Heart of Cultivation
Book one is now available for purchase or download through Kindle Unlimited!
Jian was a prodigy, at least until he discovered that his path of cultivation had hit a dead end almost as soon as it began. That was all years ago, though. He has long since resigned himself to his fate and prepared himself for a dull, ordinary, but happy life. Stunted cultivation or no, he's clever enough to carve out his own comfortable niche.
Unfortunately, not all of the matters from his past have been settled. When a reckless mistake threatens to cost him everything, Jian will have to prove that he's desperate enough to rise to the occasion. Or that he's capable of avoiding the consequences.
This is an affectionate reconstruction of the xianxia genre. I will be deploying the tropes from the genre that I enjoy in a framework that I think makes sense. The story updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and sometimes other days.
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This story is good, or more specifically will probably be good, it has the potential for sure.
I will probably change this review at a later date, because at this point in time I find it hard to commend this story on anything but the solid grammar and sentence structure.
The main problem lies in both the Genre and the Pacing. Xianxia is a though crowd, specially when you want to make a non-parody novel on it, one that takes itself seriously to boot.
This story is taking a lot of shit because its just so goddamn generic, and it is, its like a common stone, polished until its mirror smooth, but its still a stone. And anyone who has any interest in the genre probably has seen this stone tens of times, although with varying degrees of refinement.
Many people can see the gem hidden inside for when this story finnaly takes off, and honesly I can see it too, BUT it doesn't excuse how horribly dull this first arc is, as its not even trying to be different or original, its just the same ol' stone we all seen a thousand times, still really polished, still unoriginal and boring.
Overall I'd say this will probably be a great story in the future as the author clearly shows enough skill for that, but the early parts are just the same old same old xianxia setting and MC we all know by hearth and thus are a bloody chore to read and don't really stand out by themselves.
The pacing is far too slow for something this generic, and it drags too much, the other Xianxia I can compare this to, Forge of Destiny, does a much better job at handling the pacing, mostly giving quick glances at the tropes and cliches while having meaningful characterization and worldbuilding when it does slow down. This one is just slow all around and waaaaaaaaay too lost in the minor stuff for its own good.
It's well written. Takes 45 chapters to match about 10 in a faster paced novel, as minor details are over-focused into their own chapters. The plot points are common to the cultivation genre, what is different is the protagonist is self-aware of his own situation as a 'failed proidgy.' He has taken up array crafting as method to offset his deficiency.
Better suited to seasonal binge/skimming than reading week by week.
You can skip bunch of chapters and still know whats going to happen and whats happening.. everything is really straightforward and predictable.
Written after book 1.
Heart of Cultivation, its similar to this thought "what would happen if a side character from a cultivation novel became the man character."
The reason why I cannot give this novel a great review is mainly the first book.
There's a three year dual in the beginning, however, with the pacing, that dual won't be completed until book 3. Book 1 ends i think chapter 45. But that's up to the author, the problem is that its pacing and story arcs are slow. Very slow.
The heart is a plot driver, however it too suffers from slow pacing, and his whole cultivation revolves around this. But his heart is week/ uncompleted and that leads to the thought that he's going to continue building new hearts. It just painful to not get anywhere after reading a whole "book."
The story lacks pacing in places that could of motivated myself to keep reading. Every chapter is more hastle then the next. If I was to recommend a fix, that would be to compile the heart building into a few chapters, not over the course of thirty. Divide some into exploration/ heart/ action/ character dialouge and relationships.
Push the heart building to the middle of book 1 (the heart can still be malfunctioning) but at least give the reader a chance to see Juan cultivate/ explore these problems.
That would also help with character score. The whole of book one is him not being able to cultivate, so, is this really a cultivation novel? Juan suffers from being week, thats okay, the reader however suffers from Juan having no chance to improve. It makes his actions easy to predict, because what can he do that he couldn't do the last 20 chapter? Build a portable stove top.
Update Tried to read the new chapters, pace picks up, but there's no tension because characters. And honestly I don't even know why but I find shan and Jians conversation to be stale. I can't recommend anything for that. Plot is very predictable because we know how Jian operates to an extreme, you can pretty much guess what he will do.
The title says it all. While well written, the story relies on cliche after cliche to move itself along- even if the details are a little more novel, or better reasoned, then most.
What set it apart from other stories in the genre was both the protagonists attitude and chosen profession of crafting artefacts. Attitude wise, the protagonist seemed to be level-headed, if somewhat brooding, and reasonable. The crafting process for his job was described in an interesting and believable way.
However, these aspects of the story were quickly dropped. Now, the protagonist's only motivation is face, making rash decisions to defend/reclaim his honour, making it a dime a dozen.
A well written if fairly cliche xianxia, still too early in the story for me to draw a full opinion. If it were free, that would be the end of it, I wouldn't have even bothered to write a review, but the first book has actually been published.
And take it from me, this story is not worth actual money. There are dozens of better free stories on RR, go read one of those instead.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this Xianxia, got interested because of all the high ratings surrounding this, which is rather rare for a standard Xianxia story, so gave it a look and i can say it was worth my time reading it.
The author definitely knows what he is writing about, that Xianxia is an hard genre to write a good story in, let alone one that does not fall to the usual pitfalls of Xianxia such as repetive plot, ridiculous powerscaling, plot armour for the MC, and other such tropes that are rife in Xianxia stories, not here, atleast so far.
