The Humble Life of a Skill Trainer
For Joshua Still, Skills were the lifeblood of his business. He wanted to understand them, collect many of them, and teach a few of them. Which was a problem because while his profession of a Skill Trainer was perfectly legal, it was frowned upon by most of the kingdom. After all, it wouldn't do for a non-tailor to teach Tailoring. Or, so says the Tailors Guild.
The same could be said by the Blacksmiths, the Bakers, the Butchers, the Candlestick Makers, the Mages, and every other Guild with enough money and clout to complain. But still, Skill Trainers provide a valuable service, and so he has managed to start his business and keep it under the table. To a degree. With many a bribe. But his quiet anonymous life of research, practice, and training was about to change. When the Baron demands you pay him a visit, you have little choice.
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A very intriguing start. We have a character whose profession is teaching skills, including those owned by particular guilds, (smithing, alchemy etc). This means it has to all be done under the table, and he has to make use of disguises, lock boxes and stuff like that to try and not get murdered by the guilds or angry customers.
A little too quickly, our MC is pulled into politics to teach a nobels scion. I was very interested in seeing more about his life, but then that gets rumbled and he needs a whole new life. So alot of that initial interest is dampened significantly for me.
Plus now with all the politics and new characters being introduced, a hell of a lot of time is spent introducing, talking to, and generally faffing about with the other characters. The skill training stuff is really interesting! I like seeing the devices and the little tips and tricks he gives people to try and help them out, but in most chapters that's on the back burner, considering the title is "The Humble Life of a Skill Trainer".
I like it and I want to see where it goes, and it probably reads well in bulk. But as I keep up to date in the twice weekly release, some chapters can just be full of exposition and dialogue of him trying to play nice with people. Which is a bit meh in my opinion, even if it makes sense.
It is well written, interesting premise. It's just that I can't connect with any of the characters. They just seem a tad off to me, I'll try to explain it as best I can buuuuuuuuut...
The MC is just... I don't hate him but some of the things that he does just go against what I feel like the author has portrayed him to be. One example of this is when he killed his first person, he had an emotional breakdown and everything but I feel as if it was too much of a breakdown. He should have been used to blood and guts, he has a meditation skill (which does use) and his dad is a fighting maniac. There's more but I can't really express it.
The giant lady is the same, she is a soldier first and foremost, and from what I can understand, she has gone through all sorts of things, both social and physical. She just seems so willfully naive and frankly, at times, maybe even a little pathetic.
I'm only on chapter ten but those are my main thoughts. Give it a try, it might appeal to some people but for me it just... ugh.
I read further and it just got worse. The writing is good but something worse has come.
Romance. As another reviewer has so eloquently put it... Disney romance, I'm not opposed to romance but this... now the characters are all... even more, ugh.
The story quality is decent for most of it. Nothing amazing or terrible, but something you can enjoy reading and spending time on. That's more than most stories can say and more than enough for most readers. I would have told someone to give it a shot if they couldn't find more litrpg to read.
However. That all went out the window with the final chapters. The author throws in a deus ex machina with zero foreshadowing that completely kills the built up plot, doesn't make sense, and isn't enjoyable. To the point it leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the entire story and I recommend no one bother reading this unless there are some rewrites. It's that bad.
Read this only if you don't believe me, you're a masochist, or want a clear cut example on how not to write your own story's climax.
The story does what it sets out to do tell a detailed way of how a person learns skills in a engaging and interesting way.
The downside is that we are stuck with the author pushing onto us a romance that could have been between 12 year olds.
The story could be in the middle of an enemy attack and all of a sudden the mc and the lady and blushing and gazing at each other and looking away as if they had just passed in each other notes during class.
It was cute and sweet the first time it happend but after what 20 plus chapters of this it is a huge turnoff.
I don't like to review stories before they've reached 15 or 20 chapters, since it's all too common for a promising start to peter out once the author finishes the introduction and enters the meat of the story. That said, I think there's enough content 13 chapters in to get a feel for how things are going to progress, if not where. The premise is that our MC is a universally denounced Skill Trainer. Reviled by every major guild for gleefully investigating the Skills that serve as the foundation for their monopolies and readily teaching anyone for a price. It makes a great setting, and an understandable profession, since who wouldn't want to cram as many skills into their status sheet as they could? The world as it stands is dark in tone, discussing training resistances through torture (and torture for the right price), but leans towards realism rather than grim just for the sake of it. Further, the fact that skills are not just picked up by performing an action, but by a blend of talent and focus, adds a dimension to power growth. Individuals won't necessarily gain power just through time and practice.
