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.
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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.
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.
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
For a time now, I've been looking for a story that could really get me invested. I almost gave up after mosty finding casual reads on here, after I sifted through the obvious gems this site has to offer. MoL, Ellc, TwI, Epilogue, Vain, Super Minion and so on. I really thought I would have to go on a RR hiatus because there was nothing that could ignite the spark within me again. Alas, I find this fiction. Suddenly trending with some Writathon contenders, which mostly don't deserve the hype imo. But hey. Everyone should read what they enjoy.
And then I'm fed up cause Patreon only gives me my daily doses of high quality shez, but RR just doesn't give me any new stuff, so I start working through some fiction in my following backlog. I start this and with that I start the actual review.
I read the Summary... Well. Not really a fan of Loops. Not because of the genre, but except for MoL nothing really delivers. But hey. A mix of MoL and Re:Zero. Why not? If someone wants to aspire new heights because they've read some good shite, I'm hooked. A true passion project with a plan, WOW.
And instantly, the style. Whew. I started reading and the style instantly clicked for me, like it did for many others. This is some high quality stuff. No blue boxes? I can live with that. Especially in this new Blue box economy, which I don't like. Many people seem to have reaized that blue box bad, therefore settle for a half assed version... Spoiler: Shite's disgusting.
So no bad or good blue boxes, fine. I can live with that. Grammar is really good, so is the style. So much so, that it doesn't feel very Royalroady. Which makes it in a certain way distinct. Distinct like other greats. This was where I got hooked, cause I smelled gold. Even the Prologue, which practically justifies the whole story as a story, because it makes it a retelling, is enjoyable to read. Gives it a sence of mystery. The good kind.
Style is hard to rate, I find, but if you get where I'm coming from on the distinct part, you'll know exactly why this has a 5 star rating. Also: The sudden Pov changes during hectic scenes I really enjoy, as it gives the feeling, that the MC always has something on their mind, when getting stressed or is passed out, while battle erupts around him.
Story: Within the events that are obvious from the Prologue, up until the current enclave chapters (I am a little in the future due to having read the patreon chapters) This is a very organized story. The setpieces are beautiful and the few arcs we have yet are a treat.
Grammar: Well. Reading this as sleep deprived as most others/always, I can't vow for anything, but it at least feels very clean. No grand mistakes that break tension or otherwise weird things like leaps in logic that make you wonder what exactly the author was thinking. Then again. I am very much a lovecraftian guy, as in my sentences are generally winding Maelstroms of words, resulting in page long constructs.
So with pain in my heart I can only give 4.5 here because it just doesn't click for me, despite it probably being a deserved 5 clean.
Character scores, OOOWEEE... Great. Just superb. Gimme more. That's all there is to say really. They are characters. You get insight into everyone except ofc the main antagonist (if you can call her that) and they feel real. From Uncles that feel bad for committing war crimes (Never forget to drink tea to make up for any warcrimes commited. Preferably Yorkshire Tea) to Sisters that are
Spoils of war.
They feel like real characters should feel in an accomplished story. Alive and breathing. While we hover around them experiencing the story from an outside perspective, wishing we could be there or rather could interact with them, without being wiped every time a force reset happens.
So yeah. Is this worth your time? More than that. Go out there and make us proud Eligos. Don't let this stroke of genius end and don't waver or lose your resolve, because you are writing one of the best fictions in this whole genre of webnovels right now. Don't lose the spark.
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.
Overall/Style: I generally feel conflicted about starting to read time loop stories. Written poorly, loops tend to be skipped over and the main character becomes overpowered with the reader barely reading about the work it took to get to where they are. When otherwise written well, there can be an issue that there is so much plot progression coupled with resets that it is hard to follow the story - how did actions during the current loop affect who knows what/who is doing what/who is alive/etc. RE: Monarch has so far managed to avoid both of these pitfalls. It is paced well and has a plot that is easy to follow - even with the looping.
Grammar: I saw few errors throughout the 40 chapters. This story is of a notably higher grammatical quality than most on RR.
Story: I read a review of RE: Monarch that recommended to skip the prologue. I know that there are some people who do not enjoy it. I personally did; I think it added a nice angle to the story that you don't see too often on RR. The author, Eligos, was ambivalent about keeping the prologue in the story because of complaints from the readers and so they conducted a poll. A simple (not overwhelming) majority voted to keep it in. Ultimately, whether or not you read it or start with chapter 1 is up to you. That being said, regardless of whether or not you read the prologue, the story is great. I think the pacing of Cairn's development is done well. Forty chapters in and he's not overpowered. He's still learning about the world, and is not so confident in his ability to predict other's reactions to his new behavior that the story becomes a boring fulfillment of all of his machinations.
Character: I have found that many stories on RR tend to rely on characters tropes and stereotypes that make it hard to really enjoy characters outside of the MC. I can't say that all of Eligos's characters are completely unique and trope-free (or that I care about every character who receives a fair amount of characterization), but I can say that Eligos has written characters other than the MC well enough to make me care about their wellbeing and happiness in the story - which does not happen for me if the characters are walking cliches.
Re:Monarch is a time loop story, and one of the best I've read. There's a lot I could say for this review which has been said by others already, so for this review I'll focus down on a few of the aspects I think set this story apart from its peers.
