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

Word Count (17)
Top List #50
1st Anniversary
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

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This review is a waste of time. The story is near-perfect. The author is Top 5 material. This is the best pure LitRPG story I've ever read. It takes crunchiness to an ultimate level. Honestly, I doubt I will ever read another story that betters this one in terms of defining what LitRPG means. 



In terms of its place in history it should rest securely at just behind Mother of Learning. Yes, I know, horned bunnies. Dakota has his place. But Dakota's place is in the LitRPG as fun fantasy domain. 

This story is a meta take on the story told by a Dungeon Master and narrative structure. The only downside here is, um, the occasional wall of text. The author does tend to wax on, and I'll admit to skimming here and there was began to get the gist of their thinking. Story is character and action , and the lengthy philosophical discussions were at times too much. But overall, damn, this story is quite simple a seminal work of the subgenre and demands recognition. 

Oh, and at a rough count, I've caught less than a handful of errors. A similar number of times I've reached for a dictionary. Not literally. This is the 21st century. But the bastard definitely has access to a thesaurus. 

Also, character is generally a strong point BUT not within dialogue. Almost universally the characters sound the same: wordy and long-winded. Nevertheless, the characters have their own agency and one or two have something of their own voice. 

All in all, I'm already looking forward to a reread in the future. 

Happy reading!


I've been following this for a while. It's nice to see it on another platform where it can get more exposure.

This is a pretty neat story. If you are a fan of DnD and other such dice-rolling adventure games that require a game master, you will probably really enjoy this. 

I think by far what keeps me reading this story is the characters. These are some of the most authentically crafted characters I have read in a fantasy story. This genre usually is more known for plot and worldbuilding than it is for nuanced characters. Not so with this story! I would argue that the characters are the real shining stars of this story.

The world building is good, don't misunderstand me. It can become a bit cluttered at times due to how complex the world is set up to be, but that is ok because it is merely the stage and props with which the characters bring the story to life. 

Continuity is good. Logical coherence is also good, and of critical importance considering the premise of the story, so kudos to the author on that.

This story has authentically portrayed romance with a twist that I will not spoil for you.

There is abundant action and adventure into new and interesting lands. There are a seemingly limitless number of species. So if you only want the classic human, elf, dwarf trio with maybe an allowance for a few others, this is not for you. All the races in this story are original to the author except for humans. So I hope that interests you. There are creatures inspired by those in other fictions, but none copied directly that I have found so far. 

Also, I know some really hate stories with a "person pulling strings behind the curtain" character that guides the journey of the MC, and this story does have that, BUT it does it in a way that I personally think adds to the story and is very directly and consistently addressed by the main characters such that it is a valuable plot point as well as a character development tool. 

I don't want to give too much away. It's a good story. I say give it a shot.

It does deal with some heavy and unsavory topics like canibalism, suicide, etc. So be ready for a not so light-hearted read. I personally do not reccomend for those under the age of 10.

You can find this story on https://archiveofourown.org/works/11478249/chapters/25740126


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Reviewed at: Politics, blah, blah, blah

This fiction is underrated, it has worldbuilding, characters with real problems(maybe too many problems) and a stabile magic system in a crazy world.

While not being interesting all the time it has a good and nice storyline, while having, a 'kind of' fourth wall.

It isn't a very good story but it has good enough content to be in the top fifty list(which it is).

No probs with grammar.

While seeming like a normal boy I still find the MC kind of pathetic, maybe it's just me, but you know those protagonists where you think: What an IDIOT if I were him I would have done that, and that. It mostly occures with OP MCs while the MC isn't that OP yet where I am he still has a very strong ability with an incredible growth ability(, ok not thaaat strong....).

While I'm only halfway through I do think it will get much better, because while there were times where I'd rather read something else this fiction does have its moments.

Btw 5stars because I support this story it deserves more of a 4.7

Edit: After reading quite a bit more, I still think, that this is a good novel, yet it also is a bit confusing. With that I partly mean the information influx. A lot of things are mentioned, names, entads, powers, entities, etc.. It gets easy to forget some of them, but that isn't really a problem, the quick appearance and disappearance of some characters do bump me out a bit though. This novel is also quite heavy to read in some way. Partly because of the long chapters (which sometimes are quite boring).


