- Sexual Content
Ouroboros Ascendant is a story about friends you meet on the internet, and then spend entirely too much time together hunting monsters, doing quests, earning experience, and risking your life. Except for Jack, Erin, Rory, and Layla, the video game they play together every Saturday isn’t nearly as real or as threatening as the primal world of Ayrgard. A mysterious force has drawn them across the darkness between realms for its own purposes, and they’ll need to survive monsters, politics, and a lurking threat they can’t yet imagine.
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This starts out a little cartoonish, but it really starts to shine a bit further in. It's particularly good on relationship stuff, characters, and worldbuilding. The pacing is reliably solid, but not "wow".
I find the choice of big bad rather regrettably cliche (I don't wanna spoil anything, so no hints here), but the plot is surprisingly fresh for what's really a mashup of very traditional high fantasy and litrpg. The plot, looked at objectively and at a high level, is a bit familiar, but it *feels* very fresh and new due to a number of good choices and techniques by the author.
There are some aspect to this that are arguably "best in class". It has probably the best treatment of a m/m romance I've seen. They're not excluded or marginalized, it's not the central issue; instead it absolutely perfectly nails "they're just people" while making you care about the people. It's neither under nor overstated, and it's pretty much perfect. More broadly, some relationship bits are just brilliant, and it's great about having a lot of very positive relationships and not burying the reader in toxic baggage while still being engaging and dramatic. The way a lot of authors write relationships just tells you how badly they need a therapist. This isn't like that.
Overall, the tone of the story is a bit darker than I like, but I suspect most folks will find it just right. I'm a bit torn; I prefer ligher, fluffier stories lately, but I like well done relationships and characters. So, for now, I'm hooked! I think most fantasy readers, LitRPG or otherwise, won't mind the things I do.
Oh, gosh the 200 word minimum. Maybe I should write an essay here about how more words isn't necessarily better for RR management. Or how, in general, management isn't the solution; it's the problem. Hey RR; sod off. I said all I needed to say already. Sheesh. Let's try the submit button again...
(as of the interlude after chapter 48, i.e. the 59th post)
Four online-gamer friends are isekai'd to a fantasy world and given a very big task by an Ancient Power. They get a LitRPG system that seems to be better than what the locals have and some additional abilities. Then they travel around, fight monsters to level up, meet friend and foe, and try to stay away from the Big Bad (and the Little Bads).
Style/Grammar: The story is told in third-person style by an omniscient narrator. The numbered chapters follow the protagonists, Jack more closely than the other three. Interludes show other people, away from the main quartet, including the antagonists who are about as subtle and cliché as you expect. The fourth wall is scratched now and again (by the narrator, not the characters) but I have the feeling that this is getting less over time. Descriptions are done well and word choice is fine. Grammar is good and there are very few typos.
LitRPG elements are a big part of the story; while levels and stats and health points are mostly mentioned in passing (only one character sheet shown by now!), Class Abilities and Skills are very important and are used regularly. The system boxes are green, for those who want to know.
Story: If you have read as many fantasy stories as I have, you will recognize certain standard elements. That's not a bad thing, it just means that some things will not surprise you very much (*cough* description of the starting location versus first contact with a representative of that location *cough*). Apart from that, this is a great, tabletop-RPG-like fantasy adventure story with fights, monsters, social scenes, magic, some mystery, side quests... in short, a very enjoyable read. There are enough novel ideas that I can overlook a bit of predictability.
Pacing is done well, there is a lot happening but it doesn't feel rushed and there are quiet scenes in between. The author is showing us glimpses of a rather comprehensive lore, both about the world and the mechanics, there's certainly a lot more to discover later. The story has sexual content, but everything beyond lewd comments and kissing is kept to "they went to [outside of the scene] and noises were heard", I'm fine with that. As the protagonists have been friends for a long time, they banter and joke around; this means the story also has comedy, both the exhale-air-from-your-nose kind and the roll-your-eyeballs-around variety. Caution: this story has the "Horror" tag; while I wouldn't call this a generally creepy story, there are still some dark moments, as well as scenes and descriptions that are rather uncomfortable.
Characters: There are four main characters and even though we hear more often about Jack, there are enough details about the others to get to know them well enough. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and emotions. Their characterizations are not perfect concerning the depth of their personalities but this story is more like a D&D campaign than a slice-of-life social story. With that caveat they are fine, and they complement each other in a realistic way.
One thing that is done excellently is that the group is "diverse" (I'm starting to hate that buzzword because of the toxicity often attached to it nowadays) but this is treated in a totally normal way: no special-snowflaking, no in-your-face, not more or less screen time than the others, just regular people who are a bit different from the majority (*gasp* as if we had reached the 21st century! What sorcery is this?!). BLUNT NOTE FOR THE HATERS: If you can't stand to read about a gay character who is sad that he might never see his boyfriend again, then stay away. I know that should be a very low bar but I've seen enough sh*t here to know better.
