He Who Fights With Monsters

He Who Fights With Monsters

by Shirtaloon (Travis Deverell)

Access the discord here.

Jason wakes up in a mysterious world of magic and monsters. He’ll face off against cannibals, cultists, wizards, monsters, and that’s just the first day. He’s going to need courage, he’s going to need wit and he’s going to need some magic powers of his own. But first, he’s going to need pants.

Follow Jason as he makes a place for himself in a world that is strange, yet sometimes strangely familiar. He’ll meet crime lords and aristocrats, gods and monsters on his path from would-be victim to heroic adventurer. At least, he tries to be heroic. It’s hard to be good when all your powers are evil.

Latest chapters appear here. Books now available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, Audible and as paperback here.

All chapters following book 3 are available here, but due to Kindle Unlimited requirements, the chapters from books 1, 2 & 3, except for the first story arc, can no longer be hosted here.

Release schedule is 5 chapters per week, Monday-Friday USA time.

Please note: I am Australian and this story is written in Australian English, so there will be less of the letter Z and more of the letter U.

This web novel is also available at scribblehub.com

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1: Strange Business ago
Chapter 2: Of Course Magic is a Thing ago
Chapter 3: Local Cuisine ago
Chapter 4: Cannibals and Spelunking ago
Chapter 5: Wizard ago
Chapter 6: Potent Potable ago
Chapter 7: Spoils ago
Chapter 8: Dark Magic ago
Chapter 9: Escape ago
Chapter 10: The Evil Pit of Evil ago
Chapter 11: Dashing Heroics ago
Chapter 12: Sanguine Horror ago
Chapter 13: This is the Part Where We Step Back ago
Books available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and Audible ago
Chapter 267 (Volume II): A Better Pants Solution ago
Chapter 268: Time to Front Up ago
Chapter 269: The Single Greatest Thing on This Planet ago
Chapter 270: Some Secrets Change You Forever ago
Chapter 271: It Would Be Weirder If Magic Wasn't Responsible ago
Chapter 272: Not the Regular Sort of Dangerous ago
Chapter 273: Boogie Man ago
Chapter 274: More Plausible Than the Reality ago
Chapter 275: I Suggest You Be very Polite ago
Chapter 276: A Leather Coat and Tight, Black Pants ago
Chapter 277: A Knife in Its Sheath ago
Chapter 278: Underworld Bargain ago
Chapter 279: Time to Rip Off the Band-Aid ago
Chapter 280: Bullets, Bikes and Blood ago
Chapter 281: A Good Friend and a Very Bad Enemy ago
Chapter 282: Flavour Text ago
Chapter 283: Time For Context ago
Chapter 284: Brown Trousers Time ago
Chapter 285: The Complete Set ago
Chapter 286: More Valuable Than a Life ago
Chapter 287: Uncontrolled Factor ago
Chapter 288: Agendas ago
Chapter 289: Hegemons ago
Chapter 290: Guilty Conscience ago
Chapter 291: Uncommon Mistake ago
Chapter 292: It's Complicated ago
Chapter 293: A Big Dose of Normal ago
Chapter 294: Moppet ago
Chapter 295: Always Tell the Truth if You Can get Away With It ago
Chapter 296: Discretion is a Good idea ago
Chapter 297: The Cold Eyes of a Stranger ago
Chapter 298: Looking Down the Point of a Sword ago
Chapter 299: What Your Uncle Has Been Telling You ago
Chapter 300: The Moments That Decide Who You Are ago
Chapter 301: I'm Mysterious Now ago
Chapter 302: Hardline Position ago
Chapter 303: Otherwise Best Avoided ago
Chapter 304: Terms ago
Chapter 305: Section ago
Chapter 306: Core Users ago
Chapter 307: What You Call Observing ago
Chapter 308: Not the Monster ago
Chapter 309: Letting Him Run Rampant ago
Chapter 310: Old Testament Power ago
Chapter 311: My Turn ago
Chapter 312: Visually Distinctive Henchman ago
Chapter 313: Of Course It's Him ago
Chapter 314: The Price of Transgression ago
Chapter 315: The Time For Bold, Decisive Men ago
Chapter 316: Technical Issue ago
