A Martial Odyssey
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With one step, an ocean is crossed. With one swing, an immortal is slain.
Grisla Orlith's name has been in contention for centuries; millenia. Has he ever existed? Is it true about him?
They hear of the future, but they don't know his past. Assumed as a genius from heaven, a warrior without peer.
But back then, from those that knew of him... only saw a worthless boy.
[Adventure, Wuxia, Martial Arts, Fantasy]
For those not in the know, this is a book with some western and eastern fantasy sprinkled in. This is a work coming from someone who's a long time fan of the genre and would like to add my own flavor and spin to it, and I particularly dislike the shallow xianxia characterization and development. To counteract that is about eighty percent of the reason I'm writing this. The beginning might be a slow burn but I promise I'm bringing up some awesome scenes and moments once you're invested. Again, this is not some fast food xianxia. But I can say that as a lover of the genre I won't be completely shying away from the stuff that got myself hooked into it in the first place.
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The writing style feels boring to me. Nothing stands out as particularly funny or suspenseful. There is a very large flashback that just seems misplaced within the story and delivers the absolute minimum of useful information with the maximum amount of words. The only reason I don't rate the style lower is because I have seen far far worse on this website.
The story itself is meh. It has a pretty generic plot with a pretty generic execution. Nothing particularly better than the rest, but also nothing particularly worse. It's right in the middle of what can be expected for this genre.
Grammar is solid. Not perfect, but few things are. No complaints. Well done.
The characters. . . I hate them. Every single character feels deeply unsatisfactory to me. This might just be personal preference, but they all seem rather wooden in a way I find difficult to articulate.
The only exception is a character that has been given almost no "screen-time" and is the undisputed ruler of a vast conglomerate of clans. She is a young woman who somehow inherits the knowledge and cultivation of her predecessors. That is so far the only character that has seemed interesting to me. But at least the characters are not completely one dimensional. There is dynamic progression and layered emotion, so that saves this from a one star rating.
Overall, it's just boring for me. I do think that big fans of the genre might enjoy this more than I do. It ticks a lot of the trope boxes just right.
I don't hate it, I just struggle to maintain interest.
To each their own.
This review is outdated. I've added a full star from the original review after coming back to read some more of the story. The story itself has really progressed far and it looks like the author has been working very hard! =)
Okay. So. Where do I start. Very minor spoilers ahead, but nothing gamechanging.
First off, full disclosure this review is being written in the context of a review swap. As of this posting I have read all ten available chapters. This is my very first time reading Wuxia, so please take that into consideration when reading the following as there might be tropes pertaining to the genre that I am unaware of.
The style of the writing is.. ah, stiff. The writing is very red-light, green-light and I am missing a real clear sense of fluidity in the prose. It’s like reading a telephone book in some parts, the author likes to sprinkle in some fancy words especially in chapter 1 but there isn’t much behind them, they feel really out of place when they pop up actually as the writing is very featureless and plain until suddenly a mountain appears out of nowhere and then we go back to the norm. There were several terms I felt were awkward but I chuck that up to my own personal lacking as I am not familiar with ‘eastern’ web-literature and the phrases commonly used there.
The writing is solid enough to stand on its own two feet. While reading I only found 1 thing I would count as a real grammatical error, so for 10 chapters that’s actually really good! I don’t have much to say as the spelling, punctuation and use of commas and semicolons is on point! Good job here!
Okay. Again. I have never read a Wuxia before so I had no idea what I was getting into and now coming out of it; I have no idea what just happened. The story focuses around our protagonist, a young man named Grisla, son of a once renowned Gihren who has fallen ill in his age and life. The actual plot line we’re following, I am a little unclear about but as of now, resolves around our mc being a total dissapointment to his family because he’s basically garbage to sum it up.
