The Last Human

The Last Human

by PSHoffman

Humanity is extinct.

In their wake, they left behind powerful artifacts and wonderous relics, most of which are still yet to be discovered.

Alien life flourishes in the ruins of ancient human cities. Hundreds of distinct species and cultures. But they all worship the "Old Ones" as gods, for who else could have created these impossible devices: ships that can fly, droids that can think, and gates that form bridges between worlds.

One power-hungry Empire has learned to use these gifts to conquer and dominate all other alien cultures. With each passing day, they grind the people of Gaiam deeper under the bootheel of oppression.

But when an old, jaded thief stumbles upon an ancient, living secret... a new revolution may be at hand.

This is the story of The Last Human.

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PSHoffman

PSHoffman

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Part 1 - The Very Last One ago
Part 2 - Followed ago
Part 3 - The Cranes of Midcity ago
Part 4 - The Green Doctor ago
Part 5 - The Coward Queen ago
Part 6 - The Ways Below ago
Part 7 - What Lies in the Sewers ago
Part 8 - Frozen in Time ago
Part 9 - To Speak with a Real, Living Human ago
Part 10 - Never Go Home ago
Part 11 - Her Majesty and Her Wingmaiden ago
Part 12 - The Queen Flies Forth ago
Part 13 - The One Who Ate the Others ago
Part 14 - The City that Moves ago
Part 15 - The Traitor and the Thief ago
Part 16 - A Newborn God ago
Part 17 - A Brief Moment in Paradise ago
Part 18 - The Black Library ago
Part 19 - The Sajaahin Tent ago
Part 20 - The Way Up ago
Part 21 - The Lords of the Veneratian ago
Part 22 - Into the Cauldron ago
Part 23 - Respite ago
Part 24 - Marsim ago
Part 25 - The Offer ago
Part 26 - Everything Comes Undone ago
Part 27 - The Beginning of the End ago
Part 28 - In the Crush ago
Part 29 - The Blasphemy of Poire ago
Part 30 - The Hours of Death ago
Part 31 - The Feathered Debt ago
Part 32 - Falling, Not Floating ago
Part 33 - The Temple and the Tower ago
Part 34 - The Protocol ago
Part 35 - Feather, Metal, and Flesh ago
Part 36 - Scallion's Story ago
Part 37 - Hell, It's About Time ago
Part 38 - The Rescue ago
Part 39 - The Beginning ago
Part 40 - The Light-Soaked City ago
Part 41 - Surrender ago
Part 42 - The End of Light ago
Part 43 - The Listener's Peace ago
Part 44 - Epilogue ago
Part 45 - The Change ago
Part 46 - When A Savior Comes ago
Part 47 - The Queen's Request ago
Part 48 - Out of Your Depth ago
Part 49 - Agraneia ago
50 - Welcome to Witch Patrol ago
51 - Out of Your Depth ago
52 - Cracks in the Sky ago
53 - See How the Other Half Lives ago
54 - Blood and Thunder ago
55 - Success ago
56 - The Grand City ago
57 - The City With No Wings ago
58 - Statue of Himself ago
59 - The Emperor ago
60 - A World with No Name ago
61 - Scrap Metal Masterpiece ago
62 - The Stone ago
63 - Dream and Delusion ago
64 - Scouting Mission ago
65 - The Templelands ago
66 - Blackmouths ago
67 - Across the Ocean Black ago
68 - The City Made of Sand ago
69 - Enemy Territory ago
70 - The Xeno Slums of Cyre ago
71 - Cracking the Void ago
72 - The Power to Change ago
73 - Inside the Gate Walker ago
74 - The Queen of Almost Everything ago
75 - Voices in the Air ago
76 - First Steps on Thrass ago
77 - The Liar's Truth ago
78 - Slow Corps ago
79 - "Stick to the Plan" ago
80 - The Printer ago
81 - Prisoner, Guest, and God ago
82 - In Chains ago
83 - Flies ago
84 - What Lies in the Mist ago
85 - The Prisoner ago
86 - A Machine for Death ago
87 - An Unbelievable Story ago
88 - One Last Attempt ago
89 - The Cloud Wastes ago
90 - The Heart of the Old Grid ago
91 - "I Am the Storm" ago
92 - The Silence of Discovery ago
93 - Easier Than It Looks ago
94 - The Injustice ago
95 - Grim Fortune ago
96 - The Break ago
97 - Friends ago
98 - Death, Impending ago
99 - Surety of Purpose ago
100 - Open ago

