Stampede! Legend of a Magical Space Cowboy
by Half Life
In a desperate bid to overturn the unstoppable conquest of the galaxy by the Demon Lord Empire, it has been decided that the incompatible areas of technology and magic must be combined into a new breed of warrior.
Willie, a young cowboy, lives a quiet rural life in modern-day America. Alas, this peaceful life is shattered as a beautiful alien named Gilda abducts and alters him. Unable to say no to such a woman, he fatefully joins her side.
With the future unknown, Willie prepares to take his first steps onto the galactic stage. As the first human of his kind, he will soon realize what it truly means to be a magical warrior.
*This story is written in the common Japanese Light Novel style, meaning "dialog tags" are rarely used.*
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I love the cover. The fonts and layout are extremely pleasing and interested me from the start. That said, I'm not sure if it's quite the right tone for the story. The cover feels light and comedic, of which I've found little in the actual story.
Stampede! starts out a bit generic, but not too egregious. Gets bogged down in the early chapters with a lot of exposition. Thankfully, they're short enough to get through, but it does take quite a while for things to kick off.
The writing is not tight, excess wordiness abounds and there are lengthy sections where the reader is flatly informed about things. But it's serviceable, only occasionally interfered with my enjoyment, and does improve over the course of the story.
Frequent tense slips, but otherwise pretty solid.
Slow buildup, early chapters drag quite a bit (chapters 3-6 are particularly rough in this respect), but it does improve once things get going and more characters besides just Willie and his captor are introduced.
Still, even after reading all the currently available chapters, I don’t feel like I have a good handle on what’s supposed to be happening. Is this a travel/party building adventure? Could be. There is also potential for it to be an infiltration story, or an uprising story, or an empire builder, or any number of other genres. The stated goal is clear enough (stop the demon lords from taking over the galaxy) but the manner of pursuing said goal remains nebulous even 50,000 words in. This could be seen as either a drawback or an advantage, depending on the perspective.
Willie, whose PoV is the primary one for all but a handful of chapters, acts and thinks very oddly. But he’s also a human with an AI integrated into his head, mentally connected with an alien, and all this at a young impressionable age. I can hardly judge its realism.
Willie does come across very flat and directionless, which is seemingly intentional, but if I hadn’t been reading to review I would not have made it past the first ten chapters. He tends to vacillate between being a complete pushover and trying to be tough and in charge, which seems appropriate for someone of his youth and lack of experience.
The side characters suffer from excessive MC-focus. This does make sense for the alien who abducted Willie in the first place, since he is the focus of her attention, but for the others who arrive later it feels less natural. Though this may be a feature of the ‘light novel’ style/genre, I haven’t read many of them so I’m unfamiliar with the conventions.
Conclusion: This story is still in its infancy. It’s unpolished and meanders a bit, but if you can get past those drawbacks it’s decently entertaining. It has a lot of familiar elements combined in a novel way. It will be interesting to see where it goes in future.
Stampede is a fun, lighthearted read with few errors and a decent MC.
The style is decent. The occasional under use of dialogue tags sometimes takes away from the story and breaks the flow. Also, there are a few times when the tense shifts from past to present or future, but many of those were being edited out as I was reading, so I expect that problem to be nonexistant in the near future.
The grammar is good. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to take much away from. The biggest problem I found was lack of commas in certain situations.
The story is the strongest part of this novel. A young cowboy gets abducted to become a warrior with a system. I'm not sure where everything is going, but I look forward to seeing the future of the story.
Well, the MC is kind of a dumb, angsty teenager. But, I believe he is written that way for a reason. Gilda seems to be a typical unemotional machine that is beginning to understand human emotion. So far, it has really just been the 16/17 year-old teenager who is succeptable to brainwashing and Gilda, who is good at brainwashing, what a pair.
Overall, if you like LitRPGs and space, give this a shot. It's pretty good.
Now, admittedly I don't like litrpgs, and I've only read up to chapter 7, so take my review with both of those things in mind.
My biggest complaint so far is that I have a hard time understanding what this novel has to do with cowboys, since beyond it being mentioned that the main character is one, it seems to have little bearing on the narrative. The main character seems like an average teenager living in 2020 America. He talks about super models and kung fu, with the only signs of him being a cow herder from the midwest being a few word choices in his dialogue every now and then. The idea of a cowboy being whisked into space and thrown into a game world could be a lot of fun, but I'm just not seeing it with how far I've read.
Grammar wise, the novel is fine. I didn't notice any egregious mistakes. The style is average, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just doesn't offer me anything I haven't seen in other stories on this site.
Again, I only read up to chapter 7, so some of my complaints could be rectified in later chapters. However, if I've gotten through your opening chapters and can barely make out the premise, it dosn't inspire a lot of confidence. The character being made out to be a cowboy seems to be important to you, based off of your cover and title, so you need to show us that he is, in fact, a cowboy. We need to understand how that fact is important to the story, and how that makes the character different from the average human whisked into an outlandish situation. What bearing does his upbringing have on his thoughts and desires? You need to show us with his narrative.
