Kernstalion

by Carrarn

[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

[Changed the Summary based on reader feedback. Thanks guys!]

When Mitchel gets a birthday gift from his girlfriend Sandra - a pre-order version of the newest VR game, he is thrilled. Real-life graphics, full-body senses, and a mysterious world that nobody knows anything about seem like a great way to escape real-life for a few months or longer. 

Two days later, his dreams of a pleasant pastime are shattered. After meeting a rude welcome-NPC, getting a weak starting body, and having a near-death experience, he finds himself sleeping on the ground, cold and filthy. Unable to log-out, he now has frightening dreams where the tutorial-AI is walking around in his body plotting Earth's conquest. If that isn't enough, he slowly realizes that the game might not actually be a game but that he could very well be in another world.

Can Mitchel find out what is going on and where Sandra is? Can he regain his own body, and would he still want to when all is said and done?

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Author
Carrarn

Carrarn

Achievements
Writathon Royal Road 2019 winner
Word Count (13)
Countdown Short Story Event runner-up
300 Followers
Top List #1500
350 Comments
Royal Writathon October 2020 winner
100,000 Views
Fledgling Reviewer (II)
2nd Anniversary
5 Review Upvotes
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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 - Step one: Select a race ago
Chapter 2 - Step two: pick a profession ago
Chapter 3 - Meeting Agga ago
Chapter 4 - First encounters of the painfull kind ago
Chapter 5 - Stop hagging me ago
Chapter 6 - A proposition ago
Chapter 7 - Sart ago
Chapter 8 - Wirgs ago
Chapter 9 - Waking up to a nightmare ago
Chapter 10 - An empty belly ago
Chapter 11 - Daggers of doom ago
Chapter 12 - Woodcrafting one o one ago
Chapter 13 - The reason for a wall ago
Chapter 14 - Deities ago
Chapter 15 - Haltir ago
Chapter 16 - Beyond Sart ago
Chapter 17 - Sometimes shit just happens ago
Chapter 18 - Pink blood ago
Chapter 19 - Fleeing ago
Chapter 20 - The Harrowing Hills ago
Chapter 21 - Never split the party ago
Chapter 22 - Nameless ago
Chapter 23 - Choices and consequences ago
Chapter 24 - Dursic ago
Chapter 25 - Sandra or Eliandra? ago
Chapter 26 - Lost and- ago
Chapter 27 - Corlon alphabet magic ago
Chapter 28 - Short term goals ago
Chapter 29 - Whoever said magic was easy? ago
Chapter 30 - A dull routine ago
Chapter 31 - Death and destruction ago
Chapter 32 - Choices, choices ago
Chapter 33 - Welcome to the Howling Forest ago
Chapter 34 - Killer ham ago
Chapter 35 - Makeshift armor ago
Chapter 36 - Fin'r Goblins ago
Chapter 37 - Pack hunter ago
Chapter 38 - Scissors ago
Chapter 39 - Hag army ago
Chapter 40 - Alone in the woods ago
Chapter 41 - Angry Vines forest ago
Chapter 42 - Gathering forces ago
Chapter 43 - Taunting ago

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Soldieratarms
Overall

This story is set in a world that on first glance screams grimdark, but is actually quite light. I has many points with dark subjects, but it doesn't dwell on them long, and maintains a swift pace throughout.

Style: a standard litrpg set in a grim world, but still fast paced, as I said above.

Story: well thought-out and fast paced. Largely focused on progression, though the author has indicated that that will change soon.

Grammar: I have found no errors so far, a feat as I usually find at least a couple iffy words and such, but the structure seems to let my mind glide right over any problems.

Character: not the most deep and thought provoking characters I've ever seen, but they still have enough detail and uniqueness to standout.

Filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler filler

 

Pabloypablo
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Reviewed at Chapter 23.

I like how the author has been slowly introducing their system and character build as the story advances instead of all at once in a data dump fest.  The story progression is a little more natural.

The author does suffer from modern kid's problem with spelling homonyms. They obviously know the word, type it in how it sounds, and let a spellchecker create the word without verifying the meaning of the now badly misspelled butchering of the english language.  Aside from ejecting me from the storyline, I'm amused at all of the homonyms that I never even knew existed.

Overall, I am looking forward to more of the story development.  It will be interesting to see if the author will develop some more followers to give this story the broader audience that it deserves.

I don't give advanced reviews that often and now I am unable to submit this review because it needs to be at least 200 words long, so rather that provide pithy commentary on the VR module update mechanic found in the first chapter, (really an arm module?  at least that's a first for me....) and the lack of clear mechanism for the ego transfer of proposed main nemesis, I'll just pad my review here with more fluff.

End of the day, read this story, it doesn't disappoint.

Cestarian
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

This is one of those few stories where I struggle to find anything to complain about, as I read this I pointed out in comments some things that could potentially have become plot holes, but the author seemed to have planned for all of it! (e.g. there are no glaring issues with the plot)

The style is great, it's just simple first person, there are no POV breaks insofar which is fantastic in my opinion, and I mean yeah, the author found something that works for him and has stuck to it.

