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

Top List #50
15 Review Upvotes
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
2nd Anniversary
Word Count (18)
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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Worth the Candle is probably my favorite piece of web fiction. AW blends excellent character writing and fantastic worldbuilding in his classic style, delivering a fantasy story that alternates between keeping you on the edge of your seat with its wonderful action and constantly thinking with its intrigue and deep characters.


Basically, READ IT!! The first book leans heavily into the game stuff but as it goes on the character writing just gets better and better. If you have the time I heavily recommend you read to the end of book 1 even if the game stuff isn't your thing, because the story is so much more than that.


Best LitRPG, A great story

I read most of this story on another site, binge read really. Twice (the latter one mostly because I only vaguely recalled the story at the time and needed something good to read, knowing it had more chapters I just jumped in from ch1 again)

Although this is most assuredly another self insert story, the litrpg parts of this story are top notch, like a serious, no joke, 10/10, never seen it done better. In fact the entire litrpg system is based extremely heavily on tabletop rpgs (like D&D) and this format works really well for litrpgs (Whereas for video games it was never the perfect fit; and vice versa, video game rpg systems are unlikely to ever be a perfect fit for litrpg novels)

The worldbuilding is also seriously 10/10 god tier never seen it done better outside of legendary novels like say Tolkien's stuff. The world building is actually unique, thought out, and has intriguing horrors ini t. It also has some really stupid horrors in it (like uh, no, I shouldn't spoil it, it was sorta funny but timed after my interest in the story started sagging and made it sag even more)

The characteres are better than your average royalroad novel too. A lot better. They have actual personalities. Although the villains tend have a lot less of it than the protagonist and co.

Grammar is top notch too.

And the story, while the story is a pretty basic isekai thing (with a twist that the protagonist is the developer of the world (from the rpg elements down to the worldbuilding, self insert, I tell you once more)) the excellent worldbuilding manages to keep it unique and interesting, and it's noticably darker too than the average isekai.

But it's not all perfect, because I eventually dropped the story, and the culprit was writing, for example, I will not name names to avoid spoilers, but this is still mildly spoilerific since it's a bad writing example that will give you clues about an event in the story.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 When it came time to cull the herd (e.g. kill off one of the mains to induce drama and get rid of characters that had to go) most writers will in fact kill a character that needs to go for some reason, or characters that have turned out to be kinda useless and taking up unnecessary space. (Kamina is an example of the former, the guy was basically fighting simon for the protagonist role, and the protagonist needed to get his turn to shine. Boromir is a good example of the latter. Guy wasn't filling any important roles, we already had Aragorn doing the same things better.)

This author however killed off one of the most important characters instead, worse still, this death completely and utterly fucked up the dynamic of the story, and afterwards the most useless, boring, meaningless character in the entire main cast (one that already has a side character that can fill it's role better, and if that fails, the protagonist could easily do it), gets a shitload of 'development' that's boring as shit, and I've already been hoping it'd be killed off since the chapter it was introduced. In truth the characters entire role in the story was already filled a few chapters after it's introduction.

Instead my favorite character (has the most personality and everything) gets killled off that out of the main cast excluding the protagonist is the most vital to the dynamic and ambience of the story... It also leaves a fuckton of loose ends and kills off actually interesting future plot developments that were teased earlier on.

So we had a perfect candidate for a character to be killed off, an entirely (and I mean entirely) useless waste of space and resources with a boring as shit backstory and nothing really to them, yet the author kills off the character with the most interesting development (and the one with the most time invested into their development as well) which felt basically like a copout because he didn't know how to handle that characters straining relations with the protagonist.

For a story that likes to fuck around with tropes and flip them, this decision wasn't that far out there for the author, but it was just badly done, especially the aftermath. Everyone's best friend and some (in-story) people's favorite person dies. They cry for like a chapter or 2, then they keep going as if nothing happened, but something did happen, and as a reader you can feel that the dynamic of the story is completely messed up because it's missing a vital balancing element (I mean I'd kinda spoil it if I told you exactly what element so I'll refrain from that) and worse still, they are presented with an option to revive this character, to go to (literal) hell to bring htem back and the protagonist at least has every motive to drop everything and do so, and yet... And yet he just acts all mopey and decides to ultimately do nothing about it. It is bizarre that I as some reader would care more about this deceased character than the protagonist, and it broke the illusion for me.

All the seemingly well developed characteres seemed more arbitrary, like they followed the authors whims rather than established personas, when he wants him to be a whimp, the protagonist will be a whimp, when he wants him to go all rambo, he goes all rambo, but only the way that suits the author, not the character itself.

