Shade and Flow

Shade and Flow

by Anthony Szide

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Content
  • Traumatising content

In the Wastelands, if you were cursed by Shade, you were destined to be shunned, driven away, even killed on sight; you were a creature of darkness, of shadow, cold-blooded and unwanted. But, if you were blessed by Flow, you were the best humankind could offer, a role-model for any sapients.

Loke and Nova were born by the same parents, yet even though they embodied the two faces of the medal, they lived in the same dreadful circumstances, but what would happen if one day the greatest beings of the world decided that the siblings would become their Champions?

A Warning: There is an Anti-hero lead for a reason, and there should also be a Y.A. tag, but RR doesn't have it; therefore here it is. So, there's going to be blood, there might be carnage, but there will also be wholesomeness, romance, and affection. But most importantly, there will be Action.

About the LitRPG: This novel is a slow-burn, with a lot of character development, yet the LitRPG element starts in Chapter 3 and becomes more prominent as the protagonist evolves his Skill. Further elements appear in Chapter 38.

I'm not a native speaker: If you see any typos, please point them out, and I shall fix them as soon as possible. Thank you!

Release Days: Twice a weak 

Release Time: ~ 09:00 PM UTC

Words per chapter: ~3000

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Anthony Szide

Anthony Szide

King of Stuffed Pancakes

2nd Anniversary
Word Count (16)
Top List #1000
3 Review Upvotes
Fledgling Reviewer (I)
Table of Contents
94 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 0: Prologue ago
Chapter 1: Brother and Sister ago
Chapter 2: Little Bush ago
Chapter 3: New Perk ago
Chapter 4: Momma Jane ago
Chapter 5: Murkstall ago
Chapter 6: The darkest day ago
Chapter 7: The Engineer's daughter ago
Chapter 8: What wasn't said ago
Chapter 9: New toys ago
Chapter 10: Team Fight ago
Chapter 11: Gnolls ago
Chapter 12: Holed up ago
Chapter 13: The real wolf ago
Chapter 14: Slave traders ago
Chapter 15: Inception ago
Chapter 16: Trembling hands go a long way ago
Chapter 17: The Sunguard ago
Chapter 18: Implants ago
Chapter 19: A full-fledged Healer ago
Chapter 20: Learning new talents ago
Chapter 21: The most beautiful day ago
Chapter 22: Strong and beautiful, damn ago
Chapter 23: Live with guilt ago
Chapter 24: Combat Forms ago
Chapter 25: Titanic effort ago
Chapter 26: Ethereals ago
Chapter 27: Lucky day ago
Chapter 28: Her mother's daughter ago
Chapter 29: The hunter becomes the hunted ago
Chapter 30: A messenger for the Sun ago
Chapter 31: Flying nuns ago
Chapter 32: Giant killing ago
Chapter 33: The rise of the Night Hunter ago
Chapter 33.2: Neither shame nor glory ago
Chapter 34: A team coming up good ago
Chapter 35: Piercing the Heavens ago
Chapter 36: The Thermomancer ago
Chapter 37: Everybody, run! ago
Chapter 38: Escape through the mountains ago
Chapter 39: On the run ago
Chapter 40: Juvenile nerves ago
Chapter 41: Big Caves ago
Chapter 42: Showing off ago
Chapter 43: Another one bites the dust ago
Chapter 44: The nasty truth ago
Chapter 45: A massive, fuming pile of... ago
Chapter 46: Offerings ago
Chapter 47: Things better left unsaid ago
Chapter 48: Technomantic Body ago
Chapter 49: Consequences ago
Chapter 50: Together Again (End of Volume One) ago
Chapter 51: Three months later ago
Chapter 52: Options to consider ago
Chapter 53: Having a blast ago
Chapter 54: Threats of the bigger world ago
Chapter 55: A long story ago
Chapter 56: The promised gifts ago
Chapter 57: Clock-tech creatures ago
Chapter 58: Pincer maneuver ago
Chapter 59: The steps of the Night Hunter ago
Chapter 60: Darkness at the end of the tunnel ago
Chapter 61: Retreat ago
Chapter 62: The Sand-Crawler ago
Chapter 63: Shade-blessed ago
Chapter 64: The call of the night ago
Chapter 65: More than bargained for ago
Chapter 66: Not the warmest welcome ago
Chapter 67: Trusting ago
Chapter 68: Even by your standards ago
Chapter 69: Primal fear ago
Chapter 70: Revelation ago
Chapter 71: Tracing ago
Chapter 72: Raw Talent ago
Chapter 73: Things Untold ago
Chapter 74: Warning Shots ago
Chapter 75: Unexpected Gift ago
Chapter 76: A battle of Titans ago
Chapter 77: Revenge served on a nasty platter ago
Chapter 78: A wholesome comeback ago
Chapter 79: Reconnection ago
Chapter 80: A few more implants ago
Chapter 81: Second time's the charm ago
Chapter 82: Profiteers ago
Chapter 83: Introductions ago
Chapter 84: News ago
Chapter 85: Grief ago
Chapter 86: Not now ago
Chapter 87: Solar Eclipse ago
Chapter 88: Metal Rush ago
Chapter 89: The Loke-low ago
Chapter 90: Inner ring ago
Chapter 91: The real Shade-cursed ago
Chapter 92: Dark walls ago

