- Traumatising content
Ragna Griffin thought she had figured out the world. Only once her kingdom brands her a terrorist must she learn how complex reality can be. Now, she just wants her old life back. To become a Valkyrie, Altera Xion must capture Ragna's father, who holds the key to a plot that could start a new world war. Yet, her worst enemy will be her own anxiety.
For the sake of their goals, the two must set aside their differences, embark on a journey through Aes, and gather allies. Aes, however, is a cruel future fantasy world full of horrors and secrets. Each day, their minds and convictions drift closer to their limits, their dreams further slipping away.
In the end, will they persevere or shatter?
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(Note this fiction has been edited in the time since I left this review; I haven't yet had a chance to reread it.)
Ostensibly, Ragna tells the story of a promising young military officer falsely accused of a terrible crime and setting out to clear her name. What the synopsis doesn't mention is that this isn't merely a fugitive-focused thriller, but an epic-in-progress rich with adventure, history, exploration and mythological lore.
Ragna takes place in a world where mythology and magic have as much a place as modern technology, and absolutely shines in its unique, well thought-out world-building. I could easily recommend this story based on this aspect alone. Mythology in Ragna takes direct inspiration from its counterparts from various historical cultures in the real world (with a particular focus on Norse mythology and culture) but with its own highly original twists. You'll recognise names, references and analogies, but they're never quite what you expect. It's familiar but... not. And I love it. Ragna is not a story that rehashes old ground. It's refreshing, different and stunningly detailed.
The story is well-paced and always interesting, moving easily between action scenes, exploratory scenes expanding on the world or advancing the plot, and deeper, more reflective moments. Author YAK Edge weaves fascinating lore into the story in each interaction which never feels awkward, and I can't reiterate enough how interesting it is. This is a world brimming with secrets to be discovered and conspiracies to be unearthed around every corner. You want to know more about its societies, technologies, structures and magic, which are at once so familiar and yet so alien. And it only gets more interesting as it goes on.
Where it falls down is in terms of clarity, not an uncommon problem in web fiction. More than anything, Ragna needs a serious edit. And we're not just talking grammar, which does need work. I found myself butting up against frequent inconsistencies, plot holes and instances where characters made questionable decisions or events just didn't make logical sense. Much of this could be greatly improved by better explaining why characters acted a certain way or how they arrived at their decisions. I get the impression it's been kept vague deliberately to leave certain aspects mysteries for longer, but in practice it just ends up being confusing.
This lack of clarity is perhaps exemplified in the story's glossary chapters, which are more useful in helping to understand what's going on than they really should be. I was grateful for the assistance and appreciated their parody-like tone, but the story should be able to communicate key concepts clearly on its own. (To be fair, given the sheer amount of complex lore crammed into Ragna, it does succeed at conveying quite a lot through context already. But the glossaries should act like refreshers or quick reference points, not the main source of information.)
Another area this tended to crop up in was where the story attempted to take the interactions of magic to their logical conclusion. On the one hand, I adore this sort of utilitarian, lateral, problem-solving approach to magic (or general conflict) and find it highly engaging. When it worked, it was immensely satisfiying. But it was hit and miss - and when it missed, it felt like it was because the story had failed to address what should have been key concerns in that situation. From some of the author's comments, it seems clear the reasoning had been thought out in many cases but just hadn't been adequately communicated to the reader. Again, clarity.
Would I recommend this story overall? Absolutely. If, like me, you enjoy originality, exploration and a continual sense of discovery, Ragna scratches that itch and then some. It's both thoughtful and fun, and has some of the greatest potential I've seen on Royal Road to date. But it needs an edit.
Since most of the reviews here are focused on the earlier part of the story, I'll talk about when the world opens up and gets more developed, which is more or less when the runes system was introduced.
This story mixes the known and familiar with innovative ideas, taking a simple idea of runes (very common in myths and legends) to another level in use in this story. I could say that the author has really taken his stride in world building as the story moved along. Like the rune system, the setting is also a mix of the familiar (both modern and fantastical elements) and unique twists to make the story stand out from others. Very well thought out blend of real world myths and legends and mixing them with into a blend of sci-fi and magical world.
We follow Ragna as she journeys through this world, which she herself doesn't know much of, so we learn together with her the powers and intrigue surrounding it. It kind of reminded me of long epic quests story but set in a unique world compared to the usual medieval fantasy setting.
As for style, the author I think uses third person limited, or at least that was the intent. Some would probably think the author uses omniscient pov, however that's because the pov shifts in between characters for the same scene. It's hard to follow in the earlier chapters, but in later chapters the breaks became easier to understand who's pov we are in. While many people do prefer third person limited, just be warned of the occassional change in pov in the same scene, which is usually not the norm.