And this way a potentially great story crumbles, the fact that the useless little shit I've hated since it's introduction is still there certainly isn't helping either, because everytime it pops up I'm reminded that it should have been them, if it was an author with any kind of experience, this character would not be here anymore because it's been dead weight for the entire story.

 Fortunately, this only happens very late in the story (so late in fact the chapter isn't even available on royalroad yet as I write this, but will probably be available soon) so you can have a blast reading it, but if your favorite character dies, that should be your cue to leave because you most likely will not like what follows.

Anyhow that's it, it's a great story up until the point at which I was so bummed out over an event that I quit the entire thing, and I gave it's ratings based on the good stuff. But I won't forget the bad stuff, I will not be picking this up again, it's been months since I read it and I'm still bitter over it. On the other hand you can take this as a sign of how good the story was, I wouldn't care this much if it was just another mediocre amateur webnovel would I? No this was something more, until it wasn't.


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.


LitRpg for the table top Fan.

Worth the Candle is the epitome of the LitRpg Genre, speaking as someone who has been reading it on AO3 for months now. This story takes the genre in directions that I haven't seen any other even try. All the while having some of the best character writing in any webfiction ever.

If you enjoy LitRpgs, if you enjoy table top roleplaying, if you enjoy fantasy, or if you enjoy deep characters and complex character progression, then you simply cannot pass over this story.

Read it now.


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! 

Chaos' Crow Kanigami

Despite its seemingly hedgy premises, WtC is a great read. The beginning can be of lower quality but the real value of this story becomes apparent when the different magic systems interact the complex Universe gives out glimpses of itself in a relatively "realistic" way (the author is following the "rational" style of writing) and when you discover what drives the story forward. 
The characters are well fleshed out and very diverse, with heavy cultural influences from their world. 
You probably will not find any story with a similar setting be it in the nature of the world or in the way the characters approach the quest/levelling system. 
And last but not least, the author and community are also super nice! 


NeverEnding Story + D&D + PUBG + Unnecessary Stuff

 A good beginning based on D&D mecanics, al little bit of PUBG and some delusion. But as the story progresses it becomes more and more an ode to the dead freind of the protagonist and their D&D sessions.

What stars with funny and interesting problems and psychological elements becomes unreasonable especially considering the age of the protagonist. From the was he behaves and acts he should be alteast in his mid 20s.

This total over the top fixation on his friend Arthur, barly a word or emotion about his family. In my opinion Arthur must have atleast filled the roles of mother father and lover all together to pe this prominent in the protagonists thoughts.


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.


Amazing worldbuilding, lackluster characters/plot

Reviewed at: Chapter 246 - Reflection at the End

Overall, not bad. 

An honest reading of the story makes it worth finishing. However there were a few major weaknesses in the overall experience that come down to authorial weaknesses. The piece that makes worth the candle well worth it, and outstrips all the other parts by a massive margin is the worldbuilding. The worldbuilding, or in terms of my review, the style of the world itself, was one of the most interesting and exciting I've read in a long time. For this alone I found the story worth reading till the end. Unfortunately that was the high point of the entire experience. The overall story itself was a little bit haphazard, and mostly tumbled along by author fiat. Definitely with lots of really fun stops along the way, but unfortunatly held together only very loosely by pieces of the previous stop. That along with a fairly lackluster and rushed ending made the overall story just better than readable. Grammar was impeccable, so I didn't find myself ever stuck on simple mistakes. This made the reading experience very smooth. Lastly, and with all honesty I wish I could give a different take, was the character quality. The characters all seemed like they were naturally one dimensional with lots of author exposition as to why they were all special and interesting. Only Juniper read as even remotely complex. The problem is with him, he never had much besides "angsts earth teen dropped off in fantasy world" to make him compelling. Overall this was a fun read, but left me more disappointed that the author failed to live up to the intersting world he created. Would recommend reading till the end but wouldn't get too hopeful for some incredible reading experience. 


This is a story that changes as it advances, so it does happen that some readers are put off by the changes and stop liking it at a certain point in the story. However, one thing does not change throughout: the style is quite good, and characters feel alive and are wonderfully written. 

In the beginning, this is a more or less regular litRPG, with some "numbers-go-up" that did certainly appeal to me, but probably the best in terms of (again) style, depth of the characters and possibly worldbuilding.

As it advances, the relationships between the characters and the personal growth of the main character become more and more important, and this is honestly what made me fell in love with it. 

And, during all of it, metafictional elements also gain relevance, in an exploration that is well done in a way that I honestly didn't think possible, right up to the ending.

All in all, 5/5. Congratulations and a big thanks to the author.

(I only gave 4.5/5 to story because now that it's done, reading it from start to finish it surely must have arcs that are too long, or too short, or whatever. I read it serially for the last ~3 years and had no issue with that, though.)