Cairn is a prince who is already tired of ruling. Faced with an imminent coronation and an overbearing father, he wants nothing more than to drown his responsibilities in cheap liquor and poor decisions. With the help of his sister, he hatches a plan to escape the clutches of the throne once and for all. It all goes terribly wrong, and Cairn finds his priorities shifting in the face of unimaginable tragedy. The change of heart comes too late, however, and Cairn dies. He reawakens to find himself transported ten years in the past. He immediately begins to plan for the future, only to discover his killer has somehow followed him. To succeed, Cairn must unite the kingdom and discover the motivation of his killer, using as many tries as it takes.
I exhausted pretty much every time loop story ever written and decided to write my own. You'll see a few similarities here between this story and some existing stories, at least initially. There's a lot of inspiration drawn from both MoL and Re:Zero, though in terms of pathos and darkness, this story leans more towards the latter. Be warned, it is something of a slow burn. The main character will grow and become powerful, but a theme of this story is that power comes slowly and often at great cost.
Developmental Editing by the all seeing Irock4691
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Ignore the prologue. Read to chapter 8 before making a decision on dropping it.
I almost dropped the story after reading the prologue and first few chapters. The prologue holds implications that aren't self contained because we know by its sombre tone how certain relationships probably play out in a negative way. DON'T READ THE PROLOGUE.
The story has a slow start that really ramps up around chapter 8, and boy, the quality really starts to shine through. The slow start has an excellent pay off as it increases the overall investment in the story. If you like MoL, you will almost certainly like this story after making it past the first few initial chapters.
Here is the quick rundown on what makes the story so good. The new take on the 'time loop' genre is interesting, and it keeps the story interesting. So far, the time loop operates like the check points in a video game. Honestly, this approach is refreshing, and it also keeps the story from being a totally foregone conclusion. There can't be a "perfect" run so to speak, and keeps some of the suspense that's normally not there in a time loop story (assuming you don't read the prologue).
The MC is also great. He is flawed, and his development in capabilities and personal growth is enjoying to read about. He's also rational without being a sociopath. The story seems to hint at a potential romance, but I have a feeling it'll be more akin to traditional fantasy novels like the Name of the Wind rather than RR Harems. The prospect of a story featuring a light romance like in traditional fantasy novels is a plus.
The story is about 300 pages in, and already one of my favorites on this site. It's absolutely great. I'm a big fan of time-loop stories myself, and as the author says in the descriptions, this is definitely heavily inspired by Re:Zero.
However, unlike Re:Zero, it feels like the main character so far is way more proactive, and with much clearer goals in mind. This is already a good step forward as a story, as instead of simply reacting to everything going around him, he's trying to move towards something meets challenges in the process.
The main character, as well as the side-characters so far, are all very good too. They all have flaws and feel very geniune and real, and not at all like caricatures made up of a single personality trait,. This is something notable, as a lot of web-fictions and anime (like this story was inspired by), tend to suffer when it comes to this.
Where I'm most impressed with the story, however, is the writing and style of the story. This is obviously something of a personal preference, but I feel the author has a perfect balance between being descriptive and trying to write something entertaining, something a lot of authors struggle with. It's been great to read, and there has never really been a moment where I felt like I wanted to gloss over or skip something, and there's rarely been moments where I felt like I needed more details. Perhaps some of the more alien non-human characters could be given some more detail, but that's about it.
There's very minimal amount of grammar mistakes that I've found, and none that makes it difficult to read in any way. So there's no real problems there.
Overall, great story. I have no real complaints, only worries that it'll end up like so many great RR-stories, being suddenly abandoned.
Despite the troubling reviews, and the troubling chapters of Ignis, I found that the story was pretty good, especially the Everwoods and Crossroads arcs.
The really damning problem comes with Enclave and Sanctum. And that is that each problem that he faces is bigger than the last and takes even more loops (and more words on page) to resolve. Ignis 5, Everwood 12, Crossroad 12, Enclave 44, Sanctum 37++. And the issue is that we can't even remotely see the end in sight. Which we know because of the prologue (which is pretty neat). And yet, it would take like at least a thousand chapters to get there?!?!
