After his parents died, Alex Roth had a plan: become a wizard. Through hard work, he was accepted into the world’s greatest university of wizardry—but fate had another plan.
On his eighteenth, he is marked as one of his kingdom’s five Heroes, chosen to fight the land’s great enemy. But his brand is 'The Fool', worst of the marks.
Rather than die or serve the other Heroes like Fools in the past, he packs up his little sister, his childhood friend and her cerberus, then flees for the university in hope of refuge, magic and to unravel the truth about his land’s evil.
There’s one small problem: The Mark tries to ruin magic while enhancing skills outside of divinity, combat and spellcraft.…
…that is, unless he can learn to exploit the hell out of it.
This the first time I am writing a web novel type story, and I hope you like it. I like progression stories and I've always wanted to try and write one like a few of the web novels that inspired me.
There are currently 20 advanced chapters on my patreon as a thank you to patrons.
Join us on discord! https://discord.gg/A4M3CzfWBn
Chapters will be roughly 2000-2500 words.
[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]
Rating: This story is kind of like a PG-13 movie. There'll be gore and some swearing but not much beyond that. If that changes, I'll warn you.
Tone: Tone will be a mix of some action-adventure with excitement, comedy, slice of life elements and mystery. I won't be going too dark with this story. There will be mentions of war, some death, grief and violence.
MC: MC is analytical/rational with emotions. He is mostly in control of those emotions. MC will progress in power, eventually becoming very strong. When that happens, I'll add the Strong Lead tag.
Fights: Fights will be detailed.
Stuff this story won't have:
- Extreme grimdark content
- Murderhobo plots
- Edgy, anti-hero MC
- Pacifist MC
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- Style Score
- Story Score
- Grammar Score
- Character Score
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Edit as of 08/18/2021: Woo! 110 chapters in and still quality as ever.
I swear, Mark of the Fool is going to hit trending HARD in the coming weeks. This story is just about everything you want from a good RR story without the drawbacks that normally come from this format. There's great plot, amazing writing, complex characters, and brilliant fights - all wrapped up in one awesome package. Before I get into that, though, here's some things to note.
I'm a fan of the author's previous works, and had the good fortune of being able to read this story before it got posted here. Thus, I have more to work with than the 60 pages currently up, and might reference vague "future events". The author also has a history of completing whatever he starts, which might be reassuring for those cautious of drops.
Now that I've gotten those disclaimers out of the way, let's get right into things!
Like some reviews before this have said, the prose here is good. Like, really good. Some of the best on the site level good. If I could give this section a 6/5, I would. Normally, RR's writing tends to be fairly minimalistic, and a lot of stories with fancy flourishes end up having the prose detract from the actual story. Not this one, though. All of UnstoppableJuggernaut's writing enhances the story, making the story and characters come alive in your mind in a way I rarely see on RR. It's never too much, never too purple. Just the right amount to make your reading experience 5x better. I swear, if for nothing else, read this story for the actual writing.
Of course, that isn't to say that there's nothing else about this story that's worthwhile. Even if you don't care at all for prose, the story and characters more than carry the book on their own. You could say that the plot of Mark of the Fool is a twice-subversion of traditional fantasy plot. He doesn't get the Chosen One Amazing Hero Mark, and he doesn't go out to fight the dark lord. Instead, the MC carves his own path and tries to evade getting dragged into the grand quest as much as he can. Basically, the MC actually gets to drive the plot forwards by himself, and it only gets better in the future.
He's also much more realistic than some protagonists can be. He's rational and clever, but he still has emotions. For a spoiler example (chapter 3):
We can take the scene where he gets the Mark. At first, he reacts negatively, because he doesn't want any Mark, and especially not the Mark of the Fool. However, after he gets some time to process the situation, he immediately starts testing the Mark's capabilities in order to see what he can do with it, and if he's able to exploit it at all.
His catchphrase is even "Think. Adapt," which should tell you everything you need to know about his character.
