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Zed Thorne is a Loser, capital L.
Stagnant and self-loathing, Zed is trapped in a self destructive spiral. One fateful day, Zed is injured on the job and quits. He returns home to escape into a video game, if only to numb himself for the night. However, he awakens in an unfamiliar new world filled with high magic, Lovecraftian secrets, and a system eerily reminiscent of a video game.
Zed is given a set of three quests and sets about completing them... perhaps a bit too easily. Almost as if the world is bending to his will. He meets up with a high priestess who introduces him to the world and the monastic order's way of life.
On planet Jita, he quickly discovers that morality here is just a little bit twisted. Dark is light and heavenly beings have horns, not wings. And... he's supposed to be the hero? His actions soon garner the attention of an enigmatic eldritch horror, and things are about to take a turn.
Strange Aeons – In which immortality does not equal invulnerability.
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Now, I'm pretty much brand new to the Isekai genre so I'm probably missing some stuff that more experienced readers might pick up on.
The writing in this series is far and away it's strongest point. The descriptions are vivid, the narrative voice is engaging, and the characters so far possess unique personalities and are easy to tell apart from one another. I'm not even being hyperbolic when I sat it's the quality of the writing that's kept me reading even through some of the problems I've encountered (discussed in a moment)
The plot seems to be your standard "loser from earth gets sucked into a parallel world where he becomes awesome" storyline. Zed, the MC, isn't particularly likeable as a person but I can see the potential for him to develop into someone heroic if he's given the chance, and he's easy enough to sympathize with since his life to this point hasn't exactly been a bowl of cherries. And again, he's written so well that I can get past my dislike of him just so I can keep reading to see where he's going.
The action scenes are visceral and well-realized, I could feel the impacts and the pacing was done well. I'm gonna keep saying this: the writing really is top-notch.
If there is one place that I feel myself being actively pushed away from the story, it's in the burgeoning relationship between Zed and Emi, the other main character we've met. I won't go into spoilers, but... The way they meet, and the circumstances surrounding their meeting give me a case of the cringes. I'm hoping that the authors subvert my expectations and don't take the relationship the way I fear they might be taking it.
Either way, I'll continue reading. I can't say it enough, even if you don't like the Isekai or OP MC genres, you should give this a try just for the quality of the writing. It's by far and away some of the best I've seen on this site.
LitRPGs were never my thing, I can’t stress this enough from my other reviews. But there’s always those times when I stumble upon gems that are intriguing to the core, and this is one of them. Being an isekai novel is also a huge plus for me.
Style: My only gripe is that the paragraphs are a bit too long for my taste. Beyond that, it’s not unreadable by any stretch of the imagination. It’s paced very well and flows just right.
Story: Gotta hand to the authors on this. At first, I thought they were going to use bog standard RPG classes that’s been beaten to death and beyond by other novels. The world the MC gets transported in is far more than just a typical isekai world—even if it feels like it is. The classes are incredibly unique in premise—and the mechanics are very well thought out.
Grammar: I found some missing commas here and there, but so far—no tense or spelling errors of any kind. There is the occasional passive voice, but again, it’s minuscule.
Character: Zed is one of the most realistic LitRPG MCs I’ve read so far, and that’s saying something. He’s thrown into a world he believes he knows a lot about, but then it turns out some aspects are nothing like he ever imagined. He doesn’t instantly become God and finds a harem of lolis. He’s a fleshy human being slwoly but surely learning the mechanics. As for Emi, she’s fleshed out real nicely as well on the first chapter she’s introduced. I haven’t read much to the story yet, so sadly, I can’t say much as of now. I’ll read more in my time. All I can say is—the authors clearly know how to write believable chaarcters.