Chapter 317: The Long Game ago
Chapter 318: A Moment For Drastic Measures ago
Chapter 319: Foiled Plans ago
Chapter 320: Quite the Year ago
Chapter 321: Full Houseboat ago
Chapter 322: A Wizard Did It ago
Chapter 323: The King of Everyone ago
Chapter 324: I Came Back to Show You Wonders ago
Chapter 325: Mercy ago
Chapter 326: Ideal Circumstances ago
Chapter 327: The Blood and Death Guy ago
Chapter 328: A Lot of Anomalies ago
Chapter 329: Pitch Meetings ago
Chapter 330: Moving Forward ago
Chapter 331: Flemish Baroque ago
Chapter 332: Not Ready to Leave ago
Chapter 333: Decision ago
Chapter 334: What You Have to Do ago
Chapter 335: The Direction We Want Them to Go ago
Chapter 336: The Dangers of What I Do ago
Chapter 337: We Were All Monsters ago
Chapter 338: Options ago
Chapter 339: I Need Time ago
Chapter 340: Walkabout ago
Chapter 341: Too Valuable to Lose ago
Chapter 342: All I Can Do is My Best ago
Chapter 343: A Modern Myth ago
Chapter 344: Breakneck Pace ago
Chapter 345: Grand Tour ago
Chapter 346: New Groove ago
Chapter 347: Get to the Chopper ago
Chapter 348: What's Left of Your Principles ago
Chapter 349: Contingencies ago
Chapter 350: Humanity ago
Chapter 351: Media Blitz ago
Chapter 352: Grandmotherly Advice ago
Chapter 353: A Bloke With Vast Cosmic Power ago
Chapter 354: A Very Long To-Do List ago
Chapter 355: Another Step Forward ago
Chapter 356: Tactical Flexibility ago
Chapter 357: Broken ago
Chapter 358: Never Enough ago
Chapter 359: Media Landscape ago
Chapter 360: Instability ago
Chapter 361: Supernatural ago
Chapter 362: Arms Race ago
Chapter 363: Sword-Fighting With No Shirt On ago
Chapter 364: Candid and Authentic ago
Chapter 365: Warmth and Levity ago
Chapter 366: An Intelligent King ago
Chapter 367: Hunted ago
Chapter 368: Gamble ago
Chapter 369: Dying of Thirst in the Desert ago
Chapter 370: Enough Power ago
Bonus Chapter: Silver ago
Chapter 371: Old Affairs ago
Chapter 372: End Run ago
Chapter 373: Giving Face ago
Chapter 374: Not in a Position to Criticise ago
Chapter 375: Honour ago
Chapter 376: They Get to See What I'm Like
Chapter 377: Fanboy ago
Chapter 378: A Very Bad Mistake ago
Chapter 379: An Unexpected Direction ago
Chapter 380: Parade of Delights ago
Chapter 381: Collateral Damage ago
Chapter 382: I Intend to Do Damage ago
Chapter 383: A Chance to Control the Narrative ago
Chapter 384: You Shouldn't Lie to Your Wife ago
Chapter 385: The Decision Has Been Made ago
Chapter 386: First Priority ago
Chapter 387: Node Space ago
Chapter 388: Loaded For Battle ago
Chapter 389: Going For Gold ago
Chapter 390: Prepare For the Rematch ago
Chapter 391: Finish the Job ago
Chapter 392: Inevitability ago
Chapter 393: The Edge of Madness ago
Chapter 394: Trying to Be Merciful ago
Chapter 395: Appreciation ago
Chapter 396: Brooding Loner ago
Chapter 397: High Maintenance ago
Chapter 398: Treachery or Cowardice ago
Chapter 399: Comely Wenches ago
Chapter 400: A Lot Like a Guess ago
Chapter 401: It's Okay to Laugh ago
Chapter 402: Dignified Moment ago
Chapter 403: When Someone is Under Your Gun ago
Chapter 404: When, Not If ago
Chapter 405: Not Entirely Ethical ago
Chapter 406: Ahead of Schedule ago
Chapter 407: Open Wound ago
Chapter 408: Looting a House Burning Down Around You ago
Chapter 409: Domain ago
Chapter 410: Needs of the Moment ago
Chapter 411: A Beautiful Woman and a Sack of Cash ago
Chapter 412: You Have to Be True to Yourself ago
Chapter 413: One More Secret ago
Chapter 414: Instinct is All We Have ago
Chapter 415: Step Back ago
Chapter 416: Guns & Money ago
Chapter 417: Old Habit ago
Chapter 418: It's Still Not About Killing Monsters ago
Chapter 419: Open to the Unanticipated ago
Chapter 420: I'm Going to Bet on Myself ago
Chapter 421: No Perfect Options ago
Chapter 422: Stillness ago
Chapter 423: Whatever We Face ago
Chapter 424: You Really Aren't Local ago
