In a world where magic is a science, Siobhan Naught is a genius.
But even geniuses need schooling.
Siobhan has just been banned from the country's only magical university.
As the unwitting accomplice to the theft of a priceless magical artifact, she has suddenly become a wanted criminal. There are fates worse than death, and if caught, she will face them. Unwilling to give up on her dream of becoming the world's most powerful sorcerer, she resolves to do whatever it takes to change her fate.
Even if it means magically disguising herself as a boy and indebting herself to a gang of criminals to pay for University tuition.
With the coppers after her, the pressure of trying to keep her spot in the devilishly competitive magic classes, and the gang calling in favors to repay her debts, Siobhan will need every drop of magic she can channel.
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On the one hand, you have a character in the seedy underbelly of a big city, defying the law and learning illegal magic, and on the other hand, you have a character attending a fantastical school of magic with some darker underpinnings, and all the supercharged high school shenanigans that come with it.
This story is definitely distinct though. I would hesitate to say it's even inspired by either book (they're just each emblematic of a very specific and poorly-defined genre), but the story scratches the same itches that each of them do, and the combination is better than the sum of its parts.
The school life bits contrast well with the mage-punk bits and provide some breathing room where it might otherwise get too frantic/stressful, and the mage-punk parts provide some substance and tension where the school-life genre would normally wear thin.
Throw in a helping of fantasy D&D-style lore, add a great, meaty magic system, toss in a dash of gender bender for zest, and you have this story.
As for the individual aspects:
Style: The writing is solid, descriptive and just flowery enough to convey the wonder of magic, without slowing the story down. The one point I'll criticize about it is that it occasionally gets a bit preachy, with some long-winded rants about class warfare/division/injustice. However, that is a main theme of the story, and my dislike is mainly due to having seen similar things so many times before, so I don't think the rating deserves a knock for it. Someone new to those ideas or who particularly enjoys them might appreciate those sections more than I dislike them.
Grammar: it gud. Only the most pedantic of the pedantic are likely to have an issue with it.
Story: The story of the first book is good, it has decent progression, a few good twists and turns, and a good climax. It's nothing extraordinary on its own, I would probably put it in the 4-4.5 range on its own, but the world building and magic system push it firmly into 5 star territory. The wider world is fascinating and hinted at just enough to feed the imagination, while the magic is just the right blend of soft and hard magic systems.
Characters: They do the job. The main characters are well fleshed out, but their motivations are a little bit single-minded/simple. The side characters are pretty forgettable, apart from usually a single notable personality trait. Basically, they're like D&D characters. All that said though, they work perfectly well for the story being told. I wouldn't call this a character-driven story, but they're not a weakness either.
Overall, solid first book, and a promising start to the second. If you're craving something similar to one of the books from the title, or are just interested in the tags/description, give it a shot. (Also, how rare is it to find a gender bender story with neither romance nor creepy perv stuff? Plus one where the gender-bending isn't the core focus of the story? I'm impressed by that alone.)
I've subscribed to their Patreon. Written after reading ch16 on their website after subscribing.
This story is still young but I can tell this will be a mainstay of feeding my reading addiction.
Excellent grammar. No errors. Probably has already been ran by an editor, or the author is a competent editor themselves.
Pacing and character development seem good so far - I'm not sure how to critique this besides noting that we naturally learn more about the characters and environment as the story progresses.
The magic system was introduced quite naturally while describing the actions of the main character and the setting in the first few chapters. No awkwardness of lengthy worldbuilding monologues or paragraphs, and this is not a LitRPG where blue boxes literally tell you about the world.
I am quite grateful to find stories on RoyalRoad that have good strong characters that are not portrayed in a contrived, stiff, or awkward manner.
Given that the author's website boasts of an established series that... I think are in an unrelated world to this one? Definitely the work of an experienced writer.
While this story is not long enough to remotely have the depth of story threads like the Wandering Inn or Game of Thrones, there is potential for a decently thought out world. There's some political background, background of the main character's benefactor, background of the main character, and it is obvious that the backgrounds of the future characters that Siobhan will meet have been planned out already.
Happy to stay subscribed as of this first binge-through read.
Also happy to have picked up a story I am confident will reach trending, fresh from the "New Releases" chapter list.
edited 7/21/2021 having read 62 chapters:
dropped character score by 2 stars. main character has a consistent... ... lowborn but elitist attitude borne from desperate workaholism that creates bitterness. I expected some more balance to the character's internal monologue after a while but it... really has not let up. Reading about a character that is so utterly convinced they are always right and being irritable and dismissive of everyone else... like it's a really good strong character creation. That I just wanted some change in at this point. It grates to read for me because it reminds me strongly of how so many folks love to be stuck in their own bubble and never try to communicate their political views from a POV of respect for the intellect of anyone that disagrees with them.