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I'm a fan of the author's previous novel and I'm really enjoying it. He is improving his writing in this new book and this new story has a lot of potential. Really looking forward to it. The system is a bit different than usual and this is a plus for me.


This novel is very well polished with an interesting power system the revolves around the concept of light and dark or shade and flow as its called. The characters have depth to them and don't feel like cardboard cutouts and there is an overall good direction to the plot of the story so give it a go. My only gripe is the occasional spelling errors though it's not a deal breaker 


Ok, it is my first reviw, so lets give it a try. English is not my first language, so excuse my mistakes and poor vocabulary.


Style: Definatly my favorite part of this novel. The magic system is excelent, similar to just one other novel I have seem, but this flow/shade, day/night is new to me and spetacular. It brings balance, not just for the system, but to the world, the fights, strategies and worldbiulding.

Story: The plot is interesting, makes me curious and wanting to read more and more. BUT it is where my title starts coming from. It started good, but after some charpter I don't remember which, the novel becomes repetitive, predictive and  little cliché. It becomes action scene after action scene and everything too fast in comparison to character biulding and growing. There is a lot of work to do, but it is very promisive. It can definatly becomes something great.

Grammar: I don't have much to say. It is just good. Not the best, not the worst. I like it and it is completaly readeble.

Character: This is where the story crumbles. It starts good, telling about the characters life, their personalitys, but then somewhere it just stops. I don't know if the author is saving it for later, but he kind of exchanges the character biulding and growth to action scenes. It becomes fighting over and over again, some of them definatly meanless. Somewhere the author seems to starts putting the MC to fight alone, so he can be aways be stronger then his friends, to show how great he is and that everyone can count on him. It makes me fear the story becomes just an overpower MC like those wuxia novels. Just like the plot, the MC and the others characters gets predictive, with the MC getting in fighting, killing, questioning himself, even regretting a little, but them he goes and does evertything again and again, trying to justify his impulse for kiling. Ok, I can work with  a psycopath MC, woudn't be the first time a readed a novel with a psycopath MC and it can actualy be interesting. But the thing is that the author doesn't delve further into the characters or even part of the plot. And every chance there is, it just doesn't happen, even in the simplest things. For exemple:

The MC discovers that the myth of the afterlife or where the souls resides, or something like that, is real and then just go with something like "ah, not going to tell anyone, not even to my close friends that trusts e belives me, since i don't have any proof." For real?!?! I can't even phatom why, besides lazeness.

And more. One guy enter to his team, there is something fishy about him, the MC knows, wants to talk to him about it, but simple doesn't. Like "it's very fishy, i don't like it, gonna talk to him, but not now." And moths goes by without him talking. Why the hell??

Or about the life of anyone. Like, "I wanna know more, she/he has a deep story, but i won't ask, since she/he won't tells me anyway." ........

And when he finally does on one of the last charpters I readed, with week long talk with the smith about his parents and the smith himself, the author just doesn't show the talk, to keep the suspense or something. Ok, I can work with that as well, but after all this pattern, it becomes just tiring.

But i still have hope, since he started biulding the characters so well.

In the end I'm and will keep reading this novel in the near future. The plot, the system and the promisive worldbiulding is still worth it.

But please, just don't make it a harem story.


Not gonna make a mess of things - It's just interesting. Things are dangerous, the world is bleak and the main character is just some seemingly random yet not-so-random guy.

LitRPG aspect is probably the thing handled best in this novel so far - It deviates quite a lot from many others and explains itself quite well.
The characters fall a bit flat, but they're not terrible by any means - just nothing exceptional. To describe them would be that they're written to be as diverse as possible, which can often make them very predictable, thus flat.
The story is as of yet somewhat unclear. properly reviewing it right now wouldn't be fair to either reader or author - It could go either the way of a "slasher" by hooking onto many objectives at once - gaining power through killing things or become very story-driven by hooking onto a single objective.