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Redcoat
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Reviewed at: Part 21 - The Lords of the Veneratian

A deep sense of age seeps into every part of The Last Human. The story is set in a city built upon ruin after ruin, whose richest inhabitants are still poor compared to what came before them.

Contrary to what the title may suggest, the main character is not, in fact, the last human. Instead, the story follows Eolh, a sapient avian thief struggling to make a living in the slums of a city occupied by a brutal and arrogant empire. The setting is seen through Eolh's eyes, and his familiarity with it helps to emphasise the awe he feels at the mysteries he sees.

This lends the story an incredibly engaging atmosphere, one that blends religion and technology to create a keen sense of something far greater than Eolh could ever comprehend. It's a slow burn, lasting eight chapters before even describing the colour of Eolh's plumage, which only further helps build up the incredible style of this story.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend The Last Human. The characters are rich and engaging, and the story limits itself to a very small cast so you'll never get overwhelmed. The plot itself is an engaging odyssey throughout fascinating and fantastical environments, all tied together by a cohesive style that really helps bring across the reality that Eolh and his entire civilisation are standing on the shoulders of giants.

dscuol
Overall

It's Good, but (Mildly) Frustrating

Reviewed at: Part 20 - The Way Up

All the other reviews do a good job of laying out the prose and well-written aspects of the story. The world feels rich and very much alive, and the story has a unique way of weaving together the current society while showing the vestiges of previous Humanity. There are multiple threads of mystery to unspool that keep the story moving along, and the characters are all (with a large exception) well-written and "real".


The reason why I struggle to follow the series despite all the praise above is because one of the main titular character - "the last human" - is simply not enjoyable to read. I understand the idea behind how and why the character is presented, but an unpleasant character to read and follow is just... unpleasant. Compound that unpleasantness over multiple chapters and I've struggled to keep reading.

precinctomega
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

The Last Human is an imaginative tour de force.  It strikes a perfect balance between exploring a deep and engaging new world, excavating the enigmatic history of that world and doggerly pursuing a plot.  I rate it comfortably among the best works currently on Royal Road.

It should come as no surprise that the author makes his living teaching people like you and I how to make a living doing this.

Style Score

The novel is tightly composed with barely a wasted word, but enough detail to give the reader a strong sense of place and environment.  The only thing I could think to ding this whole thing from a perfect score (other than the fact it's not finished yet) is that, maybe, there could afford to be a little bit more detail to paint in the picture of the world.  Individual scenes are beautifully composed, but the gestalt is still a little blurry at the edges.  Some of that, of course, is deliberate, because part of the joy in the story is the unfolding discovery, but... Just a smidgen more detail would be great.

Grammar Score

Unsurprisingly the author isn't merely - as far as I can tell - perfect in his use of vocabulary, spelling and grammar, but imaginative and innovative.  I have wee, tiny twitch at the word "Veneratian" but I think it's more a "I'd love to discuss his word choice over a beer" than a "that's a terrible neologism".

Story Score

Zero complaints.  None.  The author sets up the components of the plot quite beautifully.  Because of the title of the novel, we know what's in the box and the author doesn't waste time playing coy, instead setting up the motivations of the characters - sometimes with throwaway lines the significance of which won't become apparent until later.  It's a voyage of discovery for every major character and the reader as well.  It really makes you feel like part of the narrative.

