Betrayed. Murdered. Reborn. One last chance, to make it right. Theo's adventure ended with his mentor's hands around his neck. The betrayal cost him his friends, allies and everything he had built... but not his life. Though broken and powerless, Theo has one last chance to enter the Nine Worlds, wielding the knowledge and expertise of his first life. This time, he needs more than just power, he needs to unravel the deception that killed him once... and is coming for him again.
Character artwork: https://i.imgur.com/CEfPC1G.jpg
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Anyone can look at Sarah Lins previous work to know that she can write believable, likeable characters and a tight plot with just the right amount of fluff, so I am not going to dwell on these points. Although just in the early stages, I have trust in the author to deliver.
Instead I want to point out the extremely creative magic system. It's "hard" enough to suspend my disbelief, while flexible enough to make every persons Magic feel different. It also features a perfect explanation for the different stages often found in cultivation stories and offers a fresh look at training/progression that is not a derivation of punching this really hard stone 1000 times real real hard. Last but certainly not least it is - for me at least- TRULY ORIGINAL.
All in all: Highly Recommend for all Cultivation Lovers, but especially for worldbuilding/magic system fans
The Weirkey Chronicles (TWC) feels fresh while still tapping into the things that make progression fantasy and cultivation stories so compulsively fun to read. Don't pay much attention to the complaints about the main character being unlikeable. In the first book he is depressed and bitter, but as the story moves forward his attitude changes as he grows emotionally.
The writing quality and grammar is on par with the best stories on RR. If you've read Street Cultivation then you'll have a good idea of what to expect there. Where this really seems to shine, though, is with an interesting cast of characters and an exciting twist on cultivation systems. This feels like a Western take that is trying to do something different with the cultivation process focusing on the architecture of a soulhome. It's a toothsome approach that is sure to capture the imagination of theorycrafters.
Moving into book 2 and I am still enjoying the series. It has a few things that I think could be polished more, though. First, the pacing is a bit weird. It can't seem to settle on whether it should be paced like a novel or like a web serial and that can feel awkward when you're reading it. I also wish it focused a bit more on soulcrafting and I think that goes back to the novel vs web serial thing. If this were written like any of the popular serials we would get a lot more soulcrafting action and progression, but these move more like a novel and are more concerned with that narrative and character arcs. That's not exactly a problem, but I think both sides of TWC could be integrated more smoothly.
The concept is full of promise: a twist on the usual isekai theme makes the story more interesting while giving the main character more complex motivations. The author manages to mix the excitement of discovery and curiosity about the setting, with regret of events in the past very well, and without losing the sense of forward-looking that many value highly in such stories.
The magic system is complex, well designed, unique and interesting, mixing litrpg and cultivation elements into a unique system.
The grammar and style are both excellent: this is not the authors first novel: chapters are well thought out, part of a coherent whole, and spell/grammar checked.
Can't wait to read more!
First, the magical system is very interesting! I really wanted to learn more about it. Unfortunately, it's not well fleshed out and very inconsistent at times. This is due in part to the main character being anything but an expert, but thinks he is and we have to get information through him.
Which leads to another major issue. The main character is utterly unlikable. I'm not being picky here, this is by design. To give you an idea of what you're getting into if you start this book, here's a defining insight from the main character:
"His ex-wife had once referred to him as a black hole of misery that sucked all the joy out of his own life... perhaps he could be that."
I just don't get authors who do this type of thing. If reading a few hundred pages about someone you probably can't stand is your cup of tea then have at it.
Other than those issues, the writing is pretty decent. I will say the social interactions just seemed off, even considering the alien cultures. At any rate, it's always great to have someone share their work for free here on RR, so my thanks to the author.
The plot is pretty interesting, and the story is well paced. I've come to expect good prose, with solid action scenes as well. That said, the characters are somewhat sterotypical, and there hasn't been much development or characterization for even the protagonist, which lead me to knock off a star. It's still early though, so that could improve.
Few stories in the cultivation genre specifically, and on this site in general, would meet the standards of a major publishing house. Sarah is one of the few authors whose quality of writing, character development, and storyboarding of plot meets that standard.
If you want to read a legitimately good novel of the likes you would normally have to pay for in a bookstore, at least where book stores still exist, and you are curious what that would look like in a cultivation setting, then this is your story.
If you rather enjoy tropey, cliched, conflictless stories where the protagonist always wins no matter what and there's never any doubt or suspense, then this is not your story.
Look forward to an epic, and be glad she's publishing it for free here. She's already proven herself more than capable in The Brightest Shadow.
The magic system is very good, albeit close to some kind of cultivation style. The world building is interesting, the characters are believable and the foreshadowing is very intelligent. The grammar is very good and the authors grasp on tention is phaenomenal. There is a good mix of downtime for our main characters, but when the action starts you won't be able to stop reading.
The story itself can grasp your attention that is usually only seen in professional books, and since this novel is also sold in book form, it is definitely worth the purchase.
That aside, we are over a hundred chapters in and it feels like we barely passed the "growing up and training phase". Besides the lofty goal of "revenge" from the very first chapter, there is no clear main goal of the charfacters to work towards. Each book could even be described as:
- the main characters working towards higher levels at a snails pace
- the main characters doing some side quests
- just a very little bit of clever foreshadowing with the comic reliev character (the little girl), who is probably a world god of a shattered world out for revenge also.
All in all, nothing really happened, and that worries me, because either this story keeps its pace, but needs at least a thausand chapters to finish. This would be preferable and would make a superiorly good story in the end.
Or the author will want to "just finish the story" and will suddenly do large skips to the detriment of the entire story building. I.e. all the intrigue that is being discussed and the politics between different worlds might amount to nothing.
It is a well written story with several flaws.
All minor characters seem to barely matter and are mostly antagonistic to our party.
That would be fine if the main characters were interesting enough, but they just aren't.
At the beginning of book 3 we still barely know anything about his companions and there has been close to no development for any character, or their powers.
Theo is the worst in that regard. He only has a supporting ability with close to zero offensive power against someone of similar strength.
And somehow he thinks that is ok, despite previous experiences showing him otherwise.
All in all it just gets boring to read after while. Nothing major happens, no interesting new characters or information about old ones, barely any progress for our main characters, etc.
As SarahLin often does in her writing, I found the story engaging. I was not expecting the type of prologue, and did not expect it to end the way it did. I am ready to see what happens next, so will be glad to see the next installment of Soulhome..
Disclaimer: I support the author on Patreon. But that also means that I'm reviewing this after having read 18 chapters instead of just 12! I think this story is a lot of fun and absolutely worth looking into if you're interested in a very different take on xianxia.
Style: This isn't Sarah's first book and she knows what she's doing. The prose moves you along quickly highlighting all the fun elements of the book like the magic system other reviews have already talked about.
Story: Pretty solid. There's a fair bit of focus on the advancement but also some great mysteries, good worldbuilding, and a nice pace. It seems like it's being paced out for a long story with various arc resolutions throughout. So far I'm interested in the current arc but deeply intrigued by the overall direction.
Grammar: Excellent. If you find a typo or mistake just mention it and Sarah will come fix it.
Character: This is definitely the highlight for me! Theo is a solid protagonist struggling with two conflicting natures but Fiyu is just the best. Nauda makes for a nice bridge between others and there are a lot of interesting secondary characters too.
That's all I've got. If this review has been helpful to you consider giving the story a shot!