Everyone wants to believe they are the hero of their own story. But in a world where prophecies are real, what happens if you're not the Chosen One?
A budding arcanist named Caden enrols in the Academy, entering the same cohort as one of the legendary Chosen Ones, and finds himself caught in a tangle of fate that threatens to unravel the entire Empire.
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Cover art by Fuyu Dust.
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"Just a Bystander" is a work of love and I intend to keep posting it for free on RoyalRoad for everyone to enjoy. As someone who has been blessed with a full-time job that has remained stable even in the midst of a global pandemic, I would like to stress that I am able to continue writing with or without financial support and that you should not feel compelled to put dollars into this.
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This is the most frustrating novel I have read in my life.
Every aspect that could be interesting is jingled in front of the reader and then taken away by stuff like "can't tell".
It's like the author told the reader:
- "Behind this door are the answers to your questions".
Then very visibly pulls out a key, locks the door and walks away.
And it applies to everything.
- The Prophecy? "Can't tell" says the character.
- How to do magic? "Can't tell" says the character.
If teaching magic bogusly "stunts" you, what the hell is the point of the academy?
The story basically establishes that the best way of learning magic is doing it independedly and everyone insists in it.
What is the point of the academy?
And almost as equally infuriating is everything relating to the Prophecy because it gets the same treatment.
I hate this novel.
The Overall rating is a reflection of my enjoyment with this story.
Caden is Just A Bystander, but he's not just a bystander. Choosing to involve himself in the grand matters of prophecy and fate, he's a great avatar of a desire to not just re-choose the same mistakes and to not just go along with what the spiders in the web want.
I don't love all the directions the plot takes, but the writing is impeccably solid and the characters shine.
I never leave reviews. Never. This alone should tell you what I think of this story.
I'm leaving this review as of chapter 16, but so far I would place this work on par with Mother of Learning. It's that good. What I particularly love is the well deep characters, the way they converse, and most importantly, the well thought out and developed magic system that we are learning.
I will absolutely recommend this to anyone.
As the story has progressed, the quality has improved. The story was somewhat interesting, it's now much more interesting. While it's true this could use some TLC on earlier chapters, the state of the story is good enough to want to see it continue.
This story takes a different slant on prophecy and inevitability. Huge potential.
I'm enjoying the story but the magic is so complicated & not really fun at all. If magic existed in real life but was algebra I would just buy a gun & stick to good ol simple technology. I don't need PHD in engeneering to watch a TV, or use a laptop. Honestly. No fun at all.
i can, however, accept that all of the characters are top Uber smart students capable of using this system, so it's acceptable, or would be if I wasn't bombarded with technical magic theory every 2 seconds instead of an actual story.
The combat is also bland & technical. Like listening to a radio presenter describe a basketball match using only technical terms and in monotone. There's no excitement, description or emotion. Just technicality. It's a little bit painful to read. The plot seems great and the story has potential but as of chapter 11 this potential has not been realised
that being said the plot & story seem relatively good so far but I'm currently forcing myself to get through it hoping it gets better.
**update** I've dropped this because it does not get better, the story is told with about as much emotion as Steven hawkings voice simulator (rip) and it focuses on the overcomlicated magic to the point it feels like reading the ingredients to a shampoo bottle or hair conditioner. With sprinkles (& I do mean sprinkles) of actual story here and there.
if the author focused on telling a story and toned down the lectures and magic system by about 70%-80% this would be a good story.
For example instead of saying "he launched a pre-prepared force bolt at Dave, forcing him to desperately dive to the side to avoid being caught in the explosion" and explaining the technical side of things [in an exciting/captivating way] before or after the fight
the author would say "he launched a seven-trigram diagram shifting reverse effect force bolt to pressure Dave, the formula he had pre-prepared would cause an explosion upon impact" taking all excitement and emotion out of the scene and bombarding the reader with technical drivel
it makes it extremely hard to read and almost painful at times.
there is a good story underneath all of this, if you love magic theory this may be for you.
And all of it's derivatives.
So far this story has set the stage for something that could be truly epic. It is a story that understands and executes on the Magic School setting with perfection.
We are given a character with enough understanding to believe he is great, and need to be humble, only for the story to immediately show him how little he knows. So we get to learn alongside him as all of his knowledge is revealed to us, then recontextualized for both him and us.
It has characters that seem real even at first contact. They aren't cutouts or cliche's, despite being specifically set up to fullfill the roles of tropes and roles.
It has a world similar enough to our own that it only need to show us the few ways that it is different for us to feel the wonder of understanding, without making us uncomfortable in our unfamiliarity.
I hope you can keep this going at this pace.
If I had to give any recommendations, it's slow down, let us know these characters and world some more before you start throwing too many character shifting and world changing occurrences at us. Let things settle some, and this can be great.
It's an easy five stars from me bois!
I've never seen a single grammar mistake, and everything is well formatted.
The story is bloody ace, and it's intellectual enough, without being needlessly complex, and not trashy, so much better than most on this site
The characters are believable, and no-one is a blatent mary sue to self-insert, and a great, natural learning curve to character development
This shit oozes style, it's well written enough that the realisations of the characters are genius, the links are there, but most wont spot them, and considering the character are the creme de la creme, it's sooo good, genius are often poorly done, but this ain't that!
Keep up the great work author!, and hopefully this meager contribution helps your algorithmic success.
Refined style. Top tier story. Humor and mystery is well done. It doesn't feel cliche or like a 2d academy story at all. It's very interesting.
This is a great story.
Follow as our protagonist strives o defy the hey gate of the world, and cost of walking that path
For me it''s really good and I usually don't read novels with male leads unless the main character is passably interesting. The magic seems to be an actual learned skill instead of just bloodline bullshit, so I find that very fascinating.
I can already smell a conspiracy in the story.