Character Score

Eolh is our protagonist and his motivations are well mapped out.  Every now and then I catch myself wondering if his motivations and actions are aligned in a given scene, and every time it's like the author has anticipated my doubting as there's something there to reinforce why Eolh makes the decisions he does.

I think Ryke is my favourite character, though, because of the personal sacrifices she made which make her deeply sympathetic.

Poire is a bit of a whiny kid.  But the author is at pains to make his whininess both understandable and sympathetic, and even though his loss and confusion are overwhelming, the author is careful to give him both the intelligence and agency to illustrate his potential.

Summary

Obviously, I really like this story.  It's a follow.  It's a fave.  If you're just here for harem LitRPG, you'll hate it.  But if you are interested in not only a great adventure/mystery but also a masterclass in how to write popular speculative fiction, you'll love it.

QZTK
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

A story I always wanted to read.

Reviewed at: Part 37 - Hell, It's About Time

I've had an idea bouncing around in my head for near a decade now about a human waking up to a post-apocalyptic, post-human world where there are no more humans, but plenty of primitive trans-humans.  Plenty of technology that might as well be magic.  Probably as a ttrpg, as I'm not an author.

Which is why I'm so happy to read this story.  This is something I've wanted for years and years, and it's so well done.

The worldbuilding is stylish and slick, but full of that delicious feeling of that weight of ages.  The plot is gripping.  The pacing is well done, fast, but not rushed, and the story has time to breathe, but it doesn't get slow. 

The characters are good, solid, but I can't call them great.  They lack a degree of pizaaz or weight.  Their foundations are very good, but I'd recommend showing a bit more of their background, and looping it into the story more.  Eolh's history as an urchin turned revolutionary, and Poire's ancient recent history as a whateverisgoingonthere is great stuff.  Eolh in particular could use more hinting and foreshadowing as to his fiery past in the earlier chapters.

I never noticed any grammar problems, and that's all I really need out of grammar.  

I've truly enjoyed this story.

todd
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Fantastic sci-fi of an aged universe

Reviewed at: Part 21 - The Lords of the Veneratian

Some of my favorite science fiction stories are set in the ruins of ancient advanced societies, ones so old that little remains beyond the barest fragments of their glory. This is set in the ashes of humanity, as numerous alien species struggle to survive underneath the crushing boot of an empire that has hoarded the artifacts of humanity's technology, things so advanced that they might as well be magic. Miracles and medieval tech side by side, while crude robots pull carts down streets alongside floating palanquins. It all pulls together to create an incredible blend of an arcane universe, with everyone scrabbling at the crumbs of long-dead giants.

Style: Well written with a solid voice. For those familiar with it, the story captures some aspect of the tone that makes Hyperion such a great read. There's a narrative weight as each character is slowly swept up by events of legend and carried forward. Small people backlit against a vast universe.

Grammar: Solid, with few (if any) errors.

Story: Believable and lived in. It's a grungy world, with the grandeur of what humanity had once wrought woven through the civilizations that they built in its ruins. The sense of age is almost palpable and makes for a world that feels lived in. The bones of the story are familiar, with an oppressive and xenophobic empire, a widespread prophecy regarding the return of a human savior, and the allies drawn into his wake. But it's written in such a way that it feels fresh. The story (as of yet) doesn't worship the Chosen One but develops them as someone lost in time. There hasn't been much development regarding the overarching plot, but the hook has definitely been set.

Characters: Each one is solid, though we've only seen through four perspectives. The first and arguably main perspective, Eolh, makes a great lens. He's solidly practical, jaded, and finds himself caught up in something that he no longer understands. The rest of the cast is unique and fleshed out, each with their own voice and their own goals. It would be easy to make them sycophants or caricatures, but the Chosen One aspect of the story has been well-handled so far. The prophecied human is more lost than any of them and trying to make sense of a world vastly different from what he remembered. Even better, all of their actions and reactions feel real when set against their history and experiences.