Chapter 425: A Sliver of Hope ago
Chapter 426: End-User Licence Agreement ago
Chapter 427: Negotiations ago
Chapter 428: Another Day for Vampires ago
Chapter 429: Less Freud and More God of Healing ago
Chapter 430: Little Cost in Exploring ago
Chapter 431: Intentions ago
Chapter 432: I Need That Song to Play Out ago
Chapter 433: Wash Them First ago
Chapter 434: The Language of Passion ago
Chapter 435: Forthright Honesty ago
Chapter 436: Pertinent Factor ago
Chapter 437: More Focus on Nipples ago
Chapter 438: The Job That's in Front of You ago
Chapter 439: Going Suspiciously Well ago
Chapter 440: One of Asano's Secrets ago
Chapter 441: Swarm Against Swarm ago
Chapter 442: Necessary Evil ago
Chapter 443: Balls ago
Chapter 444: Which One of Us is the Villain ago
Chapter 445: That Passion Didn't Come From Nowhere ago
Chapter 446: The Upstart Magician ago
Chapter 447: Too Much Over Pride ago
Chapter 448: Trust All the Way ago
Chapter 449: Time to Choose ago
Chapter 450: Four-Score Men ago
Chapter 451: The Very Opposite of Fantastical ago
Chapter 452: Small Mercies ago
Chapter 453: Salus Mundi Suprema Lex Esto ago
Chapter 454: Something Other Than Human ago
Chapter 455: Everyone Calls Me Gary ago
Chapter 456: I'm the Bait in Question ago
Chapter 457: The Past Can Wait ago
Chapter 458: Dragon Lady ago
Chapter 459: What Could Possibly Go Wrong ago
Chapter 460: Kind of His Thing ago
Chapter 461: Of Course He Doesn't Have Pants ago
Chapter 462: Connotations ago
Chapter 463: What a Monster Surge Feels Like ago
Chapter 464: Strategic Doctrine ago
Chapter 465: I've Seen Your Best ago
Chapter 466: Responsible Dad ago
Chapter 467: Surge Protocols ago
Chapter 468: Disappointed or Relieved ago
Chapter 469: More Paperwork ago
Chapter 470: Multi-Talented ago
Chapter 471: Don't Say You Weren't Warned ago
Chapter 472: Contribution ago
Chapter 473: Small-Town Lifestyle ago
Chapter 474: I Don't Need to Invent Icecream ago
Chapter 475: Remaining Unremarkable ago
Chapter 476: A Damn Fine Way to Start Off a War ago
Chapter 477: It Will Not Be Fine ago
Chapter 478: A Story of War ago
Chapter 479: Any Help They Can Get ago
Chapter 480: Supplies ago
Chapter 481: Enemies Even I Would Fear ago
Chapter 482: True Elites ago
Chapter 483: Diligent and Considerate ago
Chapter 484: That Doesn't Make the Pebble Important ago
Chapter 485: They Don't Send Their Best People ago
Chapter 486: An Old Friend That He Had No Time For ago
Chapter 487: Never Underestimate Adventurers ago
Chapter 488: Better Strange Than Scary ago
Chapter 489: Going Overland ago
Chapter 490: Small ago
Chapter 491: Uneasy Allies ago
Chapter 492: Supply Chain Problems ago
Chapter 493: The Hitting It a Bunch Plan ago
Chapter 494: I Liked the Fighting Better ago
Chapter 495: That Usually is My Day ago
Chapter 496: Unyielding Faith ago
Chapter 497: Something He Could Never Get Back ago
Chapter 498: Dignified Young Adventurer ago
Chapter 499: I Can Do Sleazy ago
Chapter 500: An Object Lesson in Foolish Risks ago
Chapter 501: Murky Waters ago
Chapter 502: Integrity is Forever ago
Chapter 503: How Deep a Hole ago
Chapter 504: The Part That Knows How to Quit ago
Chapter 505: Bad Apples ago
Chapter 506: Idiot Plan ago
Chapter 507: The Days They Sing Songs About ago
Chapter 508: The Source of the Madness ago
Chapter 509: A Fair Fight ago
Chapter 510: Put the Mask Back On ago
Chapter 511: I Don't Think You're Angry ago
Chapter 512: Staying with Friends ago
Chapter 513: Meanwhile, Two Weeks Ago in Vitesse ago
Chapter 514: Hegemon's Will ago
Chapter 515: A Story About a Magic Trowel ago
Chapter 516: What It Sent Us ago
Chapter 517: I Am Not Jason Asano ago
Chapter 518: That Powerful and That Old ago
Chapter 519: One Battle at a Time ago
Chapter 520: No One Telling Me I Can't ago
Chapter 521: A Lot More Steps ago
Chapter 522: A Normal Man ago
Chapter 523: This One Time ago

