Author's Note. This is book 7! Please feel free to hop on and enjoy! If you find you like my writing style, I hope you'll check out the first 6 books, all available to read on Kindle Unlimited, link below!)
Alex was dying, and all the millions his father had left him meant nothing.
The life he had been so eager to embrace, to do the memory of his father proud, would soon come to an end.
That ugly, terrible word.
He had tried to be strong for his mother, even when the treatments left him violently ill, his body wracked with pain, his friends and even his girlfriend leaving him almost as fast as his once impressive physique wasted to nothing under the ravages of his illness.
And just when he thought all hope was dead, a couple discrete referals placed by high-powered friends of his family got him an exclusive spot at the most sophisticated cryonic facility in the world.
He didn't know if there was such a thing as an afterlife, but part of the package included uploading a copy of his cortex into a digital universe filled countless worlds to explore, where he could embrace whatever class or profession he could dream of.
All of which sounded hell of a lot better than the miserable death waiting for him in the real world.
In the end, he signed the paperwork, putting his pathetic flickering life in the hands of potential quacks and charlatans.
After all, with death just days away, what did he have to lose?
Even if he could never be successfully revived, he could at least adventure his heart out.
(Authors Note: Books 1-6 are now live on Amazon and here is a link if you wanted to check it out! And I will continue to post chapters to Book 6 here first, until that tale is told! I hope you enjoy! And if you wanted to help support my work by checking out book 1 on Amazon, I would be extremely grateful!)
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This story starts with a fairly standard litrpg opening. It then moves into a D&D inspired western system meeting an eastern cultivation society in a violent clash of cultures. The protagonist has a full game system, with an A.I.
Things suddenly change. Power escalates, and we’re in the big leagues. The story turns fully to cultivation, the A.I. abruptly disappears.
Things suddenly change. Power de-escalates. The story is now about a modern westerner surviving in a classic eastern cultivation setting. The system is still there, but softer and much less emphasized.
Things change, and now we’re shifting to romance...
This is quite well written, and there are a lot of great ideas here. There are in fact too many good ideas. It feels like the author has repeatedly changed his mind about what kind of story he wants to tell in a very short period.
This is still interesting, and worth a look, but it would benefit from a bit more focus.
'The difference between a skilled artist and a master is the latter knows when to stop.'
I remember this tip from some article on paintings and find it equally valid across all fields of art.
When the story started, the focus was on the MC solely for his life experiences, his personality and his reaction to adversities. The author should have built the story on these foundations. And to some extent he has done so.
However in his latest chapters the slant has been towards MC's use of his OP ring and abilities to structure the plot. This is a common failing of both Chinese wuxia/xianxia and English web novels today.
'Ohh.. look at his big sword, what is he compensating for? giggle....' is as cliche a saying as it gets. The saying is not only valid for characters but also for authors of said characters. (Not targeting Mr. Johnson, just a comment on a common thread I have observed in works on RRL .😣)
I have observed that many authors get lazy after putting in efforts at the beginning. For example they structure events such that the MC has to rely on their OP abilities to succeed and use the said event to stretch the ability further to be used in the next event! It is an empty and self fulfilling loop with the sole purpose of increasing word count.
This is my first review on RRL. I hope that the author takes some time to review and deliver on the potential he showed in the beginning.
I love the thought and devotion that goes into this book to keep it a very compelling read.
Keeping track of a series that gets this long and complex is a real show of the authors dedication to the story.
Every book evolves the story in a very great way and even if the story has many different places it could go, no matter what it gives the reader a thrilling experience!
Love this book!!
The author has good grammar and ok sentence structure. However, the story has to many plot holes and seems very forced. One the MC is supposed to have combined two powerful cultivation techniques that allows use of all elements and is supposed to be powerful but later in the story says he can not use shadow...The MC also bounces back and forth between always being scared to a hero then back again. He also keeps fighting to forward the cause of people who treat him like crap and when I stopped reading turned him into a slave. I am sorry but the MC is just to far outside my realm of understanding that it breaks the story and the supporting cast is just as bad.
I read through book one and I am starting on book 2 but I have to say it is painful. Book one started well and while the pacing felt off, it was enjoyable to read... until the ending.
I just don't get why an author would give a character something and force it to be taken away. Not only did they remove almost everything but they also removed the ability to progress, for 0 reason. The there is a comment about "Did you think there would be no consequences" but he is literally going to reincarnate naturally before a god stops him and puts him in a situation he knows the character will take. It's crap... "I will punish you for taking the choice we wanted you to make and helping defeat pure evil from our domain" I mean COME on.