Haven't seen any issues with theg rammar really, only reason I'm not giving it a 5/5 in this area is because my senses to grammar mistakes are severely dulled after years of reading webfiction of lower quality... (This means, expect mistakes, just not truly serious ones; the author knows proper english at least, that's all you can ever trust in when I give a good grammar rating)

The characters are good, I only gave them 4 stars because I've seen better, but I would say the characters are more like 2.5 dimensional than 3 dimensional. What I'm trying to say is the characters are simple, but distinctive from one another. It works. Which is more than can be said for most webnovels which all seem to use the same 3 character templates for about 90% of all characters. At least the characters here have their own backstories and circumstances, and you often get glimpses into these backstories and circumstances, without going into entire side chapters or interludes that drag down the pacing, which is fantastic.

The worldbuilding is really there, again similar to the characters it's rather simple worldbuilding, he does some special things that I haven't seen before, but there's nothing too extravagant here, he tries to differentiate the world from other generic worlds by having different races and creatures than most stories (e.g. he doesn't just copy paste all the races and creatures, at least not from an obvious source, which is a fairly nice touch, especially since he properly explains all the ones that are relevant; as they become relevant.)

Reason I give the story a 5/5 however, is that with all these previous elements combined creating a solid foundation, and a clearly apparent main plot from very early on in the story, the key element that's missing in a lot of webnovels, this story has a starting point, and a visible potential end point right from the beginning. So combined this all sets us up for a completely solid and well put together story.

A story this solid is quite rare among webnovels, which is why I call it high quality, but the best thing about this story, and something that sets it apart from 99.9999% of other webnovels, is that it actually has GOOD PACING!!!  the plot is constantly progressing at a steady pace, it has intense parts, and calm parts spaced nicely apart, so far it hasn't felt like a single chapter was some kind of "filler". This is what really marks this story as high quality, good pacing is something that in my opinion separates wheat from chaff in regards to authors. Authors capable of setting up and maintaing good pacing, and a constant sense of plot progression, those are the ones to keep an eye on. And this, at least up till this point in the story, appears to be exactly such an author!

Overall this has been a very enjoyable reading experience, and I excitedly await the next chapter (not because of cliffhangers, this is not one of those authors apparently, but because I simply enjoy reading this!)

It truly surprises me that a story of this caliber seems to be going under the radar, I mean it has all the elements that are popular in stories on the webnovel scene, it's litrpg, it's an isekai, it's a fantasy, it's got magic, it checks all the boxes!  Yet somehow people aren't noticing this story, but oh well, it truly is their loss! Because this one's a keeper :)

Morrowjustin
Overall

There are soo many choices on what to read on royal road that sometimes the gems get mixed up in the massive amounts of stories you have to dig through.  This is one that is worth your time and that has a solid well fleshed out protagonist, a great pace with enough action, and solid system building.  If you read it, be prepared to bing read and then be like a crack addict waiting for more. 

baelrath
Overall

Well written, but heading towards a dark, hardcore premise. Almost seems Grimdark.

I'm getting Ready Player One vibes. But like he legit stuck in one of the loyalty centers. And it seems like he set up to fail.

I'm sure it is a good story for those that like this style so hopefully someone reviews it properly that likes the darker style of this genre.

Phobos
Overall

Wonderfully fleshed out LitRPG

Reviewed at: Chapter 37 - Pack hunter

I'm really enjoying this story. There are some minor problems with spelling/grammar as the author is not a native english speaker, but none are so problematic as to ruin the reading experience. The flow is not interrupted, and the author is responsive to corrections and critique.

More importantly, the characterization and pacing are both great, marks of a well-crafted story with an outlined plot. The pacing is neither frenetic action every chapter nor repetitive chapters of world building and character development. It's a well-balanced story of learning and fighting. World building is usually snuck in, not labored over, so you easily absorb it, and the inclincations of characters are revealed by their relations with one another.

Sometimes the stakes are low, sometimes high. Kernstalion, the other world, is replete with dangerous monsters, but also towns of people just trying to get by with their lives. In terms of the guts of the story, you get a bit of everything, sometimes Mitchel/Est is alone, sometimes with allies, but the narration is all from Mitchel's perspective. Every character has their own motivations influenced by their pasts and goals, not existing as a prop for the MC. Mitchel is relatable, particularly for those I expect are the average audience of RR. I wouldn't characterize it as a weakness, but he's a known quanity, enjoys everything gaming, devoted to his girlfriend, standing up for right when he can.

He is thrust into an adventure through a confluence of luck (or misfortune if you like) and the machinations of deities, and despite this somehow maintains his agency, neither succumbing to the wills of gods, nor other inhabitants of the world (though he might just be fooled).

The "great system" that often appears in a litRPG is not in your face. It's integrated into the world, and all the characters are aware of it, sometimes how to game it, but you won't be reading a wall of stats and skills every chapter, just the occasional update. Furthermore, any grinding is handled elegantly with enough attention paid it without overwhelming.

Read this story, or you should regret it!