This is a very serious pacing issue that really drags the story down. When the issue came up in Enclave I was like, "damn, surely this must end soon, right?"
There isn't much to say here. This story is a step above the content you usually see on RR. Very well written. Characters are interesting, prose is great. But the plot is the highlight for me so far. An interesting take on the time-loop genre for sure. The world this story is set in is also fresh and exciting: i want to know more about it, but thankfully the author shows and doesn't tell. Really, I'm surprised how good all aspects of this novel are.
For prospective readers, I'd recommend skipping the prologue and just starting at chapter 1. The prologue is set in the latter arcs of the story and is quite a big spoiler. I get that's it's trying to create a sense of anticipation and expectation, but for me it didn't really work.
So, in summary skip the prologue, but don't skip this fantastic story.
EDIT: RR wants me to post a minimum of 200 words, but that's all I wanted to say. I guess I'll take this space to shout out a few of other stories on RR that I think are on a similar level:
- Mother of Learning
- Super Minion
So after reading this story, I can honestly say I have been blown away by just how good a read it all is. Noticed it on trending, with a higher than usual rating for that list which along with the positive reviews and other recommendations made me decide to check it out, and oh boy I don’t regret it at all. Now I can say with certainty that it is one of my highest favourites out of all of webfiction I have read so far, it is just that good. And would recommend for those actually interested to wait no more and start reading now.
Oh and for new readers, just a warning, beware the prologue. It is possible you may not like how the MC is portrayed there and thus get turned off from reading this story. Thankfully reading it is not neccesary to follow & understand the story, it just serves as an introduction to the MC, the story and what he will eventually become, but if you are fine with all that, id say to go ahead and read the prologue.
So lets get started on this review then. Though first of all, I recommend to ignore the generic sounding title, this story is much better than its title and cover do seem to imply, also this story does get dark and tragic.
Cairn is just such a tragic character, his personality may be indeed shitty when he first appears in the main story, but that’s due to so many tragedies in his past, forcing him to wipe it all away with excess, just to forget all that and his cold family and his Tyrant of a father, but his position makes that impossible, forcing him with a Throne he does not want, and thus refuses, that moment showed his side where he just wants to be free and unburdened from responsibilities especially well, however he is not escaping those, because of Thoth forcing him on the path to somehow get the means to defeat her, even if the situation does seem to be utterly hopeless he does not stop, showing great strength of character at going on, though makes sense since the alternative would be falling to Thoth, a fate he does not ever want to happen for it would completely break him.
He does care about those close to him like his mother, his sister and his companions, though doing such gets progressively harder over time due to the Loops, a slow process that eventually leads to what he became in the prologue of this story, becoming exhausted of it all even if he attained great power and wealth without equal, in which light his decision to just share his experiences of it all makes sense.
The many characters this story has all feel realistic, even if they only appear for a short time, their motivations & personalities can be seen with even an short appearance, with it being more clear for major characters, there are already so many I am brought to care for, in such a short timespan.
Going to repeat this as it is quite important, the plot is MUCH darker than what Mother of Learning was, just the invasion alone, and then there is Thoth and all those who she has recruited, being an ever-present threat to Cairn, he simply cannot even rest against a foe like her, and on her… she is one hell of an antagonist for this story, each time she appeared so far, she made a tremendous impression, being a foe that could not be defeated. A good comparison would be Red Mask from MoL, but even worse than him in many ways, and much more cruel, and just likewise as him a utter mystery, seriously kudos to the author for writing an enemy like her, Thoth is just so memorable.
She is really one of those characters that make this story greater just through her existence, even if I dread the moments she shows up in the story, for that means Cairn is going to suffer.
Well, about the loop this story takes place in, I find it quite the interesting design, it’s a mix between Mother of Learning, basically the standard type of loop, and Re: Zero’s (admittedly have not read it, so not familiar with the kind of system it uses) which uses some kind of checkpoint system, with unknown specifics for what counts as a checkpoint, from my view it seems like it would be a multi staged loop, with the main loop and then the checkpoints.