Keep writing! Your writing quality shows a lot of promise, so please don't take my review too harshly.
Yeah! That’s right. To me, the name sounds silly. Not at all protagonist like...
Style: The style of the story definitely leans more heavily on tell than show. And with the amount of information about magic introduced in the earlier chapters, it felt a bit bland at times. However, the narration is fun and lighthearted and the chapters are short and have good pacing. That makes them relatively easy to get through even if you read at the speed of a snail(or me)...
Story: Getting through the earlier chapters is a bit of a drag for me personally, especially with nothing much happening story wise except for MC exploring his powers. Though the short chapters help in getting through this part relatively quickly(if you’re not reading 1 chapter every once in a while like me). I’d say instead of the explanation of how magic works, the main attraction of the first part for me was the relationship dynamics between Gilda and the protagonist, and the story got more interesting after the reveal of Gilda’s deed and the introduction of the many other characters. Though one of the elements introduced in the latest chapter again made me a bit unsure about the future of the story...
Grammar: Didn’t notice any significant errors that hindered my reading of the story...
Characters: Willie as the protagonist starts off as a bit bland. His actions at the beginning lack a purpose, just going through the motions, which, while understandable for someone suddenly whisked away from their home and told to fight a demon lord without any personal stakes, isn’t all that interesting to read. However, his character does get more intriguing as he starts gaining comrades and learns to care about them. As for the other characters, Gilda, with her internal struggle was a more interesting person from the get go. As for the others, I’m still unsure if, and by how much, I like them because to me they all feel a bit generic, but at the same time, it’s fun to read about them...
Magic, space, cowboy - I had a lot of expectations going into the story, but other than the magic, I found not a lot of space and certainly nothing that had much of a relation with cowboys. Honestly speaking, I was a bit disappointed. But despite its flaws, Stampede did manage to keep me engaged till the latest chapter...
From the Space Cowboy in the title I expected Old Western chiches at first, but no - we have a modern cowboy at the start of the story, with surprising but understandable reasons for his career choice we don't learn immediately. Before we completely get to know him things get weird.
SPOILER WARNING - I don't see how I can review this without giving away some of the early plot twists, so if you don't want that stop here.
So he gets picked up by a flying saucer, as one does. Oddly enough, the pilot turns out to look like an attractive woman rather than E.T. Instead of doing an anal probe as you would expect, she gives him nanotechnological augumentation, and starts him off on virtual reality training to save humanity and the universe. She cannot do so herself, since despite her appearance she is a synthetic technological artifact, and cannot manipulate magic. This is a large part of the protagonist's combat power.
We learn a lot of detail about the book's magic system as he trains. In the abstract it could be dull, though there are interesting Gamelit/litRPG mechanics as he levels up in virtual reality, with MMORPG leveling mechanics woven logically into the real world. What kept bothering me though, was that not only had she done so much to him without his consent, but his mind as well as his body had been altered. He seems willing enough now, but would the original cowboy have been? Although he does wonder about it occassionally, I begin to suspect the author is just brushing past it as an excuse for all these MMORPG type levelable superpowers.
Then comes the confrontation, when the protagonist fully discovers what has been done to him and why, and becomes angry with his kidnapper. We also learn her reasons and some of the problems she faces. I'm not going to tell you everything in the review, read the book!
There is a partial rapproachment, and he continues his training. Then they have their first encounter with the forces of the Demonlord empire. Since you already read on past the spoiler warning, and the book has a lot more coming, he defeats them handily with a little help from his kidnapper. It turns out they were slaves of the Demonlords and pleased to fight against them. For very different reasons than the protagonist's former captor, they both manifest as attractive women.
There are hints of a harem to come, though I'm still wondering. All three are personable and attractive enough to make the thought fun, though dangerous and independent enough so you could never feel sorry for them. I'm looking forward to reading on!
Ever wondered what it would look like if an aspiring isekai hero wouldn't get summoned to fight the demon lord to safe a fantasy world, but instead abducted by an alien to fight an interstellar demon empire to safe the whole galaxy?
That's what this story promises to be about.
It starts off with a training and exposition arc though. The world-building is interesting and solid. Especially the ideas behind how magic works and the insights into the thinking process and epistemology in general. (It's one of my favourite parts.)
But it also makes the beginning of the story a little bit slow and exposition-heavy. Maybe also a little bit too dry for people who aren't interested in the underlying concepts.
There is interpersonal conflict though. It is mainly a journey arc for now. One in a space ship with a whole lot of empty void all around. So conflicts tend to be social in nature. There is a bit of action there too, though. And at the point I read to before writing this review, more action is to be expected to come soon.
Narration is in first-person. For both POVs. I usually prefer it when additional POVs to a first-person MC are written in 3rd-limited but that's only a personal preference and it never gets confusing because there are no POV-changes mid-chapter.
Dialogue has very few qualifiers but the author already mentioned that in the synopsis. It never is unclear who is speaking but it can make the conversations sound a little bit too impersonal sometimes? I don't know if that's the right word. It's a stylistic choice though, and it works well so far.
