- Traumatising content
All humans possess a Pith, the essence of a mind where consciousness, reason, and emotion reside. Those who study its power can control their surroundings, move from body to body, and alter the very fabric of another’s thoughts.
On the continents of the Eight Oceans, the magicians wielding this energy formed secret societies, ruling nations from the shadows. Ten years ago, the public exposed them, plunging the world into chaos.
In the industrial empire of the Principality, Anabelle Gage has dreamt about Paragon Academy for as long as she can remember. An exclusive magic school, that can hone her abilities and cure her terminal illness.
And then they reject her.
She has one shot at saving her life: Enter the city’s cutthroat underworld, and make enough money to buy a new body. By any means necessary.
Ana forms a band of desperate exiles: A banished noble with dimension-warping power, a mind-reading mercenary, and a twenty-year-old bombmaker in an eighty-year-old body.
Together, they will uncover the secrets of this world. The true face of Paragon Academy. The drowned ruins of an ancient utopia. And the ocean, slowly rising, swallowing the planet beneath the waves.
Discord Link: https://discord.gg/4WcFQN7
Updates one or two chapters a day, until it catches up to the original site, which posts once a week on Mondays.
Warning: This story contains mature, potentially traumatizing content. Violence, mind control, genocide, bigotry, body horror, self-harm, suicide, addiction, existential horror, and more. Read at your own risk.
Note: As a heads up, this story also includes LGBT content.
Cover art by Tithi Luadthong
- Overall Score
- Style Score
- Story Score
- Grammar Score
- Character Score
- Total Views :
- Average Views :
- Followers :
- Favorites :
- Ratings :
- Pages :
Leave a review
Pith is a fantasy coming-of-age story with succintly-portrayed but uniquely compelling worldbuilding that dips into some cyberpunk themes with its use of souls as a setting conceit ala Pillars of Eternity, but while that stuff is great, it's not what truly sets it apart from other web fic - you can find piles of stuff with charming characters and interesting worlds that, unfortunately, don't really know what to do with them. No, what makes Pith almost unique and especially worth your time is the technical skill with which it is written.
Even among the more professional stuff like PGTE and Wildbow's work, I have never seen a serial webnovel with such a clear and consistent idea of exactly what it's trying to do, both thematically and on the micro and macro levels of the narrative, and with such calculated pacing to execute on those aims. The story is fast; most chapters get through multiple scenes and plot beats, while staying consistently within the 4-8k word range. The story is dense; it's rare that you'll leave a chapter without the sense of having learned something important.
But what's most impressive is the deftness with which the differents characters and plot elements are woven together. Though there are two protagonists who gets the lions share of the screen time, there are piles of important recurring characters, very few of whom spend much time together in the kind of RPG party-style situation you tend to expect in these works. Yet they're all interconnected in complex and often surprising ways that emerge over the course of the narrative, both directly and in how they thematically mirror and contrast each other. Characters you initially dismiss as auxiliary end up linking back to and reinforcing the main story, goals which seem individual all ultimately tie into the central conflict. It never wastes time or narrative energy on anything.
I also write webfic, and a lot of the time, when I'm reading other works, I get envious in a silly and childish way about the success of the story, thinking stuff like, "hey, why is this so popular! I could do better than that!" or "people only like this because of its gimmick/because it's easy to read/because it's a litRPG/etc!"
Pith is the only story I've found where I instead feel envious of the sheer technical competence of the author. I wish I could put crap like this out with only a few days to write and edit. I don't know how she does it.
All of this is without even really going into the content of the story. As for that, probably the most I can say without spoilers is that it's dark and often depressing. It's extremely effective at evoking emotional responses in the reader - right at the start, the story grabs you by the throat with a painful scenario, then throws painful spanner-after-spanner in the works of it's resolution... And by the time it does get resolved, you've seen so many tragic things, been made to care about so many other people who are equal victims of the tragic complexity of the situation, that it's not even clear if it matters any more. It captures the same feel as the first half of Worm, in a lot of senses.
However, unlike Worm, there is a core of optimism and hope to Pith, a beating human-feeling heart to the characters and their desires to change the world for the better (as horribly misguided as their approach may be), that gives it a fundamentally different feeling. Most people I've heard of dropping the story I've heard of have done so because it's depressing. I did, too, when I first started.
To those people, I would say to try and stick it out. Pith is a story about systems of control and oppression, loss of identity both literal and otherwise, and how difficult it is to hold on to the things important to you in the face of the unspeakable cruelty and apathy of both others and the cosmos itself. But it is also one that vindicates holding on to idealism, to not losing yourself even in the face of ugly and imperfect reality. And ultimately, is a story about how friendship and genuine love can save even the most awful people, even if just a little bit. And we're only at the end of the first book.
It's not for everyone.