The plot is more based on Mother of Learning though, the same kind of endgame with an overwhelming, all destroying invasion that seems to be impossible to fight, or threat in this case due to its length making it far less unlikely to reach the end of the loop quickly which is a major difference with MoL, so I cant see this story cycling quick through loops, atleast not with the kind of chapters that were released so far, so this can change. And that brings me to another point, just how much time the author is going to spend with a loop, or even individual checkpoints, at the current pace, it can be very long, though that’s because no major time skips have happened yet as of writing this review so this is likely to change, also this means that likely his way of becoming more powerful will be also slower, since there are so many variables in this story, but he has alternative methods to power due to the far greater loop length, so it quite balances out.
The world this story is set in has a rich lore behind it all, adding quite a lot of background depth to this story, there are just so many of those titbits shattered throughout the story, by which the author performs their worldbuilding, and they are also easy to connect for the discerning reader. So overall excellent worldbuilding here, though nothing unique yet. Which more has to do with the fact this story has only been going on for a short time yet, so there is certainly room for so much more in terms of worldbuilding.
Like with this story only the grammar could be better, as there are quite some grammatical errors to be found throughout the story which are still uncorrected, though even on that point the author has been taking measures to improve his grammar, either by themselves, or by helpful readers who point out any found typos and other grammatical errors, overall the reading experience should be unhindered even by those minor errors and typos, and if all that gets fixed, the writing can be considered to be near published levels of quality.
Well, there’s the prologue for this story, which is basically set in the present from the MC’s viewpoint, with the entire story after that basically being retold from his experiences, with sometimes notes about future events thrown in the story, though that rarely does happen. This choice of prologue is rather interesting as it hypes the reader for what the MC will become and just how strong he will get, but also somewhat a problem for many readers, as basically the outcome of the story up to that point is known, that the MC will survive even if it wont be easy for him but that he will grow strong enough to be a major force on his own right with the help of all that accumulated knowledge which is actually rather nicely done, the author does understand those problems from what I heard, and plans to address it, another problem is that well, Cairn acts broken in the prologue, like he has nothing left, is spent, which actually is what I think the author is trying to convey there, however that runs contrary to what some readers would expect of him when he is introduced the way he is, which I can imagine sort of ruins the flow for those readers.
Beyond that prologue, the story is somewhat slow at the start, but it gets really started a couple chapters in, around the end of the first arc, that’s when all the fun begins, not that those chapters of the first arc are any lesser for being slow or whatever, they are still a very good read and serve as an excellent introduction to the world, the Main character and other side characters, and even the antagonists.
The author’s writing style is just so pleasing to read, and so easily to be drawn into the story itself and keep on reading until there’s nothing more to read and the next chapter button does not work or until those pesky interruptions by the outside world. The author has just that special kind of style, that is especially good at describing everything even as the story goes on as usual, a nigh perfect manner of delivering information to the readers without making it feel a chore to read through those moments. And while the tone of the story is overall dark, with the fight against an overwhelming force that remains an utter mystery, the author still managed to put in those lighthearted moments or even inserted a joke in the text, one which suits perfectly for that moment, and the writing in this story brings me to care in a way I find so rarely in webfiction, which speaks a lot to how good the author is at conveying emotions in his story.
The author is absolutely talented, and knows exactly what kind of story they are writing, and that shows with the entire story being as good as it is, including even the strange prologue. I hope that the author can keep working on this story, at a stable pace without burning themselves out while keeping the same quality of writing and story as they have written, if they can manage this, it can absolutely be considered to be one of the webnovel greats alongside the likes of Mother of Learning, Worm, Practical Guide to Evil and Wandering Inn.
So all that makes it basically full five stars across the board, bar grammar for earlier stated reasons.