The MC is very naive in the beginning. But it fits his background and upbringing. He also behaves like the teenager he is. Wanting to be treated like a responsible adult in one moment but being all too happy to refer to someone with more experience when he feels out of his depth in the next. I liked it, but I can understand if he appears indecisive and/or stupid to some readers. I wouldn't agree, but I see where they would get the impression.
Grammar seemed perfectly fine to me, but I'm not the best to judge that in detail. There was absolutely nothing that jumped out to hamper my enjoyment of the story.
Most of the side characters need a little bit more time before I'm sure about them. I liked the abductor. Her POVs didn't feel quite 'alien' enough for me though. Traces of this were there, of course. And again... this is probably more 'personal preference'.
I'll continue reading this story. Wouldn't want to quit now when it finally appears to have reached the 'starting line' :)
This review was completed as a part of a review swap.
Normally for me, review swap means "read until I have enough to form an opinion and then call it good." However, I started reading this. I finished a chapter and hit the next arrow. Then again... And again... Then suddenly out of nowhere, the next arrow stopped working. Because I had read all 26 posted chapters.
So, when it comes to my review I think it is safe to say that I am a bit biased since I have enjoyed the novel so much. However, in my opinion, this is a well-written blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and incremental growth litRPG.
The pacing is slow, but in a good way. Both the magic and sci-fi elements are explored in great detail, and the character is given space to gradually improve himself over dozens of chapters.
The litRPG elements are well-done and don't take up pages and pages of space detailing things that will not matter at all to the story. The explanation behind the "system" is also a somewhat unique one that I enjoyed.
I didn't catch any issues, so I have to give 5 stars (though an editor may be able to find some that I missed if they look)
The story is an intriguing one with the dreaded Demon Lords bent on capturing the universe, and the MC being trained as a warrior to go fight them.
There are hints of a larger overarching world, but most of the focus is simply on the abducted cowboy and his growth. For those of you who like seeing incremental growth and people trying to figure out LitRPG systems, this story definitely fits that bill.
90% of the novel up to this point is just two characters, and the entire time is spent fleshing them out (or at least, any of the time that isn't spent fleshing out the system). We get to know about their motivations and their backstories, and also get to see their flaws.
Overall, a good read
Style: The descriptions are a bit lacking in depth sometimes, but nothing too major. At the start, there's a lot of focus on the system but it is handled well and doesn't devolve into an info-dump. The lack of dialogue tags does not detract from the story, but it would be better to have more in the future.
Story: So far, the MC is adapting to his new reality and things are slowly picking up.
Characters: The MC is the most developed as of right now, but there are occasionaly other PoVs that adds a welcome depth to the story.
An intriguing mixture of sci-fi and litRPG. The early chapters do a really cool job of blending the two seemingly disparate genres, making the magical backdrop feel both immediate and futuristic.
The high points for me are the character building and world building. We are thrust into the shoes of Willie, a freshly abducted "chosen one." As far as I've read, Willie is still coming to terms with his new reality. The way the author incorporates the usage of a system has a very retro-futuristic feel that easily fits the sci-fi setting. I like the slight subversion of the chosen one trope along with the willingness to go for a magic system that feels both hard and soft. The author does enough work to establish the boundaries of their magic system while also keeping an air of mysticism to it, giving magic a nice sci-fi tinge. As far as I've read there isn't too much of a major plot other than "Chosen One is abducted to learn how to fight against the Intergalactic BBEG" and there's nothing wrong with that. I do look forward to seeing how Willie develops and grows. For a 16 year old emancipated adult, he's pretty easy going considering he was abducted.
The weakest point of the story, for me, is the style. The writing comes off very beige and, at times, reads like an instruction manual on learning the magic system. The author is also prone to info-dumps, both through exposition and through the dialog. Personally, I'm also not a big fan of first person perspective but I'm not holding this against the author because they are using it well, I just need the experience to be a bit more visceral. I'd suggest balancing the showing and the telling so that the pace won't become bogged down and while also really putting the reader directly into Willie's shoes. First person perspective lives and dies with how viscerally a reader can interact with the story, in my opinion, and a little more focus on the balance would definitely bump the stories style and quality up a couple notches.
Overall, despite the beige and bland narrative, I found the blended concept interesting. I'll be looking to continue reading as I think there's enough of a hint at a larger plot and plenty of room for character development for me to want to continue.
Overall 5/5: I think this is a creative and well-executed start to an interesting plot.
Style 4.5/5: There isn’t very much fluff in the descriptions, but there doesn’t need to be. There is a lot of information about the System, magic, and stats in the first few chapters, but the setup for explaining it makes sense and it feels like it flows well. The main issue I found is that there aren’t many dialogue tags, but with only two people talking most of the time, it’s not hard to figure out who is who.
Story 5/5: There is some good world-building and explanations about how magic comes about. It seems well thought out and is fun to read. The story does a good job hinting at bigger conflicts to come.
Grammar 5/5: There weren’t any mistakes that stood out to me.
Character 5/5: I like the role of the A.I. changing the main character, and I like how we see the point of view of both of these characters. I think their chemistry is going to drive the story going forward.