- Traumatising content
More than seventy-five years ago, the Second World War abruptly ended with the advent of the Adumbrae invasion. Piercing the veil between dimensions, these malevolent beings entered our world through possessing humans, turning them into monsters of destructions. Corebrings appeared shortly thereafter, saving humanity from certain annihilation. With their powers, these superhumans remained the protectors of our world to this day.
Twenty-three-year-old Erind Hartwell, a first-year law student at a university specialized in Adumbrae law enforcement, didn't care about any of that. She couldn't muster the effort to care about anything which didn't directly affect her. Incapable of guilt or remorse, she knew she was a psychopath, even if she never used that term to refer to herself. Out of consideration for other people, which everyone should be grateful for, she resolved to have a normal life as much as possible. "I wouldn’t bother the world as long as it didn't bother me" - this is the most of important of the self-imposed Rules that governed her life.
Fate, however, had other plans. Through some misunderstanding, Erind was nearly killed. At the brink of death, an entity came offering powers to save her. Left with no other choice, she accepted it.
Follow Erind's journey as she is inevitably dragged into the battle between Adumbrae and Corebrings, with not only her powers growing but also her control over her psychopathy unraveling.
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I say atypical in contrast with the common type of story here, and it is very easy to miss or dismiss this story because of that. I am writing this review for that very reason The author says he(she?) has finished the introduction arc at chapter 17 and I believe this is enough material for a review.
To summarize, Erind, the protagonist, is a psychopath but she never calls herself that. There are alien beings crossing into our world and possessing people turning them into monsters. A group of superhumans are fighting against them. Our protagonist gained powers and she is thrust into the fight of monsters and superhumans.
Now, you may think that that sounds like other stories. However, this is essentially only a background of the story. It starts off small and gradually more and more elements and story threads are added. The author has already setup a few mysteries and story threads and I am excited for the upcoming chapters. I do enjoy the pacing of the story including the escalation of the situation. There are twists and turns that I did not expect.
The world building is top notch. It is very subtle with controlled infodumps. Erind is a law student and it is a nice touch that there were discussions how the laws have changed given the situation in this alternative history of earth. Small hints of worldbuilding here and there adds to the story like enrolling in school or applying for a job requires some test to make sure you’re not turning into a monster. The avoidance of infodumps is a big plus for me.
The first-person point of view for the protagonist is the correct choice in my opinion as it gives us a front seat on how the protagonist thinks. I am not a psychologist or claim to have know-how in that field so take this with a grain of salt, but I think the author does a very good depiction of psychopathy in written form.
The writing is simple, clear, and easy to understand, with an occasional flourish that doesn’t detract from the flow of reading.
There are also third-person pov chapters from the perspective of side characters (3 so far). The author utilizes them very well in revealing other sides of the story but somehow also adds to the mystery of everything else.
For grammar, there is barely anything to complain about. Above average for the site that is for sure. Very rare typo/grammar error which the author fixes when you point it out. Nothing major that pulled me out of the story.
It is also good writing to be able to make people like a psychopath protagonist. Usually, the way to make people root for the psychopath is make it a revenge story or an underdog story. That is not the case here. There is no situation that creates sympathy for the protagonist (be it revenge or an underdog situation). She is carrying her likeability with the strength of her charismatic voice alone, a trait of psychopaths. It’s amusing that the usual traits that make people like psychopaths are utilized here to make the reader side with the protagonist even if we can clearly see she is a psychopath.
While the main character is good, I have to commend the handling of the side characters. We are all too familiar with side characters who are basically mere plot devices to move the story forward and prop up the main character. It is very different here and that’s why I’m praising it. The side characters have a life of their own even before the main character came into their life. When the author released a third-person pov chapter of a side character I did not have high hopes for it because side characters are usually bungled, but I was surprised that the interactions of the side characters could have been a chapter from a different book. The three side character chapters also have small differences in writing style and voice that sets them apart from each other and gives more life to the different pov characters.
If you want to try something other than the usual menu of litrpg/reincarnation/power fantasy stories, I do suggest trying out this story.
When I don't see REND at Popular this Week I am very disappointed. But let's go to the review.
The normal (unnamed) chapters are in first person, from the point of view of our MC Erind. In the interludes (chapters with names) the style is in the third person. In both cases the author does a great job of expressing the characters' thoughts and actions.
I'm not a native English speaker, so I can't say much, but with the exception of a few strange phrases, the story is fully readable. Don't pay attention to revisions with a low grammar rating, they are just haters.
For a quick summary, the story is about what happens when a young psychopath wearing a shy nerdy girl mask gains supernatural powers. Superficially it looks like the typical superhero / supervillain story, but there's a lot more behind the scenes. The author hinted that Erindverse is too big, so expect a slow-burning story. And then there is the construction of the world, where, in my opinion, it is where it lacks. We are almost halfway through the third arc of history and know little of Erind's world. For example, the name of the city is so rarely mentioned (if at all) that I don't even know where Erind lives, much less about the world on a larger scale. I am afraid that when this information is needed, it will come in the form of info-dumps.