At this point I highly recommend this story to basically any reader, it is fully worth every moment spent reading it, so if you have any free time left to waste, spend it on this. This is even more true for any fans of Mother of Learning, who have been looking for something like it ever since that story ended after all those years, since as it is now, it is absolutely worthy of being considered a successor to it, even if its nowhere as long as Mother of Learning yet.
Over thirty hours ago, I sat down to read this story. I haven't been able to eat or sleep ever since. At this point, I feel like I'm being held hostage by the author, and the worse part is that I don't regret it, at all. Talk about Stockholm syndrome.
Release me from this curse, you fiend! (Just a joke, please moar)
PS: Send help.
Hate to repeat what everyone else already says, but man the prologue ruins the early tension and mystery. I went in blind reading the story cause of it's high ranking. Didn't pay much heed to the warning of the prologue. Now wishing it was more strongly worded against. Will leave as 4 stars until prologue changes or removed. Good story otherwise. Characters are the strong point, loss of mystery makes chugging through midsection difficult. Could use a bit more editing.
START ON CHAPTER 1
I did, you will thank me later. Don't spoil the story. It's truly beautiful.
This story is extremely well written. The grammar alone is way above what else you may find on Royal Road. I highly enjoyed what I have read so far. The story, the characters. They all have depth, they all have meaning. It's obviously very well thought out and described. You will most likely find yourself going down a rabbit hole with this one. I won't say much else, it speaks for itself.
One moment, I'm entirely enthralled, the next, I'm bored, the next, I'm enchanted.
It's a bit of a rollercoaster, honestly. I feel like the author isn't the best at transitioning from arc to arc but each dedicated arc is interesting and engaging.
Do keep in mind to entirely ignore the prologue. Not only does it spoil tonnes of stuff but the author has told me in a reply to a comment that it's not really canon any longer, which I believe to be true due to time-line issues.
I started reading this a few hours ago and couldn't stop.
I appreciate a few things in a story and this book satisfies all of them.
From the beginning of a book you can generally get an immediate sense of the author's style and, if the book is written in first person, a sense of the narrative voice of the main character. Doesn't usually take more than a few chapters.
I knew after reading just the prologue that the author is an excellent writer. Clean, descriptive and eloquent prose, mature and engaging.
The main character is interesting, capable, and hard working. He's suffering through a curse but he's constantly growing and becoming the kind of person who deserves to have a narrative written about them, a complex hero overcoming tragedy and hardship with iron will, luck, and talent.
Supporting cast are generally interesting and well-fleshed-out. Maya is lovely and is a complicated character with a dark story of her own. I really like how she was originally introduced in the very beginning (as an adult) and how she has diverged from a cannon fodder villain to be a trusted friend.
The voice of the MC, Cairn, reminds me of Jorg from The Broken Empire Trilogy, arguably my favorite series of all time. In short, he's sarcastic, cynical, is kind of a bastard in the beginning. He has serious daddy issues. But more than that he's whip smart and cunning and a natural fighter. He's the kind of person who feels worthy of the good fortune/curse given to him. He's not just an average Joe who happens to get power. He's prince with all the responsibility and disillusionment that comes with the package. I'm a sucker for that set up.
The prose itself though... It's just pretty. Easy to read but descriptive... I've already touched on this but I can't say it enough.
Mild criticism: I'm not totally convinced by the main antagonist's actions. She's described as a megalomaniac but kind of just comes off as being irrational for sparing the MC and toying with him. There is probably a better reason for her actions but it might help to hint at it earlier on (or make it more clear that the irrationality is from insanity). Rn I have no idea why she isn't just, like, imprisoning him and preventing him from gaining power--wanting to face a powerful adversary later feels uncharacteristically shounen to me. It's a minor gripe--I know the first 100 chapters of this book are plotted and I highly doubt there's no better motivation, the criticism is in the revelation (or lack thereof) so far.
Anyway, thanks Eligos. If you drop this fic I might die.
Tldr in the same drawer of books as The Name of the Wind, Broken Empire, and Red Rising. Extremely good, read immediately, you'll know if it's your cup of tea within the first chapter.