Worth the Candle

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.

This work is complete. You can buy the first ebook or audiobook here.

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Author
Alexander Wales

Alexander Wales

Achievements
Top List #50
Royal Writathon October 2022 winner
Word Count (20)
30 Review Upvotes
3rd Anniversary
Royal Writathon October 2021 winner
20 Comments
2,500,000 Views
4,000 Followers
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
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Table of Contents
254 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 - Taking the Fall ago
Chapter 2 - Thickenings ago
Chapter 3 - Solely Responsible ago
Chapter 4 - Reaver ago
Chapter 5 - Goraion ago
Chapter 6 - Cold Comfort ago
Chapter 7 - Twenty Questions ago
Chapter 8 - Diamond and Iron ago
Chapter 9 - Making Magic ago
Chapter 10 - Sewer Rat ago
Chapter 11 - A Winding Course ago
Chapter 12 - Life of the Party ago
Chapter 13 - Time Out ago
Chapter 14 - ELEVATOR facts ago
Chapter 15 - Whys and Wherefores ago
Chapter 16 - Kindly Bones ago
Chapter 17 - Voting Blocs ago
Chapter 18 - Communal ago
Chapter 19 - Montage! ago
Chapter 20 - Desert Course ago
Chapter 21 - Cliff Racer ago
Chapter 22 - Rolling Need ago
Chapter 23 - Siege ago
Chapter 24 - Like a Glove ago
Chapter 25 - Rocket Man ago
Chapter 26 - Superman ago
Chapter 27 - Fears ago
Chapter 28 - The Impish Inn ago
Chapter 29 - Greychapel ago
Chapter 30 - Plot Relevant ago
Chapter 31 - The Loyal Elf ago
Chapter 32 - Be Still My Heart ago
Chapter 33 - Tenth ago
Chapter 34 - Weik Handum ago
Chapter 35 - Friendship is Magic ago
Chapter 36 - In Which Juniper Stares At His Character Sheet ago
Chapter 37 - Paths ago
Chapter 38 - Don't Split the Party ago
Chapter 39 - Strategic Reserves ago
Chapter 40 - The Feminine Mystique ago
Chapter 41 - Truth and Reconciliation ago
Chapter 42 - A Pleasant Interlude in Kansas ago
Chapter 43 - In Search of a Quest ago
Chapter 44 - Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats ago
Chapter 45 - Keep Magic Weird ago
Chapter 46 - The Market of Blood and Bone ago
Chapter 47 - At Arm's Length ago
Chapter 48 - Doe or Doe Not, There is no Try ago
Chapter 49 - Math.random() ago
Chapter 50 - Copse and Robbers ago
Chapter 51 - Blood in the Water ago
Chapter 52 - Culmination ago
Chapter 53 - A Tiptoe Through the Tulips ago
Chapter 54 - Looper ago
Chapter 55 - Bond Girl ago
Chapter 56 - Vacation Vocations ago
Chapter 57 - Place Your Figs ago
Chapter 58 - Panopticon ago
Chapter 59 - All the Myriad Ways ago
Chapter 60 - Aggressive Negotiations ago
Chapter 61 - Animus ago
Chapter 62 - Drift ago
Chapter 63 - The Chemical History of a Candle ago
Chapter 64 - In Which Juniper Stares At His Character Sheet, Again ago
Chapter 65 - A Kindred Soul ago
Chapter 66 - The Long Night ago
Chapter 67 - A Helping Hand ago
Chapter 68 - Seeing Red ago
Chapter 69 - In Mutual Congress ago
Chapter 70 - Moral Agency ago
Chapter 71 - The Soul of Discretion ago
Chapter 72 - Tripartite Talks ago
Chapter 73 - Amaryllis ago
Chapter 74 - The Mouth of a Long River ago
Chapter 75 - Stats for Nerds ago
Chapter 76 - Date Night ago
Chapter 77 - Lies and Damned Lies ago
Chapter 78 - The Sacrifice ago
Chapter 79 - Rule Zero ago
Chapter 80 - The Princess and the Pea ago
Chapter 81 - Musings on the Elder God ago
Chapter 82 - Aboard the Lion's Tail ago
Chapter 83 - The Familiar and the Foreign ago
Chapter 84 - The Party Line ago
Chapter 85 - The Great Train Robbery ago
Chapter 86 - Headwater ago
Chapter 87 - Down And Out ago
Chapter 88 - The House of Solitude ago
Chapter 89 - The Face of a Place ago
Chapter 90 - Head of House ago
Chapter 91 - An Open House ago
Chapter 92 - Shades ago
Chapter 93 - Bottle Episode ago
Chapter 94 - Grayscale ago
Chapter 95 - Time Enough ago
Chapter 96 - A Portrait of the King as a Young Man ago
Chapter 97 - Rapping at my Chamber Door ago
Chapter 98 - Letter 15 ago
Chapter 99 - Enough Rope to Hang Yourself ago
Chapter 100 - Immanentizing the Eschaton ago
Chapter 101 - PPROM ago
Chapter 102 - The Adventures of Valencia the Red ago
Chapter 103 - Contract ago
Chapter 104 - Consolation ago
Chapter 105 - Notes ago
Chapter 106 - The One-Hand Warder ago
Chapter 107 - Name of the Beast ago
Chapter 108 - The Dream That Skewers ago
Chapter 109 - The Veil of the World ago
Chapter 110 - Bubblegum ago
Chapter 111 - Peer Pressure ago
Chapter 112 - Egress ago
Chapter 113 - A Hell of a Time ago
Chapter 114 - The Meeting of Minds ago
Chapter 115 - Communicative ago
Chapter 116 - Therapy ago
Chapter 117 - Beast of Burden ago
Chapter 118 - Breaking Loose ago
