- Traumatising content
While waiting on an Akihabara train platform one day, ordinary high schooler Yoshi Shinonome was suddenly plucked from his normal life in Japan and whisked away by a beautiful goddess to Ephemera, a world of magic and adventure, to serve as her Hero and drive back the evil Dark Lord.
This is not his story.
Standing nearby at the moment Yoshi was isekai'd was a man named Seiji - a rude, cranky, misanthropic musician who was not at all pleased to find himself also snatched up and transported to Ephemera by the goddess's wicked sister, Virya. According to this self-proclaimed Goddess of Evil, the whole fantasy adventure thing was a game she and her sister played to stave off the boredom of immortality, and since the good goddess, Sanora, had picked her Hero...well, Virya needed a Dark Lord.
A grown man with his own career and ambitions, Seiji has no interest in playing. Unfortunately for him, the call to adventure was not a request. Now, he must conquer Ephemera and defeat the Hero...or Virya promises to make him beg for the release of death before granting it. Playing along for his own survival, Seiji nonetheless is under no illusions who his true enemy is, and it's not the naive young would-be Hero from his own world.
Placed in an impossible position, Seiji must make enough progress toward world domination to keep his sadistic patron goddess off his back, but not so much that he can't strike an accord with the forces of Good and convince the Hero Yoshi that it's the goddesses who are their mutual enemy. Forced to embrace Evil without being too evil, Seiji walks the razor's edge, building his forces and biding his time till he can get revenge on the goddesses and be free of them, his only certainty that he will not be getting out of this with his hands clean.
A Dark Lord's gotta do what a Dark Lord's gotta do.
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I love to read stories about quirky MCs done right, in here we have a character carefully picked for being an arrogant asshole who believes himself to be above everyone
If you had to live near him he would be absolutely insufferable, but positioned against a world full of brutish assholes and self righteous heroes we can actually root for him
The MC is half japanese and half american, which allows him to throw otaku culture and pop culture references with ease, and he is an interesting subversion of the regular isekai MC, in a sense he subverts the mold so much the mold becames whole again
He is not an otaku loser dreaming about becoming OP in another world... nope, he is stuck at a dead-end job and dreams about movig to murica to become a sucessful musician... so he is a retailer loser dreaming about becoming an OP musician in another country, and that is a completely different thing (or so he says)
He knows about videogames, pop culture and anime but constantly tells himself is just superficial knowledge that doesnt make him an otaku, nope, he just happened to absorb it by cultural osmosis via not being surrunded by otakus all the time, yep, he simply happened to stumble upon that knowledge, capisce?
He actually has a social life, he goes outside, he meets people... and so far there have been no mention of friends or family BUT HE IS NOT A LONER LOSER OK?
Instead of embracing the spirit of justice and good his mean spiritedness is the vehicle that can enable him to grow as a person, by helping him channel the assholeryness required to change the new world for the better, even if he has to crush them first
There is also the fact that if he manages to improve this world by taking it over, then it means he was right all along, his desire to fix the world pairs perfectly with his desire to validate himself as superior to everyone
Being an asshole is his method, and the world is so grimdark it works, the world building is prety nice too, with an angle of floating islands and alien ecosystem that feels absolutely fresh, so far crafting, architecture, cuisine and economy have been heavily affected by the environment, making those alien ecosystems a functional part of the world, instead of merely flavored background
The magic system is nice too, very straightforward to avoid info dumps, but with enough space to abuse it in the name of OPness
In a kind of meta the goddess choose such an ass to be her dark lord because she was bored of the regular flavours of good versus evil and wanted something more snarky and self absorbed, thats the audience this is made for: people who already had enough dosis of common heroes and villains and want to read something more focused on the style of the execution
Webb is an experienced web novelist although this is his first story on RR itself. Having read some of what is to come and spoken with him during the drafting of this story, I am excited for what is to come.
I know from his prior work that he has impeccable grammar and is amazing and writing a wide variety of characters with different views, voices, motivations, and styles to existing.
I am looking forward to reading more as should all of you.
For those who are familiar with his work elsewhere, D.D. Webb delivers once again on his strongest points - banter and worldbuilding. With a focus on a delightful asshole of a protagonist, the world of Ephemera brims with potential.
Style: My cup of tea. Well read on the style's tropes without being bogged down by them, the text flows delightfully.
Story: Intriguing. It's not by far the first time we see things from Evil's perspective, but what we have is a smidge rarer: uncaring evil here concerns Evil itself.
Grammar: No grammar errors of note. Seiji has a verbose speaking style, but you can somewhat tell that's more due to character than thesauritis on the author's part.