One extremely strong aspect I feel other reviews have missed is the art of the twist. More than any other story I've read on Royal Road to date, and indeed in general, Re: Monarch excels at repeatedly pulling the rug out from under the feet of its readers, and manages to do so in a satisfying manner at worst and a mind-blowing one at best. This aspect alone sets it at top-tier web fiction standard in my eyes. The plot appears to have been thoroughly planned out in advance, with an absolute plethora of clandestine secrets in the wings waiting to reveal themselves. It's strikingly clever.
Cleverness is the name of the game in this whole story, though. It shines through in every aspect from the glittering prose through the rich characterisation and the fabulously-written thread of the narrative. If you're looking for a story whose actors all have a healthy dollop of common sense, rich, multi-faceted and realistic characterisation and the drive to make the best of a bad situation, Re: Monarch should be your next go-to stop.
But the characters, while absolutely up there with the best, aren't what make this story so much as the plot, which is flat-out extraordinary. You have not read this story before. Yes, it's a time loop, but one crammed with unique mysteries, questions and fascinating interactions you can theorise on for days. The story delights in taking tropes well-established in high fantasy and putting a different spin on them, if not outright subverting them. Stereotypes are hard to come by here, a fact I'm endlessly grateful for. It reads like it's been meticulously planned from start to finish and I can't wait to find out the answers to all my questions. Absolutely superb.
Given the time loop factor, this story is naturally going to be compared to the (also outstanding) Mother of Learning. In my view, however, Re: Monarch is a bit of a different, darker beast. At heart, Mother of Learning feels like an exploration about reaching one's full potential in a (mostly) consequence-free environment. By contrast, the focus of Re: Monarch seems to lie in finding ways to solve specific, driving problems, whether that means resolving conflict or gathering information.
I personally disagree with the reviewers claiming the prologue spoils the story - my impression is in fact that it reveals very little about future events. It has spoiled no major events for me so far, ruined none of the surprises (of which there are many), and as of Chapter 59 I still feel very much in the dark about the mysteries yet to come. It does, however, successfully establish a sense of epic scale, another ongoing hallmark of this fiction.
Re: Monarch easily claims a spot in my all-time favourites. I absolutely adore this story and can't praise it enough. This is an all-round sweeper in every category and should satisfy most tastes, but if tantalising mysteries, fascinating characters and extraordinary revelations are what make you tick, you'd be doing yourself an especial disservice passing this one up.
Right off the bat, I have to admit I was not drawn to the title of the book. However, the high review ratings caught my attention. Unfortunately, the first few chapters featured a spoiled brat of a main character. After just reading another story with an unlikeable and privileged “hero” my tolerance for this was very low. I was ready to quit this story and move on, high ratings not withstanding.
Then the story ramped up and hit me like a ton of bricks. Holy $hit. The writing quality was good from the start but the character development, a slow burn type of thing by nature, was amazing. I was suddenly sucked into the main character’s struggles and could not stop reading until I ran out of chapters.
Something I also really appreciate is that this is not another fun but episodic slice of life story that seems to dominate Royal Road. The author is taking time to edit, proof, and plan each chapter as story arcs within a greater story. While I do want to read more immediately, I am all for quality over quantity.
It’s early days but this story is clearly something special. The comparisons to Mother of Learning are accurate but this is no mere copy and paste. If the author can keep their momentum and finish, this is going to be a fantasy epic.
P.S. I skipped the Prologue
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.
Re:Monarch is the story of Cairn, and his journey to become a person who has terrified archdemons so much that they would do anything to make him suffer even one more day. Along the way, he's going to need to master a whole lot of magic, bring peace to a world which his father ripped apart, save every race in the land from their worst nightmares, and most of all, try not to lose his mind in the process.
Let's talk style. it's a re:zero time travel plot with a bit of a twist. He lives through a scenario, discovers something new about the people around him, has character growth, overlooks one fact about the scenario, gets killed from the misstep, and repeats until he clears it. it's a character-driven story which can go wrong in a number of ways, but the absolute mastery that Eligos has over his characters makes it spectacular.
This brings me to the characters. They are fantastically realistic and deep as heck. Every single character that cairn talks to has their own personality, past, and ambitions. Even when a character is seen in the exact same position over thirty times from time travel shenanigans, there's always a deeper layer to see in that character. Forgive me for gushing, but every one of the characters that are shown have actual intelligence. Every one of them make logical deductions that the readers can make. At no point have I ever looked at a character and thought "why haven't they figured this out yet?"
The characters make the story fun, but the story itself is even more worthy of mention. At any given time, Cairn always has a threat hanging over his head to add tension, which is incredibly difficult to pull off in a story where the main character has a literal reload point to clear up their mistakes. Right from the beginning, we are given every layer of major obstacles which Cairn must overcome, and tons of foreshadowing to that effect. Of course, that doesn't mean it's always constant action. The off-time activities which allow cairn to grow and learn from his mistakes are everywhere, and they are beautifully done. It's really a treat to see him slowly grow from a spoiled brat who is angry at the world into a truly great hero.
The story really only has one weakness, but it's more a matter of taste. The prologue to the story takes place in the future, where we are specifically told all of the greatest accomplishments which will be told in the story. He pauses to talk, and the story begins. The story looks like an incredibly detailed diary of his past, which is a surprisingly effective story telling method. The problem is in the accomplishment listings. As someone who has the terrible habit of reading the ending of a book before starting it, I really like this particular feature, but i know some people really won't. So, make your own judgement on whether or not you should read the prologue.
All in all, this is one of the best stories on the site at the moment, and I highly reccommend it.