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The land is conquered.
A thief and a demon killer run afoul of its new overlord and the wizard that serves him. Now the wizard seeks his life's ambition, an artifact that will make his word law. Hearing this, the demon killer and thief begin to have ambitions of their own. The race is on for who will reach the artifact first, and an entire barbarian horde is in the running.
Yet the prize lies within the Forest of Giants, grown from the corpse of an empire.
There are tales of things that stalk the trees. Tales of those that hunger endlessly. Tales of those that feast on human flesh.
Tales of ogres.
A Sword and Sorcery story of high adventure.
All stories and characters - including The Ogre's Pendant and The Rat in the Pit - written by Traitorman are created by and are the intellectual property of J.M. Clarke
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As of november 28th, 2020, The Rat in the Pit has finished and the trilogy has reached its conclusion.
Thus, I'm updating this review once more, this time in a less analytical but more personal manner.
I've been reading Traitorman for a long time. I first found him in a swap a good four(?) months ago, and ever since I've been following this story as it steadily advanced towards its conclusion.
I fell in love with the characters by the first chapter, and have re-fallen for them every time I picked this story up again. Traitorman's writing has brought me laughter in boredom, joy in sadness, and inspiration in complacency. It has made me cry multiple times, and I'm not one to usually burst into tears at books or film.
Today, as I finished reading the Rat in the Pit, I was struck with a wave of emotion. It felt like I was leaving behind an era, where this story had been written. No, it may not have topped the charts or reached an astronomical wordcount, but each and every page brought me a kind of joy that I rarely see anywhere else.
Especially on this site, where traditional fantasies are rare and progression is all the rage, this normal, seemingly innocuous DnD style story took my heart and ran with it.
Congratulations, Traitorman, on completing your first trilogy. I look forwards to what's to come.
Your loyal reader and friend, devout member of the Traitorman fanclub,
(In case that was too emotional for you, here's the review I left before:)
Note: Updated as of august(?) 2020 to say that everything I say in this review is an understatement. This story literally gave me chills. Read it now or they'll send Eppon after you.
I went into this story with high expectations. Having been hyped up by the self-proclaimed head of the Traitorman fan club, it would be an understatement to say that I stepped in expecting quality. I have to say, not only were my expectations met, but they were BLOWN OUT OF THE WATER.
The story is phenomenal. The world is highly reminiscent of a traditional sword and sorcery type fiction, which is ironically a breath of fresh air on this site where gamelit and isekai are the norm. However, it's not just the world that goes back to its roots. The plot itself seems to reference Dungeons and Dragons and the like, though it puts its own spin on things so that they never feel boring. There's always something going on, and the pacing is some of the best I've seen on RR.
The characters are similarly great. It's nice to see a man/woman duo that doesn't look like it's headed in a romantic direction, and they both have distinct personalities that are already very fleshed out. The big bad especially seems to be given attention when it comes to characterization in the beginning - heck, we learn about him earlier than we learn about our protagonists!
Grammar is always my shortest category, especially when it's as good as this story's is. I think that I caught 1 grammatical error in the entire ~20k words that I've read, and even that one didn't slow my flow at all. (I actually had to go back and check because I wasn't sure whether it was even an error)
Finally, we get to style. I usually do style first in my reviews, but for this one I wanted to save the best for last. Oh my gosh, Traitorman's prose is heavenly. Easily in my top three for this site, if not number one. I don't know if its the sword and sorcery roots or just the author's natural writing, but every time I read this I feel like I'm being serenaded to. I cannot put into words how good the prose is in this story, and even if this type of story really isn't your thing, I would still recommend reading it solely for the prose. Really, it's incredible. I don't know how else to put it.
The only teensy bit of nitpicking that I have is that the beginning goes a little heavy on the terms, but the author has said in a comment that they're more there for background, rather than exposition. I kept up with the key names and races just fine, so this really is just me being nitpicky when I bring this up. And for its purpose, the terms work wonderfully - I feel like that's actually a part of what makes the prose in this story so good.
Overall, just read it. At least the first five chapters, just to see if you'll like it. Because trust me, you will. Everyone can like this story. Brilliant characters, amazing pacing, and as if I haven't said it enough, prose that will knock your friggin socks off. Go, click on that first chapter. Do it. You can thank me once you've binge-read the entire thing in a night.
Traitorman eschews the thin and reedy Gamelit and LitRPG light novel writing to instead hark back to fantasy storytelling's roots in sword and sorcery. Those well travelled on the Royal Road will appreciate the substance and imagination of The Ogre's Pendant as readers are immediately thrown into an adventure following loyal gal Wurhi and her companion Kyembe as they race from pickle to predicament to plight.