While there isn't much material as of yet, given that the storytelling spends a decent amount of time in thought rather than action, it's readily apparent that the characters are constructed beyond a handy cutout. The author tends to favor relatively quiet interactions with hints at deeper thoughts and emotions as picked up by the MC. That said, a solid balance is kept between background thoughts and action in the foreground. It's a balance that works remarkably well for a character that's primary focus is on other individuals and their skills.
Overall, it's unusual premise that's well realized through the setting, characters, and storytelling style. There are some spelling errors throughout, though infrequent enough that they don't detract from the reading. This review may be somewhat premature, but with the primary drivers of the story being character and Skill related, I'm not overly concerned that the author will take the plot off a cliff. I'd be content to read a daily log of training sessions if the characters kept to the same quality. So, while new, it shows a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing where the author takes it.
So I really enjoy the idea. You'd think more characters in 'Systems' worlds would have a skill tutor or somewhere to consult on leveling, but in most of these, the world acts like idiotically and only the MC ever tried to grok how the system works, and that's thier core advantage. This book takes a good stab at explaining why that is at least.
The MC starts out strong and interestingly defined as well. And the writing is really good, well editted.
However, the book suffers from an author on a word budget. The chapters feel like disjointed 'chapterlets' and a lot of the story fails to flow from that. There are a lot of events happening - probably too many, given how brief a time period the book coversscovers far - but the word budgetting really damages the flow of it, the growth of the world, and the ability for the reader to believe what's happening.
I hope the author will figure out how to slow the pace of chapters and make the writing flow a little better, but so far it feels like it's getting worse. I hope it's not a sign they're giving up on things, because it really is intriguing.
Edit: things have slowed down, but for the worse. Now half the chapters consist of the MC micro-describing everything he thinks is on other people's minds, in absurdly unrealistic ways
The author has an amazing world and well thought out premise(the skill trainers reality) but does not use it for some reason. Not only that, but the author struggles and fails to balance out interesting plot and developments with the richness of the world. There is a fine balance between world building and interesting plot/reasons to actually care about the world itself beyond just thinking "huh thats cool"...the author fails to do this. To put it lightly. the book makes me believe something is going to happen yet nothing does even when stuff is happening, simply because its not interesting or impactful.
-Story has good worldbuilding
-Story has interesting ideas and themes
- Story does nothing with said worldbuilding or ideas, and presents what it does in an unintersting way that is more akin to a well rounded book report than an interesting story.
Bit spoilery after this.
The MC starts out carefully hidden like a secret spy, an interesting premise where he has to fool anyone and everyone with his finely crafted masks to the point where he even used the fact that his hidden identity is see throughable in to create yet another ruse. He is made out to be devious, scheming and intellegent...yet all he does is passively react to whatever he is given out from there on with this whole spy plot thrown out after having done nothing with it...the MC just submits to his fate over and over again.
So there is no hidden spy plot...then what is the point of the story then? Is it how he interacts with his skill training and the effects it has on the world? Maybe and it seems like that is what the author wants, but then if that is the case why is it not the focus?
If I were to give advice to the author on how they can take what they have and turn it into probably a book worthy to easily publish would be:
1. Find what you want the story to be about and refocus it on just that.
2. Once you have an overarching point/theme, then you can start all the nuance you want.
For example if his identity as a skill trainer is paramount over all else, then he should slowly be figuring out the circumstances of his life....like why he is mysteriously able to have a legally owned shop under a fake name. When he learns that his services are being requested by the baron he should be suspicious and investigate, rather than do literally nothing. He should try to gain all the cards he can and then decide whether to resist or not, and how to get the best deal for himself. He can even miserably fail and it can be used as a lesson for the MC, especially when he learns that all his careful spy stuff was just given to him like a rich 2nd generation kid without having earned it himself whatsoever.
Then he could use that as motivation to reimagine himself and refocus himself, thus giving him an overall goal that is clearly defined and not his current half asssed "well i like to teach people skills because it feels good"....that I might add was introduced offhandedly in what amounts to a flashback scene.