It's not just the MC who gets to be "an actual character", though. All the side characters are interesting, which is something I see in very few fics on RR. Even the kinda-sorta-antagonist-figure is semi-likeable, when it could have been easy to make them human trash. The banter between the MC and his companions is heart-warming and genuinely funny sometimes, and it offers some nice contrast to the tension of the rest of the story.
Just a warning: There is a romantic subplot, though it's minor and handled wayyyy better than your typical romance is. I personally enjoyed it, and you can rest assured the characters aren't going to do stupid things because they were "blinded by love" or anything.
There is a very slight nitpick I have to give, and it's honestly almost unfair of me to give Mark of the Fool's story score a 4.5 because of this when it's really more like a 4.9. That very slight nitpick is that the beginning takes just a tad longer to get to the meat of things than RR may prefer. This may come down to, as another review said, the "Trad Quality" of the story, because in a bookstore I probably wouldn't blink at an intro twice this length. It's also chock-full of still-interesting moments that I wouldn't mind reading it even at twice the length. I'm just nitpicking because the most likely reason a reader is to pick up this book might take a bit longer than expected to appear.
Anyways, I've rambled on for long enough, so let's wrap things up. Overall, I couldn't praise this story enough. It's all the best qualities of progression mixed with the masterful prose and characters of a professional. No stat screens in this one, but it doesn't need them to be interesting. Like I said, this will hit trending like a truck, so why not get in now while it's still young? I promise, it only gets better in the future.
People are super critics for the weirdest stuff on this site. I've seen it pretty often, where the first thing a reader doesn't like in a story will prompt them to rate .5 stars (while of course continuing to read every single chapter anyways) Sometimes, people will do the backhanded compliment thing where they talk about how they like some things, but hate other things, and throw some 2-3 star rating (again, while still probably reading every single chapter)
I am not a super critic. The only times I will write a review is when I feel a story really deserves recognition, because the truth of RR's ranking system is anything less than a perfect 5.0 has a negative impact on the story's rank and I'd rather not do that to people.
Anyways: Are there some things in this story that are not perfect? Well, yeah. Duh. It's a web-serial you can read for free on the internet. There are going to be a few tiny problems you can nitpick. But are any of these problems enough to make me feel this is less than a perfect 5 star story, relative to the other garbage I see all over this website?
This story is fantastic.
It updates frequently and it's well thought out. The characters are interesting. The lore is great. The world building and magic systems are really fascinating. And unlike so many stories on this website: the protagonist is not a murder-hobo. Each chapter also does a good job of introducing another useful piece of information you can build with, which snowballs as the story continues and paints a larger picture of the world at work. There is also no real "filler" to be found, which I've found is extremely common once authors start realizing they're popular enough to make money.
I'm not sure exactly how to describe this story, but D&D meets harry potter, meets something extra... that's probably close. This is all just my opinion (for whatever that's worth these days) but I feel this is a really good story. I recommend it, and I wish there were more stories like it.
Mark of the fool builds more on its character in a single chapter than most royalroad novels do in a book. Its manner of revealing exposition feels natural and flows, slowing clueing us in to details about the world and opening more and more mysteries for us to wonder about.
The authors prose is pretty much masterful, indistinguishable from the kind of work you would find in the recommended section of a book store.
I am excited to learn more about this worlds magic system and the worlds history of the fool.
The characters of the story feel very flat, with little depth to them. It feels as if I'm looking at actors reading from a script, rather than people who each have their own beliefs, morals, and values. Especially a lot of the humor feels very contrived, rather than arising spontaneously. I can't give an exact definition of why it feels this way, but it feels as if the world is rotating around the main character, rather than the main character being a part of the world.
The grammar of the story is impeccable, with no flaws that I noticed. The style of the story isn't something that is bad, but it doesn't greatly stand out either. There's nothing that I can point out that says "Only this author writes in this way."
The story and world building is actually interesting and engaging. The chosen hero concept has been done to death, but this is an interesting take on it, with the main character actively fleeing from said duty. My biggest complaint is that the story suffers heavily from Assumption Syndrome.
