Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • 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.


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Discord Link: https://discord.gg/4WcFQN7

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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

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madwhitesnake

madwhitesnake

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drakan_glasses BE NICE! Fair critique is fair, but be respectful & follow the review rules. There will be no mercy.
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Lurina
Overall
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Story
Grammar
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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.

Read it.

Another Disappointment
Overall

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.

Retrospectme
Overall

This is reviewed after I originally read more on the author's website.

. The core story is coming of age of the main protagonist (s) but as with all long serials more word count is given to supporting characters and world building than mcs. The main themes is, I guess, transhumanism, mind control, political intrigue, and magic. The battles are worm-like, with each character trying to use its abilities in unique ways, and the setting is dark, very dark. Not to spoil too much, but take the darker events in our history and mix it with magic.

It's good. All the other reviews will tell you exactly why, but the one con is that its numbingly slow, especially coming close to the end of book 1. Our protagonist is also a special kind of idealist dumb - let's just say her not getting into engineer hogwarts was completely warranted.

Brell
Overall

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.

dscuol
Overall

This is a Professional Novel

Reviewed at: 4-C The Mortal Soul

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.

Highlights:
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!

skkyyyy
Overall

Comfortably my favorite currently updating story

Reviewed at: 1-A The Caterpillar's Dilemma

Pith is an amazing story on pretty much every metric I can think of.  It's one of a few stories I will drop everything to read the moment a new chapter drops. 

The characters are great, the world and story is compelling, and it is technically well written in a way that I don't often see outside of published works.  Almost every chapter is meaningful and the story is moving fast. 

I've been following it for a few months on the story's website and I'm excited to see where it goes.  You should definitely read it! 

sporad
Overall

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.

Vinohr
Overall

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.

Schadenfreude
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

More than filler arcs and Op characters

Reviewed at: 6-B The Bombmaker

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!

ACRex
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I won't get into the much details here since i know i won't do justice to the author on how good i think this is. What i know for sure is this book here, is a good fucking book with a good fucking plot and characters, yet it wasn't popular somehow. And things like bad isekai or xian xia ( i'm not saying that there is no good isekai or xian xia out there) is more popular then this.

1. Style:

It's a first person with multiple POV of different characters, which i think it good for development of the few main characters. There is no Jarring break in between POV, since so far the author only change the POV at the begining of a chapter. It's also formated into arcs, which again i think served the books well given the siriealized nature.

2. Grammar: 

Nothing to complain here, nothing that an editor can't fix.

3. Story:

This is where it shine the most i think. It's set in a dark (not grim dark) world where, at times it's quite political that kinda touch on todays politics but it wasn't there all the time. It also examine on Transhumanism and what it would to a society.

4. Character:

Since this is still early, i can't judge the characters development of both the main and side characters, yet. The only gripe i have is with a certain character on their value and believes which i think is kinda neat picking.

To close the review, i can only say just read it and do yourself a service.

PS: I don't Get RR, I really don't. Like honestly is the old fashion fantasy the likes of LOTR, WOT, ASOIAF, Dresden Files, TSLA is dead?