sentence, Ctrl+X that sucker, read it again and see if it makes a difference. If it doesn't, take it out. If you want someone involved in your writing, don't break immersion every five minutes to bring trivial stuff. Seriously. I skipped 95% of the stuff put in parentheses (which must have amounted to the length chapter), and I missed nothing. And now try to imagine if I'd swapped the parentheses for commas. It works just like that.


I like it, it start off kinda slow, with flashback in between chapters. But it still interesting to read. So, no problem there. 

One of the thing that I found interesting is author gave little clue here and there which if you didn't really think about it, it would feel not that important. But will be proven wrong when the pieces start to come together and you can see it have significance for the later part of the story. So there's that.


The MC is not too powerfull even tho he have this game interface to help him get stronger that no one else have.


I don't really know what to say anymore, all is great and I'm having a good time, the style is really interesting, I guess you could say it's a new take on fantasy genre. 


Other than that.. it's on the later part of the story that I have complain about. Well, not really, but you just have to hear me out, i guess?¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So, after the story progess more, there so many Drama.. 

But that's the thing with people, right? People are complicated, or is it feeling that are complicated? Nvm

Even tho I didn't really like it that much with so many drama going around at later chapters. At least it feels more realistic this way, and that's probably rare in this website.

So. Props for author for the great story!

I so much enjoyed my experience reading it.



Starts off strong, fades quickly.

I really liked this story for the first 40 chapters or so. Then things started grating on me.

  • The trope where his companions get random power ups in order to keep relevant.
  • The increasing levels of obsession with trying to game the system and the endless discussions about narratives. (far too meta and immersion breaking)
  • The MC becomes increasingly sociopathic in trying to manipulate higher levels of loyalty from his companions.
  • Mary kept keeping things from the group for 'reasons'. 
  • The endless whining about his cheat level ability to gain aptitude in basically everything isn't fast enough or good enough.
  • The crowning moment of "nope nope nope I'm outskies" is when he meets God and whines about evil and suffering. It's not so much that I mind objecting to suffering per se, since I'm whining about my suffering from reading this story. It's the hypocritical nature of it. He wishes to erase suffering from the world and clone his ex girlfriend while keeping his current one, while also complaining about his budding harem. I'm sorry but if you don't want to hook up with someone, all you have to do is say sorry not interested and move on with your life. Then there's the preoccupation with everything being a Clue or that his piloting skills should come into play and I just find myself thinking. "I don't actually care about any of these characters, I don't care where they end up, so I should just stop reading and put myself out of my misery. "

Spoiler alert, this story is apparently going to be at least 160 chapters and a million words. 

In short, this is one of the best written, near perfectly edited stories with characters that will constantly talk about the nature of reality and narratives and will bicker endlessly. As of ch 79, I don't think the story or characters have progressed that far. 


Shia LaBeouf Shia LaBeouf Shia LaBeo-cvfhg

Reviewed at: Overwhelming Violence

A DnD gamemaster is taken to a world that is built from his ideas and creations.

amazing world-building, subverting tropes from fantasty, harem stories, lit-rpgs...a mix of hard magic and soft magic...Original and inspired races. The last few chapters have become watershed moments for the book where the character, Juniper, is utizling the maxiumum extent of his magic.

People have some hang-ups when there's a scene-break to Juniper talking with his friends around a dnd table, those scenes are purporsed towards immediate foreshadowing and help explain the actions of other characters that we don't get to see the monologue for. They also can serve as a way to explain concepets and ideas occuring in the story that the author believes needs a better explation.

There's tons of concepts that the story will introduce you too, memetic warfare (not related to memes), exclusion zones that contain world-breaking events, people, or creatures (examples being someone going through a groundhog's day every month, or an entire area populated with clones of a single indiviudal).

I think it's resonable enough to say that the author has gone through a similar tragedy as the main-character and is processing his grief through the transformative work of writing. It's a story with reoccuring themes of depression, loss, and friendship. If you haven't had your heart-broken it may be hard to relate to the characters in the story, but there's a lot more to it than that. The action and build-up is amazing, and the intelligence that the main-character utilizes stops you from rolling your eyes. This is one of the top ten stories on this website.


Interesting and Well Thought Out

I'm not very far along in the story as I write this but what I've read so far is excellent. The story is an eclectic mix of genres so far and it's interesting and makes me want to keep reading to find out more. Grammer, spelling and prose are excellent. The characters are well done and the author makes good use of "show, don't tell". I'll keep reading along and unless something drastic occurs I'll be upping my review to 5 stars after I get further along.


Love the Story, Love and Hate the Author

I started reading this on AO3 shortly after the one with the Actual Cannibal, and the ultimate aftermath, which was the one part of this i really hated, but mostly because i was attached to a certain character.

I thought then, and i still do, that it was a misstep, fridge-stuffing someone for the sake of just developing MC. It rather undercut the sudden waking call he received just one chapter earlier, for the sake of culling a character who's outlived their purpose in relation(s?) to MC, and we haven't really been given time to process that, not counting the wait between chapters. Did the author just hate that character? It felt like they did, making MC repeat how he could not undo what happened, felt like they grew tired of writing for that character. I'm still hoping that event does get somewhat undone, regardless, albeit with consequences, perhaps by the hand of an other party just to show MC/s that the world doesn't revolve around his/their Narrative, at least not completely.

But that's just my opinion. I'm not writing this, La Mort de le jepsen or no.

The story is good though, very well crafted, from the characters to the worldbuilding, magic systems, game system, everything was well thought out and original in a way that literally no other work on royalroad can ever equal.

Especially not those particularly popular and prolific authors with questionable grasp of the language and really narrow vocabularies, who've been uploading near daily for half a decade, and who wrote more than half of all the top rated fictions, you know the ones. Full offense intended, I don't care, cos cthuluraejepsen is just that good and I love this story at least as much as i personally hate its author for hurting me with his writing. Which is a compliment of sorts.

This is a story where even the fucking GAME SYSTEM is original, and the way it's handled is just--ugh. And the character work . . .  there are plenty of character defining moments and introspection on the part of most characters that I actually like to read, rather than just skip past due to the inanities of most inexperienced writers.

I can write more but I just realized I won't have the time to do this story justice. Ah well. I'm no Jun, Arthur, or Tiff so . . .

Anyway, story is good, its got substance and meat and I respect the author even though I hate him.

My profile pic is me flipping him the bird.


Definitely one of the best stories out there

 Really glad to see this on RR, read it on Archive of our own ages ago, definitely going to be re-reading it, some people wont like it, but I highly reccomend at least giving it a shot, in my own oppinion its one of the best storie out there.


Rational fiction - done right.

Hello welcome!
Worth the candle is a name which can be mentioned in the conversation regarding the very best web-novels, ever.

If that doesn't make you sit up and take notice how about the fact that there's literally a sub-reddit dedicated to discussing each and every chapter as they're released. 
This is seriously good stuff, comparable to The Wandering Inn & Mother of Learning in quality.
Plus there is 160 chapters of the stuff. So sit back and enjoy the ride, I know did! 


Unique and Self-Aware

Reviewed at: Reaver

Worth The Candle. When I first read this, binged from start to finish, I was hyped and excited. It is very different to a lot of LitRPG but has frequent nods to what is expected from The Narrative. Indeed, The Narrative is almost a character, and there is arguably no fourth wall in a weird sense. It IS slow though. It updates FAIRLY slowly and the pacing is very gradual. You can expect to come to know the characters very, very well, like your own friends, they will have secrets, and they will have moments of deep emotion, confusion and self discovery. Take your time reading this, I think. Savour it. It is no cheap flick. Don't sign on for that.