Then there's my issues with the novel:
He "Dies" way too often. When a main/support character comes within an inch of their life or sometimes even dies but somehow comes back to life, you usually enter a completely new phase with a story. Almost dying is almost always a massive deal in a story where they often take a break from the current arc to enter a new one. 
In this story, "almost dying" is pretty much an everyday occurrence. It goes from "tough fight" to "When will the main character get knocked unconscious and lose 4 legs?". There's a massive problem there, and it's honestly quite easily avoided. Make enemies weaker, or have the MC actually avoid confrontations at times. The characters don't have to beat the unbeatable foe if they never fight.

There was one more issue I had; I really don't like "strange occurrences" as in: "Everybody else faces 3 enemies, the main character faces 100". I'm mainly focusing on the weird clockwerk dungeon arc - Why would they face a ridiculous amount of enemies that almost killed them? If the main character group struggles so badly, how could anyone ever become an adventurer without dying?

That's it for me :)


This novel is quite frankly, genius, and I'm tired of pretending it's not. The mixture of speed and quality is genuinly astonishing and I have only seen anything like it once before.

The style is mixed in the beginning, as we should expect, because we are getting to know the chracters and the world building ishappening at roughly the same time. Then the style takes an interesting turn and Loke has serious issues. The jovial structure slowly gets drawn away as the meat of the story is really pushed. The entire story is very descrptive and yet fast. We see things happen and sometimes the combat is quicker than the reader. It is a perfect way to do battles.

Grammar is honestly something I don't pay much attention to, because I listen to novels in a text-to-speech program. However, I think the author clearly has a very "learned" feeling to their writting. The only thing I can compare it to is the learning of a second language and the "textbook" like manner of speech. It rarely occurs and honestly most poeple wouldn't notice, but my college days were calling me and giving me flashbacks.

The story and style I think go hand-in-hand. Styles shift as the story does because the focal point is changing, and this author has made a great story. We join in right after a big accident and Loke is worried about Nova who are both new, then....we start to understand Loke's worries...and THEN...we START to UNDERSTAND the world. One minute you think you have an understanding and then BOOM, you are wrong. The world is like Fallout New Vagus in levels of quality and...strange. Would recommend.

Characters are TOP notch. Loke is a....[REDACTED]. There I SAID IT. But we love him anyways. Another character I love is M.J. who is introduced early, and she is "troubled" and a "quest giver" if you would, but then she completes the quest and she FEELS real. She is introduced in a very manic and hyperfocused state. Loke is thinking the whole time about the person HE knows and we the readers are slightly confused, but we take his word for it, but then we really get to see the kinder and motherly side. We get to see WHY she took her daughters into the middle of the forest and chooses to live alone and away from everyone.


Full disclosure, I decide to support this author directly

I havent rated this perfect. ''Shade and Flow'' isnt as deeply crafted as some of the 5 star works on this website for a few reasons. There's no mind-blowing revelations in a multilayered timeloop.   

But I love it in short, here's why I'm supporting this

1. Constant, self contained updates

2. Good worldbuilding and very clean litRPG structure. There's a bit of bloat when items are described but the abilities are not overwhelming like some other works. I love LitRPG but have 25 complex abilities (or literally hundreds...) just makes things tedious. Others have mentionned it but the duality of the setting is extremely well done.   

3. A passionate author who's been reviewing his chapters for typos and seems just generally open to suggestions and criticism, and has been interacting with his viewers

Sometimes the luck of our characters seem to be a bit too good to be true; despite the harsh setting. There's some tough moments, but this work doesnt feel ''grimdark''. Fortunately, in the latest chapters, there's a few more moments that our characters explore the consequences of their actions and overeagerness. 

Simply put, this makes for a really, really fun serial. The overall flow of the work is smooth and enthralling, a page turner; this makes for a great daily read.

Give it a go! 


Vernacular skill that pay the bills

Reviewed at: Chapter 48: Technomantic Body

I love the story and the ideas behind it. Worth the read but know there are some grammar issues. But I really suggest reading the story and his other one I'm currently reading. Also my opinion does not matter because who cares, am I right?

Here is my actual critique. Word choice at points int the story are horrible. Thorax? Digitrade? You use these words like these to much and at some point you use words incorrectly. Dumb it down a we don't need you bash our head in with your lexicon.

