Death comes with the Harvest. Salvation lies in the Valley of the Moon, along the path of Martial Magic.
Xan always assumed he would be apprenticed to an herbalist in the sleepy village of Mogu and follow the Path of Peace, just like his father before him. It is the way—has always been the way.
But when his village is sacked by a raiding force of vicious monsters, corrupted by dark Qi, life as Xan knows it is over. Family dead. Villagers slain. His home burnt to ash.
Now, all Xan wants to do is figure out why his people were targeted and get revenge on the merciless creatures sweeping across the continent like a plague of locusts. Spreading their vile corruption. His only hope at salvation and retribution lies in the Valley of the Moon, at the fabled Xing Yi School of Martial Magic. If he is to succeed, he will need to learn to cultivate the energy of the elements, hone his martial and crafting skills, and complete the school’s harsh tests and trials. It will take more than a passing grade at this school, though, and not all that fail survive the experience…
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I am not a big fan of cultivation novels, because they often tend to stumble into the same pitfalls of power Progression. This story is building a solid foundation, without being too specific about the various elemental powers.
The only problem I have so far is that the MC is way too docile. He does not question things and the story simply brushes over glaringly important topics. At the start of the story the MCs friend is possibly infected with corruption. This is obviously quite important, but is never talked about after that chapter. One would expect the school they arrive at to investigate and make sure there is no corruption, but they so not. And the MC never asks about it.
In one of the recent chapters the MC attunes opposing elements and is told he would get kicked out of the school now, by the stories evil Bully. Obviously the MC does not seek to understand why he attuned opposing elements, which the story so far made us believe to be impossible. Why would he ...
So the Plot holes are adding up and if the author does not fix that, the story will go nowhere and not be worth the 3 star review I gave it.
As of chapter 9 this story is amazing. The pacing and flow of the story is perfect and the author takes time to explain concepts that are crucial to the story and world building. I see this story as a true diamond in the rough. The author succeeds in areas where I feel alot of similar stories fail which is taking time to introduce the world and really build a foundation for story progression. He also incorporates psychological and mental development in the characters early on. Overall, the story practically oozes potential. The only real concern I have is the possibility of being left with an unfinished story which is common on royalroad. To Author-san, please keep up the good work the story is amazing and I'm genuinely ecstatic to see where the story goes from here
There’s a couple chapters of setup giving us the backstory on these characters and their world, but this turns into a magical academy story pretty fast. Xan isn’t your typical OP protagonist who gets everything right his first try, which made it cool to watch him learn and grow, and the magical academy setting was great for building up the elemental magic system and friends and enemies he’s making along the way.
TL;DR: I’m really enjoying the testing and crafting, and I hope the author keeps more chapters coming.
Characters: There’s a huge cast of characters slow-introduced in a way that you can keep them straight, which is no mean feat, but for me the center of the story is Xan and Cho’s friendship, the way they interact and feed off each other, and I liked the hint at a coming darkness between them in spite of having each other’s backs. Neither one is a cookie-cutter stand in to worship a Gary Sue and tell you how great the other is. They feel like real people and they deal with their issues in a realistic way that also separates them as individual characters.
There’s a bit of a tsundere at the beginning, but it doesn’t work the same way as the usual cliché of girl or harem of girls falling inexplicably for the uninteresting-turned-overpowered MC. I won’t spoil it, but it plays into the story in a sometimes frustrating, sometimes unexpectedly heart-wrenching way.
Magic system: From all the mushroom and elixir talk in the beginning, I thought this was going to be focused mainly on crafting, which I like in a litrpg or cultivation story, so I was down for it. The shift to the elemental fighting was well done but abrupt, which I think was intentional on the author’s part. Like showing that Xan’s path of peace couldn’t last. The dark qi element is especially interesting to me, and I’m excited to learn more about it as Xan does. But by the time they’re in the academy, it becomes a mix of different styles of crafting and mystical martial arts, so something for everybody.
Academy: There are a fun mix of classes like calligraphy, crafting, and martial magic, doing the Harry Potter thing of filling you in on world building while also fleshing out the magic system, but staying interesting at the same time. There’s even a cooking class, which was unexpected and cool. The progression through the different elements was in awesome and the training and testing for each one felt appropriate for its namesake. It felt like there was a lot of depth without get bogged down in minute details and repetition like some cultivating stories do.
Readability: This is an epic fantasy style cultivation, so obviously the description of scene and setting is a lot more filled in and the action isn’t as conversational as you’d get from a modern narrator. In spite of that, though, this seemed like a surprisingly fast read. Before I realized it, I’d read the first half of the story.
Overall, the story is your standard "village bumpkin attends the cultivation school and grows in power" type, but it is one of the most well done ones I've seen. It avoids the usual pitfalls for these types of stories quite well so far.
The cultivation system is unique and robust, allowing for lots of specialization without getting needlessly complex.
The school actually seems to care about their students and discourages inter-personal conflict. There is the obligatory Arrogant Young Master antagonist, but he's not as cartoonishly evil as other stories.
At this point in the story they're all still learning and growing, but it's enjoyable to read. I definitely recommend.