Assumption Syndrome is when a character makes a completely baseless assumption, that they couldn't possibly have guessed without prior knowledge, but they turn out to be right because of plot convience. A good example would be Sherlock Holmes. He walks into theoretical crime scene and sees a wine bottle, and immediately guesses the wine was poisoned by a threatened butler, whose family is held hostage by the local kingpen. There's no way anyone could have possibly guessed all that just from seeing a wine bottle, but he's "so smart", so it's waved off.
To list a couple of such instances in the story.
The main character is attacked by a bug monster, and immediately assumes they must have been the soldier version of their species, and that there must also be a worker version of the species, because of course all bugs are basically ants right? How would a character in a mideval fantasy world even know about ant hive structures?
Another instance is when the main character accidently controls an evil dungeon core and immediately assumes there must be a shadow government organization that is keeping all this hidden. Because obviously the previous heros that went missing had tried the same insane act of interfacing with an evil dungeon core after defeating hordes of monsters, and had been killed off for their knowledge.
If you can look past the many logical fallacies that grace the book, it's a decent read. It's not a litRPG or harem, so it's already unique compared to 90% of the other power fantasies on this site. I don't have a problem with either of those genres, but you have to ask yourself, do we really need another one? Thankfully this novel answers that question with a resounding "No!"
(as of chapter 39)
I've watched this story soar to the heights of RoyalRoad within days during the Writathon and now I finally had time to read it. 'Mark of the Fool' is a worthy addition to the top percent of stories here and I enjoy it immensely. It is not only a nice read with interesting subversions of some common tropes but an excellently written piece of literature as well.
Plot teaser: Alex just wanted to go to wizard school and care for his little sister, but then Prophecy/Fate/whatever struck and branded him with the worst variant of "You Are The Chosen One" mark available, the one whose bearer is mostly useless, usually killed and sometimes even a traitor according to the old stories. Instead of Answering The Call, he nopes out of Dodge and tries to be a good wizard student while keeping his mouth shut about that whole "saving the worl– tiny backwater region" stuff. Well, not completely shut, because there is clearly something fishy going on. Do the old stories err? Or worse, do they LIE? Come in and find out!
Style: MotF is told in third-person internal style from Alex' point of view. That way we learn his thoughts, which are usually rather smart. The phrasing is very good with a great use of literary devices and smoothly flowing sentences that make the scenes flourish in the reader's mind. The world-building is done excellently, there are lots of smaller details fleshing out the lore, the mechanics and the (side) characters. At the same time, there is no needless bloat, UnstoppableJuggernaut really manages to walk that thin line of perfection IMO.
Story: Young man gets special power, leaves home, goes to wizard school, meets people both friendly and unfriendly. While this may sound like every third story on this site, MotF is anything but. The rather strict rule of "no fighting" enforced by his special powers is throwing a full spanner set in the works while the "no magic" rule is setting those works on fire. Alex does not only have to navigate the usual obstacles of a "school story/arc", at the same time he has to overcome those additional difficulties. Aaaand it has to stay a secret, no biggie. Concerning the thin line between "not good enough" and "too perfect", it feels like Alex is succeeding a bit too easily in his "this should be impossible but it works" moments, finding successful workarounds very quickly.
The pacing is a mix of normal and slow: Many things are happening, yet it does not feel rushed, but rather sedate because of the many world-building details. According to the comment section, this seems to annoy the "I want nothing but power-levelling"-crowd; I like it the way it is, with good lore.
Oh yeah, there's the coming-of-age stuff as well; it is presented rather marginally as hints and short moments and feels natural, not as extensive as in other stories. It's enough to be noticed as a sub-plot and creates some interesting moments, but it is clearly a minor thing instead of distracting from the main storyline.
Grammar: Excellent. I noticed some missing spaces next to text in italics (a known formatting problem when copy-pasting to this site) but barely any other errors.
Characters: All are complex and feel natural. Alex is a smart young man, he plans ahead and thinks things through instead of rushing blindly ahead. His mantra of "think, adapt" is helping him tremendously in overcoming the stuff the author throws at him. At the same time, he has a full set of personality, from worries to delights, from strengths to (slight) weaknesses. While Alex has only few faults, he is not a Gary Stu, just a resourceful guy a bit ahead of the curve.