See there I did it also. Poor word choice when your writing flows so great. Babble babble babble still loving this book. 

So I need to write more words to critique this. How about some questions...

Do you have a proofreader?

Are you going to put these on kindle?

How about those dodgers winning the Superbowl with a hole in one?

Still not enough words.... Words words words this is fucking stupid... I'm typing on my phone  while shitting and I'm done now. My legs are asleep and I just want to post this review. Royal road really needs to put a word counter on this because I have gone to far on this and I refuse to not post this review because some of his word choice really bothered me when this is such a great story.


Promising author in need of some help

Reviewed at: Chapter 7: The Engineer's daughter

So i actually really enjoyed the beginning of this novel but the dialog and the awkward sentences make it hard for me to enjoy the story. I wont continue reading but i urge you to try the novel and see if it resonates with you. Plenty of other people have enjoyed it so give it a try.

Anhi Rany

I really did not like Loke after his character development to the point that I could not read any chapter after 30 without nitpicking every single detail. The main reason for this is that there is no antagonist or someone who would challenge our mc in any way. It broke my suspicion of disbelief, and it felt like I was reading a shitty Chinese cultivation light novel. It might get good in chapter 100+, but I am writing the review for what it is now.

Style(4.5/5): I am including the worldbuilding, implementation of the litrpg system, the magic all others that do not directly impact the story here. That is the best part of the whole novel. The way the leveling system and the magic's duopoly is incorporated in the world; in the form of Flow and Shade, is the best part of the novel. It is one of the best in the whole of royal road.

Story(2/5): the story revolve around and is told from the perspective of our mc, Loke. And he is supposed to be the chosen one who will save the world. So, you know what that means plot armor up the ass, secret ancestry, random powerups, broken skills, etc. The lack of anyone who would challenge his views means that he is surrounded by yes men. The lack of any antagonist hurts the story as it limits the character growth options and the scope of the story. The story on the whole is also dull. To alleviate this, it jumps from one fight scene to the next.

Grammar(4/5): the grammar is clear and understandable. I did find a couple of mistakes in the early chapters. As there might be grammatical mistakes in the story, I removed a star.

Character(2/5): the main character is a psychopath, and as long he is fighting with someone more despicable than him, like slavers, he works alright. But throw him in a fight where he is not fighting people worst than him; our mc feels like a cringe edge-lord. All the supporting cast have some quirks but feel like drones when interacting with our mc. The lack of any antagonist in a story that is mostly about fighting speaks for itself.

The story has some good ideas,  but all of them are superficial. Digging a bit deeper, and I found nothing worth continuing reading. I really wanted to read a story in a world with this king of litrpg system with a decent plot and characters.


Weird improbable plot and it's a real shame

Reviewed at: Chapter 37: Everybody, run!

World building is really great. The genesis of the system and its "magic" makes sense and turns all the classes and the skills into something organic and natural. Locale depictions aren't very detailed in most cases but shine and really add to the atmosphere when the author bothers. No wall of text to bore you btw. 

The house of the mc's gf is right next to a dungeon full of mechs. Just awesome. 

Grammar is fine. Some weird structuring in sentences at times but good enough for me. 

Characters are both interesting and distinct. Those we've had time with are well fleshed and the rest are on their way. The mc and the rest of the main cast are also easy to like and care about... Which makes it all the more jarring and unbelievable when they are forcefully stupid when stupidity would have killed them long ago. You can force the pill down by telling yourself "it's a YA novel, it's natural" but the plot makes that impossible. 

Plot and pacing are what ruined this for me. The mc and his gang are people raised in a nightmare version of the wild West. Their life is very, very cheap and most of the time they act like it.... But when the author needs to force some encounter the ragged survivalists turn brain dead. Immersion breaking to say the least. 

You might be able to suspend disbelief when the action gets over-choreographed, or when one "coincidence" piles after the other due to tampering by the DM type of system guiding the plot. When a few dozen rugged frontier types are forced to act suicidal without real reason, that immersion is completely shattered. It's like watching a few black dudes attend a Clan meeting because they believe that having a couple of white friends will shield them from harm.... 

Pacing needs work as well. Most readers don't need pizza cutter full edge action all the time to keep reading. Frantic action sequences work when there's time for the cast (and the reader) to rest afterwards. Constant edgy encounters don't help build suspense. 

TLDR This is atm a nice ya popcorn read but has the potential to be so much more! Hope the author is decides to restructure the story in the future.