Chapter 119 - Depths ago
Chapter 120 - Deceptions ago
Chapter 121 - Maddie ago
Chapter 122 - Raven ago
Chapter 123 - Medieval Stasis ago
Chapter 124 - Fight Club ago
Chapter 125 - The Remnants of the Past ago
Chapter 126 - Ever Onward ago
Chapter 127 - Full House ago
Chapter 128 - An Open Book ago
Chapter 129 - Schemata ago
Chapter 130 - The Abject Despair of an Uncaring World ago
Chapter 131 - A Cypress Waits ago
Chapter 132 - Uskine Nervedah ago
Chapter 133 - The Critical Path ago
Chapter 134 - Safe Mode ago
Chapter 135 - Holding ago
Chapter 136 - Krinrael ago
Chapter 137 - Darili Irid ago
Chapter 138 - Stats for Nerds II ago
Chapter 139 - Piece of Mind ago
Chapter 140 - Commingling ago
Chapter 141 - Monty Haul ago
Chapter 142 - Sound and Silence ago
Chapter 143 - Manifold Paths ago
Chapter 144 - Skewered ago
Chapter 145 - Freshman ago
Chapter 146 - Terrors of the Black Age ago
Chapter 147 - Good Vibrations ago
Chapter 148 - Sing For Your Supper ago
Chapter 149 - I Have to Hand it to You ago
Chapter 150 - Than One Innocent Suffer ago
Chapter 151 - The Mind's Eye ago
Chapter 152 - The Time to Talk ago
Chapter 153 - The Temple ago
Chapter 154 - Above From Below ago
Chapter 155 - Mome Rath ago
Chapter 156 - Mome Rath II ago
Chapter 157 - The Bird on the Fence ago
Chapter 158 - OP ago
Chapter 159 - The Dome Away From Home ago
Chapter 160 - On the Merits of Oblivion ago
Chapter 161 - Reimer ago
Chapter 162 - Deus Ex ago
Chapter 163 - Level Heads ago
Chapter 164 - House of God ago
Chapter 165 - Politics, blah, blah, blah ago
Chapter 166 - Brownian Motion ago
Chapter 167 - Beached ago
Chapter 168 - Hollow ago
Chapter 169 - The No Sleep Club ago
Chapter 170 - On Treating With Dragons ago
Chapter 171 - Blood is Thicker Than Water ago
Chapter 172 - Respec ago
Chapter 173 - Passions ago
Chapter 174 - The Blade of the Self ago
Chapter 175 - High Concept ago
Chapter 176 - Warrens ago
Chapter 177 - The Erstwhile Manor ago
Chapter 178 - The White Room ago
Chapter 179 - Hilbert's Paradox ago
Chapter 180 - Dumbest Entad ago
Chapter 181 - To Sleep, Perchance to Dream ago
Chapter 182 - Painless ago
Chapter 183 - Transgressions ago
Chapter 184 - The Further Adventures of Valencia the Red ago
Chapter 185 - Mirror Room ago
Chapter 186 - Paladin ago
Chapter 187 - Penndraig's Rules of Order ago
Chapter 188 - Common Law ago
Chapter 189 - B-Side ago
Chapter 190 - To Know One's Onions ago
Chapter 191 - Overwhelming Violence ago
Chapter 192 - Cooldown ago
Chapter 193 - Coda I ago
Chapter 194 - Coda II ago
Chapter 195 - Family ago
Chapter 196 - Notes II ago
Chapter 197 - Second Degrees ago
Chapter 198 - Prurient Interest ago
Chapter 199 - Nearest and Dearest ago
Chapter 200 - Feeling Blue ago
Chapter 201 - The Aviary ago
Chapter 202 - Star Pupil ago
Chapter 203 - Where the Streets Run Red ago
Chapter 204 - Open Veins ago
Chapter 205 - A Bloody Mess ago
Chapter 206 - Parallel Lines ago
Chapter 207 - An Elevated Monologue ago
Chapter 208 - On the Merits of Eternal Suffering ago
Chapter 209 - Orison ago
Chapter 210 - Push and Pull ago
Chapter 211 - Gilding the Lily ago
Chapter 212 - Spilled Ink ago
Chapter 213 - The Endless Toil ago
Chapter 214 - Glass Houses ago
Chapter 215 - Post ago
Chapter 216 - Bureaucratic Melees ago
Chapter 217 - A Dragon's Roost ago
Chapter 218 - A Grueling Calm ago
Chapter 219 - Homecoming, Part I ago
Chapter 220 - Doecent ago
Chapter 221 - Targets of Opportunity ago
Chapter 222 - Clerical Errors ago
Chapter 223 - A Lost Friend ago
Chapter 224 - We're Here, We're Deer, Get Used to It ago
Chapter 225 - Runination ago
Chapter 226 - Fires of my Heart ago
Chapter 227 - Homecoming, Part II ago
Chapter 228 - The Fel Seed Incident ago
Chapter 229 - The Road ago
Chapter 230 - The Palace ago
Chapter 231 - Hellfall ago
Chapter 232 - Department ago
Chapter 233 - Tartarology ago
Chapter 234 - Heck if I Know ago
Chapter 235 - Interval ago
Chapter 236 - More Dakka ago
Chapter 237 - Long Story Short ago
Chapter 238 - A Certain Kind of Longing ago
Chapter 239 - Old Sins Cast Long Shadows ago
Chapter 240 - The Long Haul ago
Chapter 241 - Long Shot ago
Chapter 242 - A Long Row to Hoe ago
Chapter 243 - Long Memory ago
Chapter 244 - Long Pig ago
Chapter 245 - Long Live the King ago
Chapter 246 - Reflection at the End ago
Epilogue 1 - The End of the World ago
Epilogue 2 - Princess! ago
Epilogue 3 - There's No Knowing Where We're Going ago
Epilogue 4 - The Ongoing Adventures of Valencia the Red ago
Epilogue 5 - It All Depends On What You Mean By Home ago
Epilogue 6 - The Narrator, the Angel, and the Devil ago
Epilogue 7 - Multitudes ago
Epilogue 8 - Nevermore ago