Overall, this all comes together to make for a fantastic jaunt of science fiction that has the bones of grand adventure buried inside. It's still early in the story, but I can't wait to see what comes next. Easily recommended for fans of sci-fi or adventure fantasy.

AstralTempest
Overall

Initially, the title gave me the impression of a zombie survival reincarnation story like some that have been going around, but boy was I wrong. Only a few chapters in and a I can see oodles of potential oozing from the story.

The characters/groups are interesting and vary greatly with in appearance and culture even early on. There is a sense of realistic selfishness to them that we see in materialistic societies. Many of them seem to only want what is best for them at the expense of the people around them, much like our modern society.

The setting is intriguing, giving a sense of age to the world, almost in a hopeless sort of way. It makes the appearance of the last human in this world so intriguing.

Too early to say much about plot. Seems to be going in a good direction, though.

May edit later if I remember. Maybe not. Back to reading.

Lord_Revan
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Such a good find, read it in a single sitting. In terms of Royal Road, this is a diamond in the rough. Even if I compare it to published works, it still holds up quite well. Worldbuilding is great and the story hits the ground running from the first chapter. 

Premise is really interesting and somewhat underused in the realm of scifi writing. So it has freshness going for it. It also neatly avoids any pitfalls of similar works, never descending into stale and overused HFY tropes. Characters are generally great, and they manage to either evoke sympathy or derision as appropriate. The plot twists keep thing fresh as well. Grammar is excellent. The only improvement I can think of is when it comes to navel gazing. It is not as bad as numerous other works on Royal Road but there is still a bit too much going on here. Regardless story improves in that regard as the chapters go on, so I am hopeful. I know how difficult it is to show rather then tell.

TLDR: Excellent compared to usual Royal Road fare, and still manages to be great and enjoyable compared to published stuff. Eagerly waiting for more, keep up the good work!

shlatzingerk
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I'm pretty new to all webnovels, more used to retail and amazon. My friend's the one that recommended I check this story out. But I really liked it and had opinions about it, so let me know if I'm messing something up.

Overall: Great story that got me hooked, wish the main character had a bit more to him though. His whole character arc was stepping up to the plate instead of hiding, but the ending didn't feel satisfying. He didn't save the cauldron because he defeated the villan, he saved it because he'd had no other possible choice but to do that. It just didn't sit super well for me - but that's a personal grip and I ain't dinging a good story for something like that. 

Style score: Never noticed any issues. I don't really notice author "voices" or styles of writing, so can't critique what I don't know. Story was understood just fine. 

Story score: I loved the worldbuilding that went into this, it feels like a lived in world.

Grammar score: 5/5, I can't tell anything is wrong. 

Character score: 4/5, The queen was the best character so far because she didn't fit any molds, though her impact on the story was negligible. Eolh was a little to generic rogue with a trouble past, but the archetype works. Poir was a little infuriating but he's also a child so that's understandable. 

Tel
Overall

Part 43 - The Listener's Peace

This is perhaps the "organic" end of the first arc, so my review.

It starts as something of an odd story with bird people and kind of a crowded slum feel with androids, other beings, and terrible deeds crowding together to claim the greatest prize in the universe.

The cultures thrive painted in deep colors, the world building has built a thriving world, the characters are very well defined, the main characters grow and I can't stress how wonderful that is, and the story threads it's way between low fantasy and high science fiction in a way that makes sense.

It's a terrific story!

A little to much "fated hero" maybe but even as the main characters grow, the story grows beyond that back to the characters as people.

Ashlawrence
Overall

A unique story in a interesting setting. I like the characters, they seem real and believable as well as the way they talk and interact. The world itself is new, the scifi like magic aspect is indeed a nice take! There is a lot of potential and ways the story can go. I await more releases with anticipation.