But for those who enjoy suffering, Pith is like an all you can eat buffet. It has painful diseases, slowly degenerating health, physical disfigurement, gory mutilation, painful deaths, and lots of paper cuts. Characters are insulted, humiliated, publicly shamed, forced to grovel, forced to hurt others and feel crushing guilt, forced to watch as loved ones die, exiled from their families, abused by parents, abandoned by lovers, betrayed by friends. Grimy clothes, hangovers, and BO are ever present. Psychic powers allow for mental torture, brainwashing, memory editing and erasure, mind control, sensory deprivation, transferal into gross bodies, and the total removal of one's ability to feel joy or positive emotions. A child's teddy bear is thrown in a river. The only things this story is missing are rape and a dog dying, because there has to be a line somewhere, right?
If that sounds like fun to you, you're in for a treat.
It's not for me.
As a reader, I can only take so much second hand torture before I stop caring about the characters and start wishing they would just fucking die already and get it over with. Every chapter is one in an unending drumbeat of abject misery. There is no respite or moment of goodness to make it all worth fighting for. With no contrasting rays of sunshine, the night feels less dark than it is dull.
When you add to that characters who freely toss around an idiot ball and have dumb morals, it makes it even harder to care. One of the MCs needs a new body. She kills people for money. But she refuses to steal a body from one of the many people she kills, because... it would be wrong? She has to earn it by buying a body with her murder money? When characters make decisions only to maximize their own suffering, I stop rooting for them.
I'm fine with pain and trauma and even some self destructive behavior in reasonable amounts, but not when they balloon out of all proportion. It reminds me of those extreme hot sauces they sell that advertise how amazingly spicy they are. And instead of being a condiment to make your food taste good, the lava sauce becomes some kind of rite of passage sundance for your mouth to prove how manly you are. This story is like that. There may be some amazing chili or salsa under there, but all I can taste is a mouthful of pepper spray.
Despite all my kvetching, I read up to the current chapter and even went to the website to finish it. So, clearly the other parts of the story managed to hook me despite its (for me) fatal flaw. Like Mother of Learning, and unlike many other webfics, this seems to have an end in mind, and so it has very good pace with no filler. The world building is murky, but presented well through a slow drip of details. The prose is clear and fluid. And, perhaps most importantly, it's a story about something, rather than just settling to be sheer fantasy entertainment.
So, I can't say I hated it, although I still harbor a lot of resentment which will have to be worked out in therapy.
Pith is about deeply flawed people living in a deeply flawed world.
The world of Pith is unmaking itself, the oceans are rising, desperation and gloom are smothering. But in the darkness there's light, the promise of friendship, broken people leaning on each other, standing up for what they believe in. Pith is about trying until you can't try anymore, pushing yourself to the limit, and then further.
What makes Pith so great is the characters. Every character is fleshed out and sympathetic. They're real people with flaws and hopes and dreams. Pith characters don't feel like characters, they feel like people.
Each chapter is action-packed and dense, fight scenes are vivid, character powers and interactions are complex and interesting.
Give it a shot, you won't be disappointed.
This story is an exceptional piece of writing full of fantastic characters. The world and writing are of excellent quality and the magic system is compelling and well thought out. I can't begin to recommend it enough. I can't describe it any better than the synopsis already does. Do yourself a favor and get started on it already.
Are you looking for an OP main character that slaughters fields of enemies with never seen before powers that he was honestly just lucky to have? Don't read this.
Are you looking for a story with depth nuance and multiple interconnected yet seperate events that leave you wondering? Give pith a chance this could be the one.
Style: I gave this the lowest rating but still a rather high one. I suppose this is because the style is really good but its not amazing or unique. Its nice and clean easy to picture descriptions without being boring. Sharp and without frills.
Story score: I filled this up to the max! And for that I'm guilty. Despite the many chapters released the story still feels like its beginning like every arc so far is just a part if a larger more inclusive maga arc! Which is why I filled this up! Its got me wondering what next the end of each 'arc' leaves room for another simply put it gives the feeling of a well planned plot.
Grammar: Good. No problems. English has not been defiled here.
Character: This may be the best part of the book. The characters drive the story and everything in it. They don't fit together like a well placed jigsaw or come with a flawless intellectual or moral code but its these flaws that make them realistic. They help you identify with these hyper intelligent magic wielding dudes. They have logical fallacies, fail to consider each others feelings, but they also make clever insights, strive to improve and they do. That act of rising and falling both emotionally and intellectually, having strengths and weakness in more than just their magic styles gives them the semblance of life! It LIVESSS!
Overly long message completed!
This story is an utter delight to read. It's a unique blend of golden age superheroes, fantasy, action, and war, in a world that is fragmented, sad, and drowning.
