by Vowron Prime
- Traumatising content
Updates daily at 23:06 UTC.
2/1/2021 NOTE! This trilogy is being published by Aethon Books starting with book one on 5/1/2021. Book one has been removed from RoyalRoad, and book two will be removed in August. Eventually, the entire trilogy will be taken down. I will post all of book three here before it is taken down, giving all readers a chance to read the story for free.
Magnus Cromwell kills for a living.
He’s organized, professional, efficient. Like a machine. But when his family’s life is on the line? That’s something else. That calls for the kind of warm-blooded vengeance that scorches earth and summons tungsten rods from space, leaves a whole lot of melted flesh, and no one to tell the tale.
It should've been a blue milk run. As by-the-book as it gets. With his sister Nina out safe and the opposition decimated by hypersonic gunfire, MC wondered where they got the guts to even try. Then something hits him. Lays him out cold, and leaves him waking up to a fantasyland with nothing but his armor and a half-written note to guide him. It's a strange place where even stranger predators eye him for their next meal. Where his life’s on a timer, and where the darkest horrors haunt his dreams, painting visions of death.
There's no right day to mess with Magnus Cromwell. But the universe sure managed to pick the absolute worst one.
- MC is stone-cold, strong(OP), and gets even stronger, but he'll still face his fair share of challenges, both internal and external.
- LitRPG-lite. No stats and an unconventional system. Expect abilities and progressions, but there will only ever be a handful of them.
- Science Fiction and Fantasy collide, with a touch of mystery, Lovecraft, and body horror.
- Professionally painted art scenes!
- This series is finished.
[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]
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This novel feels like an action movie slammed into a fantasy setting. You're not here for shakespeare, you're here to watch a badass blow shit up and in fun and exciting ways. The most important question for a book is 'is it fun' and for Magnus the answer is YES. I did this review as part of a swap (but traditionally I stop reading around 10-15 chapters once I get a feel for the story. This one I completed and you should too.
There are POV shifts but they build the story. I personally enjoy minor pov shifts but I know many people don't so I want to be up front about that. The writing feels a little clunky and technical/jargon heavy at first but once the story gets rolling it doesn't stop. The combat is fun, flows smoothly and it feels like I should be eating popcorn while I read it.
Didn't notice any mistakes. Doesn't mean there aren't any, but nothing jumped out to me.
There isn't much of one- Our main character, helpfully named MC, gets stuck in a fantasy world that may or may not be VR. Beyond that, he knows about as much as we the reader do. We are introduced to interesting lore in tidbits that is shown not told to us. Enough that you get some idea as to the sinister machinations going on, but not enough that you know what's happening. Right now the story feels like you're in a horror movie and the character is locked in a closet while something creaks outside. You don't know what it is, you just know it's gonna be nasty. In short, the story is leaning toward something interesting but isn't quite there yet (hence 4.5 stars).
This is the only weakness. The MC is a hardbitten cold warrior that only really cares about his family. He's taciturn and stoic. He's the Doom Guy/Master Chief. A little bit 'meh' if this were art lit, but do you really need him to be any more than that?
My aim with this review is to fill the gaps the others miss. Because wow - Magnus might feature action, but it's a good sight deeper than your average action story. To the point where I got twenty or so chapters in and had to make a double-take to check I was reading the same story its previous reviews had described.
A couple of centuries in the future, our titular character Magnus (amusingly nicknamed MC) is Earth's most badass mercenary - well-trained, equipped and experienced in military combat. During what should have been a straightforward mission, however, something goes wrong and he finds himself transported into what appears to be a medieval fantasy VR simulation, complete with magic and monsters. Cue a futuristic soldier's hardcore charge through a world decidedly not ready for him, becoming progressively more powerful as he hemorrhages a trail of carnage and destruction through the landscape.
...except that this only touches the surface of what Magnus is really about.
The story is as much about mystery and discovery as it is action, diving into a number of compelling questions right from the start. Everything from the origin of MC's powers to strangely science-fiction-esque elements of the otherwise fantastical setting, to the nature of MC's own place in the world around him and, indeed, that of reality itself.
You'll be spending as much time engaging with these mysteries as with the action, with the story flowing between these aspects seamlessly and at just the right pace. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say the plot didn't go quite where I thought it would, but the answer to every question was satisfying and logically justified. There's a surprising amount of plot and philosophy to be unpacked here in a relatively short amount of time, making the story quite dense in the best possible way.
