Shadowcroft Academy for Dungeons: Year One
Build a Dungeon. Slay Heroes. Survive Finals.
Wounded Army vet Logan Murray thought mimics were the stuff of board games and dungeon manuals… right up until one ate him.
In a flash of snapping teeth, Logan suddenly finds himself on the doorstep to another world. He’s been unwittingly recruited into the Shadowcroft Academy for Dungeons—the most prestigious interdimensional school dedicated to training the monstrous guardians who protect the Tree of Souls from so-called heroes. Heroes who would destroy the universe if it meant a shot at advancement.
Unfortunately, as a bottom-tier cultivator with a laughably weak core, Logan’s dungeon options aren’t exactly stellar, and he finds himself reincarnated as a lowly fungaloid, a three-foot-tall mass of spongy mushroom with fewer skills than a typical sewer rat. If he’s going to survive the grueling challenges the academy has in store, he’ll need to ace the odd assortment of classes—Fiendish Fabrication, Dungeon Feng Shui, the Ethics of Murder 101—and learn how to turn his unusual guardian form into an asset instead of a liability.
And that’s only if the gargoyle professor doesn’t demote him to a doomed wandering monster first…
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The author can obviously write. You're not going to feel like you're reading some hack that doesn't understand how. It's noticeable, and appreciated.
...But that doesn't stop the fact that the whole concept doesn't make much sense. At all. I get the appeal of a standard "let's put them in magic school, then divide them into one of four different groups and have them compete!" But if the foundation is nonsensical, I can't get on board.
We're told in story that there are only like 50,000ish "cultivators" above E rank. In the ENTIRE MULTIVERSE. These are the only ones possible to be "recruited" like our MC. Our MC is E rank and the only one, so he's an outlier. So these cultivators are an extremely valuable minority. We're talking like 0.00005% of the population, here, if the combined population of the entire multiverse is conservatively only in the trillions. And it would probably be wayyyy more.
So what does the school in question do to these rare gems? Why, they murder them in order to forcefully abduct and conscript them. No choice given, no warning. Then they toss them into a murder labyrinth to trim down those they conscripted by another 10%, for some reason. Did I mention those conscripted are now IMMORTAL? So instead of letting them take all the time they need and grow ever stronger and be a valuable asset, they needlessly and immediately toss them into the thresher. And I mean that literally. And apparently they're just gonna keep murdering them in the future for god knows what reason.
Even worse, apparently some universes know about this whole deal. So you should have no shortage of volunteers for the immortality and prestige alone. But for god knows what reason, you instead forcefully conscript people (weak ones at that) that don't want this and will be justified in wanting to murder you in turn? And calling the dungeoneers "heroes" makes -3000 sense. The societies they're from, the dungeons, even the dungeoneers themselves; nobody considers them heroes. And you can't coexist or prevent them AT ALL? Not even on the worlds shown to know about this whole situation and volunteered for this? What?
There are just way, way too many holes. If you REALLY want to force the plot into being the stereotypical magical school setup, it has to make at least some sense. This, in its current form, does not.
If you can completely ignore the nonsensical foundation and completely suspend your disbelief, you might enjoy it. If you prefer your fictional worlds to make sense, not so much.
Given the title of this includes "Year One" and the story explicitly states it is a four year school I don't think it can support that. Already the ill-fitting school parts seem to be too much. I can't imagine reading three more years of this.
The story is fun enough if you don't think too much about it, but I am not convinced the whole hogwarts for dungeon cores thing really works, at least as it appears here. The setup is basic with a newly dead soul going through training to manage dungeons in the future. It is when things like having four houses in competition or when an antagonist teacher show up that the story starts to itch. It's like these things are there because Hogwarts has them and not because they are the right choices for this world and story. The dungeon core and reincarnation stuff just feels like it has been hammered until it fits that mold.
This has left everything feeling slightly off. Character archetypes don't quite work how they have been used. The antagonist teacher, for example. He's clearly the Snape of the story, but why? His motivation for disliking the protagonist is shallow. He doesn't like him because he's weak? He's going to try and get him killed even though he thinks he's going to die in the winnowing anyway? It doesn't work on more than a very superficial level. The same is true for almost every character and plot contrivance that has been pulled from Harry Potter. Even the interpersonal drama doesn't quite fit because we are talking about reincarnated characters that have lived lives before the academy. Why, then, do they behave as if they have no life experience?
It isn't bad, it just doesn't fit. I can't tell if this is a dungeon core story that doesn't fit the wizard's robe or a magic school story that doesn't fit in a dungeon. Either way, things are coming apart at seams. You can read this and have a good time with it, but don't pick at any of those threads.