I had been pleasantly surprised to find such quality character creation on RoyalRoad that I bought into expecting equally engaging character growth. Maybe that growth is planned to happen later on but at 62 chapters in this reads as a very polished unique take of a rags to riches mage story. It greatly satisfies the cathartic reader ego-stroking that comes with the obsessive need to binge read content like a stereotypical overpowered cultivation story where you know the main character has a manifest destiny.
At the end of the day I realize I read either to enjoy myself or to change myself, and they blend together sometimes. I would still highly recommend this story from an enjoyment perspective (although if I juxtapose that against the political climate and my personal cringing at proliferate pigheaded discourse... my enjoyment has soured over time.) But at this point I don't expect to be moved by this story beyond "I love reading about hardworking characters". It's the long-suffering victimhood mentality that gets to me.
Maybe I'm growing up as a reader and graduating from being satisfied by good RoyalRoad stories. Don't get me wrong this is still quality writing. I am still going to keep checking back in and following this story. I just... for some reason I thought this story would be more.
10/10 still quality binge read material
A practical guide to sorcerery is excellent. The grammar is very good, and I didn't notice any errors. The author has a nice style, descriptive and concise, with dialogue that's teeming with personality. The magic system is intriguing and the world interesting. It's still early days as far as the plot is concerned, but the seeds are there for a great story.
Recommended for people of all tastes. Currently in a magical university arc, if that's your thing.
So many stories are essentially the same Isekai Litrpg on this site, so its rather nice to find a good Urban fantasy series. The magic system is well designed, and the characters are intelligent yet have believable blind spots and flaws. The setting feels real and not something contrived to be easily defeated by the main character. The plot is not propelled by artificial stupidity either. Arguably, it has a bit too much exposition, but it fits well with the setting of a Magical School.
I could nitpick about many little things, some word choices here and there, but overall this story is a breath of fresh air on this site. I like Siobahn and I want to read more about her. I want to see her learning with Professor Lacer, her trading barbs with Damien. I enjoy her interactions with Oliver Dryden and I want to see the Stags succeed. I want to see her semi-accidentally fool the Coppers as the Raven Queen. I want to see Siobahn learn more and discover more about magic. I want to learn more about this world, its magic, its history. I like this serial. Its quite fun to read, and I am grateful I found it. It deserves more love and hopefully it can get more popular.
Provided updates continue regularly, (or possibly speed up) I expect to see this story Trending well at some point. Grammar is flawless, premise is interesting. Again as long as this keeps up I'm happy to have found it so early.
Writing style is neat. Nothing overly original but that is a good point for me. It doesn't disturb my reading flow in any way so I can focus on the story. Magic system got me in half a chapter... if this keeps a consistent quality it's gonna be a masterpiece.
This is not a good web novel. Don't get me wrong despite some really cringy insults here and there the story is really good and consistent. It's not good in the format of web novel, though. A chapter a week with continuous pov changes is hard to read. I find myself forgetting some detail here and there because of that. I will keep reading every now and then when I have a good amount of chapters to go through or maybe buy the book when it's released.
A superbly-written story with believable and well-rounded characters, deep world-building, and a fascinating magic system. This is ostensibly a story of Siobhan Naught's quest to become a powerful sorceress despite a bevy of social and criminal forces arrayed against her. However, Azalea Ellis's story takes us through a rollicking adventure through the criminal underworld, a school for sorcery, and the peaks of high society in a well-imagined fantasy setting.
The magic system in this novel is especially deep, and we are introduced to it a bit at a time rather than in big infodumps. We learn about the various types of magic, including divination and the important differences between transmutation and transmogrification, the importance of spell circles versus freecasting, etc. as the magic of the world plays out and as Siobahn learns more magic and competes against more advanced friends and foes. And, despite that depth, magic keeps its mystique and the aura of a strange, otherworldly power that even experts cannot claim to fully comprehend. That is to say, it's fascinating without ever overwhelming.
The biggest gripe I have is that the author keeps aggravating plot devices around for a while - for instance Siobahn/Sebastien's conduit issues. But this certainly serves to create dramatic tension and keep the plot rolling. There's quite a bit of action, lots of character drama, and plenty of likable/enjoyable characters with varying shades of gray morality. I highly recommend this story to anybody who likes hard magic systems, steampunk, or gaslamp in their fantasy systems.
I really enjoy this story. People have real motivations, everyone important is clever enough to plan and consider the larger scope, and everyone gets it wrong in their own biased fashion. Each person's assumptions deepen the confusion and create some amazing scenes. I strongly recommend giving this one a shot.
The setting of this story as a lot of similarities with The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The hard magic system also pulls some elements from this direction like symphatic magic.
The story has still enough points to feel different. The double identitfy is a nice shift.
A struggle for coin is existent but could be improved. For example the MC is able to brew potions and make money with this. She takes still a huge loan and enters university immediately, rather then making some cash before. There could be good reasons not to enter at a later time but the explation is just that there is no other university to learn. Since the MC is smart she should at least consider to leave the city for some time because of the crime.