But it's not just about the bigger secrets. Plenty of discovery occurs at the micro level. Being an elite specialist from Earth, MC applies his in-depth scientific military knowledge to the magic powers he manifests, with spectacular results. This isn't your ordinary magic system, people. Expect to see familiar magical concepts married to modern physics, stretched to their creative limits and followed to their logical conclusions.
Because of this (and also from the get-go) Magnus is very much the OP MC - but with believable challenges an overpowered character would reasonably face. This is what sets the trope here apart from its peers, because it's not just one more powerful foe after another. Rather, we're talking the social, philosophical and environmental. And the focus is not on fighting, but problem-solving. Though fighting is admittedly the solution much of the time. I'd even suggest the story it most closely resembles is less 90's action hero and more iconic web fiction Mother of Learning.
The part of Magnus I struggled with most was its characters. I would love to go into more detail here, but the story's character development is to a large extent tied up in spoilers. The direction MC's character takes is very interesting and unusual, but can leave a bad taste at times. Intentionally so. And a major side character we meet later on was difficult for me to suspend disbelief on in light of the story's wider context.
Stylistically, most of the story flows well and is both captivating and comprehensible despite its heavy leanings on technical and scientific principles - no small feat. This is unfortunately not true for the first couple of chapters, which could be a challenge or a barrier for readers unacquainted with military terminology. The good news is that this goes away just a few chapters in and isn't representative of the vast majority of the story. So don't let the jargonistic opening put you off. It does creep back somewhat midway through Book Two, however.
Similarly, Book Two undergoes a noticeable tonal shift; not just in language but thematic focus. It's less about questions and more about answers; less about problems and more about solutions. In some ways it feels like a different story - but one with enough driving impetus and meaningful stakes to keep me intrigued for more.
Is Magnus like a dumb action movie? If you ask me, not really. It hits that sweet spot where you can switch off, lean back and let the badassery sweep you up in its white water flood... or you can get lost in its meaty questions, evocative world-building mysteries and solid exploratory undercurrents. Which it does very, very well.
I have been reading Magnus for approximately three hours and change, and I've just finished Book One. It was a ride. It was an adventure. It was a delight.
If you don't read this review any further, I'd better start with my thesis: a few aspects of the story are a little rough, but it's ultimately top-tier work that we don't deserve to get for free.
The OP MC is a gruff treasure, an action hero who brings a dose of realism to the fantastic world around him. The LitRPG aspects of his powers are (relatively) subtle and delightfully morbid. Don't read the comments if you don't want a (concealed) spoiler about the amoebas, but know that the twist, though guessable, is great.
Every so often, casual languge distracts from the otherwise-seamless prose - an "f'ed up" here or a "badass" there. Even though it's usually a tie-in to MC's thoughts, they take out a sense of immersion. A badass doesn't need to call himself a badass to be badass. (Put more simply, I suppose it's a matter of show vs tell on occasion?)
A fine blend of sci-fi and fantasy that honestly reminds me of Warhammer fiction, from what little I've read!
I'd say more, but I've got Book Two to start.
Magnus is one hell of a ride.
A genre-fusion of sci-fi and fantasy, Magnus delivers thrills like those you'd find in a good action movie combined with intriguing takes on known fantasy elements. There's a Lovecraftian undertone here that adds a drip of dread to the bombastic fights and exploration of a new world.
We open with a major action scene that feels like the climax of a near future Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone film, complete with explosions and devastation you'd expect. Shock and Awe.
From there, we are taken to an alien world which is not quite what it seems. We learn about it as the protagonist does.
The style of Magnus is practical, with enough description to get you into the story while keeping a brisk flow. Vowron doesn't flourish that much as he writes, but for a story about a practical tough as nails mercenary, that fits very well.
It really comes alive during action scenes. Vowron is a kinetic writer, which means that he does movement and impact quite well during a fight. These make the frequent combats a pleasure to read.
So far the story has been good, leaving enough questions to keep you going while providing pops of catharsis and answers to give you a sense of progression. It feels that we are very early in the story yet, but it's had a nice build up with good pacing.
The only issue is that sometimes events can feel disconnected. It's rare, but it can be jarring when it happens. It feels like they'll be events that make sense in hindsight and are really solid when reading the entire fiction cover to cover.
There is the odd grammar mistake that I found and the odd thing that was phrased to a bit unclearly. Yet Vowron likes to go back and fix things when they're pointed out, so grammar mistakes tend to disappear if someone comments on it.
