Ursus Ex Machina
- Sexual Content
Ozzy was a man of the wild. Raised in a remote village atop the world's mightiest mountain, he'd been taught to respect and revere the natural world. The realm he was born into had been there long before him, and it would remain there long after him. Sure, there was the occasional madman who threatened to destroy it, but such boasts were always empty. No one individual was actually capable of demolishing this beautiful blue-and-green ball Ozzy called home. No matter what terrible magics these villains wielded, they were incapable of causing permanent harm to the environment. Even if the planet was completely devastated, it would recover. Life would find a way to flourish, same as it always had. That was what Ozzy believed from the bottom of his heart, so he never once felt the need to save the world he loved. After all, it was never truly in danger. The world would be fine no matter what. The people were a wee bit endangered, but that was another story altogether.
However, what would happen if Ozzy suddenly found himself devoid of his beloved wilds? What would the man do if the realm he knew - one of wonder, magic, and chaos - was replaced with a man-made environment of concrete, industry, and steam? Ozzy could never imagine such a thing happening, and yet that was his new reality. After losing a fateful confrontation with a mad wizard, he and his friends found themselves transported to a strange world so thoroughly alien that every waking moment feels like a fever dream. Separated and scattered to the four corners of this land, each of these adventurers will need to adapt, survive, and overcome if they hope to reunite. They would also need to do so quickly. The sooner they are able to find one another, the sooner they can figure out a way back home and have another crack at putting an end to the villain's plans. Whether such a thing was actually possible in a world with barely any magic in it was a valid concern, but Ozzy had more immediate things to worry about. For instance, why did the air smell like a perpetual forest fire? How did ships sail through the sky as if it were water? And most importantly, was the pavement he was hurtling towards at high speed much softer than it looked?
Probably not, but a man could hope.
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And this is a very good read indeed. its perhaps a bit early to to make a judgment, with only eight chapters to go on, but I have faith in Exterminatus as an author and this start is as strong as they come. this story is, once again, quite diffrent to exters last stories, taking place in an urban/steampunk setting with some low magic for spice, and isekaing a quartet of adventurers to take that to the next level. so while it is still early days for this story what i've read gives me plenty of hope for this stories future
(as of NSOR 7, i.e. the 15th chapter)
Just before druid Ozzy's adventuring group can defeat the evil lich, it magicks them to a different world, one with much less magic and much more technology (tech level comparable to our early- to mid-20th century AFAIU). Ozzy has to keep on his toes to navigate a modern city's pitfalls and to find his friends who landed on the other side of the world. At least his momma raised a big, strong boy who can look out for himself, and a druid's special skills seem to be unknown here...
Style: The story is told in past tense in third-person style by an omniscient narrator. Most of the focus is on or near Ozzy, but there are shorter scenes elsewhere as well, showing glimpses of the bigger picture to the readers. The descriptions have enough details to feel rich and realistic without going into boring minutiae. The flow of the words is smooth, making the text very pleasant to read. With about 4000 words each, the chapters have a very good length.
Story: A character is isekai'd to another world, most of us readers know this genre very well. In this case the MC moves in an unusual direction though, from a high-magic fantasy world to a more modern, steampunk one, with all the wondrous technological marvels this exposes him to. The pacing is good, with lots of things happening but without it feeling rushed. The tone is on the good-naturedly humorous side (hint: wrestling bears in the wilderness), but without degenerating into flat jokes; there is still serious stuff happening though, with smooth transitions between the scenes. Ozzy's druidic powers allow him (and us) interesting insights into the inner workings of that world, something the locals have no idea about. I expect this to become a very important aspect of the story.
Grammar: Good, almost no typos.
Characters: Ozzy is a big and strong guy, but at the same time reasonable and friendly instead of just being a simple musclehead. Because of the narrative style, his personality is shown to us in his thoughts and plans and also in his actions; it is presented well and paints a realistic picture of a character that was probably created with a few common tropes (e.g. Friendly Big Guy) in mind. The latter is not a bad thing when you remember that this is a fantasy story written for entertainment and not a serious drama fishing for critics' praise. The same goes for the side characters: from the first impression they are exaggerated archetypes, but after a while we learn that they each have multiple sides to their personalities (although for them we haven't had the opportunity to see very far into any complexity yet). In any case, they are great fun to read about.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable and well-written story that uses various tropes for fun and to great success. I'm happy to have been on this nice ride from the very beginning.
Another great writing so far from Exterminatus. A little too early to tell but no problems so far. Look forward to where this is gonna go. On the bright side we know the story is in good hands with Exterminatus. I'll be trying to follow his series from now on and I suggest you do too.
I have to admit I put off reading this fic because of the title: Ursus ex machina. It seems to be a play on Deus ex machina, but It's understandably hard to imagine what a "Bear from the machine" has to do with a Druid torn from his own dimension. Even after reading this, I have no clue what the title means.
But that doesn't matter because Ursus Ex Machina is a damn decent read.
The story goes like this: Our protagonist, Ozzy, a hulking mountain man/druid, a denizen of a high fantasy world in which science has become a lost art, is separated from his adventuring party during a battle with a comically evil lich. He then ends up in a post-industrial low fantasy metropolis, and has to try to find a place in this new world, while trying to also find his old adventuring party. (He's probably not going to be doing the second one anytime soon though)
The most compelling aspect of the story, is as mentioned in the title of this review, the discworld-esque vibes. The new city is populated with a motely cast which really drives the plot onwards. But what really clinches this the side story featuring a troll cop - if you read it you'll see what I mean.
Style: P good, see above
Story: P good, see above
Grammar: No issues
Character: Sometimes the characters can feel a little flat/one note, but overall not bad.
The author keeps repeating that our druidic MC is stupid and the world simply has him misunderstood for more, but I think I may be fooled too. I think he is secretly smart. Sneaky druid.
Great worldbuilding so far, and I like the slow pace and exploration. Its not quite slice of life, as there is a goal, but it feels that way.
...with all the exquisite and descriptive verbosity one expects from Exterminatus. I don't know yet how zany he gets with this one, but it's if to a great start. The initial tower climbing dungeon crawl and resulting boss battle were satisfyingly epic. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading his post - Boxxy work!
It's a fun idea with and interesting, if a bit underdeveloped world. The mix between magic dnd world with steam punk is interesting, but up to this point still slightly confusing (their level of technology, culture and magic still being very vague, but can be explained that it's being seen from lens of someone coming from the middle ages). Characters building are a bit of a weakness though, with most of the current companions being much less interesting than the minor mooks, and the recent addition of a cat girl with stereotypical silly faux Italian accent causes literal physical cringe. I thought we are way over mildy xenophobic cringy fake accents in our literature.
MC is not evil, but he IS a druid-barbarian, the tank of your typical d&d party, and transported to a steampunk world his druid self struggles to understand, so... yeah, expect collateral damage, accidents, misunderstandings, and so forth.
Despite the inevitable mayhem, Ozzy is a good guy and (usually) makes more friends than enemies.
Exterminatus continues to improve - and he was plenty good before, mind you - so we continue to get a gradually expanding cast of memorable, relatable, and colorful characters.
The only thing that might turn some people off is the nature druid vs steampunk technology conflict implied in the synopsis, but its actually handled very well. The first five chapters would show you what i mean, so give it a chance.
Exterminatus excels in presenting life questions without pretending to know the answers. Its a fun, easy to digest pulp action read, while somehow having the steady fuel of heavy philosophy should you choose to stop and think a moment.