Hirrus Callabryn is cursed. Afflicted. Infected.
He’s also aware. For once.
After a player-led event turns his once peaceful town into a band of ravenous monsters, Hirrus obtains a sentience usually unobtainable by non-player characters. It might be a gift of the gods, or a mistake, but Hirrus doesn’t care. It means he can track down and find the players responsible and stop them from doing it again.
Thing is, players don’t like their plans being interrupted. And in this game, there’s no resurrection until the weekly reset. Will Hirrus be able to cut a path of destruction across the land to get his revenge, or will the players be able to overwhelm him and bring him to justice?
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Harbinger of Destruction
Harbinger of Vengeance
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Harbinger of Destruction is a mixed bag. It's coherent and the prose flows well, and though the setup and overall concept isn't the most original it's still compelling enough - but issues with consistent/realistic worldbuilding, flat characters and repetitive fight scenes hold it back from standing out.
No real complaints regarding style and grammar. It's the kind of writing where the words and sentences themself tend to go unnoticed, which leads the reader's focus the content. It can be rather light on descriptions at times - the prose is terse - but this fits pretty well in an action-focused novel and keeps things moving. If there are spelling or grammar errors, I haven't spotted any, and there isn't anything regarding general structure that takes the reader out of the novel.
Fight scenes - which make up the bulk of the story so far - are pretty good. They can get a bit bogged down with numbers and tend to follow a similar pattern, but they're easy to parse and visualize with interesting choreography. The length of the battles is just about right and enemy capabilities are comfortably unique.
Unfortunately, the plot, characters, and a number of breaks in the 'realism' hold this story back from being one I would currently recommend to most readers.
There's not much to say on the characters. Most 'adventurers' (players) we've seen so far have been hostile to the protagonist and are overall fairly similar - rude, dismissive and quick to attack. NPCs have a similar feeling of same-ness, though their personality is generally helpful and friendly (I'm referring to their characters outside of the 'decision tree' - I'll speak more on that later). There are a few people who have seemed to have more personality, though unfortunately these characters have been minor and infrequent.
The protagonist and main supporting cast are more distinct, though still rather two-dimensional. There has been one, sort of two, side characters (seen outside a single scene), and there's just... not much there. Along with the main character, it would be uncomfortably easy to describe their entire personality with one or two adjectives each.
Of course, it's early in the story and there's room for fleshing out characters further, but as-is this aspect is left a bit bland.
Now, I've mentioned worldbuilding and 'realism' issues a few times. In this game, NPCs have more or less the same intelligence and such as a standard human. However, all their external actions are dictated by their 'decision tree' - essentially, directives that tell them what to say and do to keep them in their role. Why would NPCs be given human levels of intelligence if they're passengers in their bodies, and the decision tree is what actually makes them do everything they do? Who knows. It's been implied that no one in this world - players and GM alike - is entirely aware of this. If this was part of a mystery, exploration, or even a plot point it could be very interesting. Unfortunately, it's treated as part of the backdrop and not given any explanation. Again, this might be delved into later in the story, but it still sticks out.
There are a few other miscellaneous oddities in this story. At one point, a GM is called to address the main character's killing spree - apparently GMs need to physically hit people with a ban hammer to ban them from this game. Our hero is able to physically run away from the GM and hide behind a fence, escaping him. I don't think I need to explain why a GM not having any ability to find people, or perform administrative action outside of walking up to them in-game and bopping them with a hammer, feels rather off.
While it's fine to leave a few aspects of a story as unknowns or just plain odd things, they accumulate over the chapters here to make a world that's difficult to believe and get immersed in.
Harbinger of Destruction is an okay novel. It has some good action and smooth prose. However, flat characters, a generic story, and world consistency leave it wanting.
If you're a fan of action, powerful protagonists, and revenge stories, this could very well scratch that itch for you. If you're wanting something more, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
To the author:
Writing isn't easy, and as far as novels go, this is still put together better than most. I think it might help to sit down and go over the details of the characters, flesh out the world, and make an outline of how you want each story beat to progress. While this has been a critical review, I do think you and this story have great potential.
Very enjoyable, try to look past the quite generic cover and the basic bio. Some stories just pull you in and for me from the first chapter I found myself intrigued by this world. The way that NPCs are presented is done very well, giving them a degree of autonomy from what i guess is some kind of intelligent ai but similarly constraining them by imposed decision trees.
It isn't without flaws. For example: to me the numbers thrown out seem a little bit arbitrary, and I actually think the story would flow better if they were removed entirely or only mentioned on an odd occasion. I don't need to know that one attack does one thousand three hundred and twenty seven damage and when the numbers flying around are so big I think they would be better presented numerically (1327 interupts the flow a lot less).
By Royal Road standards its still a 5* story though: the pacing is on point, with the narrative flowing well, I havn't noticed any mistakes with the grammar or spelling, the characterisation of the MC is done quite well and as on ch16 we have met a new side character who i hope gets a nice fleshing out. I've followed and I look forwards to seeing where this story goes.
Short and sweet: This is worth a read. The plot follows familiar revenge tropes but they're don wel and from a very new direction.
My biggest compaint with this story is how crunchy it is and how the crunchiness ultimately doesn't feel like much. Every attack deals a Very High Number of damage and stats are Very High numbers that feel... abstract and disconnected from the story.
That's it. That's the bad. Easily skippable and it doesn't break immersion. Now onto the things I liked.