The central characters of his inner circle are done excellently as well. We don't know their inner thoughts but their behavior is smart and sensible, with full, natural-feeling personalities. If I had to point out any fault at all, they come across a bit too mature for their age; perhaps I am just too used to stupid kids to realize that some youths are more mature than most... On the other hand, that everybody is so sensible makes them feel a bit too interchangeable, there is no real conflict going on between them. I can't even say that this is bad, because the story is focusing on other conflicts, it's just something I noticed.
There is a large amount of other side characters introduced as well; all of them, from the regulars to those met only once for a short scene, are behaving like a normal person would, with emotions and quirks and different personalities.
tl;dr: Who should stay away from this story: Power-fantasy fans who evaluate progression by "amount of enemies killed" or "(level/stat/...) numbers going up"; people who prefer quick-paced, right-into-the-fray stories without any side-tracking; people who hate everything that is not fighting or looting; people who like one-dimensional OP MCs.
Who should absolutely read this story: People who love characters with real personalities; people who love world-building; people who prefer brains to brawn; people who love to dive into a complex creation of excellent literature and still enjoy a nice read.
Review just after finishing chapter 6
The first thing you can tell is that this author has been writing for a decent amount of time. The saying 'It's not the stories that make the author good, but the author who makes the stories good' holds very true in this case.
The style of writing is very good with a strong use of alliteration, similes, metaphors and personification to expand on the setting, the characters and how they are feeling at any given moment.
The heroes plot I'd say is common in the anime/manga world but has been done differently, and very well I might add, which pulls the reader in. I enjoy the ends of chapters the most, as the author has written the chapters with a soft cliffhanger each time, making the story a page turner. The grammar is very good with 1 or 2 grammatical errors up till this stage which are usually highlighted in the comments for correction.
The MC is very likable I'd say, ruthless enough to get revenge, jovial in situations, logical yet hard-working. Very well-rounded with no overpowered abilities out of nowhere. Everything the author has done fits.
There was one section in chapter 2 that could be reworded as it sounds confusing but, as a reader I got the gist and it didn't really impact the readability all that much for me.
Despite this, I'd recommend this story 100%. Some of the best-made chapters I've read on this site.
(My bad for any grammatical errors, did not proof read :) )
Short Update - Review just after finishing chapter 19
I've found myself disliking the story and characters more and more as the story has gone on. I think the premise is still very good and I'll continue to read to see where it ends up, but there are parts where I was like "this is so boring and irrelevant can we just move on".
Hopefully it picks up.
Update - Review just after finishing chapter 43
Okay, so it picked up. :)
More of the story is now solely about things occurring around the MC, with enough mention of the side-characters to let you know they still exist and are doing things of their own.
I still have issues with some of the character traits and pacing of the story. However, it has vastly improved from Chapter 19 up till now. I'd say this is due to the fact the author was doing a writathon, and may have had to speed up writing in some areas.
It is still very good but, certain areas of the story could be revisted before publishing.
Overall, I like where the story is going and I feel like pacing is going to be key to how this 1st book/iteration of story is depicted; as well as the satisfiability of this arc's ending for readers.
So, like many others novels and popular manga, our MC became the least popular hero out of a four heroes party that got branded every century or so.
However this is not a copy and past of the Rise of the Shield Hero.
Instead of getting angry at his misfortune, accepting his fate like a good boy or to go his own way to prove anyone else wrong, our MC simply decide not to answer the call and to go to a wizardry academy to fullfill his lifelong dream.
Giving himself the time to grow, he is slowly becoming overpowered, with the casual pace of a slice of life family-friendly story. This is totally something I would read to a seven years old kid as a bedtime story and yet, enjoy myself as an adult.
The characters have some depth build up over those 100 chapters so far, and while I was worried at first for the MC was the typical analitycal/rational MC at the start, he grew into something more than that and I'm rooting more for the MC now that I was at the start of this novel.
However, the main selling point of this novel isn't its original plot or its glowing characters but the style. Even if you never liked slice of life and slow-paced story, you might fall in love with this one for there is always something relevant and fun happening.