Characters: They're great! Shinonome invokes my pity, Seiji my laughter, and the rest... You'll have to read for yourself.
Yes, I know "Oh look, all 5 stars, this must be a real critical reader, huh?". Listen, I've been around the block when it comes to stories like this, my total Xianxia reading time (if counted on hours) goes into the several months and it's dwarfed by my time with manga/ light novels, to the point I've seen all kinds of seemingly fresh takes fall flat, and this hasn't happened here. Webb knows his stuff, and delivers. Give it a read, won't you?
Webb sure knows how to write captivating web novels and is very good at making his work a joy to read. Expect a ton of diverse characters with different personalities and attitudes, as well as delightful banter that will bring life to an expertly built setting.
Edit: Now that the first book is done, it's time to add a few things to this review.
First of all, if you expect a Good MC with great morals and a drive to make the world a better place... yeah better leave this book alone. Seiji is an arse. Period. Also, his thoughts or opinions on things are often uninformed or wrong, hypocritical and (I stress) purely the character's opinions. He is meant to be an ass and purposely created the way he is, with all the flaws to his name.
Seiji gets dumped into a new world full of concepts and unpronounceable names that seem to be made just for pissing him off, by a godess that sees him as a shiny new toy. Which definitely pisses him off. And that is his base state of being, when he doesn't show off and puts on a show for an audience, while cleverly scheming his plans. However, he is not as clever as he thinks himself and if there is one thing that plans never hold up to it's reality.
So with his love of showmanship and an undying anger at basically everything that exists in his new world, he collects a diverse cast of followers and allies - with shaky loyalties at best - to secure a base of power as the new Dark Lord, clash with the local shady underground and reach his ultimate goal - kicking the ass of the godess that sent him there in the first place. And if he gets a chance to properly monolouge while doing it, well, only villains do that, after all.
This is a comedic deconstruction of the "taken by a goddess to a fantasy world." More in line as a parody than a satire.
Having read The Gods are Bastards, seeing this appear in my email out of nowhere became something of a pleasant surprise.
Webb, for the most part, is basically a professional author. It's mind boggling trying to visaulize the anount of time it took organize, write, and color TGaB, in which case I'll stamp it as +10,000 hours of experience. Why is that important?
Because, silly, if an author trying to manage dozens of characters, a world, goals, ambitons, backstories, sideplots, suddenly decides to write something that's magnitudes simpler, say, Only Villains do That, then you bet your sweaty right testicle I'm gonna read it. It would be like a concerto pianist deciding that playing for the Vienna Philharmoinc has been a bit draining lately, so they decide that, "hey, maybe I should perform for kids birthday parties!"
That's right, and you get to read it for free.
The main character serves as a chucklefuck protagonist, (what does that mean? I don't know, don't ask), he's funny, human, and has a personality (gotta cover all those bases, ya'know?). The reluctant and spiteful protagonsit that we get to tag along for, and hey, this is the only metro to burn time station, so settle, broseph. I can already see some issues showing up for some readers in the first few chapters, and I have an answer so that the author doesn't have to waste time answering others: This is the character's thoughts. We're learning what his attitude is towards otakus and nerds, and of course we see that he's hypocrite as well which is to be expected in a well thought out character.
The world building so far isn't Dune levels of nerdom, but it serves as a device to anchor the story which is focused on the main character trying to deviate from his goddess' plans and attempt to kill her like any other resepctable dark lord.
world building's unique with its own taboos, cultural norms, yadayada. Not generic and well thought out for being a world where earth and stone is precious.
Grammar's on point.
Characters are working.
Bribe office is closed, please leave cash-money in slot.
Style is Webb.
Story has a variety of humor, from gallows to interplay between minion and master.
(Psst, hey, Webby, you ought to copy pasta TGaB's onto RR as well, more readers can't hurt? (Unless it's verbal abuse then kinda. But then again. Abuse is a two way street (beat them with your good hand!)
I hope you're feeling better, my dude. Your talent is...chef kiss
(note; I'm not good with reviews. I don't like writing reviews. But I wanted to try, and I sincerely hope my opinion comes across accurately... enough.)
I'll admit - I'm a bit difficult with novels. I tend to immediately flee from anything that creases me the wrong way with its writing style - and I damn near did with this, just because the constant 'Only In Japan' lines (though clearly intended to be frustrating) and a few minor things bugged me - but, gladly, I didn't.