Another great addition to the Isekai subgenre. The story starts with a lot of angst before the new world, giving the plot some grit. It is advertised as a dark tale, and there are definite hints that it is going in this direction. After a couple of chapters, the character sheet mechanics are handled well and don't overly detract from the story. It also seems like the author is coming into their won as they write because spelling and grammar issues clear up considerably after the first few chapters. There weren't a ton to begin with, but the grammar is solid later on. I love the way the author adds little bits of lore at the beginning of each chapter, where an impatient reader can skip them if they desire. I read them all and they were each enjoyable. There were only a few things I found less than optimal. The story is written in third person but with occasional fist person blurbs which I found distracting. The hero is given abilities ridiculously easily in my opinion, but that may simply be part of the mechanics. Strangely, most of the characters seem very friendly on the surface, but troubled/complicated underneath. This isn't really a bad thing, considering this world is supposed to be a bit dark. The dialog is good, and other than occasionally not letting us know who is saying what, helps to define the various character's personalities. The overall flow is good with very little filler prose or boring moments and it keeps you engaged as you read it. Other than the couple of minor points to help the author improve their writing, I thought the story was interesting, unique, and with the hint at several layers that the reader will love to have pulled back for them as they go. I'd definitely recommend this for Siekai, gameLit, and dark fantasy readers alike.
Style/Grammar score: Nothing much on the grammar. Dialogues and descriptions are well intertwined which makes each chapter easy to read. The prose is good: good vocabulary, interesting constructions, snappy dialogues. The change of POV is refreshing. Well written by RR standards. Even more well-written for an Isekai story.
Story score: Classic Isekai/GameLit with a Japanese touch. Not a big fan of the genre but found the usual tropes, stats, loser MC, etc. I would have loved something riskier. The world-building, otherwise, remained interesting. Lot of references and we can see that the author is a big reader/watcher.
Character score: The characters shone brighter than the story/plot. They’re well defined but the MC seems a little bit off sometimes. Maybe too powerful or fitting too easily into the world. He could face more challenges imo. But eh, ‘dragon fruits’ are OP in another world too ;p
Overall: The genre is not for me, but Strange Aeons was interesting and well-written enough for me to read the first five chapters. Well, technically 4 but I got title-baited by the horny stuff! Damn. You should try it if your into Isekai with heavy anime tropes and characters. Strange Aeons was, in the end, a nice and well-written discovery hence the 5 stars.
I recommend this story to anyone who likes LitRPGs, or stories inspired by Japanese culture! I really enjoyed that twist on what you usually see of RPG fiction geared solely toward European-style fantasy. (Although I think there’s a good mix here as well.) This is also a great story for isekai lovers in general.
I really enjoyed most of the style throughout. The work only occasionally falls into purple prose, infrequent enough that it’s not a defining quality. Most of the prose is deftly crafted, especially with respect to sensory details—I wanted fruit, and later meat, so badly while reading this story! Although I don’t know if I’d ever try harpy… When in Rome, I guess!
In terms of the other methods of storytelling present here, there are multiple POVs which I think are used sparingly enough so as not to become overwhelming. That’s just my opinion, though. Some people aren’t fans of POV switches at all, but I think when done right (like in Strange Aeons) they can add great layers to the storytelling. Game details are also present enough to remind you of the genre but not so omnipresent that they form walls of text on their own—in a word, balanced.
The story is a fairly straightforward isekai but with a refreshing JRPG spin on the genre. It’s funny I should say that, since “isekai” is obviously of Japanese origin, but I feel that a lot of the genre on Royal Road is often inspired by more western-oriented mythology, like I said earlier in the review. I enjoyed the Japanese weapons and even learned a couple of new words along the way (ah, torii—that’s what those are called!)
I think this story does an excellent job of remembering its own framework of the MC being whisked away into presumably a videogame-style world, telling the story from the perspective of NPCs who might be mere background support for the player character, but would obviously revere him from their perspective. This story really sold me on that, which I have to applaud. I also really enjoyed the lore and worldbuilding work put in here—the little bits of lore and the starts of the chapters felt like game loading screens in the best way possible!
The only real qualm I have with the story is the *why* of the isekai. The *why* of the isekai is what I always come back to, and I think the “whisked away into a game” or “it was all a dream in the end” trope is too safe. That’s my only real criticism—luckily the story seems not to dwell on that too much and gets into the meat and potatoes fairly quickly! (By the way, not all stories necessarily need that why, that’s just a personal preference of mine.)
The grammar is excellent throughout. There’s the occasional comma splice and typo here and there, but otherwise it was expertly written. Any minor grammatical error never affected the clarity of the work. I never know how to fill out this section unless there’s something glaringly bad, which there obviously isn’t here. Well done!