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TyrAurelius
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I just can't bring myself to keep reading.

Reviewed at: Chapter 310: Old Testament Power

I will start off by saying there are definitely great elements in this story. It was the story Iooked forward to the most for some periods of time. I especially live the way it portrayed group fighting and the strategy of facing the wide variety of monsters as an adventurer. 

But I just can't do it. The everyone is Jason problem is real. You can end up reading multiple chapters in a row of Jason "snark" dialogue, and that gets draining when you are up to date and you feel like you wasted a whole update reading that. Second, the storyline, despite the attempts to give an overarching scope, is boring. The moments when this story shines are when Jason is discovering new and wonderous things about the new world around Greenstone, when he is learning about the essence system, and when he is learning the tools of the trade as an adventurer. Shirtaloons ability to envision complex builds for his characters, wacky items, and creative monster encounters is top-notch. 

Unfortunately, most of the story is instead spent on drawn out political encounters with egomaniac villains, a mind controlling-esque cult, and a corrupt church. These plotlines completely deviate for the sense of discovery and growth and get bogged down in dumb conflict and poor ethical monologues. 

And this problem scales to a 10 when he goes back to Earth. 

 

Anyways, I love the world, but I think I am done with this now.

irondruid7
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

What made the mc interesting is slowly ruining him

Reviewed at: Chapter 371: Old Affairs

I'm sick of the main character's inner turmoil subplot. It's been going on for 371 chapters and with all the "progress" and "Finding himself" it still goes right back to normal after a couple chapters. Normal being a constant drone of questioning himself and angsting over who he's becoming.

I can't tell even a little bit what he got from his most recent walkabout to rediscover himself, and I'm half convinced that's because the author immediately followed it up by events that don't let him show his new inner stability. He does the utter opposite of that in fact; Putting the mc in a situation that tears him all the way back down. It's what always happens, so he might as well not have inner stability at all is what I'm saying. You told us he was getting it, but it's nowhere to be seen when it matters and when it doesn't it's only the appearence of stability. You've told us something that's never shown.

There's a lot to be said about a story that doesn't ignore the human elements of a character, but at the end of the day he's a character in a story and his angst just isn't interesting anymore. It's been done to death and I really want it to end. It doesn't serve its purpose anymore, not to a degree where it's worth still seeing it brought up every other chapter. Literally every other chapter.

Just stop it. After 371 chapters it's well past the point where he should've "Found himself" and chilled tf out. Basically, please for the love of god just write him as a basic power fantasy mc! You've gone so far with it in the other direction and I'm so DONE seeing it brought up that's what the story needs to happen now. Just end the constant drone of moral angst... Please...

MadPengu
Overall

I am not angry just disappointed

Reviewed at: Chapter 345: Grand Tour

Read the story up to 350 chapters and dropped it for few reasons. But let me preface that story managed to keep my attention up to this point so it did some things well. 

So lets start few "issues":

1. Dialogues - they are either snarky/witty or some kind of serious discussion about meaning of life or some other inconsequential thing. You will not see every day dialogue or any kind of dialogue normal humans might have. Which brings me to second issue.

2. Everyone is Jason - and if they are not you will not remember them. Honestly it weirds me out, Jason was supposed to be unique kind of character but he "infects" people with his personality just after few interactions. One of the side characters (Emyr) suddenly become more powerful copy of Jason with no prior indication that might be the case. And you will probably find difficult to describe any character that is not Jason or Jason-like, they either do not have enough screen time and/or their personalities are not distinctive enough.