What we have instead is a well constructed and thought out story, with actual characterization beyond the MC being just 'smart', a prodigy or lucky as one would expect from a Xianxia story.
Jian is a person who does not give up easily, even faced with the prospect of being destined to never progress in his cultivation due to his body, instead he searches for a way to escape that situation, with the resources he can get on his own, while also having to live in disgrace, as he was once a prodigy who seemingly had it all, and to fall from such a high place, is never gentle, especially not in the world of Cultivators.
Heck, i really liked that while of course there is the usual snobbery and disdain from those in higher positions, as one would expect from a Xianxia story, it is actually done rather more normally in this story, without the usual exaggeration in behavior, it is actually done in more realistic way. I especially like the family being supportive, even if he has been disgraced multiple times, his father is a great example of this, guiding him through those times, while still taking his role in the clan seriously.
Basically the setting is a standard Xianxia one, without much extra twists really, atleast so far not any have appeared beyond the 'Heart'.
The plot so far is rather a fresh take on the classic plot of the MC having fallen from grace, being ridiculed by his fellow cultivators, and thus having to live with it all for years until his childhood friend announced to cancel their marriage, but in this story there is no lucky encounter or something which gives the MC an advantage, no, here he plans his way back into the cultivation world on his own without waiting for some heavenly treasure or ancient mentor to help him (though the MC is shown wanting such to happen, even if its unrealistic) honestly this is just so great, being different in such a way from other Xianxia, with the MC being actually intelligent for a change. This story can become something great if the author can keep this up for the long term.
An extra that i like, is the map at the start, i just love the style used, it just fits so well for the setting and adds to the story, though i dont expect the author to go that far as to commision a map of the world or something in that style, but if he does.... it wil be epic.
So far i have read, grammar is just flawless, absolutely no complains there.
The writing flows well, reads smooth for the most part, though granted, with this being a cultivation story, i had to adjust myself a couple times, to get used to the names, also it starts quite slow, spending time to build up the world and the characters instead of heading straight into the action. Overall the writing is solid in my opinion, and faaar better than what i have seen from most Cultivation stories, bar a couple.
The author definitely is skilled and knows what he is doing, having earlier experience at writing with his popular fanfiction on spacebattles, i wonder what the upload schedule will be like though, given the author has this story, the fanfiction and one other story, i hope that he doenst burn out from writing so much. I really hope the author succeeds with writing this story, good lengthy Xianxia is just so rare, with Forge of Destiny being the only example i know of among English webnovels, so i hope this can be a new one.
I really recommed this story if you are interested in cultivation novels, it avoids the pitfalls that plague the genre and is an interesting read with good characters and a nice spin on the usual Xianxia plot, it can be something great, so come read this story!
It's written well enough, with a traditional and understandable world that draws on the time-honored tropes of the xianxia genre. Jian is, in personality, very unlike the traditional xianxia MC which can be refreshing if done right.
Jian is deliberate, cautious and pragmatic. He is also in a safe city, which means the author must use random bouts of extreme pride to move the story along. Jian's pride makes sense given the setting and context, but his lack of ambition at all other times make the pride feel weirldly out-of-character.
Regardless, it is still possible to suspend disbelief and read.
The reason I'm giving 2 stars is because I grew uninterested in a drawn-out tale about a weakling. Demonstrating Jian's flaws and establishing his personality is fine, but we don't even get a hint that there is anything cool planned for him until chapter 10. That was enough to keep me reading onward. At chapter 19, we got another taste of potential, but it was immediately moved past.
How many dozens of chapters before Jian actually acquires some teeny modicum of power? I'm not going to read that long.
The story reminds me far less of a xianxia and much more of a western-style, coming-of-age, traditional fantasy novel transplanted into a xianxia setting.
It's fine, I guess, but it isn't really xianxia. Maybe the pace will escalate in later chapters? It does seem to update pretty fast, so I will come back to skim and reassess my review.
I honestly can't decide whether this story is just running headlong into the same cliches that have made me dislike almost every cultivation story I've come across, or if the author is intentionally and in a misguided fashion, trying to honor the tropes of the genre, I say misguided, since they actively make such stories worse.
The writing feel stilted, like all those awkwardly translated stories (or those written by non-native English speakers) tend to. Of course this story is a lot more polished and technically proficient than most, but it's still what I think off when reading this.
A shame since his prose tend to flow nicely in the fanfics he's written.
It could be excused if the characterisation or worldbuilding was interesting, but it isn't, what little of it there is.
Everything just feels awfully generic and superficial. Also something that seemed better in his fanfics, maybe he's gotten too used to have an established setting to lean up against.
I simply can't make myself care about either the setting or the characters, and I struggle to actually picture how anything or anyone looks, so maybe a lack of descriptive text in places to engages the senses, hurts the immersion, especially describing how things and people actually look.
Maybe I'm a bit too harsh, but I've seen the author do better than this.
This is well worth the read. The characters are well drawn and consistent. The MC struggles intelligently and the world seems well crafted and thought through. I'm very curious to see if the author can keep the same quality of tension and plot movement as our hero hopefully overcomes his main difficulty. He has seeded a good number of new difficulties he can draw on and has built a good amount of trust in at least this reader. I mostly wrote this review as encouragement.