The story takes place in a town called Orlith in which an upper-class of fighters/monks/warriors("Cultivators"?) keep the peace and train regularly. These belong to several different families and there are clear family dynamics of power in play here as some families have a much higher standing than others and use that to be real jerks more or less. Now, this was a problem for me, personally Again. Outsider. I also have the derp-brain so when chapter 1 comes around and throws all of these terms/names at me in just the first three pages. I am lost. Okay? I’m lost. I’m not a smart reader or a clever guy, so I was really overwhelmed here at all of these different things I was supposed to remember from the get go.
It's just 8 things, sure. But it's 8 things thrown at you in the very first pages of the novel and it only got more chaotic. Chapters 2 and 3 introduced a lot more characters and a lot more places and a lot more concepts. One thing is weird though; that they know about cellular damage in chapter 3? Is knowledge about the microscopic common in this genre? Dunno. And I just need to let these two quotes stand on their own. Okay? Bare with me.
Chapter 3: “He did feel awkward, for her genetics gifted her some inches over him, leaving Grisla at eye level with the goods.”
“but as a man stuck between twin peaks ahead”
The goods? Twin peaks? Come on. Come on. From the very introduction of this female character, which is literally our mc running into her breasts only to be 10 feet away a few sentences later on the next chapter, she’s just a Mary Sue. Did I say breasts? I mean honkers. Real badonkadooks. Huge old gonzolokooaloos, if you know what I mean. What’s I’m saying is, she has giant boobs and her unexplained romantic attraction to our dopey, useless mc is why I’m making this point. Come on. I’m getting big harem anime vibes here.
All of that brings me to my biggest gripe
Let me start off by saying this and I want you to know that I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
Literally every character in this story is unlikable as of chapter 10.
The mc is unlikeable, because we are never shown anything about him except that he’s a loser who gets dunked on by literally everyone. I’d feel bad for him, if he didn’t just sit there and take it. If he showed some emotion, some personality. He’s boring. We don’t know anything about his interests and hobbies and wants and needs other than he does literally exactly what he’s told and nothing else. He’s literally a gray-slate things happen to and he does nothing about it. His motivations make little sense to me.
The father is unlikable, I feel like we're supposed to have some sympathy for him because of his sickness? Buuut I'm not feeling it because frankly he's just kind of a jerk.
The biggest side character, Han, is unlikable as he’s also a huge jerk who literally tries to kill the mc in his introduction chapter during a sparring match, but then the next time they meet he spends ages talking to him as if they were buddies, even after Han got his butt kicked by the 'higher status' cultivators because he lost to the mc who is a so-called 'untalented'. There's no grudge, anger, resentment. From a man who tried to kill the mc for embaressing to this reaction just two chapters later felt very inconsistent to me personally.
The sister who I mentioned in chapter 3. There’s a real obsession with her being a woman and our mc's attraction to that solely defining feature of her existence that’s almost a little too much for me. She reeks of an over-sexualised Mary Sue.
And just everyone else. There is not one single person in this story who I enjoyed reading about.
Where does this leave us?
The author clearly has an enjoyment and love for his story which I find endeering. There is definite thought put into the setting and the power dynamics of said setting and of those people living in it. Maybe the genre isn't for me, it's hard to say just yet.
What I can say is that you should give it a fair read and a fair try to see if its for you, because the author for sure deserves that based off of the effort they are clearing putting in here! But it for sure isn't for me personally.
Please note: this is done as a review exchange (and I can highly recommend doing one with KayTea - their review helped me a lot). I have no experience of Wuxia, and I think my frame of reference may be further skewed by my experience of Japanes video games. They overlap a lot with manga, which I understand is different although I can't currently see the nuances. This means that some things can have been lost on me.
It's clear that KayTea has an idea where the story is heading, and I'm not sure what their stated goal about "xianxia characterization" means - but if it is about characters, I think that KayTea does an excellent work of introducing the characters, one in each chapter so that I get an idea about who is in play. The premise is interesting (although I would have preferred not to know how it would end as per the synopsis, but perhaps this is a genre specific thing) and I think that KayTea does a good job of using the terse style interaction I associate with Japanese storytelling (I'm not sure what else to call it).