3. Jason himself - I loved his character during first arc, he was perfect example why the Isekai genre exist. The utter confusion and choas when faced with utterly alien world meshed so well with his character. It gave a reason for his character of behaving nonsensically when faced with nonsense world. But then it kept going, Jason actually never changed even though story keeps "stating" that he did. Every event that he faced and the way he reasoned about them screamed kind of teen angst even though it was supposed to be a serious and adult. It was further diminished because no 10 chapters would pass without Jason pondering about his ego.

4. Apathy - I could not find myself to care about characters or events. Story failed to establish a bond between a reader and the characters. 

5. Lack of catharsis - simple, for the whole 350 chapters we have not seen any kind of major payoff, not a happy one, not a depressing one. Events that were supposed to be that payoff were undermined by the reasons above.

6. Show not tell - this one is probably my most subjective point. I always felt that story told to how are you supposed to feel and from time to time spewed exposition. 

JT8
Overall

My main issue is with the characters and the way they behave. Jasons niece Emi is 12 years old but she has formulated opinions on politics, speaks like an adult and has the intelligence far beyond what a normal teenager has let alone a 12 year old. I mean theres magic in this story but it needs some realism.

The story builds up to a point where farah dies and is impactful. Jason goes back to earth and all of a sudden shes alive again negating the impact it had on the reader.

I have a hard time believing that Jason the man who imploded his life over the fact that his ex girlfriend cheated on him with his brother would so easily allow them back into his life let alone into the world of life changing magic that he is involved in. I have two brothers and we have fought many times but we have never said we are no longer brothers as that is something you can never come back from. Jason doesn't consider Kaito his brother anymore which pretty much should mean that he is dead to Jason but he just goes ahead and gives them magical powers that are priceless and would be coveted by people around the world. He tells Amy she will never see the wonders of the world that he has experienced but then gives her the option between boring powers or cool lighting and fire powers. Jason just straight up contradicts himself.  For someone that should hate his brother and wife he sure is generous towards them. I mean he could've simply ignored them or shown minimal interest in them like a mature adult would.

Jason went backed to earth and magiced up his whole family and now theres talk of them following him back to the other planet. I mean this story is about Jason and his adventures with bis adventurer friends. Not Jason constantly watching out for his family who tag along and reap the benfits of his endeavours. I mean he's given them all that they need to thrive from a secure compund to resources. Once Jason reaches diamond rank he will be able to travel between planets and visit them whenever he wants.

Sophie gets rescued and given more essences by Jason. All of a sudden she's on the same level as Jason in terms of power and can beat him in a fight. Then to show how grateful she is she abuses him physically.

Jason is just a flaky MC who can't decide on anything I mean he still contemplates if he should kill or not when by any standard he is a seasoned killer. He says one thing then does another.

I keep reading in the hope that the characters will become more 3D and not seem like cardboard cutouts that just banter with each other but actually have ideologies and stick to them.

Hickups
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Others have talked at length about the shortcomings of this story, so mine will be merely a ranty update of sorts.

I slogged through this story's Greenstone arc and the ensuing Reaper Trial because I thought there was a silver lining. Surely enough, the fight against the Builder gave this story an overarching narrative and  measurable progression. Some of the side characters also seemed to finally stop being muppets. That's when the break came [Spoiler Alert] and Jason reached Earth, which basically reset this story.

'Fair enough' I thought. Maybe shirtaloon will now put to use the experience and feedback he has gathered. Fat chance. What has ensued is essentially Greenstone 2.0, where Jason again engages factions vastly beyond his power and they either start bending over backwards or become stereotypical villains, who will be dispatched without tension. The family side plot also becomes boring real quick and usually involves either 2-4 people snarking at each other or Jason mouthing off about his emotional butthurt and being an indignant prick. If anything he became even more immature and obnoxious, which is, on the few occasions this story shows self-awareness, explained away by the magic words 'psychological trauma'. It's ok if he's an ass because he has a trauma. It's ok if he lashes out at neutral parties, because trauma. I detest how that term is used for justification inside the story, as well as a meta tool to explain character stagnation (or even degenaration). 

For me, shirtaloon once again has squandered a wonderful opportunity to evolve this story and it's protagonist and I'm tired of waiting for pay-off. I regret not heeding the early signs.

warownslife
Overall

It's becoming harder and harder as time goes on to keep dealing with that glaring, ultimate, MEGA flaw. At the beggining, ehh, yeah, you could kinda ignore it. And then no, its just Jason, it's like one man's soul is the entire cast. And its mind boggingly awful. It never stops man, I'm on chapter 357. It doesn't stop. Even the children are jason. That's not a joke, a child is talking about political law and systems of oppression and more.