Highly overrated, lacks the feel of "magic"

I've read up till chapter 64, and i have to say that it's a well written story, with likeable characters, and an interesting world setting, but...:


1. The story is incredibly rant-y in almost every chapter, there's way too much meaningless drivel, unneeded math and the MC staying inside his head for unrealistic amounts of time compared to the different situations he/they experience.

2. At first i liked the idea of the breaks from the present to the past, (to the D&D POV's) but it gets tiresome very fast, and completely breaks immersion all the time. Also most of the "breaks" are overly long, and feels like a poor tool for exposition and for the MC to remember something that is vital to a given situation.

3. For a story with such an interesting and different world filled with unconventional magic, there's no feeling of wonder, or "magic" in any of it. It's all framed inside a system, and feels even less mystical and magical than a video game would feel like. It all comes too effortlessly to the MC, and there's no mysticism in it. It's too clinical and too bound by rules of tabletop and math. Personally it has no impact for me whenever he "learns" something, it's just boring and contrived.


Spoiler: Spoiler

5. The story is incredibly predictable, and there's too much "telling", and too little "showing"

6. For having a rational and logically thinking MC (who honestly has far too much knowledge, about way too many things for his young age, especially since he's not supposed to be a genius or anything like it), he keeps committing enourmous mistakes all the time, and for someone who've been playing as a DM for countless rpg sessions, he has no sense of wonder or adventure when it comes to the magical systems he learns to use, and the ones he learns that exist.

He doesn't experiment with ANY of his skills, he doesn't try to combine knowledge or abilities, he doesn't adapt a specific "style" of using what he has. He's flat and uninspired in his way of doing things, and completely bound by, and set in his knowledge of tabletop earth knowledge.

6a. And so is the narrative and the whole "level up" mechanic. There's too many boundaries set in place, fx: If he learns something to a specific degree or level, he has to progress further in specific stats to further improve them, meaning he would never be able to master all the skills he accrues throughout his journey/the story, because everything has limiters tied to his level, and level cap. Which means, he can never "train" or use the experiences/knowledge he accrues from different plots, and outcomes, to further or improve his abilities. UNLESS it's in the frame of a level up and adding points into something. 

So basically he can't grow or evolve.


This was a lot of negative i know that, but i feel this has unrealistic reviews and an undeserved rating. It's basically been "hyped" too much. I DO recommend it for people who play, or have played tabletop RPG's, and who like stories that puts everything into "boxes" and rules. This just isn't for me, i'm more into the "show" not "tell" kind of stories, like: a Practical Guide to Evil, or Mother of Learning.


Believable characters, incredible world building.

I can easily say this is one of my favorite stories ever, as it touches on a number of things I consider important.

The characters all feel very real, rather than just placeholders with a single defining character trait, each their own person, without falling into any trite cliches. 

 Speaking of cliches, this story does a great job of examining several common tropes of portal fantasy, tabletop rpgs and the like, deconstructing, reconstructing, subverting and sometimes playing them straight when you least expect. 

The grammar and overall spelling is excellent, with the author consistently correcting any slips that are pointed out. 

But more than anything, what truly gets me in this story is the world building. The breadth and depth of the world is truly fantastic. The hundreds of species, the dozens of magic systems, the way societies have organized themselves around the existence of magical items, everything the author reveals, just keeps showing more and more of how immense the world of Aerb truly is. If I have only one complaint is that there is no way this story will ever be long enough for us to see the full scope of what the author has created. 


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.


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.

Jim Woodlock

Love this story. Great detail, world building and a great sense of humour 


Favourite story - should be a fully published novel series

Reviewed at: Moral Agency
Spoiler: Spoiler

 This story is fantastic. Right from the get-go, it captures you with it's intriguing world, interesting characters, and well thought out action. I wish he would write more. 


Great but for one flaw

Reviewed at: A Kindred Soul

So one of the best stories I have read in a long time.  My one complaint and reason I stopped reading for a while is they sometimes get stuck discussing what ifs and theory to the Nth degree.  I'm all for it but it just got to be too much for me.