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Elias McKinley is the best assassin on Earth...or he was.
Betrayed, ambushed, and left bleeding out on the streets of London. He's given a choice by a mysterious figure. He could stay and let his life come to a swift and brutal end, or forge a new life in another world.
It wasn't a hard choice.
Though Xenai operates by a different set of rules than Elias is used to, and he's going to have to learn fast if he has any hopes of surviving in this land of myth and magic.
Elias's skills will be put to the test as his path unfolds ahead of him, and it's going to be a bloody one.
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(This is just the first draft and as such will have grammar issues, inconsistencies, and plot holes. Eagle-eyed readers are very much appreciated.)
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As the story title states it is about an Assassin that gets isekaied from renaissance era England and follows the standard LitRPG and isekai tropes. What is not enjoyable is how unrealistic the Assassin shown here is. Assassins are all about stealth, secrecy and avoiding combat wherever possible with a healthy dose of preparation. Here we have someone(The supposedly " best Assassin on earth") whose face and name is well known by everybody, who fights and kills every damn thug and mutt on the way to the target instead of being stealthy and using something like poison or hidden weapon like a concealed pistol. He is really a "mercenary" at this point, and besides someone like that shouldn't even be alive if he lives in a common sense world, as an Assassin stops being one once their identity gets blown and they either disappear far away to safe house or end up in gutters by their enemies (previous target's relatives, hands of law, etc). But here we are with a protagonist that I honestly think was devised by watching anime and crappy D-grade Hollywood (or Bollywood for that matter) spy movies and making the whole idea of assassins revolve around that. The grammar and style are acceptable so the 3 star rating.
This is the "cool" kind of assassin popular with movies. The superstar kind that everyone knows about. The kind that takes poses when killing people. Even the dark space around him is turned into cooler "stygian dark " etc.
It was torture to read to the second chapter
Also - 1 star for using Terry Pratchett's name
The protagonist's tone and mindset ruins any possible enjoyment you'd get from this story. It's unrelenting, annoying, and nonsensical.
The biggest problem is that the MC is constantly commenting on people disappointing him by not providing a challenge, giving them opportunities to impress him, things in that vein. He's an ASSASSIN. Assassins don't care about that nonsense. It's a weird attempt to romanticize assassins into some kind of gentlemanly dueler. Which he most assuredly isn't. It's a bad trope even when done well. And it is not done well here.
Besides that, his elitist attitude and POV are just annoying. I'm not amused, riveted, interested or entertained. I'm bored and kept reading only in the hopes he'd stop being so incredibly unlikable.
Spoiler warning: he doesn't.
There's a good idea in here: a working professional assassin from some indefinite part of the 1400 gets dropped into a magical world that's the usual 1700s-ish magitech setup, flipping the usual direction of isekai on it's head: he's already more skilled at violence than the locals, but less socially advanced etc.
Several major mis-steps kneecap this premise before it can get going though:
1 - It should not be litrpg. The character has loads of pre-existing skills already, that's inherent in your premise. A system that assigns and advances skills is meaningless because the whole point is that it can't represent his skillset. Additionally, it's a bad fit because assassination is a situation where comparing general ability scores is not supposed to matter. Give him some other form of magic he's not already made obsolete with earth skills or something, or just don't.
2 - You need to really nail down what historical period you want him to be from and what you want the magical world to be analogous to, especially if your god of exposition is going to explicitly bring up technological advancement. This leads to the last point:
3 - This premise means you've assigned yourself homework. If your dude is from old London yoy need to know how much it was dominated by maritime industry and waterways, not a generic landlocked city in the american midwest. You need to have some idea that Damascus steel literally came fron Damascus, and why it could not have just been ordered from a local shop. You need to know at least vaguely why a "middle ages" scribe would not have access to an atlas or history describing the entire globe, and that a mercenary force (e.g. adventurer guild) could not reasonably expect applicants to be able to read and write to fill out a form, much less reliably perform background checks, in either world.
I don't disagree with other reviews mentioning the pizza cutter nature of the character (he's 100% in the "all edge, no point" category), but I actually like that part: the character being an utter twit who's absurdly up his own bum is a good way to give him a character arc where he improves and learns while also having a pre-established skill-set that can't meaningfully grow. Like I said, there's a good idea in here, it just needs more care and craft put into the execution.
The entire time I read this book I was trying to figure out where I've already read this mediocre story at. I think I finally figured it out. This is Kings Dark Tidings with minor changes. OK now that I've figure out that I can not interest this laughable excuse for an assassin and move on to more interesting books.
The story utilizes a stale format without any innovation to breathe life into itself.
The author has a good handling of both combat and dialogue, but the writing as a whole isn't very dynamic and feels monotonous. I found myself skimming the story depite my best efforts not to.
Meh. Standard isekai, god meeting, and system. Litereally nothing new or interesting.