It's so bad, you can't understand how bad it is and I'm left shocked on why. The author, has done something, that I feel immense, and I mean immense, sadness for. It's rare, but, he's gotten worse at writing as he's written more.

Go back to the beggining, sure, rufus was philisophical and so was henry and everyone seemed to have a bit of a wisdom chip on their shoulder but it wasn't so blatant or over done. They were all teachers and jason was brainless. Sophie, jory, belinda, thadwick, clide, they all felt like seperate enities. I have to come up with a new term just for how awful this has become:

Character Creep.

Slowly everyone is just a melodramatic theater actor copy, without the emotional connection of it all, jason. That guy that won't shut up about how he's sinned and gets emotional over killing and suddenly presses people down with aura when he gets angry and then waxes on and on and on about philisophy. On how hard it is for him to kill and see all the dead. Mix theater nerd, with edgy character, mixed with classic "killing is wrong" MC. That is a fine personality, nothing wrong with it...on 1 person. But there's no normal people left and all of them are like this. ALL OF THEM. It's like listening to an insane man talk to himself. All I want from the story I've invested patreon money and nearly 400 chapters of my time in, is for jason to stop interacting with himself. Please, just, no more pointless melo-drama from every character.

Normally, I'd be upset at the amazon and taking down chapters thing. This time, no, buy book 1 on amazon and ignore the rest of this story. Do not invest your time. You will only be disappointed.

 

Update: 

I've of course continued to read. As of chapter 498, nearly 500, I will admit the author has taken the critism to heart and seems to be making actual progress in coming up with more than 1 personality. It's still a bit, all is one, situation but it's far far better than in the last arc. It could fall apart any time and it's still not good but going from that to this is a great accomplishment. 

Good luck slogging through the last arc though. Was some really cool parts at least. 

Inferi
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Edit: I haven't had the time to update this review so it is still as of Ch. 222. Editing as I forgot to give spoiler warnings and spoiled other RR stories. My bad.

For Shirtaloon, this story started incredibly and has managed to garner and maintain a lot of attention becuase it can be so incredible at times. I write this both as a review, and because it's difficult to step back and look at your own work objectively so I'd like to point out some easy areas to improve.  

OVERALL

Overall this is a very fun story. It has been on the front page of Popular This Week for months now for good reason. That said, there are a few things keeping it from being a great story or, at times, good. Those things are, in order: the lack of character development, the lack of a believable villain/ plot, and the static nature of the main character. Many reviews get caught up in the minutia of these failings and fail to reinforce the fact that this story is still worth a read especially if the author shores them up. 

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

The MC's character development will be covered last. Here, I want to focus on the side characters. In few words, the side characters are not developed.

The beating heart of every story is its characters. Gintama is a comedy with the barest hint of a plot for hundreds of chapters and it's listed as the greatest comedic manga because its characters are full of such life, depth, and diversity. The first Pirates of the Carribean was such a hit not because of its rather cliche love story, but because Jack Sparrow was such a compelling supporting character. Also note later installments in that series were worse because Jack became the main character and the driving force of the series was lost.

Readers invest themselves into the lives of the supporting cast in order to be dragged along with the author's script. The emotional investment in stories - on Royal Road especially - come from our investment in characters that are actually at risk. The MC in most stories is protected by plot armor so it's the plights of the side characters that tend to draw us in.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 

Lack of a Villain/ Plot

If main and side characters are the heart of a story, the villain is the lungs. The villain is the one who breathes life into the little interactions between characters and creates the urgency that drives a story forward. It can't be something as intangible as monsters or the big evil cult because those aren't problems that can be directly addressed by the MC. 

Immediate - The villain creates urgency by doing something that needs to be addressed NOW. The cult is going to the end the world, but it's a big world and we have time for a few rooftop barbies before then.

Close to Home - If a villain isn't somewhere that the MC can challenge directly, then he's the villain of someone else's story. The big bad is, suffice to say, difficult to reach.

Just as good as the MC - This is the kicker. The villain needs to win. If the villain never wins there's no sense of risk, of danger. Even if it's something small, a villain has to prove themselves by triumphing over the MC in some way. Cyclostomata and Chad never do.