I don't know how much the author have thought about but each chapter is bringing something new to the table. So even if it's slow-paced, I think it would deserve to be called lore-rich. Whenever this story would reach its end and given its popularity, I think someone would have trouble making a comprehensive wiki about the novel world.
It has the potential to be as story-rich as Pathfinder and so far, we only had been visiting three cities with a main focus on Generasi, the Mage City, where must of the action is taking place. I could say that the lore might explode once the MC graduate from the sheer amount of details the authors is giving to us readers.
And the best part is that it doesn't feel like an overload of details either, just a springle of details from each chapter which is slowly growing into a thriving fantasy universe I would enjoy make my own D&D campaign.
As for the Grammar... sure there is some mistakes here and there but the author is really community driven so those mistakes are not lasting long. Plus, I'm not a native english speaker and I'm not a grammar facist so I don't have a single thing to say about Grammar. It sound good enough for me.
This is my celebration review for the 100th chapter anniversary. And so far, I have been pleasantly surprised that the author consistently kept the pace of about five chapters a week. This is really hard a feat to pull off so that much should be worth a little extra on the overall score.
I strongly recommend this novel. Enjoy.
And hopefully, see you on this novel next anniversary!
I really like this story. You can see how much thought the author put into every little part of it. Every chapter ends with a light cliffhanger that makes it rather hard to stop reading. Additionally the worldbuilding is phenomenal. All descriptions are very natural and don't stop the flow of the story.
Grammar is pretty close to perfect. At no point did it influence my reading experience in a negative way.
The one thing that I can critique is character building. Especially in early chapters the characters don't seem... real, I guess.
The worst offender is MC love interest (although no romance actually happened yet) Theresa who is just a little too perfect. She makes MC look like a bumbling fool just by existing. It does get better though and by now I actively enjoy MC and his sister, and tolerate Teresa in small doses.
When the MC gets to his destination we also meet an assortment of new characters, every one of them unique and a delight to read about.
The style is actually quite good and I don't have anything negative to say about that but it lacks that spark of character (or individualism, or whatever you would call it) that would make it stand out.
TL;DR I would recommend this story for it's interesting concept and breath taking worldbuilding but it really starts to shine (character-wise) about ch30
I'm seeing a lot of reviews gush over this story, also seeing that most of those reviews were made within the first 30~ish chapters, the pacing kinda starts committing suicide around ch 20 and is mostly dead by chapter 30 which means you'll start really FEELING how dead it is by the time you get to chapter 40....
Which means past chapter 40~ish you'll start seeing the story's true colors after the much more interesting intro arc.
To put into perspective how the pacing dies with some (rather vague) spoilers
it takes him 25 chapters to get to the city with the magic school (which he heads right to but it takes him like 3 chapters to take a taxi...)
Then he's pretty much just dicking around doing a bunch of nothing until around 40 chapters in, finally by 50 chapters in he's starting his first classes and by chapter 70 it finally feels like his first school year is in full swing...
That's 600+ pages of content, two novel's worth, for him to go from his hometown to magic school, and for him to start his first school year properly (still in the early school year! not like halfway through his first year or anything, no not even close! more like 2 weeks in!!!!)
For reference it took harry potter only about 300 pages to go from under a staircase to hogwartz, learn about the existance of magic, learn to do magic, go on a bunch of quests to find invisibility cloaks and fihgt trolls and whatnot and finish his first schoolyear!
The grammar is pretty decent, the style gets a star reduced for the dead pacing (and another star for just not bringing anything special to the table), and the characters again are pretty decent, I mean they're nothing special but at least they don't appear to be bending themselves over backwards to suit the narrative of the story, they all have some personality, even if it's all simple personalities.... It works.
But I have other issue with the story, which is why I rated the story so low, for one thing, there are some serious fallacies in there, the main premise of the story is that he gets a divine mark that grants him the ability to learn anything that is not magic, combat or holy shit; super freaking fast and become super freaking good at it with extreme ease... And it does this at least partially by just handing down the experiences of his predecessors who had the mark before him so he can learn from them (e.g. if another fool mastered a skill before him, he should be able to do it ridiculously easily)
But sometimes when it doesn't suit the author (cuz it'd accelerate the plot?) it's like he just forgets it's there. Like when he finally gets off his ass and starts exercising, his entire exercising routine consists of pushups, and he can only do 9 of them, and according to the author that's a heavy workout...