Mostly decent but it's clear that there hasn't been even a cursory proofreading. There are spelling mistakes everywhere and broken sentences in every chapter I read. As the author stated, it's a first draft, and that is painfully obvious.
The MC is pretty inconsistent. At the end of one chapter he seems pretty eager to get into a fight, and at the top of the next chapter, he states that dislikes open combat. The character is also pretty remorseless. Sure, the author says that he feels regret, but the character doesn't show it at all. Maybe that's a fault on the author's style and not the character, but I decided to put that assessment here.
It's another isekai. It's an assassin. It's nothing new. Read if if you're an isekai power-fantasy junkie, mvoe on if you want something interesting.
MC isn't by any means a perfect character, but the author has developed a good, living world with nicely fleshed out secondary/tertiary characters. While MC seems to be the most 'one-dimensional' character, I believe MC definitely has potential to grow and develop from his current mindset. This is currently the story's biggest issue for me. Really enjoying the fight scenes, they feel believable and dynamic. I do like that MC has opportunities to fail, he's not some all powerful character which can really fall flat in some of these stories. Failure and growth make this more realistic and enjoyable.
I don't really have any issues with the skills system in place here... the skills aren't locked, just need to level them up. They seem to act more like modifiers for baseline abilities and it works pretty well. Only carrying over four of the skills felt a little arbitrary, though. If anything, I might have picked 4 skills to elevate to 'expert' level, more for 'journeyman' level, and the rest at novice level. Maybe that would be less problematic/more believable for some readers?
Few silly typos/grammar issues/missing words, but not story breaking. Just needs a little polish. Should this ever be available to purchase, I'm ready with money in hand. Shut up and take my money. Excited to see where this goes.
I write this on a thursday. It is New Year's Eve and I am loathe to go about the list of responsibilities I made this morning. I started my daily trawl of Royal Road looking for anything that might catch my eye, and like every other day I started with the Trending.
Our story finds its entrance with a contract in pre-industrial London: A demonstration which immediately piqued my interest. The first thing that I noticed, or rather didn't, was the writing style. I was immediately immersed in the world GraySinclair portrays and through the elegent language found myself standing on a rooftop looking down on the wet cobbles under a cloudy gray sky, and a frigid wind skating through the shadowy cityscape. This feeling leads directly into a portrayel of assasination that, frankly, I found refreshing. I have no idea how to go about assasinating someone in the best way and I can say with confidence that 99.99% of people who say they do don't. Now, I may be biased, but the assasin is among my favorite archetypes in existence. I enjoy these stygian killers much more than the apex figures of the fantasy genre like, Archmagi, or Sword Saints. Generally speaking, however, the Assasin archetype is one of the most difficult to portray well and so when it is; I take note.
After this brief introduction featuring five characters who each felt like they had their own history behind their actions we are introduced to the Isekai aspect of the story. One of the things I enjoy most about fiction is world building and Sinclair does that well. There is much about this world that I am curios of and that is a good thing. These little bits of detail and origin give an insight to a greater world and make the cities, towns, and nations that the story highlights feel alive. I know too little to say how that will hold in the future but as of writing this the world of Xenai feels watertight and vibrant with motion.
Another note is for the characters once again. No author will ever make a perfect human in a novel. No author can write thirty years of every second of a persons life and then make decisions in exactly the way that person would. When I read dialogue or exposition on character actions I come into it with that expectation on top of an additional one. We don't know these characters. I write this thirteen chapters in and just how an author can't write the lifetime of every character they describe we can't know that much. At no point in this story did any character's action feel out of place.
When Elias relishes in testing himself against some common bandits at the beginning of the Isekai ark it can be reasoned as an attempt to ground himself in something familiar. This is a man who has been steeped in blood for twenty or more long years, and suddenly he is thrust into an entirely different world. He meets a god, is introduced to a system when he as Weilan said "Has no frame of reference." and all that Elias has to go on is 'go with it'. So when he returns to the thing he knows best I don't think its an overstep. An additional note for the road, being an assasin isn't one definition. There isn't only one way to kill someone. There is no 'only way' to almost anything.
For a story about an assassin it seems to be written competently, good grammar and realistic characters.
Interestingly the protagonist seems to come from a less developed England, with flintlocks but no computers or automatic weapons. This makes him better suited to the new world he finds himself in but I'm interested in how he deals with magic.
Edit: Update rate has increased and I'm very satisfied with the LitRPG elements, not too heavy, not too light. Feels reminiscent of the status screen from In Loki's Honour.
Has good pacing. Try it, its pretty good.
Pretty great start to a new series by my favorite author, Grayson Sinclair! The isekai theme is really popular right now and a bit flooded but i have a feeling this story will do great and I'm eager to see more of this and see how it develops further because it's turning out pretty good so far!