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Reviews
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Herb571
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Something Special (in the beginning)

One of the best I've read on RR so far.

Has an interesting/innovative premise for the setting and characters feel very well fleshed out.  Some subtle character progression for side characters and more thorough/in depth progression so far for the main protagonist.

Action doesn't draw out unnecessarily long, overall having a good pace to it in my opinion.  World building also feels ※right※ with not too much extrapolation or meandering fed to the reader like in some other novels. Basically, the story flows naturally where nearly everything introduced has context as for why it's being brought out to bare.

I would say that the writer probably has quite a fair amount of experience sitting in the GM chair and it shows.  Flavor text is abundant throughout giving vivid imagry for what is going on and the game systems don't feel wonky at all (for me at least) as it's something of a conglomeration of pathfinder, d&d, and a hell of a lot of homebrew thrown in.

Story-wise, I also feel inclined to applaud the author.  There's a fair amount of an undercurrent of intrigue and mystery thrown into the mix as the reader is left wondering along with the protagonist as to what exactly is going on as well as why/how and will he find what he's looking for or does he even want to?

(Read up to the end of "Book II" as of this review)

Having read ahead from Alexander's website (up to chapter 165), i would say that the experience starts to wane later on. 

This comes from the introduction of certain relevations that start to cause nearly all the main characters to ponder upon the meta aspect of the story.  It quickly snowballs in such a way that the pacing suffers quite a lot in my opinion.  Said relevations also snuff the mystery/intrigue atmosphere much earlier than expected since the reveal was pretty much unnecessary to plot developments, serving only to paralyze the progression of the story at many junctures.

Characters meander to and fro at every crossroad before deciding to do what they were going to do anyway.  The weight of all of the succeses that June and friends achieve is also rendered nigh meaningless in the face of what they and the audience know.  Furthermore, I believe the story starts to suffer from the protagonist becoming increasingly introspective as time goes on.  He noticeably thinks in circles, often repeating and rehatching old thoughts.  While realistic, it can (and does in my case) begin to chip away at the audience's patience, distancing us from viewing June in a favorable light.  It also serves to exacerbate the pacing problem.