The first few chapters in Book 2 find our "hero" reverting to who he was at the start of book one. It's like all the growth and everything that happened were for nothing. Book one doesn't matter because our MC is right back to his earlier self before the personal growth, not growth in power mind you.
I originally found this story on Amazon, having tried it with kindle unlimited. And the first book had me enjoyably interested in Alex's journey, and where his destiny might take him.
Whilst this is set in the good ol' universe of might makes right, and the weak beg for life, it is magnitudes easier to understand the structure of this universe than a lot of other stories.
While this does feature cultivation schema, the author makes a clear deliniation between the different realms or tiers; Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Jade then divine. Nice and easy to understand. The author has also made it clear how Basic's reach the first tier; Bronze, where our protagonist resides in for Books 1-3.
But where the author has made the world very clear on how it works, and even why the people react and respond the way they do, the history behind the prejudice that Alex faces with his Ruidian heritage characteristics, the author failed to provide Alex with any of the solid foundations for him to successfully grow and evolve..
At the end of book one, I almost didn't read book two, as it seemed like the author was going to nerf Alex's spatial ring, one of the things that gave Alex a huge advantage, and a big reason why I continued to stay glued to the end. Luckily, the author only put a temporary lock on the ring in book two, and wiped out its inventory, rather than make us suffer a convoluted plot to restore it to functionality.
But it was in book two that had me rage quitting multiple times, and twice almost just deleting it and saying 'bugger this for a lark'. Because Alex is supposed to go to the academy to find his cultivation method, so he can save his only friends and maybe love interest, from being sucked in hell to suffer for all eternity.
So we are given this plot to go along with, but Alex doesn't seem to give a damn about Liu Li or Liu Jian. They are going to be sucked into hell and be tortured for all eternity, but the protagonist can maybe powerup and save them. But his actions repeatedly show that he has not learned a single lesson on how this world behaves, and would rather die for strangers, repeatedly, rather than stop his friends horrid fate.
Alex's single greatest ability, is to die. And that is it. To Die. If plot armour didn't exist, Alex would have died at least three more times by my count. See a wild beast, kill yourself. See a demon, kill yourself. Meet another infernalist, don't do anything to stop him, just his schemes to save a pretty girl and her brother. From an Uncle, who anybody else would say, Sod Off Mate. Instead, we are stuck with Simple Alex.
I think this would be an excellent series for someone who doesn't invest anything of themselves into the story. Because you would not give a damn when Alex shows that he is full of youthful naivety even when the whole world shows that it would rather see him dead. Kindness is the extremely rare excemption, not the rule. Alex hasn't twigged this even with multiple near-death-experiences.
But I kept at it, and finished book two, and finally Alex shows he understands the reality of the world he lives in, and makes a solemn vow to seek strength and to stop being a complete noob. Yay.
But it doesn't last, and the first time he faces adversity again, and falls back into thinking that everything is fair, people are going to play fair, and that not everyone hates him. Even though everyone not tied to the Kitsune, has stated, more or less, that the only good Rhuidian, is a dead Rhuidian.
But for all that, I am still continuing to read, in the hope that Alex will get his act together, although fat chance of that. Will he shake off his Simple Hero complex, and learn a different ability than to Stupid Sacrifice for Harry, Larry and Moe.
Thank you for reading, Enjoy!
I've been meaning to leave a review for a while, as I really enjoyed the authors oblivion series and now this one as well. The author has a great imagination and does some unique things to justify the LITRPG elements in both stories (which I appreciate, I don't like how system overlays are sometimes completely ignored despite how clearly artificial they are). Johnson brings creativity and good, expansive world building to the stories he writes.
The main thing i think the author could work on to really improve these stories is a bit more planning and much more focus on brevity (which for RR is pretty minor to be honest). There is a lot of power scaling/descaling as the MC gains some OP traits and they are quickly taken away or limited. This is really unsatisfying to read, given that most of us are here to enjoy progression. Maybe the authors realizes these powers are potentially story breaking, so limits them to keep tension, but either way the constant yo-yoing and Deus Ex Machina gets tedious and frustrating.
I would also love if the authors would work refining the narrative and establishing more distinct character voices. There is an unnecessary reliance on overly flowerly language, which dilutes the narrative and makes all the character’s sound very similar. I used to struggle with this as well, where I would love pulling words out of the thesaurus without realizing it added very little to the story.