Stylistically the writing is good and combat heavy. The story has primarily one POV with a couple minor shifts in order to explore the world, but the author does a good job of keeping the story limited to one compelling plotline and following that to its conclusion. There aren't any plot bunnies to distract us, just a singleminded focus on justice/vengeance with some hints morality concerns from the MCs companions. Simple, but effective and a lot of fun.
The grammar is good enough that I didn't notice anything and that's what good grammar does.
The story is a simple and straightforward tale of revenge, but told from the perspective of an NPC that breaks free of his programming in an MMO. The author does an interesting job exploring the various NPC's enslavement to their programming and some of the struggles that entails, but the vast majority of the story is "PCs do careless and awful things to an NPC, and he reenacts John Wick or Taken on their faces with an axe."
I took a .5 off on both of these fronts because the characters and the story are fairly simple, but don't take that to mean they aren't fun. They're a lot of fun. This is an emotionally satisfying, gritty revenge story and the author does a great job with it. Its a delightful summer blockbuster of a book, and even if its not going to get an academy award for some overly emotional contrivances, It's a heck of a good time.
Major guild pisses off a Guardsman by causing the destruction of his village and the murder of his wife. Now the NPC has gained awareness and is looking for answers, justice, and revenge.
Great story with an actually likeable protagonist who behaves reasonably ( And not like an edgy murderhobo).
Good characters and good grammar as well.
practically flawless grammar, a creative story, a realistic depiction of the stoic and manly MC... it's a lot of fun.
It's light on the LitRPG elements but they are never forgotten.
There is not the typical problem of an author excessively describing inner turmoil.
The MC isn't a puzzy bicch, nor a chuuni fantasy wish fullfilment protagonist.
Check it out. See if you enjoy it.
A very good story so far, no reasons not to read it if you like the synopsis. Its still early days yet, but everything about the story says quality. Author is cool and replies to comments, which is always a plus.
Style: smooth and clean, the paragraphs are well layed out and the whole story flows well, very pleasant to read.
Story: not unique, but a fairly rare permise, even more so because it is done properly, and the NPCs are shown to be both thinking and bound by the game at the same time.
Grammar: no problems here, no poorly constructed sentences or basic errors, and nothing too outlandish in terms of vocabulary, all in all, just well written.
Characters: we have been introduced to a few main characters so far and each has clear motivations and personality. Side or temperory characters are just that, not everyone they interact with is some over the top villian or grand character, they feel like normal people, and interactions are natural.
Anyone looking for a vr story where the players act like players, mashing through dialogue and jumping all over the place, this is a good place to start, well worth the read.
The plot for this has been done before. That said, I don't believe it has been done better. This is some good writing.
The basic jerk players guild in a game kills off an entire town. One of the town's guard survives even though his wife is killed. He then manages to gain self awareness, and goes full skynet.
His interactions with the players is hilarious. They have no idea just what is going on. Even the GM are having problems with him. It's both very funny and a little violent. Right up my alley.
tl;dr - This is a wonderful tale so far. It's well-written and stands out from the rest of the tropy LitRPG stories on the web.
The author's style works very well with this tale. They have an excellent grasp of flow and use it to the story's advantage repeatedly. I also really appreciate the sheer dismissal the MC has for the LitRPG elements until they show him that his existence has fundamentally changed. Very well executed.
Revenge stories, GameLit, and sentient NPCs are not new cocnepts, but I think this si the first time I've seem them in a cohesive combination, and well-written at that. The very first chapter gave me chills as you'll see in my comment there, and that sealed the deal for me. There are multiple times in the first 17 chapters whre I feel that the very essence of toxic MMOs has been perfectly captured, and I've been highly entertained the whole time.
This story is one of the few on this site that has been well proofread. Typically when I'm 17 chapters into a new story on RR, I'm half-ready to drop it because there are enough easily-fixable mistakes that only a really good story will keep me going. Here, not only is the story interesting, I'm yet to notice a mistake. That doesn't mean that there aren't any, but that if there are, they were so minor that my immersion wasn't disturbed in the slightest.
The very first chapter gave me chills, and it was entirely because of what was going on inside the MC's head. 'Nuff said.
I was looking for something new as I'd caught up with my favourites and saw this on Trending and I can see why.
This is such change from the usual LitRPG I've read coming from the NPCs perspective and because of this the usual "VR immersion" "real world earnings" etc is missing. It can be a bit off putting but the author has done a great job of creating the world for our MC that I barely notice it 20 chapters in and only rmember due to reviewer comments.
The style is pretty good in it's PvP intensive with our NPC being a "player" as far as the game thinks. There are some great moments when NPCs who seem to know they are constrained by a response matrix find ways to get around it. This adds some light moments to the otherwise darker revenge storyline. Don't get me wrong this isn't a pitch black morbid read far from it. It's fun, full of life and has decent characters which the author is developing as I type.
The MC is the only one at the moment with a lot of information but as the author engages with his reviewers we know more will be on the horizon as chapters are released (one a day for January).
The author has decided to spell out numbers, (one thousand and five), instead of just numerically (1005) due to a condition he has. I don't find this jarring personnally but I know some will so style wise it may impact your reading of the story but it doesn't detract from the Story itself.
I can definitely recommend this as a great read with a unique slant on the LitRPG genre; possibly who knows :-)
Impressive writing. I like these kind novel. I am hooked. It is also well thought out. Usually the NPC are too OP and story just fizzle out but this time it had a very nice development and main character is human. The NPC had mercy. It let people go. Now it really reflected how people are so distant and mean where as machine are more humane than the flesh