I think substantial re-writes would turn this into an excellent and fresh feeling story. Ditch the houses and come up with a different structure for the school that fits better with the conflicts you seem to be interested in. I think you would be much better off giving the academy more of a cultivation sect structure. That way students would be competing for resources and teachers rather than the poorly defined house rankings. This would also go a long way towards making the conflict between students make more sense. The life and death aspect of the threshing/winnowing needs to be brought more in line with the tree of life stuff. Given unlimited time and cultivation, even the weakest characters should become powerful with good teachers, it makes no sense to arbitrarily kill them. That would make more sense if their dungeon cores simply could not live without a dungeon to collect atropos without assistance from the academy, which has limited resources to invest.
I think with those changes the character personalities would fall more in line with the stakes you are setting up as well as grow more organically with the conflicts.
I really love the concept, it's well written, characters are distinct interesting and memorable. But it also feels like it's wasting my time. I know what's going to happen. We can see the writing on the wall. So why are you delaying it and banging on the same points over and over again? I read 19 chapters, and I feel like I could have gotten the same amount of information in a much less frustrating way in only 6-7 chapters. It's like the story doesn't know where it's going, so it's waffling and harping on the same points over and over. And then something new happens and it's awesome and exciting. And then it's back to waffling. Cut out the waffling, tighten up the writing, and this is a 5/5. But as it stands, this is currently like a giant chocolate chip cookie with barely any chocolate chips in it. Still good, but could be so much better.
Solid writing and author and a nice story basis. Unique take on dungeon litrpgs that is well excecuted.
That being said, it feels like there MC's reactions are unrealistic as hell. They're a hardened war vet that acts nothing like one. Aside from being somewhat upset at the very beginning, they're fine with the fact that they were murdered out of nowhere, they engage in high school spats, and are giving out a bunch of 'you can do it if you just believe' speeches. Main issue with me is just the fact that everyone acts like a bunch of highschool kids, but are supposed to be a bunch of adults that have been ready all their lives to go to this presigious academy. The academy itself also feels like it's populated by teachers that are a bunch of near charicatures, basically just harry potter teachers with monster bodies.
All in all it isn't bad, but could be so much better.
Cool Premisse, nicely written and good Flow. Slow paced.
Just way too much for me which doesnt make sense in this scenario.
So on countless Planets there are only a few cultivators which could help against this crisis. They just outright kill a lot of them at the start, even though there are known "monsters" to have a weak early game, but a strong lategame. Whats the point? This seems increadibly stupid. They are immortal and have a lot of time on their hands, since this war is going on for centuries. The worst of this school? Professor Snape. Seriously, whats wrong with this school? Beating people up in the class, allowing to kill them, motivating others to basically kill them?
Way to many Holes to read another 3,5 schoolyears. Would be a great novel if it wasnt for the school, though!
After reading the first volume/book I have come to really enjoy this author and their style, they very clearly know what they are doing and errors are few and far between. I have noticed some of the reviews saying things like "it's good but not 4 years good" and I could not disagree more. So far there have been many spins by the author to maintain interest and the world building is fantastic. The author has managed to create multiple complex and likeable caharacters as well as multiple complex and disliked characters, all of this was done seemlessly and there is so much to look forward to.
It's weird. I mean, the author. I can't quite put my finger on it but it kinda reminds me of young teen books in quality and feel. You know the type, the ones written for around 13-15 year olds in your school library.
A brief browsing of his past books (speaking of, what on earth is going on there??? 15 books, some duplicates, almost all on hiatus, I almost thought he was stealing from other authors) shows that by cover alone that's exactly the kinda books the author makes.
Is it good? I mean I like it. Does it make perfect sense with no obvious plotholes? Well no but neither does Harry potter (so many plotholes) or most young teen novels. I guess I'd say, don't go to a Chinese buffet and expect hamburgers. It's a solid book in its own genre.
The story has a strong premise but the character interaction, how the school seems to work, and power scaling leave much to be desired.
Most of the characters seem to have one note personalities that haven't gotten much development, and it's hard to believe that any of the other members of the terrible twelve are close friends with Marco due to his slacker attitude, and greater commitment to his friendship with GK.
The school tries to hard to be like Hogwarts in how it's full of exciting magic classes; except for the one with the mean teacher who shows favoritism to the bullies, and the boring history teacher. Unlike Hogwarts which is a educational facility for children Shadowcroft is for adults training to kill people to preserve the universe.
The power scaling at first seems obvious with increasing power spiking with each evolution, but then we see our main character who has been described as weak by literally everyone defeat someone not only stronger then him, but two full evolutions above him, as well as being a direct combat monster with a type advantage.
This is the kind of story you read when you just want to have a good time without thinking too much about all the details. It's mostly written like a book for younger audiences or people that like reading those kinds of stories. It could be better, but it could definitely be a whole lot worse.
Honestly this is such a unique concept when compared to the more cliche dungeon based stories, they start to feel like repeats with vertally no plot up to a certain point. but nope not here the store is precise it has definitatve beginings and ends, and actually interestign characters that I bother to actually remeber. Yes I can actually remeber the characters names of the top of my head. thumbs up