This terseness spills over a bit into the story, which KayTee uses a poetic language to counteract. It works most of the time, but there are a few places where I'm lost (I'll include some examples at the end). The drawback of this is that there's a pull and push in the flow, where I'm unsure of how to pace the scene in my head. Sometimes I feel yanked forward, and sometimes I feel like it's slower than I expected.
I think KayTee does a good job with the overall flow and pacing of introducing the other characters, and revealing just enough of he overall story to keep me interested in the next chapter. There were a few places where I wondered what Juve really can't do (as a reader, it helps me understand the rules and sets expectation) but that can be my inexperience of the genre.
I would love to read another genre by KayTee, I imagine it would further show this newbie in wuxia the unique quirks that I'm sure are there, but many of which get lost in my inexperience.
Below is advice to the author, and only have an impact on my grammar score:
What I would recommend you to do is read the work again and focus on the more poetic descriptions. Most of the time, the style works great to set the mental image, but sometimes they lead to grammar mistakes or phrasings that make no sense to me.
Here are a few examples from the five chapters I'm reviewing:
At fifteen to be stuck at the sixth cycle of Juva Solidification was a shame, but not everyone was destined for greatness, the fourth? A tragedy. How about the first?
I assume that this means that Grisla is stuck in the first cycle, but this feels like a very convoluted way to say it. It just needs some minor modifications to work, because I like the overall style.
But Grisla kicked himself, who was he to insult something when he had no platform to talk with?
I'm not sure if I read this correctly, but I would use "to speak from"
The discovery had him grimace inside.
I'm sure this should be "grimacing"
Bei Mei’s laugh, that would come about if you threw a live cat onto a tanning rack overpowered her minions, who obviously were the ones to do the deed for her.
Again, I like the overall style but it's a bit convoluted to follow "Bei Mei's laugh, like the sound a live cat on a tanning rack, overpowered her minions' tittering. They were clearly were the culprits, just as clearly as Bei Mei had given the order"
The life of one pursuing the Path, is fraught with both danger and opulence. A truism that sits on shaky ground when an entire clan will support your back within these walls. If you have the talent.
I'm not sure that I'm reading this correctly, but I assume the "shaky ground" means that it's not really that dangerous? Or is it that the opulence is unearned because of your heritage? I think this is a great example of the few times when the style impedes on my understanding of the story.
But, with the abruptness of his arrival. It was impossible to go unnoticed.
Most students paired themselves off with either their friends, or the person next to.
Both examples above read like grammar mistakes born from style to me. The first should have a comma, not a period, and the second should have a trailing "them" for it to read correctly to me.
increasing your strength and increasing the clan’s
The style often has a possessive noun referring back, and while it works most of the time, it doesn't really here. I would rephrase it as "Increasing your strength also increased your clan's" or "Increasing your strength and increasing that of your clan"
Although his aura was restrained, Grisla felt a rising ferocity within the bubble of lard.
Here, the style is a little minimalist: "the bubble of lard that was Han" woulc ease the flow.
with every alert a human had being fired off at full blast in him
I understand what you're after here, but I had to re-read this sentence because the words "human" and "being" are so close. The first part "With every alert a" makes me prepared for a subject, and I'd change it to something like "with every alert a human had going off at full blas inside him"
Fast, fast he is, faster than Grisla expected as he crossed a distance, which took him ten seconds to do was done in four.
I'm not sure if this is style specific, but there's a sudden shift of pace: present tense insteaad of past, and I understand that this is meant to be a fast scene so I would keep the sentences short here.
However, to Grisla’s body telling him the truth, he knew it was far worse than as Han could tell.
I have a hard time telling who knows what in this sentence.