Action sequences are thrilling. The powers and underlying mechanics are both thought-provoking and intuitive. The cast is smart and deep, Transhumanistic themes are used very effectively throughout.
A grim, deeply psychological novel with relatable characters, all together with an interesting world of "magic", make a wonderful combination. If you don't mind a bit of gore and grimdark and a world where not everything is flowers and sunshine I assure this novel will keep you hooked!
Congratulations to the author for his great job so far!
Why I like Pith? What is there, that can't be found in most popular novels on RR? Here I will write my points, regarding this question.
The World of Pith is a very well thought one, with attention to details and complexity that isn't quite complicated as our reality, but very close. This simplicity allows reader to be immersed and enjoy every bit of information, at the same time not feeling overwhelmed by data. Every chapter somehow managing to contribute to the overall lore of the world. This ever expanding conglomerate of stories, facts and ideas is what breezes life into the characters, and their past.
No one likes edgyness - because the way we usually perceive edgyness is in a literature where it's used overextensively. Here, however, it's different. For at least 90% of suffering, personal issues and misery in this series, it's indeed substantial. I have my own complaints regarding some character development, but overall, the issues most readers have or will have with characters, are exclusively ideological in my opinion.
The next thing that is incorporated into this novel, is a thin weil of allusion, to our own world. It's still unique, yet it crafted in resemblance. Politics here not just a loud words and events, happening in the background of main plot. It's a main part of the plot, it's what influences our protagonists, it's what influences our antagonists too. Not only author managed to introduce and integrate politics to this world, he also showed how neither side of conflict in this story is right - because violence only breeds violence. Many ideas explored in this novel are as old as our world, and still very relevant, yet presented in a brilliant way, so that reader can make judgement himself. I think, this is what dofferers a true literature, from a simple popular literature made with intention of entertainment.
Not once I felt that characters are not real here. Always, even at their lowest moments when I haven't seen any of their POWs in a long time, I still recognized them. Sometimes because of rapid POW transitions, it's easy to lose a gist of who is who, but those moments are few: for entire volume, it's very rare to encounter such problem. Even if it happened, I personally never lose understanding of what's happening in the story itself.
The Style used here is great, and contributes to a story's flow in a simple and working ways. It's not something made by genius, but well crafted to the point when it becomes perfect tool for it's purposes.
A word about inspiration and value
Many more people in reviews before me mentioned a similar Web-Serial called "Worm", created by Canadian author "Wildbow". I myself didn't read his work fully yet, but familiar with some concepts and plot points. This is why, it seemed to me that author found inspiration in "Wildbow"'s work. Some characters, and parts of the plot might remind "Wildbow"'s readers those from his work, in a good way. However, besides conceptual comparison, there is also one of value. When reader finishes book, he might ask himself, "what did I learn from it? did learn anything at all?"... I believe, this book can teach you something. It's a great take on superpowers genre, just like Wilbow's work. With time, I hope it will match it's quality with quantity.
Torture, depression and values
Nothing can be more depressive than death of your best friend; Nothing can be more depressive than Ousting;
Nothing can be more depressive, than Ousting because of your own ignorance. Those are main themes of this story. They strike reader with their brutality, yet as all problems and grief, they go away with time, leaving place to a bright future. Unlike Worm, Pith is more simple, more straight; Yes, it's still does not shy to talk about same issues, but it also gives us honest answer: every problem we can overcome by our own effort. And while our main heroes live in a deeply flawed system which they started to understand it only now, by the end of first volume. They still vulnerable to the old barbaric traditions of their society; To the interests of the wealthy; To the pleasures of the guilty; To the abuse of powerful many. Still, they endure all those influences, and go forward. Because "Pith" is not about ideals, it's about achieving them.
Its incredibly well written and is probably publishable, many of the early scenes feel like a punch in the gut though. I do hope it becomes a little more positive soon because some of the things that are happening are really depressing.
The author has done an incredibly good job at describing this world and I am very curious of where it will go.
This is one of the best novels that will (hopefully) be posted fully on RR. After blitzing through all the chapters currently posted, I headed on over to the Author's main website and discovered that the novel's first book has recently been completed! Needless to say, I found it just as breathless, introspective and action-packed as the currently posted chapters with writing that matches the very best across thousands of pages.
At it's core, Pitch is a character driven novel that explores a few central themes including identity, purpose and struggle. The two main characters, Ana and Nell, are deeply, fundamentally flawed and a central part of the story is exploring their weaknesses - meaning that this is no light-hearted romp. That said, the story is superbly executed with a complete cast of intriguing characters in a believable world.
Immaculate use of "show-don't-tell" (no exposition dumps)
Fantastic and steady world-building
Consistent characterization and writing quality across thousands of pages
Completed narrative with meaningful closure (if partial)
Second book planned!