A good example is the Joker from the Dark Knight Rises. He is immediate: from placing timed bombs next to loved ones or running to ferrys filled with explosives at each other, he isn't a problem that can be solved later without massive consequences. He is close to home: Batman can reach him with his two orphan fists. He is better than the Batman: Batman loses to him. When the Joker creates Two-Face Batman loses to the Joker so completely that he needed to do something completely outside of the Joker's expectations to win. He had to sacrifice his own image of a hero to be a hero.

THAT is a villain. A character that can challenge and inspire the MC. Every hero needs his demon lord.

Luckily, adding one also fixes the other half of this issue, plot. What are the MC's goals right now? Get stronger? Who is he trying to beat? Oh he's trying to protect? Do some pushups every morning. No I want to know what he's working towards. I see a lot of rising action but not even the foggy outline of a climax. What will be the apex of this story arc? He gets so strong he can endure the monster flood? Why should we care? The plot so far hasn't been imporant because the MC has been in the 'adjusting to a new reality' phase. But he's almost bronze rank, it's time for Thanos to come knocking at the door.

How to fix?

Make a villain. I wish I could offer more actionable advice, but the flavor of the villain is heavily tied to how you want your story to develop, so it's all on you. Have some fun with it!

The Main Character

I saved the best for last because it is the easiest to fix. A lot of your readers have been getting frustrated (based on the other hundred reviews here) by the fact that your MC has stagnated. Let me explain, and this has two sides to it. Your MC started as a snarky, quippish guy who was just adjusting to his circumstances and it was done beautifully. I probably got past the first page of his character before recommending this novel to everyone I know. The issue now is that he hasn't changed. As I mentioned earlier, he has passed the adjusting phase of his tenure in this world and he still acts like the snarky, quippish guy who was using confusion and witticism as a defense mechanism. The other side of this, and likely the one everyone has issue with, is that your side characters don't react to this realistically. All of them are either awed by his gibberish, or don't react at all.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 

 

Lastly, you don't need to tell us that something is having an effect on Jason. We've read enough of his character to be able to see it when it happens. So rather than "Jason was, for once, silent. He had no words to say and Sophie was shocked when a bit of that mask fell away." you can just describe what happens like "Jason stood, quietly, admiring the simple beauty of the fireworks. Sophie spared him a quick glance, her worried frown giving way to a small smile as she saw rare sight of his unblinking eyes and open mouth."

How to fix?

This is the easiest one. A villain is a foil to the MC and will change him naturally as you write them both. Honestly exactly like your title implies. Hell, name your villain Abyss, that'd be fun. Also as you grow your sidecharacters you'll naturally flesh out your MC too so this one will literally fix itself once you address the other two.

FINALLY, AS THIS IS A REVIEW

Many stories aren't well written enough to have their issues wrapped up in a neat little bun with three little bullet points. Not many stories truly are cultured enough to include an appropriate Nietzsche quote. It is a rare story that has both of these and updates practically daily. Just know, prospective reader, that if you pick this one up, the story does suffer from the little issues that any story would if its author was required to output material as quickly as this one, pending edits. I say it is worth it. And, if you're an elitist that only touches stories from out of golden geese and dusted with diamonds, read the beginning.

UPDATE: My BOY the LION MAN has been given motivation, goals, and depth. Im so happy

BasicallySK
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

The start of this story was absolutely amazing. Everything about the way this was handled with the system of magic and all the cool skills and the infinite possibilties for new combinations of essences and powers is great. But after returning back to his own world from being isekaied into a different one, most of the decisions made here have been off putting to say the least.

I really hate the way the MC has acted at this point in the story. It seems like his snarky and edgy attitude has been ramped up to eleven. There are some really awkward interactions between characters that are just so weird I can't even describe how it's wrong to me. The whole relationship with his brother and ex-girlfriend is so cringey I can't keep reading this with the way it was handled. Maybe in other people's views the way it worked out is okay, but for me it's way too cringe.

I'd like to re-emphasize just how much I enjoyed the world building and the system of magic and skills as a whole. It's an amazing way of doing a system and I enjoy seeing all of the different combinations and skills. The action scenes are done well and have thought out into them.

I ultimately cant continue reading this with how the MC is currently acting like the way he is.

noks
Overall

you'd think MC would mature

Reviewed at: Chapter 339: I Need Time

I mean I get his personal problems, but after all the shit he's been through you'd think he'd see how small other matters were. Well, no. Dude is still immature, just wished there were less of it.