As for the characters, they really do come together as the story goes on, just like the world building. There are some inconsistencies at the start, but as we move along, we can recognize them as individual persons with unique traits. I think that could be exemplified when I can recognize who's pov it is in a scene where most of the main cast are present.
Grammar, I don't really have an issue with it. There are occassional errors but nothing serious that took me out of the story.
In all, readers should give this a try. This story shows the evolution of a writer. Maybe the issue before was when the author was still trying to build experience. However, he went back and edited his work (based on the comments - I haven't read this story before the edits), and I didn't really find anything that would warrant previous ratings.
It's high time more people tried this story.
Ragna: A young girl's failure to become a hero, is a nicely written piece of fiction that has obviously already been edited, leaving few issues and you can focus on the strong parts of it: style and main character.
Style: I was a bit shocked in the first chapter, but if you read until the second, you can see that all of that was intentional and realise the genius behind it. After that, you can look forward to a constantly well flowing style that fits the character.
Grammar: as said, it seems to be already edited and only few, negligible, issues remain.
Character: 5* for the main character - nicely fleshed out and refreshing. 4* for side characters so far. Ragna feels truly authentic, although it took me some time to warm up to her.
Story: There was a short part that stretched a bit for me personally (Chap 3) but it picks up and really drew me at chapter 6. I would advice to read at least until there.
Overall, I can definitely recommend Ragna as a really rare piece of urban-fantasy with a Nordic mythology flare.
I might update the review after reading further at a later time.
The story begins with Ragna and her ambitions to be a valkyrie. Her hopes don't last long because first she fails a simulated test, and second she gets framed for a crime.
The full premise gets set up within the first six chapters. Before that, readers get introductions to the characters and the world, and as the story goes on those bits get deeper. A lot deeper.
World building here is pretty great. The characters inhabit a country called Midgard. Their enemies - the Vaix - are their tentatively peaceful neighbors. The politics are set up nicely, through Ragna's (rather prejudiced) thoughts and opinions. The world also contains both magic and technology. All of these elements have strong roots in Norse mythology, but the world still manages to be something different. Aes is a pretty unique place.
Other places where this story shines are characters. There are some odd reactions here and there, but for the most part, readers have a good sense of Ragna and Altera's personalities. Ragna is ambitious, a bit hot-headed, but also a straightforward and caring person, towards specific people. Altera is a bit of a perfectionist. She's very reserved but also a good, logical thinker. As far as their characterization goes, I have no complaints, and they're likeable characters too. So, that's a plus.
In fact, all characterization is pretty solid. I can easily visualize, name, and describe almost all of the characters. My favorite is Sven.
Those are the best elements of the story, and honestly, I think the most important.
When it comes to grammar and style, there are a few things I think lack effectiveness. Grammar is alright. Not perfect, but still very readable. Other than the odd typo or tense change, the writing flows.
Style, however, could be more straightforward. The actual words and sentences are fine, but the author does like to build the mystery by hiding some information from readers. I don't think that strategy to confuse is the best choice for a mystery. I noted this type of thing a lot in the earlier chapters, but it lessened in later chapters. The author has also made a good effort to work on the confusion, but I did deduct some stars because I don't like to be confused, especially during cool fight scenes.
Also, while I appreciated the glossary items at the end of chapters, I felt they shouldn't be needed as much as they were. Those types of world building details - tv shows, game consoles, locations, myths, etc. - really help make the world feel real. However, they can fall a bit flat. The reader reads past them, and the concept goes over said readers head, until the reader scrolls to the footnotes. Then, the little references become fun. It would be more fun if every reference could be understood within the text. The best references were those that included some hint as to what they were in the dialogue or thoughts of characters. If all of the references worked like that, I would think they were pretty genius. Right now, they could use some touchups.
Overall, it's a detailed world, and with such detailed worlds comes the challenge of conveying all the little pieces. I can understand why the author might struggle to get everything to fall into their perfect places. That being said. The characters and plotline are great, which, I think, makes some of the confusion forgiveable.
Ragna is a story drenched in creativity. It's interesting concept is amplified further as we explore this incredibly well-written mythic ubran fantasy that truly lays a strong foundation for the characters to shine. In particular, the protagonist Ragna Griffin is probably one of the most well-written protagonists I've seen this way of web-fiction. While I'm not even half-way through the story, the way her attitude and personality blend with the setting in an incredibly interesting way. There's always a fear with these kind of stories that the protagonist is just written to be a pointless self-insert/OP protagonist, but she has a clearly-defined character that clashes well with her superiors in the millitary.