This maybe the place where we'll see the most growth from Vowron. Magnus himself is well characterized but feels like he hasn't shown all he has to offer as of yet. The other characters are not developed completely as of yet. We don't spend a lot of time with the inhabitants of the world. Except for one delightful one.
Magnus is an action packed thriller with thought behind it. It's early days, but it's got me hooked.
If you like spectacle, body horror and a little mystery then I think this maybe for you.
This story is not for everyone. If you're turned off by a very edgy MC (he loses some edginess over time) or a very OP MC, then I dont recommend reading this. Furthermore, military scifi enthusiasts beware, the beginning is a little..... lacking.... for lack of a better word.
Come on, he blacks out? No military would risk a highly skilled special operator with a billion dollar machine that causes the operator to lose consciousness and therefore lose control for even a few seconds.
But the rest of the story seems to be building into something great!
Grammar is good.
I feel like the poetry is going to be a trend here, so there we go:
Lone wolf against the world.
Grumpy man against the flood.
With a gun all in blood.
Going strong as it should.
One Magnus Army for us to boot.
Moving forward through the mud.
Against the flow to kill the root.
Eleminating all to end the bud.
So let's focus on the story now. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of sci-fi and thought there are some elements from it, the story itself has a high-enough fantasy too. The combination of both makes it unique in its own way and made me keep reading it till now. I like the way in which this story is going. The start was action-heavy and the scenes later show great promise. If you want a lot of action and fun with some mystery to boot, that is the story for you!
The author starts with a unique writing style, which I wasn't used to, but I got used to it fast enough. And I have to say, it's wondefully executed. The flow is smooth and the poetry elements in it just makes it a lot more enjoyable.
No problems there. Even if there are, the author fixes them fast if someone points them out.
Going to fantasy/game world? I'm not sure which it is of the two, but that only makes it more interesting. There are many elements that give you only more questions, as the author introduces them one by one, but there are some asnwers as well. It's enough to make you keep reading through it.
Well, the emphasis here is on the main character, and why not? He is the OP MC, a bit cold and aloof, but that is no problem. Though, honestly I wish there to be a bit more work on the side characters as well. As of now, we don't see much in this regard, but that doesn't make the story worse in any way.
A promising story with a lot of elements to grab your attention. It's action packed with mystery in it that brings more color into the picture.
Three, of a kind
I am a Marksman as I sit here bow-legged. From
my quivering mouth, these
bloody arrows shoot.
Don't you see?
That one is me!
Projectiles close inside, loosed with no power. They
dribble down my chin, vested
Who comes in pairs?
I am a blackened apple, corrupt to the core. Here
lies a gaping brigand doing account, one
marks four and a dash-line to fill.
How many, and where?
Death is gleaming teeth.
so I'm biased. this is the kind of story I'm constantly on the lookout for, but most often can't find.
the story is unapologetically brutal in a way that isn't angsty or overwrought.
MC's actions are practical and methodical, making perfect sense within the confines of a savage world and limited scope.
it's still early on in the chapters, but I can't wait to see what sort of trouble 'Opie Emcie' gets up to and in.
I'm just going to end things here since I'm pretty terrible at being constructive with my reviews.
Overall: love it!
This is just a damn good story to read, it is just packed with so much great action scenes where MC shows that he is a badass for a reason, at times those scenes look like they would fit perfectly in an action packed movie, and even then beyond all the action this story of course also has a good plot, with the mystery behind the setting and just what happened to him.
Magnus is undoubtly the PRIME badass in this story and a highly competent soldier who is extremely good at killing. After raiding the base of an evil organization that does their business through selling the abuse of children to sick fuckers, an operation which got ended by our resident badass. MC has a strong sense of honor, eradicating all kinds of scum that prey on the weak, especially if they threaten those close to him.
But things quite do change once he finds himself not where he was before, in a strange land with him recieving strange powers of a weird kind, that prompts him to kill to increase his powers, which he initially does not even question, since he percieves it all as something else because of his mission on earth, and that the alternative is near unthinkable for him. This is not to say that he totally acts like a cold killer only out to get stronger and reach his destination however. Though yeah, he does act questionable, even if that has its reasons which are revealed later on in the book.
Some of the best scenes related to his character are when he interacts with Annie, which show that there is another side to him beyond the professional soldier that he is, which adds tons of depth to MC.
The setting is initially a near future sci-fi Earth that has suffered through some additional World Wars, and the methods of warfare have changed accordingly, which is fairly standard for stories that take place in such a time, but then it changes and becomes an interesting mix of sci-fi and Fantasy, with a rather fresh setting. Taking place in a weird world with heavily mutated monsters and magic. And it only gets better from there on.