Well-choreographed action, cunning characters, and a subtly threaded color balance of exposition will keep you wanting a little bit more each time you reach the end of a chapter. Royal Road absolutely needs a little more Forgotten Realms and a little less status windows and quipping pop culture references, and I think in time The Ogre's Pendant will become one of the site's treasured gems for many appreciative readers.
Alright, sometimes Traitorman lays on the similes a little too thick when describing things, but even that's so fun to read that I can't take off more than half a point.
Honestly, at the start of the novel it was a bit hard to immerse myself, so I had some doubts if I should continue reading it. The information that is given is so much, that is too hard to remember it all and that brings to some confusion.
However, once the action started, I just couldn't stop reading it. The writing style is just amazing and gives you a different way to immerse yourself fully, with no hiccups whatsoever!
The style is unique, the flow smooth and everything seems natural. It took me some time to get used to it, but it's totally worth it and brilliant.
We start with a lot of introduction that can make us pause, but once the action begins, that introduction comes as helpful. The action is fast paced and natural and the plot is well connected. It's trully enjoyable to read it once I got used to the writing style and the introductions. So much so I didn't realize when I managed to read it all, looking for the next chapter, only to be disappointed. I can't wait for more updates for the novel.
Full score. There was not a single mistake that I saw in all the novel. It's just amazing that the author could keep such a good grammar all the time, like there is a team of editors behind him, making sure everything is in order. (There is, right? Right?)
Well developed, every character has depth to him, that makes you fully immersed in them.
A story that you shouldn't miss! You won't regret your choice reading it.
I would go into detail about each scoring subject. That would be pointless, though, because I have nothing to say of them.
This story? Polished.
The tone? Phenomenal and accurate for the setting.
The writing STYLE? This author has one of the best writing styles I've read (both when considering traditionally published and self-published works). With the descriptive elements that draw the reader in. I know this author has spent a lot of time editing this story because it shows.
I binged 10 chapters in about an hour.
I will binge 10 more. And then another 10. And so forth.
Fantastic story. Perfect story. I don't think I've ever raved over a book before? Congrats, Traitorman, you have written one of my favorite self published e-reads to date (and I haven't even finished it, yet).
This is a story to watch out for.
What do you get when you mix R.R. Martin levels of intrigue with Tolkien-esque world-building and characterization with rich dialogue, fast-paced action, and grammar and style on par with the best writers out there? This.
You get this story: The Ogre's Pendant.
What starts as a seemingly simple prison break quickly escalates into an epic heist, and then turns into much, much more, and while the story is a bit of a dense read the first couple of chapters where all the cultures, names, places and characters are introduced, fear not as you will quickly get sucked into Traitorman's universe as you step from adventure to Jurassik horror to epic fight scenes, masterfully narrated all the while.
Edit: My prediction from a month ago has come true, as this story has officially broken into the top ten best rated on RR. If you're reading this, stop and go read the story instead.
As I mentioned, easily on par with most published authors. While normally I look for style disappearing in a novel, this story has its own unique style in spades. Yet not only does it not get in the way, it actually enriches the story, giving it a distinct tone and sense of depth unlike what I've seen from most stories on RoyalRoad. This harmonizes with the worldbuilding and characterization to create a unique and compelling read.
6/5, easily. I don't know how Traitorman does it, but this feels like it has been professionally edited by an entire team. Sentences flow beautifully, sentence construction is artful yet understandable, and I did not spot a single typo or grammatical error of any kind(and those usually jump out at me).
The story is still early on, but even at this point there has been so much that's happened. Plot points feel natural and not forced, like the expected obvious outcome given the characters and their circumstances. Yet the author still manages to surprise the reader in novel ways, always keeping things interesting. Pacing is just about perfect - my only minor comment here is that the introduction of so many races/terms/cultures early on forced me to slow down a bit to truly digest all of that.
There too, however, we don't get exposition dumps, but rather learn of these things naturally through the course of the characters' actions or via clever narration. Once past the that though, things really got into their groove and I was hooked the rest of the way.
Some of the most well-developed characters I've seen on RoyalRoad, and their personalities are shown not told to us, through dialogue and their own actions. The main character Kyembe and Wurhi duo complement and balance each other perfectly. There are also some pretty frikkin' awesome side characters that you will no doubt come to enjoy as much as the mains.
Even the antagonists - especially the antagonists - are well-developed. Not one of them feels flat or two-dimensional, even if they've only recently been introduced. The worldbuilding helps in that department, instantly giving characters a sense of history and depth.
In conclusion, this story is definitely worth your read. It's deep, intelligent, yet also fast-paced and suspenseful. In my mind it is easily Best Rated top ten material on this site.
Deserves more reviews and reads than it currently has, but it's not a tale of some dork sucked through a magic portal from Earth to stare at poorly constructed stat boxes, so what're ya gonna do?