An introduction of the world and the MC submitted to his fate, being passive in every single way for 40+ chapters verses an MC who has skill and wit but his own arrogance and narrow view/lack of experience ends up being his undoing. Humiliated by the fact that everything he has was handed to him, with nothing to call his own, he becomes full of ambition and drive to move forward.
40 chapters of nothing or a quick 10 ish chaps of action and interest, leaving plenty to build upon...
The story was pretty decent till the trip to the capital. Then it started to feel rushed and collapes. might just be i'm used to longer stories.
liked the skill trainer outlook, was something new.
maybe the issue was that the MC turned into a background character. i'm not sure what happened.
Like many others said the story has a strong start, the first few chapters were a great read. But after that things go downhill fast.
In 14 chapters the world is not explored in any way, shape or form other than the few bits about the political position of skill trainers in the kingdom, which isn't much. All we're told is that they're hated by everyone, then we get an explanation why and that's it.
Another thing that annoys me is that there are almost no descriptions of the environment, in a single paragraph the main character gets from a carriage to the lord's study, skipping everything in the middle, and then the only piece of furniture that we know exists in this entire room is the goddamn desk the lord's sitting at.
In addition to that, the lack of detail means that foreshadowing is nearly nonexistent and not only do scenes not really flow well, but plottwists just feel like they come out of nowhere.
Also the pace is absurdly quick, this is the most obvious example: the author took some time to explore the main character's ideologies and life style (like how he goes to great lengths to live hidden).But that changes after 10 chapters when he accepts an official position, which makes no sense, in the story those are a few days, he can't just accept to change his entire life like that, without no fucking character growth. Yes, we're told he was lonely, but that's not an explanation for taking such a large decision so lightly! Expecially considering how self aware one of his skills made him.
And that brings us to the characters, which is another can of worms. The MC was actually interesting in the beginning, but he stops being fleshed out after the first three chapters and instead of learning more about him, the same few character traits are brought up and shoved in our faces over and over.
Thenthere is "Snowy" who is honestly one of the most terribly introduced characters in the history of webnovels... the amount of effort that the author puts into describing her body and the weird choice of adjectives (like "buff" and "gigantic") before revealing that she is a girl are off-putting. Expecially because the MC mistakes her for a man, and then her gender is revealed by saying that: "she removed her visored helm to show a surprisingly pretty face beneath". Do you see the problem here? If after that revelation the author had bothere to insert a line where the main character observed her body and realized that it was obviously female that wouldn't be a problem, but that is never done, error that causes an hilarious situation in which the reader can't help but imagine a woman's head on a man's body. Expecially because even after that the author keeps describing her body by insisting on the fact that she's tall and muscular in an exaggereted way, highlighting her male phisical characteristics at every opportunity as he begins to describe her increasingly girly behaviour.
Lastly, one fo the things that really drove me insane was the dialogues, because god, does every dialogue between these two suck. The author was never that good at creating particularly believable conversations, but it wasn't that bad in his other works. Putting aside the fact that he clearly fails at making people speak like normal human beings would, he also has no idea how young people act. Let me explain, in the story we know that Blood-in-Snow is 18 and the main character mentions being slightly older than her. The problem is that during every single interaction they have (that are generally badly written as the author didn't bother to properly establish both characters' personalities before giving a shot at romance) the two act like goddamned preteens. I'm not joking, the amount of blushing involved wouldn't even be acceptable in a manga, other readers may not be bothered by this, but I am in the same age range as these two and it genuinely makes me shiver in disgust, every time I can't help but think if the author really believes this is what young adults are like, guess what? It isn't.
In conclusion, I wouldn't really reccomend to read this fiction, the premise sounds intriguing but the execution leaves a lot to be desidered. That being said, have a nice day.
I see no problems with this novel other than one thing: the story itself. I read up to chapter 17/18, and I just feel like there is no point to this story. There is no true sense of anything really happening other than "let's level up skills". There have been some very minor events that do not really matter at all up to this point for our protagonist, and everything just feels hollow. Another way to explain this, is that I do not see the point of why the protagonist likes leveling up his skills so much. Is it just because it's his job? Is there any other reason why? What are his true goals? Its been 17/18 chapters in, and there has been nothing to elucidate these questions, and as such I still do not see the point.