Which is absurd on so fucking many levels, I mean are you trying to tell me that no 'fool' before the protagonist ever had an exercise routine? Get outta here!
And not just that, but he also has this side character with him who is in good shape and clearly knows plenty about exercising right according to her character yet she doesn't see fit to correct that his ENTIRE exercise routine consist of only one exercise, and that one exercise isn't even something useful like running?!
She doesn't point out that maybe he should do squats too? or pullups?! Nor does his god-given superpower of deus ex machina~ism?
That's all just so absurd... (It highlights the author's lack of understanding of basic fitness, this is just an honest mistake obviously, the guy didn't do his research, didn't look into common fitness routines or anything, just went with whatever his own preconception of what exercise should be is, when clearly he's completely lacking knowledge on the subject, this mistake could be rectified by doing a little research and fixing it in his next draft... But I'm just trying to convey the idea of how infuriating some parts of the story can be... Especially since the author is smart enough to realize you can walk, breathe or run in a more 'right way', but the only thing about working out he appears to know is that you have to use the right form!)
And there's more, sometimes he's learning skills and seems to be able to do it almost instantaneously, other times it take shim weeks or months, there's no real consistency to it, it's just whatever floats the author's boat at the time of writing i guess.
But perhaps the story's biggest crime of all is blatant plagiarism (biggest reason for the low story score) I mean the guy has shoggoths and ancient ones just ripped right out of lovecraft's stories, just picks them up as they are and injects them into the story, also there are brief mentions of fairy tales from earth like snow white and a couple others (don't remember a specific one unfortunately) but it just sorta kills any sort of belief that this is supposed to be an original world; when there are so many things in it that are just ripped directly from other works of fiction and stuffed in there without even bothering to make changes to it at all.
I don't see a fanfic tag on this, this is not a call of cthulhu fanfic with a crossover to an original world, according to the tags, so why then.... does it have a crossover with call of cthulhu in it?
It's not cool, it's fucking lazy worldbuilding, worldbuilding via blatant plagiarism....
So no, this story is definitely not a 5/5, it doesn't deserve such a rating, and it is being quite significantly overhyped...
It is definitely being overhyped and you shouldn't raise your expectations too much...
But it is in the end quite an enjoyable read if you can look past it's major flaws, I'm enjoying it a lot more than I ever enjoyed defiance of the fall (which was a guilty pleasure until the quality dropped beyond the point where there was any sort of pleasure to be had, the quality deterioration rate of this story is significantly slower than in dotf at least so there's that)
It's a decent story to sink your time into when you have nothing better to read. wait a couple months to let the chapters pile up before you binge read them like 30 at a time or something.
I must give credit where credit is due though, the pacing of the story may be shit, like seems to be par for the course when it comes to webnovels, but the release rate of chapters is nothing short of superb. and if the author can keep that up without burning himself out then I will most certainly be returning to this story on a regular basis.
It's not so bad that I would call it guilty pleasure either, no, despite everything it's a mostly guilt free pleasure, that's the best part! I still enjoy reading it...
But unless I get like at least 5 chapters at a time, I will not be satisfied because the pacing is just so slow that if Ijust read one or two chapters at a time it'll feel like nothing really happened and that's something I try to avoid feeling.
Ultimately what keeps me interested here is that the premise coupled with the main plot it creates is quite interesting in my opinion. I recommend giving it a shot if you're interested, but if you're looking for a masterpiece, this ain't gonna be it.
The main idea of the five marks is intriguing. It is similar to other ideas of 'chosen ones', especially in isekai type stories, but the actual story and plot is much different from those. It mixes the 'chosen ones' idea with a type of plot where it is not normally used.
While there is not enough posted to flesh out the systems(magic/mark/etc.) used in the story it does seem like the basis for a somewhat unique blend of genres.