Here's an examples I pulled from the latest chapters:
"He flashed a relieved smile when he sensed that his Meridian channels were not only intact, but were vaster than he could imagine, his foundation stronger even than the impossibly mighty degenerate matter cords had implied a short while before. As if they too had gown, perfection growing in diameter if nothing else, filling ever more of his widened channels. His meridian configuration alone had endured only the most miniscule alterations, a thousand breaths between ecstacy and oblivion, heaven above and purgatory below, having forged perfection or near perfection in that area more than any other."
That first sentence, oh man, just way too many descriptors saying the same thing. You could literally have written: "I was relieved to find my meridian channels had grown and were not diminished", and lost none of the meaning. Those extra elements might seem to be adding whimsy or style, but you use that language every other sentence, so it really loses any power of emphasis and just becomes repetitive. Second sentence is ok, could clean it up a bit and just say "the channels diameter expanded" and be fine. The last sentence, again, just saying what's already been stated, I'd take out the whole thing. It's not bad to use this kind of emotive language, just try and be more judicious about when to use it.
I would highly recommend The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This book really helped me see where I was adding language unnecessarily and gave my writing much more clarity. I once had a teacher read my essay on Catch 22 out loud, and it was painful to hear how overly dramatic I made the prose.
The character dialogue is a little trickier, but by virtue of the language you use all your characters end up sounding like English aristocracy.
Here's another example from your latest chapter, which is an exchange between a school custodian and the MC (a young adult from present day earth).
“I don’t need monstrous strength to take down brutes like you, Ruidian dog!” snarled Puren, shaking off the last of his dizziness. “I can’t tell you how many arrogant bulls I’ve bled until they were broken mewling pups, eager for my mercy and guidance! Speed is everything, fool! What good is strength, if you’re never able to hit your target?”
Alex dipped his head. “Touche. But what good is speed if you don’t even have the strength to move at full capacity for more than a few seconds? You’re no fool, Puren. You must know that you need ever increasing Strength just to combat inertia sufficient to move your blade fast enough to match your Quickness.” Alex frowned at the thin, needle-like blade before him. “And even an enchanted blade has limits, I’m betting. No doubt you’ve already surpassed them with any normal jian, which is why a light, thrusting blade so similar to the thinnest fencing blades is your preferred weapon. Because you don’t have the strength for anything else. Not and still be able to use your speed to its utmost.”
First off, by having people use words like "brutes, mewling pups" you are evoking a very specific kind of English, which is fine if it fits the character. Unfortunately, all your characters speak like this, which is strange given that Alex is from a (Russian?) business family and not some foppish lord's son from Surrey. Now maybe the custodian speaks like this because it's an upscale school in the capital, but then again random farmers and laborers from halfway across the kingdom sound the same, which is strange given the scale of the world. Again, I'd cut down on the flowery exposition. Now making each voice distinct is a more difficult task, so I'm not going to pretend to have any insight here.
Anyway, just my thoughts. The language thing is starting to prevent my enjoyment given its persistence. The author has certainly improved from series to series. And again, still worth a read if you like the genre.
I have only read the first book through amazon but I really enjoyed it. Thanks and keep it up!
I've bought every book as it comes out. I didn't even know I could read it for free, and I don't care. It was worth every dollar spent. Any book has one thing or another that someone doesn't like or that can be improved, but I don't want changes, here. I just want to keep reading this story. I'm not going to get into pros and cons or any specifics of the novel. I just wanted to say thank you for writing such a wonderful story, and please continue.
Loved the first books when I discovered them on Amazon, buying books One through to Six on Kindle and was overjoyed to continue reading the story here on Royal Road. The last book ended on such a high I just could not leave it there.
Alex's journey has been a roller coaster for sure, with lots of two steps forward to one step back that can be a little frustrating to read at times, that you may see from other reviews. However, there is no growth without struggle, and that struggle is paying off as Alex makes inroads in his battle against the Gods with just the Trickster on his side in the Pantheon (or is there more support there than that?)
Truly a rich world, with fantastic descriptive text of the environs and the character's thoughts and struggles. Some of the side characters initially were a little lacking in depth and tended to be lost to the wings, while Alex's story progressed, however, they are making some strong come backs in Book Seven. It feels like Alex finally has a chance to embrace some of the sweet after so much bitter. Overcoming some of the past tribulations that seemed to strike out of nowhere from the pettiness of the Gods and he seems to be making better decisions. You can only be pushed so far before you fight back and at this point Alex isn't going to back down and the Gods are starting to worry.
Grammar is usually solid, although some small errors slip in occaisionally as the writter splits their focus between two books. Would love a little more information into the cultivation and progress of some of his friends after recent developments and their overall progress but it is happening more recently. Only real downside is the chapter release rate which is a bit hit and miss lately.