Action is great, tightly written with enough style to keep it interesting and grammar wise, I found very little wrong with it. Clarity is definitley a problem at some points, but this has been mentioned in other reviews, so I'd imagine it's definitley not as much of a problem at the current moment. If you are at all a fan of the type of mythlogy Ragna evokes, not reading this would be a mistake. If you're a fan of action and urban fantasy in general, still read it. It's great.
Story – 5/5
The story is quite interesting, I like it so much. The synopsis helped me understand a bit more of the story as I read through the chapters.
When I read chapter 08, I had an “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” moment which lasted for quite a while. When I first read the synopsis, I asked myself “what conspiracy will she be in”? And then, I found out!
I have so much more to say, but I can’t find the right words on how to express how I enjoy this story.
Style – 4.5/5
Very good, it’s written in the Third Person perspective, and the execution was fantastic. The descriptions written by the author are very nice too; it gave me a vivid painting of what was going on as I was reading through the text. The author has a wide vocabulary as from what I could’ve read, so he has large disposal of words ready at hand whenever he needs to write descriptions.
The action scenes in Chapters 1 and 2 are quite fascinating to read, and like I’ve said, his descriptions help a lot.
I also like the little bits at the end of each chapter, explaining things that may be confusing for the reader.
Grammar – 4.5/5
Exceptionally great, I’ve seen no problem except for some minor mistakes.
Characters – 5/5
Our main character is Ragna, and as I read Chapters 1 and 2, I told myself “I probably won’t like her,” but when Chapter 3 came, that’s where it all changed. From then on, I liked her personality. She’s pretty fleshed out, so that’s nice.
As for Altera, at first, I thought she was going to be the antagonist, turns out I’m wrong. That’s a plus for tricking me.
As for Sven, I was about to write something about him, when he just went “Aight, ima head out”...
As for Princess Aurelia, even though it’s just been a few chapters, I've already become intrigued in seeing more of her.
If you ask me who is my favorite out of all, it's either Aurelia or Ragna.
Overall – 5/5
Do I recommend this story? Without a doubt in my mind, absolutely! I'll recommend it to my classmates who are interested in fiction.
The start of the story is a little confusing, and I lost track of what was going on. When the action start though the confusion went away and the story started to get more consistent and I had a better idea of what was going on. There is a bit of a rocky start, but afterwards the rockiness is gone.
The story has some different aspects of tension, as there seems to be some romantic tension between the main character and her charge, as well as the obvious combat tension of an action story.
Style: The style is straight forward and simple. The world-building is evident but maybe a bit too much in the background as at the start it is confusing to tell what is going on.
Grammar: The gramma is good to excellent but there are a few places where the wrong words are chosen. These places are few though and do not detract from the story.
Characters: At the beginning the main character is a little unsettled, and its hard to get a grip on her personality, later when the story gets rolling the character locks down. There are a few places in the early portrayal that are a bit jarring.
Style: Superb world-building, and excellent action scenes that are greatly narrated and flow perfectly.
Story: So far, the plot is developing nicely and the world is slowly being revealed to the reader.
Grammar: Great grammar, nothing detracting from the story and pleasant to read.
Characters: Characters are believable and detailed. The way the author writes them by focusing on their emotions and inner thoughts makes the reader care about all of them, which is not an easy feat!
"We shall rule the world with an iron fist. The peasants will beg; the rich will fear, and all the dandies in the world will beg even more." An out of context quote that does not spoil you the story.
The one thing that captivated me the most about Ragna: A young girl's failure to become a hero is the author's ability to write good dialogue consistently throughout the novel. This is not an easy task and for that we have to thank Ragna, the stoic main character that never bores me. The book also contains detailed worldbuilding, so you don't have to worry about lack of information.
Grammar and Style are both on point. Nothing to report.
I don't regret a single minute spent reading Ragna and I know you'll enjoy it too!
If you love nonstop action, this is the story for you( well, in the beginning, I can't speak for the rest of the book, not there yet)! I would say, don't judge this story until you read further because that's when you actually start to see the characters and their personalities. Right now, I don't know much about the protagonist, except she is strongwilled/confident(first two chapters). Later on, she seems angrier than the average Valkyrie, maybe a little juvenile(could be wrong dont yell at me lol)? I'm waiting to see her character development, will it be for the better or worse? I believe the author does a tremendous job with worldbuilding. I want to know a little more for what's going on it the protagonist's head, but I will probably get that if I read more into the story :)