And finally we come to the best part of REND, the characters.
The protagonist Erind is the best-written psychopath I have ever read. We are not told that she is a psychopath, she acts and thinks as a true psychopath. For clarification, a psychopath is not one who takes revenge by killing everyone, but the person who has no empathy and emotions. As for the secondary characters, they are all very well written and easy to sympathize with, with the exception of Deen and her Heroine syndrome.
I strongly recommend reading REND, especially for those who are tired of disappointing protagonists. I'm sure Erind is not going to disappoint you.
I tend to shy away from stories that advertise a "psychopathic" or "sociopathic" protagonist because they have a tendency to be done in very pop-psychology edgy tones. This, is probably one of the best I've seen, and the fact that it's firmly settled in the background of Erind's thoughts makes it exceedingly smooth to read. She doesn't repeatedly tell the reader that she's a psychopath, her thought trains simply encompass the necessity of acting like a normal person, while considering abnormal alternatives. My personal favorites are the minor manipulations to nudge people in the direction that results in the best outcome for her. Not because she wants anything from them, but because it creates a more tenable situation going forward. Declining a date because it would grant the initiative to the other party, accepting the invitation to walk her to the train because then he would have no option on arrival but to leave, or push to go to her apartment, which would be easier to firmly decline. It's these moments that reveal a far better understanding of what this character needs to be compelling than most authors that attempt to write one.
Outside of the characters, the world is satisfyingly robust as well. An alternate history that diverged during WWII, there are superhumans and monstrous beings that 'infect' humans, but the average population rarely interacts with either. Information is shared via legal cases, standard procedures after certain events, and conversations or musing thoughts. At no point is exposition simply dumped into a chapter to get the reader up to speed. A further benefit is that the characters operate solely off of the information they have, and respond imperfectly like regular people. The bad acting by the 'gang' as well as Big Marcy's choices add a real sense that they're normal people playing at things that they don't fully understand. Which, let's face it, powers won't ever make people suddenly competent at everything they do. The protagonist's thoughts also mirror this as she gets caught up in a situation well beyond her daily life and races to square what she knows verse what she's seen so far.
Lastly, the plot is delightfully twisty. Perspectives are limited to the information that they have access to, so there's a genuine sense of mysteries unraveling as each perspective is written, and there hasn't been any bleedover where one perspective knows or suspects something that they shouldn't be aware of. No decisions are made that guide characters in the direction that the author clearly wants them to go, rather, the story flows in the direction that makes the most sense.
Overall, this is an exceptionally well-written story, and I greatly look forward to seeing as it grows and develops.
Reviewed at end of first arc:
What happens when a functioning apathetic psychopath with Machiavellian tendencies gets her world turned upside down with the sudden appearance of superpowers, alien entities and mutants?
You get this story, and it's pretty darn great so far.
The main character Erind is written very well. The author did a great job at describing her personality, or rather the lack of one. Every action she makes is explained by her thought process and the 'rules' she must follow.
The side characters are great too with fairly realistic personalities and their own desires. Can't say that however with the antagonists so far, not having as much depth as the others.
There's quite a bit of worldbuilding that takes part in an alternate universe that involves Nazis, aliens, secret organizations and superpowers. The info-dumpy chapters were not a bore to read through, as they were made interesting through the use of being a part of the MC's manipulative schemes.
The main theme of this story is being the wolf among sheep, and follows that faithfully so far.
The grammar/spelling is perfect, no errors that I've seen so far, formatting in general is easy to read.
Yeah, I'd highly recommend this story.
Its pretty nice change of pace compared to other novels here , and im a sucker for novels where MC doesnt get baggage of followers that are there for convinient filler conversations and from what i have seen there is very little info dumps which is a +
When I opened up the first chapter of REND, it grabbed me by the throat and dragged me all the way to the last available chapter by the end of the day. And I loved it.
REND's greatest strength is without a doubt the unique and compelling voice of its main character and narrator, Erind. You see, Erind is extremely fucked up in the head, in the most mannerly and pleasant way possible. A straight-up psychopath condensed into the form of a somewhat cute and nerdy girl, her internal monologue had me rolling on the floor laughing. The discontinuity between her external and internal reactions to things are, to me, the true brilliance of this story. Of course, the dash of fast-paced supernatural action also helps to keep things lively. I don't know exactly where this train is going, but I'm quite happy riding in the backseat.
Keep it up, Temple!
So I've only been reading this for a few month now, but when I initially starting reading this, I'll admit I binged it.
I found the story to be a fascinating read with a unique and twisted perspective and a world that was intriguing, mysterious and just a bit messed up (in the right sort of way).
