Ian Dunai thought he was powerless.
He’s not alone: only a small percent of the population have high enough affinities to perform magic. But in the eyes of his father’s gifted family, Ian’s impotence is a disgrace—and the stain of his mother’s common blood.
But on one fateful day, Ian awakens not in his college dorm but in the middle of the ocean on an old dinghy. Reaching land is the least of his problems as he encounters risen skeletons, tortured captives, and a shoreside city in the throes of contagion.
Ian doesn’t last very long without magic. But death isn’t the end: Ian wakes back up on the dinghy and relives the day again...and again...and again.
As Ian investigates the purpose of the loop and a way to escape, he begins to realize that he might be more powerful than anyone—especially himself—ever imagined.
Release schedule: 2 chapters/week (Mon/Fri at 11:30 AM EST).
Book 1, The Menocht Loop, is complete at ~100k words (~370 pages; chapters 1-41).
Book 2, The False Ascendant, is complete at ~110k words (chapters 42-83)
Book 3, The Eldemari's Wrath, is complete at ~145k words (chapters 84-143)
Book 4, The Samsara Crucible, is ongoing (chapters 144 and on).
Constructive criticism welcome.
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The first arc, inside the time loop, was quite good.
Once the first book is over, though, the quality drops hard. The biggest problem is the pacing; if the first fourty chapters had a plot development every five chapters, the second fourty has half that or less. The rest of it is filler, info-dumps, and interludes.
Secondly, the style changes; if the first arc is action /mystery, the second is character melodrama. Once the puzzle solving in the first arc is done, the second arc is mostly spent sitting around whining. I got fed up and dropped out part way into the fighting tournament. Yes, there's a fighting tournament. Yes, it's full of filler, with the MC curbstomping throwaway cardboard-cutout characters then sitting around whining about how awful everything is in-between.
I dunno. I don't think leaving the loop ruined the story or anything like that, but it does seem like the author was doing a lot better writing within the constraints of the loop. If the pacing didn't tank, maybe the character development would happen at a reasonable pace, and it would feel less like the MC is sitting around angsting for no good reason.
The first arc is good. But the story fundamentally changes after, and I don't think the author handles it well.
I enjoyed the loop and the mcs interactions within the loop, but after it ended I had a really hard time staying interested in what was going on. Maybe it was just me but the world didn't feel compelling at all and the new characters introduced after the time loop (actually almost every character) felt unininspired to me. Dropping at chapter 61.
At this point of time i am dropping the story. Which does not happen often for me.
The Synopsis for this story is very misleading. This story tries to get extra readers by saying its a timeloop progression story, but it is anything but. The timeloop and location "Menocht Bay" is essentially a footnote in the overall story. Your introduced at the end of the first part of the loop where the MC is at peak power. After he finally gets through the first part he just brute forces his way through the remainder of the loop and escapes, and then the story begins for real
Dialogue and Character Growth - Non-existent. The MC moves from plot to plot with almost no thought, disccussion, goal or interest. New characters and viewpoints are brought up and never appear again. Dialogue is practically non-existent between himself and anyone other than two people.
A series that painfully disolves before your very eyes. Each successive arc is a jarring departure and decline from the previous in terms of characters, story, world, and quality.
The time loop is spectacular. The escape and tournament are good. The war is mediocre with good parts. You may enjoy it if you are invested in the characters and the world.
The 4th arc is where almost everything and everyone interesting is thrown out the window and forgotten. Replaced with something new that I absolutely did not enjoy. Remembering how much I enjoyed the time loop arc turned this from unenjoyment to insulting.
I recommend future readers enjoy the story as long as they are able, drop it without worry any arc after the first because it's a bumpy ride downward in quality.
For the author: This is just my opinion. Capture the lightning in the bottle that was the first arc or two and repelicate that in future works. Avoid creating a story that drastically changes almost everything inbetween arcs as it alienated me from what I enjoyed originally.
This story is on the better side of average, that is for sure. It isn't bad, but it isn't nearly as good as "Mother of Learning." Instead of getting sucked into this novel, I found myself becoming less invested the more I learned.
So the question I had to ask myself was, why?
The answer is that I don't like the main character, Ian, very much. Actually, I don't like any of the characters very much. I don't hate them, but they all disapoint.