It's not that he's unlikable and it diminishes the story, it's that I'm an adult and had been over the shit he went through, not the physically bad ones, but then again he's not crying about that which is JUST WEIRD.

And I'm not saying that since I'm over my issues this dude should be over his, it's more like, there's so much of it. Over and over and over and over. So yeah, it's not pleasant. And again, it's strange that more importance is given to his mundane issues, heartache and family problems and such, over all the shit he went through in the other world. WTF?! If his physical issues are somewhat average then I can understand how things closer to his heart will hit . . . closer to his heart. But good god, this should logically be an exception.

between getting tortured and your brother fucking your girlfriend, like holy shit. Yeah your brother and ex sucks, literally too, but god fucking christ you were kidnapped and tortured but so much of the story is devoted to the mc's cheating brother and now sister in law. Holy crap just don't talk to them, like a proper adult. You're rich, just hire someone to take care of contact with them. Dude's got the fortitude of a hundred year old veteran and a 13 year old butthurt teen. Which is it?

 

Well, MC will do as he pleases even if it goes against commonsense.

This story is better than a lot here on RR, so that's definitely something.

elemenohpee
Overall

Each arc worse than the last. What a shame.

Reviewed at: Chapter 357: Broken

Keeping in mind this whole site is stuffed full of fan-fiction tier word salad:

1 star - Trash. Unless you orgasm from certain genres or the MC is literally you but in a power fantasy stay away.

3 stars - Junk food. Nothing to brag about, but not fingernails on chalkboard bad. B movie with some nice popcorn.

5 stars - Good enough to recommend even if it's not in your genre wheelhouse. Not many of these even in the "Best Rated". lmao

Grading grammar and spelling is dumb unless it's so bad as to be unreadable.

BEWARE SPOILERS

I've read up to 357 and I can confidently say that I'm done. Though this has been a long time coming, I kept returning, hoping that the author would salvage this thing with every new arc.

I originally wrote a number of paragraphs waffling on about my problems with specific pieces of the story or specific character interactions but realised part way through I'd be writing pages of it and that seemed like a waste of time and a chore to read. Instead I'll summarise as best I can.

-The MC is bad. He is a compulsive talker. Cute for the first 40-50 chapters but he just never stops. First he is an easy going guy out of his depth, then he is a charming conversationalist, then he is a tortured soul struggling to find a salve to his emotional turmoil, then he is a master social manipulator. THEN he alternates between these and a few other minor character "traits" as required by the scene. If the MC was a sociopath it might be an interesting thing to explore but a "social chameleon" (as it is claimed he is) is difficult to write without it coming off as simply disjointed characterisation.

-Every other character really only gets dialogue in relation to the MC. How they don't like him. How he is strange. What is he doing right now. How Particular Behaviour A is actually a totally amazing feint for Objective B. Bleh. Its pointless to talk about side character depth or characterisation because they only exist relative to the MC.

-LitRPG. As with almost every "system" story it ruins itself. The whole point of a stats and ranking system is to quantify relative power. Except it's not like a standardised ranking score in the real world because it is part of the foundation of reality. No tricks or bulldroppings or fudging grades. What happens in every "system" story? Magical mystical tales of how WUN TROO HIROW overcame the odds by overcoming the system. Yikes. Protip: If you're going to bother setting up rules of magic and a grading system, don't throw them out the window whenever you need the MC to do something. If you're going to use the same nomenclature for two distinct groups (in this case adventures and monsters) having the grades mean different things in different contexts and having no parity in grading makes it all pointless tedium.

-Religion/politics. Even when I agreed with the core points being made most of Jason's political monologues read like social media posts on the subjects. The interactions with the deities was a clusterfrig. It is unclear to me what the author was attempting to accomplish with them. The dichotomy between Jason's experience with real world religion (faith in the absence of proof) and the alt world (devotion based on power disparity and contractual obligation) was just handwaved away by Jason's oh so brilliant "I don't like it". Wow. I am glad this was part of the story.

I think if I were to only grade it up to the adventurers assesment a solid 3 stars would be appropriate, but it didn't hold together. I could go on for longer but this is already too much.

1 Star. A downhill experience focused far too much on a protagonist who becomes less likeable the further the story goes.

EDIT Removed swears. Seems a bit silly but w/e, gotta follow the rules.