I would say overall, despite these later setbacks this story is still a good read, just not as magical as in the beginning.

Eldar92
Overall

Narrative, blah blah blah

Reviewed at: Epilogue 8 - Nevermore

It's a really enjoyable story some of the time, the action, the character interactions, the overall plot, it is quite good when it is good. 

However, there is just. So. Much. Talking. Meta discussions blah blah blah, narrative blah blah blah, game design blah blah blah, it's like taking all of the overthinking and over-analyzing that sometimes happens in our brain and dumping it onto thousands of pages.

This kind of thing is fun in certain doses but the book is really more about those meta-discussions and self-therapy than about anything else. It's like reading someone's extremely well written diary - intelligent, occasionally interesting and insightful but written for the sake of being written out of author's mind and soul to give him closure, not for the sake of readers who will get bored to tears trying to consume thousands of pages of a diary and self talk disguised as a fantasy novel. 

noks
Overall

Very good but the MC is too whiny/page count based

Reviewed at: Epilogue 8 - Nevermore

So I'm reading this, I'm over half-way through it and the MC is still immensely entitled and whiny (plus a rape arc that wasn't handled well in my opinion where it feels like the author just has a checklist of things he wants to add to the things the characters must go through, it wasn't compelling, just hollow) so yes, I'm half-way through and the MC is still whining and I remember that it makes sense narratively because it's only been 5 or so months in the story so of course the MC will still not change that much. . . BUT, there's the disconnect. Because yes, with a narrative sense, it's reasonable. But physically, it's been thousands of pages and it's only been 5 months and not much growth.

So yeah, lots of great things about this novel. Definitely well written (for the most part) but you need to sorta temper your expectations that the MC will be whiny for a long time and that even tho it will make narrative sense, it will also grind you down because of the page count where he's still whiny and the page count dedicated to his whininess.

Andre Scott
Overall

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.

victorfw
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Enjoyable, but skimmable. Parentheses? Ew.

Reviewed at: Chapter 246 - Reflection at the End

[update -- no spoilers: as of the official ending, I firmly recommend against reading this novel. The last couple dozen chapters did make up for a few of the issues with style, but the story kept going downhill like a car without brakes. Tons of loose ends, an unsatisfying ending that felt like it was there just for the sake of ending, and a rushed, "meta" last chapter that explained everything for the sake of explaining... I feel like I wasted a lot of time reading this novel, and I strongly believe there are better alternatives for people to spend their leisure time on.]

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.

Kialandi
Overall

So Passes the End of an Age

Reviewed at: Epilogue 8 - Nevermore

I don't really have words to effectively describe my chemical soup at this time. There is so much about this story that appeals directly or indirectly to myriad aspects of who I am, at such a deep level that I quite literally can't describe it. I guess that would explain the rating I've given.

This story is introspective and meta by nature. Read it if that's your interest.

rrname12321
Overall

Did not even get too far into the story but dang the mc is just outright bizarre.  He flies all over the place and feels like he is completely disconnected.  However sometimes for random reasons he gets all emotional.

The grammar is good but I just cannot stand the wordiness.  Tons of explanations and flashbacks to even explain the tiniest of things.

 

The interaction with the princess is really weird and it gets more weird as time passes. Feels off.  

Tomer Yud
Overall

if you like info dumps and flash backs, this is the story for you.

40% flashbacks / info dump
30% meta talking (characters breaking the 4th wall and talking how to 'game the game')
20% action
10% slice of life / romance

I wish the meta talking was around 5% and there were no flashbacks at all. sometimes the characters will go in a circle for CHAPTERS

 

when the story makes you feel like you are wasting your time it means its time to drop it.
since the story has great reviews and lots of people suggested it to me, im assuming that im in the minority, so I suggest trying the story for yourself and judge it from your own perspective.

Wayne
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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. 

Timeless Jimmix
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

This one was hard for me... For the most part of this story I could not make up my mind if this was good or bad it was sitting on the middle of it. In the end it is not really good it starts strong but get convoluted and stuff happens just because... One part it makes sense story wise but the other part is that it does not give the reader breathing room. But the biggest flaw in this story are they chars and at the top it is our male lead Joon. The problem with Joon is that he thinks of himself as the center of the universe and does not treat other people in this story as real people. I liked at the start the romance with Fen but that was handled so poorly in the end with the MC acting like he was the best and did not need to learn anything...  It felt wrong how it was handled. It also does not feel that our MC grows trough the story because the story makes a point to make the MC right in one way or another. Tbh would like to say a lot of my frustrations with this novel but would take me too long. 

Give it a shot if you want but can't really recommend it.