While I love the author's style with the shifting point of view, that glimpse into the minds of the supporting characters fails to make them likable or interesting. In fact, it serves to make me wonder, "why are you such an idiot?"
This doesn't matter much in the time loop, because obviously the main character can't form meaningful relationships when the world resets every so often. But outside of the time loop, characters baffle me with their idiocy and their casual, unneccesary, cruelty. I mean, the Crowned Prince (a ruler of a country) risks war and spends billions to aquire Ian's services when he emerges from the time loop with incredible power.
But he has nothing for him to do!
Worse still, Ian isn't willing to do much either. He has no goal, no point, and that wouldn't matter if anyone else had a plan, but no one does! All he wants is to never be bound by an oath, but why though?
Did he never realise that contracts - whether mundane or magical - are simply a part of normal employment? Can he not see the obvious problems with having a walking nuke not have some kind of agreement with the government? Does he think that he is unique or does Ian realise that every single powerful practioner is in the same kind of situation?
Why is his mom such a consistent asshole? And his Aunt too, for that matter.
Why is the Crowned Prince such a complete idiot? How can he justify spending billions, altering his international policies, and making certain that in the future there will be a war with a larger and more powerful country, all for someone who refuses to do much beyond laze around his palace!?
It has become more and more distracting as the story has gone on, and I can only hope it improves in the future.
At it's core, 'The Menocht Loop' is a character study.
Recommended for readers who like:
- Character development
- Stories exploring psychology
- Time loops
- Overpowered Protagonist (Note: Very little action though)
Not recommened for:
- Levelling up
- Battle Junkies
- Worldbuilding (Note: Interesting world but not explored well)
- Refined writing
On the other hand, whilst it is a good fiction on the whole, reviewers from Caerulex's other fiction Apex Predator, and readers from the recently finished Mother of Learning who are looking for more time loops have drastically overhyped this story. Whilst it is has been Good enough to keep me reading, I would be hesistant to suggest that it is Great and I feel as though people looking for advice in the reviews should be aware of that going in to avoid betrayed feelings.
We as an audience are given too much information of what is happening outside of the Time Loop which largely ruins much suspense of the main characters situation. There are not too many but all but one of them could be considered if/when the protagonist escapes the loop.
When these do occur, they are hamfisted into a chapter with seemingly little regard for placement. There is a chapter where the first quarter is in the protagonists perspective and the you get the rest of the chapter as the alternate perspective. This kind of poor written arrangement happens often and its one of the reasons I binged the series. It is hard to follow sometimes. Not because of any complex time mechanics; because of very few points of closure.
(If this was intentionally designed to put us in the mindset of someone who can't get a break from the loop, it could be considered great, but it is almost definitely not as it comes at the cost of the quality of the work.)
The story does a decent job at doing this naturally but there are certain glaring things missing. I have no real idea of the technological level or appearance of the surroundings until particular scenes later on. It appears as though the setting could be similar to modern Earth but on a different planet but there is no solid confirmation. The modern aspects seem to have things related to magic but theres no real confirmation and we have very few views into how society functions.
Additionally if you do choose to read, Jupiter is not the planet. It is the name of a city. And should have definitely have been made much clearer.
Despite my earlier acclaim for the character writing, there are definitely times when the protagonist's character is inconsistent. Which makes me believe that some good parts of it are unintentional and might be from me reading too much into things.
The protagonist does tend to retract into themselves quite a bit and block off outward emotion. This combined with how other characters are portrayed due to the time loop leads to a bit of a disconnect towards the beginning but little tidbits from the beginning have made the characters incredibly interesting and rich as the story has progressed.
This is another area where I felt the outside exposition has detracted from the story as it introduced characters in a way that, whilst thought provoking, wasn't necessary.
- Intrigue & Mystery
Final point is on intrigue. As I stated in the beginning, at its core, this is a character study. You won't find the same kinds of intrigue that you would have read in Mother of Learning in this time loop novel. There is a level of mystery that struggles to survive admists all the extra information given by the expositional perspectives but that is most of what you will be getting in this story. The intrigue is largely situational and short-lived.
It is the bane of writing a character who is overpowered. There are limitations on the protagonists ability which help create more challenges but solutions to them are largely handed to them and there is little capable of causing resistance in the challenges the protagonist faces due to their situation.
