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.

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Alexander Wales

Alexander Wales

Achievements
Top List #50
20 Comments
15 Review Upvotes
2,500,000 Views
4,000 Followers
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
2nd Anniversary
Word Count (18)
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Table of Contents
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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alewif
Overall

I started reading this story at the beginning of this year, though I had known about it for much longer than that. I started on a whim, trying to find a way to burn some time between assignments. I quickly discovered that doing so was one of the worst mistakes I could have made, since I could not stop reading even when the next assignment was nearly due.

Needless to say, I like the story. Like its characters, it has some flaws, though I think that is fitting. Also like the characters, the plot develops along the way. In the beginning it felt like a pretty cut and dry isekai; become strong, complete X goal for Y reason, happily ever after. And at the end of the day, it is just that. MC gets stronger, completes goals, happily ever after. What really makes this story special is that X and Y evolve as the characters develop and polish their flaws.

There were points along the journey that I didn't love, as I'm sure everyone could agree, points where I wanted to stop. But looking back now that I've finished, I'm very glad that I didn't. I may not have enjoyed every second, but I think the fact I read all 6k pages is a testament to how uncommon those seconds were.

I can't put into words how cathartic the resolution was. It was perfect, a final bit of character development that completes the journey perfectly. Sadly, I can't say more without delving into spoiler territory and as much as I would love to do so, I have standards to uphold (no I don't, I just like to pretend I do) and this review is rambling enough as it is.
(Side note: I've always found it ironic how people say 'I've no words to describe ____', as saying that is a way to describe the thing they say they don't have the words to describe.)

Zerd
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

A unique take on LitRPG

I've read a lot of LitRPGs, and Worth The Candle is the best of them.

 

The first chapters of Worth the Candle will be very familiar to most readers on this site, and seem very similar to other stories. The main character, Juniper, has a special ability that makes him grow stronger faster than everyone else.  There are standard blue menu boxes and skill pop-ups all over the place.

However, if you continue to read the story, the levels, skills and quests eventually take a backseat to excellent worldbuilding and lots of character development. 

Juniper travels to many different locations in Aerb throughout the story, and the author makes every city feel like a place where people actually live. There are explanations about how the local government works and descriptions about the most important parts of their economy. The side characters have distinct personalities, interesting backstories and motivations that exist independently of Juniper.

 If you are a fan of LitRPG, this story has everything that you enjoy in the genre. There are level ups, detailed and creative magic systems and awesome magical items. If you aren't a fan of LitRPG, I would still recommend you give Worth The Candle a shot. A complex plot, immersive worldbuilding and multifaceted characters are waiting for you if you do.

Cocop (Cale Plamann)
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

This story is incredibly good.  On the surface it's an RPG about an incredibly crunchy/stat heavy system set in a world that's always on the brink of falling apart.

In actuality it's an almost intentionally disorienting story about the main character dealing with depression and loss.  Now, don't let that drive you away.  The RPG sections are done VERY well and I suppose you can sort of skip over the emotional depth (a good portion of which is done via flashback) if you want to.  That said, as much as I enjoy the RPG portion of the book, the parts devoted to broken people trying to fix themselves are where it really shines.

Style
This lost a half star because some of the book was so hard to read that I simply skipped over parts of chapters.  I didn't take more than half a star off because I 100% agree with the author including those sections.  Its more a testament to the author's skill at creating believable characters that I connect with emotionally and then putting them in positions where they have to confront the stupid, immoral or just bad things they've done in the past.  Some parts of the story seem intentionally disorienting (the lack of chapter numbers and the flashbacks in particular left me a bit lost), but they honestly do a very good job of feeding into the overarching sense of desolation and confusion that serves as the foundation of the work.

Grammar
Very good- nothing else to say really

Story
The story is great.  Flat out.  It's almost a metastory, the story of how a storyteller tells a story and using metaknowledge of that narrative to try to gain an advantage while still always being on the knife edge of failure.  It does a very good job of establishing political elements, stakes, and pacing.

Character
The characters are why you read this.  All of them are broken in some way and the adventure is almost more about them healing than it is about saving the world.  As good as all the other elements of this story are, the characters are what take it to the next level.

Summary
This will probably get buried considering I'm posting it like 6 months after everyone else, but just read it.  It's really good.

Glaurung
Overall

Phenomenally innovative and moving

As another immigrant from AO3, I've read all nine hundred thousand and change words of Worth the Candle that have yet to be released here, and there's one thing I feel comfortable spoiling: it's fucking great.

The worldbuilding is meticulous and expansive, reconciling a wide range of ideas into a coherent, interconnected whole. Part of the premise is that the setting is built from many worlds invented by the protagonist, and the depth of thought shows. There are throwaway lines that could serve as seeds for stories in their own right, dozens of species, and more forms of magic than you can shake a stick at. 

Worth the Candle is technically an isekai, but Juniper's relationship with the world he now inhabits is a crucial part of the story. Some parts are played straight, others subverted, but it's a more serious exploration of the genre than anything elsewhere. The characters themselves are all as compelling as they are flawed, and to paraphrase one of them, it's beautiful to watch the cast struggle against and overcome their weaknesses. 

Honestly, I wish I could forget everything and dive back in to experience the whole thing all over again, which is just about the highest compliment I can pay to fiction in any medium. That's unfortunately impossible, but fresh readers can and should savor this story.

Makin
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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.

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. 

l611
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

First I'll say that this novel is my fav. across the 100s I've read. I'm a big fan of meta-narrative stories and this one does a really good job. A lot of stories fizzle out when seen from the perspective of the narration making the plots sometimes irrelevant but not this one.  
Also, this novel falls in the category of what they are calling rational-fiction and this novel seems to be the apt example of the genre. I've not seen a better world building done in any of the recent novels. There might be some minor plot holes etc but the world build around just forces me to keep reading forward.
The fav. part of the novel is the conversations b/w the friends. I'm exactly like the two main friends who love to argue/debate/discuss and reading it was a delight. 

Thecarius
Overall

WTC is one of the best works of fiction - works of art - that has ever existed on this platform. I highly recommend it. Really, I cannot overstate how much of his lifeblood that the author poured into this work. It is very clear.

Now that it's over, I look forward to the author's next great work.

Burnerpower
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

One of my favorite works of fiction of all time. It just finished so I thought I'd toss it a review. An amazing ride that sticks the landing.

 

The style is great. The framing of events through flashbacks gives the story a great personal feeling usually lacking in isekai. Fight scenes are excellent and some of my favorite in all of fiction.

 

The story itself is of course excellent, but where this work truly excels is it's world building. The sheer amount and variety beggars belief and it all has a great amount of thought put into it while still embodying the kind of expansive all splatbooks DnD feeling.

 

Don't have much to say on grammar. The story is well edited in this respect and there are very few mistakes. It's well done.

 

All of the characters in this story are great. They move according to their own internal motivations, and interact in interesting ways. One of the great strengths of this story is how the colorful cast bounce off of each other and how there is always more than meets the eye. It's all told through the perspective of Juniper for the most part and he often misses things. Careful reading is rewarded and his views are imperfect. Just excellent characterization the whole way through.

 

Go read it!

Sosseres
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

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).