Chosen of the clan, Protector of Leimuth… and next in line to become Patriarch, over his own son.
Here I think that he was chosen by the patriarch, over the patricarch's own son, and if that's the case, it's very ambigously phrased.
They came near the practice field’s exit; but stopped. A group underneath its shadow waited for them.
There are a few places where semicolons are used incorrectly. A semicolon should have a full sentence before and after it and is used as something in between a period and a comma in pace. Here, it just detracts. I'm also not sure what casts the shadow, but I assume the exit somehow? As I picture the scene, it's the darkness beyond the exit.
Nobody was leaving until the duo approached them, as everyone knew. It was dark, he was cold, and none of that will be addressed unless he got home. So, he started first.
I'm at a loss here for what everyone knows, and feel a little left out as a reader. The tense changes in the second sentence, "It was dark, he was could, and none of the would be addressed until he got home" is how I would write it.
It was hard, with father as is the only avenue left would be for him to lay down his head,
I'm not sure exactly what lies behind this phrasing, but if infer correctly I would rephrase it something like "with father whose only avenue left would be to lay down his head"
His father seethed with many regrets, and tucks hatred away like a child and candy.
Here is another example of switching tense in a sentence: "seeths/tucks" or "seethed/tucked"
it was obvious as to why, the amount of Juva required to repair cellular or spiritual damage was too astronomical to justify before a certain point;
Perhaps this is a genre-specific thing, but this threw me off my understanding of the magic system. "too astronomical to sustain before a certain point" would make more sense.
I thought the premise of the story interesting. The first few chapters were slow, but that happens. I tried to keep reading waiting to see when something would actually happen but it just feels like the story is not going anywhere.
There are hints that there is something special about the MC, but so far everything is about him being shat on. I get it, there should be adversity or the story is boring. But really, I have no interest in a story about a character that constantly gets shat on. If the story is not moving forward (at best, moving sideays), then there's no point in continuing it.
It is disapointing, but I just don't see a point in continuing the story. I stopped at chapter 8. If you can't catch and keep my attention after five chapters (in a book), I stop reading. I tried to go further with this but I just couldn't find it myself to keep going. A lot of exposition, but it doesn't go anywhere.
I wish there would have at least been hints about his mother instead of just getting shot down. Maybe then there would be a hint of what's to come and a reason to keep going. I like the author's style, but the story was unfortunately lacking (in my opinion).
Edit: This story used to have litrpg tag now it is removed. I decided to remove 1 star because of that so it would be 3.5 in RR standerds
The story is a by the numbers cultivation story and does not stand out in anyway. The characters are a bit better than your run of the mill wuxia but are still plagued by those tropes. I was duped into reading this because litrpg + cultivation is generally at least somewhat interesting ,it has no litrpg and very little new in the cultivation system.
This is a great xianxia and no matter what you may think of the genre itself, this is a quality addition to its ranks.
This review is a bit strange because the second half is so much (so much) better than the first half, so keep in mind that while I'll try to cover the fiction as a whole up to the latest chapter I've read, a lot of the criticism is for the chapters before Thousand-Bone Throne.
Style: The way KayTea writes is descriptive and sufficiently evocative, it's very "xianxia" but much better than the standard fare we see here on RR. 5 stars easy.
It's nothing new tbh, kid in rough situation finds an amulet and is granted power by unimaginably strong entities because reasons. While it walks the beaten path, I had great fun reading it because of KayTea's more eastern influence on the genre. Anyone who's read Will Wight's Cradle series knows what I'm talking about. I enjoyed it so 4.5 stars
Grammar: This is my main problem with the story. In the beginning, while there weren't any typos, there were some... odd turns of phrase that made me think English is probably KayTea's second language, because it's things that a native speaker would just know aren't right. My rating would actually be higher if this odd use was consistent because I won't hold not being as fluent in English against an author, but this problem mostly disappears after the turning point I mention (Thousand-Bone Throne) which makes me wonder wtf happened in the beginning.