The characters in Strange Aeons all seem to fit comfortably into their roles. I do like the interactions between Zed and Emi, especially early on. They fall into a more comfortable rhythm as the story progresses, and I think they embody that classic anime-style male-female dynamic. It’s cutesy and enjoyable throughout.
I started this section of the review earlier in my reading, when Zed was still in the “real” world or his past world, and I had to say he was not nearly as likeable as he became later on. Some of his experiences in the real world were relatable, but he came off as a little harsh at first—not sure if this was the intention, but I have to commend Zed for really growing into his role as the Dark Hero. Maybe this is where he was meant to be all along! Although I’m interested to see what happens to his character as the story progresses… We’ll have to see! I’ll be revisiting this one in the future for sure!
A typical Isekai fantasy story with many of the usual tropes from the first companion being a female love interest to OP powers from the get-go. Encapsulated in some amazing writing and descriptions, this was more enjoyable than others that hang all their hopes on the tropes.
Style: Third-person omniscient that changes POVs semi-regularly, following the main character Zed, his love interest Emi, and tertiary characters. Statuses are shown in plain text without too much depth, the standard ability scores with some skills to go along with them. The story makes use of flashbacks, other perspectives, and flash-forwards though not to an annoying degree, however, the one flash-forward that is present feels slightly jarring as it was not expected.
Story: Zed is taken from his bad life and thrown into a fantasy world where he has the chance to be great, and greatness is so full on his lap it’s overflowing and pushed to the side at times. Without too many spoilers, the MC is given some powers that one would expect to gain after a hundred chapters. The romance between the two leads also feels somewhat sped up, a 2-week time skip possibly hiding a lot of that interaction away to get to the meat of their action.
Plenty of stereotypes and motions are taken right from Anime and Manga, from head-scratching to the effeminate motions of females in fantasy. If you’re fine with those then you won’t notice them much, the story doesn’t harp on these areas too harshly as of yet.
Grammar: I found a few issues here or there, from misspelt words to missing punctuation. Thankfully, the story seems otherwise devoid of writing or grammar issues.
Character: While the MC is shown to have a terrible life in the real world, his acceptance of this new world is a bit too quick without much foreshadowing or story as to why that is. Other such areas are also sped up, like the relationships held within the fiction that I felt could have been expanded over a longer period rather than time skips. The characters are varied, though you do have your typical stereotypes standing about the fiction.
Overall, Strange Aeons is a fun read if a bit atypical for the genre. Very Japanese-inspired, with plenty of sections taken straight out of that world with Torii gates. The writing is great with a story that can grip a reader well enough to push aside most concerns of repeated content.
I'll be honest, this is not my genre, so I'm not the best to ask for an opinion on these stories. I don't know all the tropes, but I have an idea of what to expect from observing a few, and this one is up there in quality. We're given a fully-formed character in a developed world with a style that bleeds confidence.
Style: This story refuses to bother us with just one sentence description of things. No, we're given the full package. The author doesn't hold back with what they want us to know. We explore both the main character's internal thoughts and external world. It's a perfect blend and doesn't weigh toward one or the other. It's a breath of fresh air between the narratives. Most stories don't possess such expertise.
Grammar: As far as I can tell, there were few errors. However, with such a verbose narrative, it's easy to perhaps slip a comma or puncuation here and there. But the story is engaging enough that you forgive the author for any such possible discrepancies. Most stories here aren't allowed such mercy.
Story: We're thrust into a video-game-like world, popular to the genre (again, I'm new to these stories). There are goblins to fight, many skills to learn, and interesting items to learn about. You trust the author to have even more up their sleeve, given how much is already introduced early on. Despite its one-dimensional storytelling without much for the main character to have their beliefs and story goals tested, there are enough surprising twists at the end of each chapter that leave us wanting more. The author knows what to do with their cliffhangers!