Shade aside, it's classic fantasy adventure that makes me think of the Conan the Barbarian stories. The writing is excellent, the characters are interesting, and the setting feels alive. If you can imagine reading something that's not LitRPG, give it a try.
Prior to reading The Ogre's Pendant, I'd never really noticed how one trait common in traditional high fantasy is that your standard genre tropes can start to feel a bit... tame, after a while. Stakes can start to feel underwhelming, the outcomes of battles predictable, and when a device is entrenched enough in the genre, assumptions can start to seep into the stories like a shared in-joke between author and reader. Sometimes to the point of turning old hat tropes into little more than expected set pieces.
Not so in The Ogre's Pendant. This story is menacing, brutal and gloriously wild. From the moment we're first introduced to main characters Kyembe the wizard and Wurhi the thief escaping the clutches of a marauding warlord, we're thrown into a treacherous, perilous universe where death's inevitability seems only ever one second away. Whether or not our core duo are on the receiving or dealing end is another matter. Here, the dark things which lurk in the forest will most certainly kill you in a variety of gruesome ways - provided the hearts of men don't complete the job first.
I can't remember the last time I read a story where the stakes felt so real, so up-close and personal. This isn't an epic about saving the world so much as it is about the personal exploits of two souls in one small corner of a vast, dynamic macrocosm. And yet it feels like the former every step of the way.
Much of this is down to the incredible characterisation: Kyembe, elegant, acrobatic and cunning, and Wurhi, nimble, sincere and streetwise - plus a third major character I won't spoil - are written with so much personality and charm, and the growth of their developing friendships is an absolute highlight. I love them all, though it has to be said Wurhi is my favourite for her sheer relatability. Wurhi is also the focus of the second story in this collection - The Rat in the Pit - and I can see why. I won't provide spoilers, but the themes in her story simultaneously left me with a strong sense of yearning and a sense of hope and optimism for humanity, and ended up leaving me in tears. Bravo, Traitorman. Bravo.
It's been mentioned in many other reviews, but the writing in The Ogre's Pendant is pure poetry. Its grammar is perfect, its prose of similar standing as the legends it tells. The story's pacing is flawless, to the point where sometimes it almost feels a little too perfect, as if the scenes are matched to the beats of a drum, each one falling in precise rhythm exactly where it needs to be. I can't praise it enough. This is, quite honestly, some of the best writing I've ever seen, and the best I've seen on Royal Road to date.
Rarely do I give a story a five-star rating in every category, but The Ogre's Pendant more than deserves it. It's... well, beautiful. In more ways than one. Read it if you don't believe me. I dare you.
I was worried this was going to be a slow read, but we get into the action pretty quick.
The first bit is working to set up the characters, the world, the power in that egg and what's possibly at stake here, setting up the story until it's time to sit back and watch the dominos fall.
Characters are memorable and believable; I won't add more as that's really all that's needed.
Can't wait to see here it goes.
To anyone reading my prior review from The Dreaming Sceptre....all my dreams have been realised. Only complaint is very minor grammar/word choice issues in some of the latest chapters. Nothing a good proofread won't fix.
And speaking of fixes...Traitorman. Please. I need moar my friend. Phenomenal story and characters, everything I hoped and dreamed for. This story really is a gem and I applaud you sir.
Also might be fanboying.
And trying to fill the 200 character requirement.
Is it working yet?
Doesn't matter, if you can read this and not enjoy, we can't be friends.
Ok, FINE, seriously, this is a masterful story. Somewhat predictable, but damnit, it's got all the points that make the heart sing. Enjoyable banter, heartfelt emotional "awwww's," bone-crushing action, and the genuine character growth.
Barbarians, Ogre's, demon's, werewolves, oh my!
Still haven't filled the owed count yet.
Is it characters or words?
Fuck it, take my money!
Just end this never ending word writing hell!
Ok, seriously, does every review need 200 words? I've met the limit right? Can you improve upon perfection?
Ok, fine, nothing's perfect. But seriously?! Still?!?!
The Ogre’s Pendant is like a breath of fresh air for those who enjoy a well-crafted omniscient fantasy, reminiscent of Tolkien in its ability to weave a story, characters and world-building together to paint an epic tale well worth the read. The magic, despicable villains, ogres, and not so shiny heroes are very much alive, and each struggle towards their purpose that (for ill or for good) has brought them all in search of The Egg of Gergorix.
I found nothing to critique in this story beyond differences of preferences in pace, style, and exposition, which I know better than to comment on as a writer myself. The Grammar was flawless. The word choices remarkably unique and well-executed. The characters so far, as mentioned above, vibrant and intriguing. The Ogre’s Pendant is a hardy tale to sink one’s teeth into, preferably with a nice flagon of ale, or whatever choice drink is closest. Adventure awaits—do you dare to begin?