I do find sometimes that change in POV to be a bit distracting, and at the same time I wonder why the author has selected those specific character for the changed perspective. Whilst I'm not against a change of perspective it can be disorienting to see if from a character that has only been briefly mentioned once or twice.
I like it so far, we have a good kind of different mc with interesting thoughts, a world with intersting powers thus alot of potential and an author who seems to have future plans for the story. The mc has really badass power tho, im not into this undercover thing the mc is doing currently but i guess its logical that she cant go around saying she has some weird powers.
I hope to see more in the future :)
Doing the occasionally right thing for the wrong reasons.
I came into this story expecting a ruthless lead character and an exciting plot. I wasn't technically wrong, but the author has created something with so so much more to it. The main character is different from us. Erind thinks differently and while making her unrelatable in some aspects this also makes her vastly more interesting in of itself.
The author is constantly trying to improve the view and find new or interesting ways to convey the story. It's not so much the way the story is written as much as it is the effort and fruits of that effort by the author that are constantly making it tastier. Although it totally is the way the story is written too.
Things are woven together well and the grammar is inclined to be good because of the way the main character is presented. Rather than re-reading a line because it was poorly written I've re-read lines because of how cunning a few conversations are. No story is exempt from typos to be fair though including this one.
The basic outline of the story isn't anything revolutionary, but it holds it own rather well. The plot of the story though is another matter. Erind is holding a LOT of metaphorical candles and I can't wait to see where it goes. 100 entries in and the story is just warming up. This will be a long ride and a fun one.
TL;DR: REND is a story of a psychologically abnormal person [Erind] in a dark-superhero modern science fantasy setting.
Go for it if you:
- Want to experience unique characters that have their own lives.
- Want to see a well written story
- Like mystery and mind games
Avoid it if you:
- Want to share headspace with the main character.
- Want a power fantasy adventure
- Want a vengeance/redemption story
REND, to put it briefly, is an uncut gem. The story has flaws [what doesn't], but it's strengths shine. If you are willing to read a story about characters without inserting yourself into the MC I promise you that REND will deliver an amazing ride without equal.
Alternatively If you are like me and can empathize with a rock that's been abandoned on the side of a road in middle of nowhere then REND may be a good experience too.. (It's definitely sad. I mean, who wants to be abandoned in middle of nowhere.. poor rock... :(.. )
Personally, REND matters to me a lot more than other kinds of fiction I read on RR because the characters have genuine depth. I can understand where Erind is coming from. I can sympathize with Barb, Deen and Paolo and... you get the idea. The characters feel genuine to who they are. If something would make for a 'more conventionally attractive' story, but would damage the character, that action will not be taken.
I believe Temple deserves immense respect for what s/he's achieved here.
By far the greatest strength and bane of REND at the same time is it's characters. More than one character in the story, including the main character, are atypical in their handling of situations.
Erind [MC] is the obvious one as she exhibits psychopathic traits, but she's not the only character who acts outside of what is considered normal.
As Erind is so important to the reader's experience, I'm going to focus rest of this portion of the review on her.
Erind is a true Psychopath. She's not a bleeding heart who's out for revenge because someone hurt her puppy and she never knew love. If that's what you're here for, change your expectations or find a different story. This is not that kind of story.
Erind is manipulative, calculation and bound by a set of self-imposed rules that make her appear more or less normal to rest of the society. She's perfectly willing to back down and act reasonable if it means she achieves her goals. She is a psychopath in medical/psychological terms - not in the colloquial term where psychopath essentially means someone who's always angry and does bad things.
If you set your expectations correctly, I guarantee REND will be one of the best stories you can find on Royal Road. If not, it is a miserable experience that will ruin your day.
REND very obviously a character driven story. The readers experience it using first person perspective with a focus on emotional writing during non-action scenes, and pace during action scenes. When action does happen, it tends to be swift and brutal.
The focus clearly is on how the characters interact, think and feel, and I firmly believe that is the correct choice for the story.
I have docked a star for this category primarily due to the fact that Temple sometimes writes too much. This may sound counter-intuitive on a writing website, but please hear me out.
The story can sometimes be too detailed - too many things set up for the future without an obvious immediate pay off. Obviously things should be set up and used later, but there is a limit to the amount of information given that can be saved for later. (Especially when considering the staggered releases caused by the very nature of web stories)
Now, this is nowhere near as much of an issue now as it was in the earlier arcs, but it still persists.
Spoiler for chapter 1.3 - super early in the story - example of what I'm talking about.
Eloyce Field and the medicine associated with stabilizing it. Tests have been developed and are implied to be used often enough to know it's reliable Adumbrae detection method within the human population. This plot point seems to have been mostly dropped as far as I can tell. However, knowing Temple, it might yet come up in the future.
I'm not a native english speaker, but I've never noticed any particularly offensive typo or misuse of terminology. As far as I can tell, Temple's got the grammar side down.