The side characters can be split into two groups which can mostly be separated along a rather clear friend/foe line. The friendly people are characterized as friendly (yes, I know, I'm so amazing with words...) and honest, down to earth, likeable. Many of the enemies are easily recognized as nominally-good zealots who like to torture innocents and kill everybody who is different, hitting every cliché on the way; lastly, the Big Bad is a capital-M Monster in human form. It's a bit too much IMO but I can still enjoy the story.
Other rating categories:
Suspense (higher is often better, but it depends of the type of the story; can be tied to predictability): 4
Predictability (lower is usually better but too low is bordering on madness): 3.5 for the big picture
Fun (do I laugh out loud while reading or at least chuckle? A low score is not bad, just different): 2.5
Happiness (does this story create happy feelings? NOT a higher-is-better score): 2 (some great scenes but only a tiny part of the story)
Sexual content (NOT higher-is-better. I usually prefer less of it, but others might want more): 3
The four protagonists are a delight to follow along in this new world. The writing does a great job of making the reader feel involved in the learning process, while not being overwhelming, boring, or babying. Really does feel like a well-crafted game - but, still, storytime!
I'm also absolutely digging the comedy layered over a more intricate (I see you creeping in, sinisterness) setting.
Yes, please and thank you; I'll have another.
Mildly spoiler-y review.
I probably would have murdered Layla early on. Maybe 2nd fuck up. I deeply dislike her BS. She is becoming more sympathatic, but, man, if I had been one of the others, she never would have made it this far.
This group of gamers is also the least genre savy gamers I've read. "Let's choose the 'white' city of a human empire as our starter zone! What could go wrong?" To steal a sentiment from another fiction on RR, you gotta keep an eye on the ones yammering about purity. Left alone, they always get squirrely and start building camps. Never choose the "we're the righteous" faction! (Is there a current RPG game out there where the "light" faction is actually fine and not rotting at the core from corruption?)
Supporting characters are kind of archetypical, dwarves overly loyal to their drinking buddies, sexually sadistic inquisititors, etc. Also, there is some heavy torture implied, which makes sense in the world, but isn't fun to read.
Okay, done whining. Well written, fun bubble-gum attitudes from the MCs (which makes a great contrast with the side chapters), interesting classes, great world building (the creatures are creative and the dungeon rules are well designed), definite layers upon layers implied plot lines. I'm very taken with how the ultimate good guy and ultimate bad guy is subverted and could be unsubverted (or double subverted!) later on.
As a gay man, I appreciate the inclusion of a gay man without emphasis. For you who have a problem with it, keep in mind that if you are here on RR, we all have read a lot of stories with male dungeon masters that have a lot of coincidentally female minions. Coincidentally. That didn't kill me and Rory occasionally mentioning his husband isn't going to kill you.
This is a solid isekai story that I would recommend to you to read. I'll be checking the authors Patreon.
I honestly had no idea what would happen at any point. Not wanting to give much away there is a weird stress about the side characters in this story. No one is safe. No one can stop it. The ominous evil grows in power and I'm enjoying it immensely.
I especially enjoy the banter between the characters it's like me and my friends sitting around bsing online. I enjoy the humor, sometimes a little shocking but always enjoyable and entertaining. The way he describes the creatures and the monsters are so realistic, I can't wait for this book to become popular so we can see all the fan art that's going to come out of this.
this is one of the first online weekly books that I have read but I am glad I chose this book to start with. It has been very instructional like I can almost play this as a D&D game. The characters are rich but they're leveling is explained in such detail is delicious. Speaking of delicious, the way he cooks food in this world I'm going to gain five pounds just from snacking during reading. I swear this book has convinced me is that I need to marry a master chef. Can't wait to read the next chapter or the next book from this author.
I love the story so far. The character's banter is relatable and the leveling up system is awesome! It was really cool to see the different class options, someone really should have taken some healing (day?) magic. Silly Succubus. Can't wait to read more!
The Arthur does an exemplary job of laying out the setting and the mood early on, Mechanics are covered and the story keeps you involved and wanting more. I hope he continues to bring quality work for us and eventually gets the recognition he deserves.
Every chapter of this story pulls me in further than the previous chapter. I am a Patreon supporter and have access to a few advanced chapters. Currently we are at chapter seventeen and the third interlude.
The way the author uses foreshadowing and the interludes to get the readers invested in antagonists is very good. If the formula holds interludes are used to give side scenes away from the main characters. These interludes are my favorite parts of the story.
As this is a review I must find a flaw though. I have issues keeping the main characters straight. I don't know if this is my problem or one with the story. Maybe it's just the release schedule and the more I read the more I will remember.
overall, I am engaged and can't wait for weekends to see new chapters get released so I can read them through. I will probably do a reread once we get a bit higher chapter count.
Loved the characters playful banter, found them super relatable and entertaining. The world seems very interesting and can't wait to see more of it and where this journey takes our group of adventures!
I am thoroughly enjoying your world, the intriguing way it was brought about, (the World Tree and Ouroboros tale I happily read twice), and the dark and twisted creatures within.
I am looking forward to the continuing adventure of these four teammates and how they are going to solve their mystery or if they will die trying to do the will of a God they do not worship yet believes in them as his chosen. Keep writing, I'll keep reading.