Character: Don't let the 3.5 stars mislead you, I actually really like Grisla as an MC. It's just that he's so "anime protagonist". Now, I watch a lot of anime, so he's very predictable. KayTea does a much better job at characterizing him than most other xianxias do, he's not just a 2D vehicle for cultivation, but the fundamental problem doesn't change. He's very stereotypical. But this is a xianxia trope and KayTea does state that they're setting out to make xianxia, but better, so I'm willing to change this after future chapters.
Overall: I was ready to drop this before Thousand-Bone Throne but that chapter and subsequent chapters hooked me and made me a fan. I suggest KayTea rework them because they honestly do not do justice to the actual good story that unfolds afterwards. Definitely would recommend
I cannot help but give this book a five star the amount of work and effort put in to it it's almost as good as I shall seal the heavens(issth) though the author focuses a little too much on the details micro is good but not when we are told it's the time of season when insects fuck and the color of those insects are described in detail as well(that was an attept on humor I clearly Failed)
This story reminded me a lot of a book series I've dipped my toes into - Will Wight's 'Cradle' series. From the magic, to the worldbuilding and how the characters interact with each other, there's a lot of similarities to draw between the two. Unlike Cradle, however, this story has escaped the swamp of mediocrity and has flashed of brilliance, which sadly aren't realized to their fullest.
First off, the characters are decent, but nothing special. Some are decently well rounded, others leave a little more to be desired. Thing is, in this genre of story, that's a major step up. My previous experiences with characters in these stories felt like a robot had written the thing, so that clears the (admittedly low) bar. The main character is interesting to read about, and the author does have something on hand here.
In terms of story, it's again well executed. The main character is struggling with the fact that he is just about the weakest man in his environment, and seeing him relate to that is interesting. Less interesting is the worldbuilding, which feels very video gamey at times. If that's your thing, you'll probably end up enjoying it. If not, you're probably not going to dig this story very much.
Prose wise, it's serviceable. There's no special word choices or really memorable sentences here, just workman writing overall. It does get points for not throwing wave after wave of vague worldbuilding terms around, which many stories on RR and in this genre struggle with, but again this isn't anything special.
Overall, if you're a fan of these kinds of stories, I do heartily recommend this one to you, and everyone that's not should give it a shot and see if they like it.
... and also faithful to the representation of real people with real emotions striving for real goals. Cultivation stories often fall into this trap of maniacal characters with wishy-washy moral compasses whose only aim is to attain godhood. A Martial Odyssey by KayTea instead gives us the best of the Cultivation genre with a side of realistic developments.
The characters are easily the best aspect of this story. Cultivation stories are very often character-driven, and the MC makes or break the story in many cases. The MC, Grisla, is presented with depths and heavy weights on his shoulders. Other characters like the Elder is well-crafted too, and I have nothing but praises given to the author in this respect.
The prose is a more meticulous and verbose style, which might put some people off but is a delight for me. Sometimes it gets a bit exposition-heavy, and I suggest the author can move some of that exposition to dialogues or break them into chunks to relay to the readers later on. Other than that, great work.
I didn't find any glaring grammatical mistakes while reading this, so I've elected to give grammar a full 5 star.
The story is faithful to the genre, so don't expect any groundbreaking twist or exciting novel stuff. There's a fine mix of Eastern and Western influence in the book, though, and I'm curious to see how the author blends them together. I'll definitely keep an eye out for future developments, and you should too.
I'm giving five stars simply off of the potential this story has. At current, I would say it is a 3.5 out of 5, BUT that's is due mostly to pieces that haven't been dropped into place yet.
While there are bouts of overdescription and also areas where the fundamentals of the world could afford to be expounded upon, I believe that when a story makes you earnestly think about the why after reading it, it has nowhere to go but up. Highly recommended read, and something I'm gonna keep my eyes on.