Character: Given how few main characters are introduced and how little they interact with anyone significant until the later stages when the story picks up, the story needs to shine with its characters while on their own. It would be beneficial for our lone hero to explore more of the world with an ally, mentor, or potential love interest, not only for the world to be revealed more intimately but also to build relationships at the same time. But we're stuck with Zed alone and luckily he pulls us through with a relateable and charmed attitude. It makes me feel for Zed because he definitely could use somebody to exude some of that spirit that wants to burst out of him!
I am not too big a fan of isekai stories, they're not usually my cup of tea. But this story caught my eye, for a couple of reasons. Number 1 is the quality of writing. Right as you read the first chapter, you're drawn in by the author's unique style. The sentence construction and stylistic choices of description are better compared to 99% of other works on RoyalRoad. It's a very mature style that's usually not found in serial fiction.
It might be because the author is two people, one who does the ideas and big picture and one who pretties things up.
The next thing I like is the LitRPG system. I quite enjoy the flavor of the system and the names of the skills and progression. One thing I don't like is when a LitRPG swarms you with skills for every concept known to man. Reading, cooking, walking, jumping, running, etc. This strikes a balance between having skill for things like Swagger, which is cool, and not having way too many so that we're inundated with "Running skill is level 5!" every sentence.
For the characters, it's nothing extremely special, but they're still good nonetheless. I enjoy the way Zed and Emi have interacted so far, and the chemistry the author has written between them is believable and interesting.
I recommend and fan of isekai or litrpg check out this story.
Stylistically speaking, this story flows exceptionally well. The action scenes are clear and well spread-out, and there isn't a moment where nothing is going on. However, I did find that at times, even if the characters were doing things (training, eating together, exploring their magical abilities,...) overall there wasn't much in terms general tension, or any immediate or distant threats. That being said, I wouldn’t put this story in the slice of life category, since (as mentioned above), there is a lot of action and a fair bit of fighting.
The other thing that stood out to me in terms of style is the way System windows and notifications were presented. Unlike what RR has gotten us used to, there were no blue boxes or [ ] backets. I think it's a valid stylistic choice, but also a doble edged sword, as these System notifications blend into the narrative quite easily that way.
Now, onto the good stuff.
One of the things I most enjoyed about this story is its protagonist. Unlike so many in this genre, he isn't simply a vessel for some OP vengeance or escapisms fantasy, but a well-intentioned and somewhat incompetent nerdy guy. Very American as well. There's just something about his mannerisms, the way he speaks and certain things he does (coffee (those who know, know)) that makes it so he couldn't be from anywhere else in the world. The other main character is also well written, although I’m not that big of a fan of her archetype (cult fanatic). Chapters from her POV really do help flesh out her motivations and reasons behind her peculiar views of the MC.
Last but not least, the story itself is one as old as whenever it was that the first isekai came out in the west. Our MC has a shite, sad, life, and suddenly finds himself in a world of sword and magic. Good thing his reincarnation pack came with the 'easy mode' booster, as he begins levelling his magic and other (spoilery) stuff. The System mechanics did remind me of the Rune Factory 5 game where literally every skill levels up with usage, even things you wouldn’t expect to be a skill.
TLDR: if you like classic American fantasy stories from the 60's and 70's, with smooth prose and a slow-paced, almost atmospheric, story, then check out 'Strange Aeons' right away.
Overall: A highly recommendable read
I found the prologue all the way through chapter 8 were so finely crafted as to be hard to criticize. I tried to be helpful and find things to be constructive, but I was instead sucked into the story. The work is polished, witty, and very much entertaining.
I would love to see the authors publish this story when they are ready. Everyone should give this a few chapters to see that the authors are spinning a great tale.
I simply didn't find the kind of mistakes that many writers leave in their posted stories. Free from distractions.
Story: Concisely Descriptive & Witty with classes and MC development.
I wanted to know more about how the MC fit into the new world. The authors kept me engaged and entertained without explaining everything.
Style: Polished and Sharp
The authors are either very seasoned or take painstaking time and detail to form their chapters. I see both some genius and maybe some OCD. I jest in that everything is just really well done and clean.
Character: Entrance and Runway
I reallyed like the MC
SPOILER: MC's entrance in this story is an encounter with a Karen. I love his emotional response. I could feel and relate to the situation. Then the runway for the MC to grow in a world where he has advantages, but as a reader, you are along for the ride.