What little exists though is written well, it is a shame this aspect wasn't given more room to shine. I think its reduced place in the story could be considered a boon though as it places focus on the character development without as many distractions a intrigue heavy plot would provide.
As a final note:
Do not read the comments on chapters because the author has put so many spoilers about future plot. Like I'm up to the most recent chapter and I already have parts spoiled for me. No joy is to be gained from reading them.
A very well written begining that has instantly hooked me in with an intriuging system of magic that i can't wait to find out about. Hopefully this will be able to develope into a new favourite of mine now that mother of learnings finished. :)
Not bad, it's well written and coherent. I think the score really depends on where the story ends up going, but so far it's pretty good. The main character is a little odd, his personality seems to be inconsistent, it's not a big issue really, but the author needs to pick a way to portray him and stick with that. His emotions flip from realistic to unrealistic and it makes it hard to get a grasp on who he is. As for the other characters there isn't too much to write for them yet, they aren't really there.
The story is great, but.... <>
It just all feels so jarring.
The main character's relationships are mega toxic. The conversation between mother and son are like it's between an Army General and a sheep. Ian just does everything, and I mean EVERYTHING his mother tells him to do. He's already in his 20's, has survived countless murdering and being murdered and yet he acts like a total wimp.
Grammar was spot on, never spotted a single mistake and that is a first. So that was at least very well done about the book.
The style is also very intense sometimes, as the writer uses words completely too convoluted and archiac for my taste. Sometimes things are just things shouldn't be as verbose like a high school art teacher describes paintings a bit too much. There is also the issue of the author effortlessly throwing gore around like it's flowerpetals. I get it with the 'Decemancy', gore is going to be a bit more pronounced but it was like it didn't even matter to the character. Problem is that it apparently does matter to the character as he later describes being revolted by semi-rotted flesh. I mean, come on.
The story is also a bit on the weak side, as most things gets deus ex machinad to shit with decemancy or beginning/end/remorse/life magic. When it doesn't, and it does happen sometimes, it is amazing and it pieces together wonderfully. So I get where some people take away the bad, but there is, again for my taste, too little of the good to compensate.
Then we get to the characters. I have never read a novel that, whilst held in high regard by others, has such bad characters. It read like nothing I've ever laid my eyes on. I got crazy anime vibes, and not in a good way. The character has the most bitchy attitude while around his mother, but is very happy and decisive around his sister. These things do not a bad book make, but the way the characters have been laid bare in the time loop does. It just doesn't make any sense anymore. It is impossible for me to believe that his mother isn't just a weak loser that say anything to justify being a total and utter bitch/dick/smartass/narcissist. We saw how she reacted to getting her way, and that was becoming catatonic and being a total dick about it. Not really the reaction of a strong minded/empowered anything. If the author shows us that she is actually a total weakling, it feels emotionally wrong for the MC to follow her advice in any way. The MC doesn't pity her after the loop, no that would be way too aggressive, no, he becomes her slave little bitchboy. And all it takes for the MC to forgive being locked in a nightmare loop for years is a single shed tear of his aunt. I mean Come the fuck on.
Like, really, most addictive substances are illegal, so why isn't this one?! I never was one for time loop stories, but this one had me hooked immediately. On to the review:
Style & Grammar Scores
Both the style and grammar of this story are amazing. The author is clearly more than fluent in English, to the point where I'm not bogged down reading the same words or phrases repeated over and over again.
I'm giving this 4.5 stars instead of 5, not because of any deficiency on the author's part, but rather because the story is still just beginning, in all honesty. If I was just judging the main character, I'd give it a 5. However, since we have recently been introduced to the 2nd MC (and some seemingly important side characters), I plan on waiting a little longer to see how their characters develop before editing the character score further.
So far the story is absolutely amazing. We know that there is a reason Ian entered the loop, though we still don't know what that reason is. I was tempted to give the story 4.5 stars, but decided against it, for the same reason that I didn't give the character score 5 stars. The story so far is amazing, and has yet to leave me dissapointed. However, if you aren't willing to wait and deal with the suspense of finding out the "why" behind the events of the Menocht Loop (which I imagine occurs is Book 2), then perhaps this story isn't for you.