Few books actually grab me enough to binge through them, but this did. The concept is solid and would do great for a funny satire, but this was so much more than I was expecting from it. The worldbuilding actually manages to be unique in a genre where that's superfluous - no offence intended, I swear - and feel real, harrowingly so. I'll admit the descriptions didn't give me the clearest visual on Ephemera, but they're not what I focused on so that's likely on me. The intricacies of the society, the people, the technologies, the politics - it's such a fascinating blend of alien, 'realistic' (mhm, not quite the word I want, but I can't put my finger on a better one) and JRPG-ish - which I thought I'd have to just grin and bear with, but the fact
all of those elements are just the sisters' grubby hands ensuring they have leverage on everything? Now that's just plain neat.
Not to mention the characters. 'No man is a prophet in his own country'; and a nihilistic sardonic asshole can (try to) be one just on the advantage of a stockpile of historical, sociological and political anecdotes he has selectively misremembered over the years, and the overconfidence of his modern man mindset. I just love that. Pity to everyone to everyone that has to deal with him, lol. I still feel for Seiji, though (for everyone, really, but he's the one we get the most insight on.) and I'm honestly terrified to know where, exactly, his future characterisation is headed. It's a good sort of terrified, though.
The progression of the story is what stands out the most. Thanks for abusing my gut with those traumatic punches, appreciate it. More seriously - it's looking like we're in for the long run with this, and like everything is going to come back with consequences.
Typos are rare but present. I'm not a native English speaker myself, so I don't have much to comment on grammar wise - doesn't feel my place to.
The style still bugs me a little - a few line cuts seemed needless, and the spaced-out paragraphs work for online novels, I guess, but I'll never get used to them. It's still good, I'm just particular with these things. Some awkward-sounding 'Also's and 'Anyway's, and I'm not sure that MANY f-bombs are required to get the point across, but nothing that matters much to anyone. I appreciate the narration's ability to seamlessly flow from comical to tactful to horrifying, however. That is some quality skill.
With my best wishes to the author. This is really good, and my attempt at sounding half professional may not convey it, but I had a wide, passionate grin on my face all throughout, starting from chapter 22-ish, if memory serves. I'm invested in this horrible saga hook line and sinker, no matter what other fresh hell unfolds from and upon North Watch.
If this is going to be anything like The Gods Are Bastards then this will be one of the best reads on this side. The premise is an interesting take on the genre, the characters seem interesting and having someone reluctantly evil will be refreshing.
Looking forward to this one!
The world description and grammer are really good.
The dialogues are well made and the MC and the side characters are actually 3d, and really well made.
But it goes kind of slow and I am kind of bored. A lot of dialogue about morals, and morals, and evil, and i dont want to be evil, and bla bla bla. This novel reminds me somehow more of a slice of life novel.
I dont know. The book is really good quality work but it didnt really manage to hook me.
Looked at the latest chapters and they are called "Takes the kids to the park", "passes the time", "Lights up the town", "hangs out with the boys", "attempts to civilize the natives". Sounds like slice of life. Lot of talking and thinking with not a lot happening.
So maybe put slice of life tag on the novel. Or is my argumentation screwed and it gets better?
Feel free to comment (Edit: Just noticed, you cant comment :D, just show your opinion with thumbs)
Really enjoying the story so far, there haven’t been any noticible grammar or spelling errors and the world building has been top notch, great work addressing how people would build on terrain like that and excellent portrayal of the cultural differences, it’s very well thought out and unique world. Doesn’t fall into the trap of having an intelligent MC constantly lording his smarts over other people (like in He who fights with Monsters). Excited to see where this goes
The title of a story is somewhat false advertising. The MC doesn't act like a villian or even an anti-hero. Instead, the MC is a closer to well-intentioned asshole, which makes him basically a hero compared to other people in the world.
Apart from that, it's the Youjo Senki premise done in a fantasy world. A basic, interesting premise if done well — the self-sabotage, occasional moments of brilliance followed by lucking into undeserved or unintentional success, the usual shebang. Only Villians Do That checks the usual boxes, although it's hard to say that it does those things particularly well.
You have the usual gaggle of followers, except that their only reason for following the MC boils down to the MC being less shitty than everyone else in a crapsack world. You have the usual protagonist cheat powers, except that the powers are barely explored. But what really kills the is the pacing. 45 chapters in and the MC has gotten nowhere fast. 5 chapters in and he's gotten himself a castle and a handful of followers. 40 chapters later he's still in the same keep, with the same handful of followers (the whores don't count), except that he's now spending his time fighting backwater criminals that he's antagonized for no benefit. It's not even the interesting sort of criminal warfare, either — it's the sort of story where the MC sets in motion contrived plans that only works because the plot says it must.
Credit where credit is due, the worldbuilding is good. Good worldbuilding can't single-handedly carry a story though.