And from there the plot does start, as the first couple chapters are basically the prologue of this story, and a great action filled bonus also! As the MC finds his way in the world he appeared in, with his only lead being an hastily written note. Another main part of this story is the huge feeling of mystery, as the MC tries to find out just what is the truth behind this world and its dark secrets, and the gradual reveals of the truth, some of which are not pleasant to behold at all.
Damn near perfect grammar, this story has been very well edited and was a smooth read without stumbling over any typos or oddly structured sentences. Personally noticed only one which got overlooked in the editing rounds and quickly corrected when pointed out.
This story reads very well , with a perfectly readable prose, personally i was hooked from the start by it, which was also helped by the fact that the action is just so well done here, even if it is not a main draw for me, i still really liked reading all those action scenes as they unfold, and the pace just doesnt slow down at all, bar some calm scenes, it just keeps going at a fast yet fitting pace.
There is maybe something to be said about those jokes & references, but honestly? I didnt even spend attention to those, due to what kind of reader i am, and also by not knowing those at all!
So keep on writing author, ya got me hooked to this, and i will make sure to keep following it all!
This is seriously a story i would recommend to anyone who loves a kickass MC who aint afraid of just about everything, and who WILL tear through his enemies one way or another! And even if you arent particulary interested in such a story or are new to those genres, i would still recommend it due to the plot which is just far better than one would expect for a story of this kind, so maybe you can come to like this story also!
Edit: I just noticed that this review was still saying chapter seventeen, and I just wanted to emphasize that I'm still desperately hooked onto this story. If anything, it's only gotten better. Blobby blob out.
I came into this expecting a typical badass MC action movie type story, and it certainly delivered on that. What I didn't expect? That the characters would make me want to cry!
MC cares so much about his sister, and their relationship is just so tragic yet wholesome. As someone writing about siblings themselves, I have to say that the first few chapters of this story inspired me. I won't get too spoiler-y, but just take my word that the characters in this story are simply fantastic.
Also, the prose might be the best I've seen on this site. I mean, I almost feel like this meagre paragraph isn't enough to describe just how HEAVENLY Vowron's prose is. Every word is carefully chosen to reflect both the situation and the characters' thoughts, and I have to say, I don't think that Magnus and Nina's chemistry would have worked half as well if it weren't for the prose. If I could give this category a 6, I would do it in a heartbeat.
The story starts incredibly fast paced and doesn't really ever let up. Every chapter advances the plot in a believable and interesting way, and while the "path forwards" is a bit loose sometimes I feel like this compliments MC's own feelings of not knowing where to go. The only thing I could possibly suggest to improve upon this is to sprinkle in more of Magnus's feelings
about being separated from Nina into those chapters where he's all alone. I know this is like asking for dessert after already having eaten a nine course meal at a michelin star restaurant, but Vowron has spoiled me for incredible content T.T.
Maybe I should read another chapter before reviewing. Just one more...
No! You've said that the past seven chapters, Nameless!
Where was I? On, yeah. Even though he's a lone wolf badass, I feel like Magnus's character shines the most when he's concerned about his sister or doing irrational things because the a little ameoba girl reminds him of her. Don't feel like you have to do this in any capacity, though. It's just me being greedy.
After all that ranting about how amazing this story is, it's almost a shame that I can't say more about grammar. It's pretty much perfect. Dramatic commas are perfectly placed. Scientific jargon is weaved in seamlessly. What else does a story need?
Overall, read this story. Just do it. I don't care if you're not into typical "power fantasy" stories, you'll like this one. Are you reading it yet? You should be.
Real talk, this is one of the if not the best stories I've read on this site. I don't think any amount of ranting will do it justice, so I'll just leave it at that. Read it. You can thank me later.
I was a beta reader.
Magnus is a compelling one-man war saga of gritty, Rambo-esque action highs (involving believable paramilitary tech and proper Science Fiction ideas) as well as a detailed emotional character arc centered around themes of strife and agency, love and determinism. Its impressively well-realized from a world-building perspective, as if the author truly inhabits this alternate world/whatever-it-is, yet what hooks the reader through-and-through happens on a universal human storytelling level. Its smart for crowd-pleasing genre fiction. There are no assumptions made about the reader/audience. Anyone can enjoy watching the powerful protagonist (oh so powerful) get propelled through often absurd and surprising situations with wit and humor. I have a feeling the payoff at the end will cause us all to beg for more (sequels please?). Bravo.