- Traumatising content
Go check out the rewrite
Update: 10/06/21- I have decided to update the novel both here on the main Lineage fiction page as well as the book 1 specific one. As there is less clutter there, I would prefer you read this there, but that is entirely up to you.
Cover Art created by: wyndagger
Check out their work: https://www.fiverr.com/wyndagger
The continent of Erdenia is in flux, nations large and small move to swallow their neighbors. Roving bands of marauders pillage the countryside, and the seas are choked with piracy. Against this backdrop upon the central island of Syroneika exists the Mercan League, an alliance of city states ruled by the Archon and his seat in Merlabria. Yet all is not well beneath the surface.
The Archon’s health is waning, while the House of Mercan appears on the verge of conflict. Both princes vie for the Archonship, with the aristocracy close behind looking to settle old scores. In the immediate west the Althai Federation is in a state of civil war, the conflict spilling over the border into the League, while nobles’ squabble over petty slights.
In this time of growing conflict, the Archon has summoned the warlord of the southern frontier, bulwark against the horrors of the dark forest, and former Grand Scholar of the court. Behind the scenes pieces are in play, and the Scholar possesses numerous enemies, many still envious of his meteoric rise to power. A simple trip to the capital may be more than it appears.
However, the branches of fate are fickle things, a single encounter could change the course of history. Or perhaps that is simply the will of fate, and nothing has changed at all, who could know? Could the meeting between a simple slave and a warlord truly be fate’s bough? And if so, where could that lead?
The 2nd draft (honestly more of a rewrite) is much more refined and a lot has been added to help the story flow much more realistically, please check it out. I will be releasing 4 chapters per week, so look forward to that. Once again each new book in the series will be getting its own fiction page as each one will have its own illustrated covers and illustrations as time goes on.
I will also be looking at starting up a discord and will link to that once I have everything ready to do so.
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This is probably going to be the hardest review I've ever written. As such I will state my personal opinion here at the start, instead of at the end. This is because I don't think I can separate my personal tastes from my description of the actual story, so I would like you to keep these biases in mind while reading the review.
This is not a story written for me. In nearly every aspect, be that the style, the way the prose is delivered, the general focus, or the characters.
Style: The author is going for a first person perspective, with two viewpoint characters. It took me out of the story. Specifically because the author is going for a very, very descriptive style, which to me heavily clashes with what first person narrations bring to a story. There is the attempt to give a view into the character´s heads, to have it be very intimate.
But then their thoughts or the descriptions from their perspective feel incredibly detailed and philosophical, in the middle of very tense fight scenes. To me it completely killed the pacing and feeling of tension.
I feel that if either the story was written in a third person perspective, the very classical prose and musings would feel more appropriate, since it no longer seems to be in the heads of the characters, or to keep the first person narration and decisively cut down on the heavier explanations. Together they made my time reading rather unenjoyable.
Story: I give this a higher rating mainly for the atmosphere of the world, rather than the plot itself. Things feel very gritty, unfair, not very glamorous, and I like that. It is definitely slower paced, I haven't really gotten to the really big unfolding of events, but I don't doubt that it can deliver on the premise these first chapters have set in terms of tone.
Grammar score: I have been informed that *somehow*, a 3 star rating is not the average.
However, I consider that to be nonsense. In a 1-5 scale, 3 is the middle, ergo 3 is the average. I rate the grammar of every story I review at 3, because I lack the nuanced skill to tell decent grammar from excellent grammar. In the chapters I read I found no glaring mistakes that hindered my enjoyment, though I do somewhat feel that the paragraphs were at times somewhat long and could benefit from being cut up.
I really do try to be neutral and leaning towards positivity in my reviews, so I will say that the characters are quite clearly defined, they have crisp backgrounds and motivations.
I just happen to not really feel engaged. Our first protagonist is a noble scholar, who cares for knowledge, his people and displays good morality.
Our other protagonist is a slave fighter, who detests being a slave and is a very experienced combatant.
I just found nothing there to actually feel anything towards what will happen to these people. I feel that style is creeping in here, where the very long and detailed inner thoughts and exposition they delivered just made me actively dislike them. I did at times just think "will you finally get on with it?"
I know this review sounds incredibly negative, yet I gave it a 4 star review which by any normal reading of the scale means good.
The author is trying. I have no doubt that the author is trying very hard to write a true epic that can be put in a lineage with the great fantasy stories of old. And I respect the confidence and determination to pull that of.
I also don't think that the end result is even bad, just very jarring for me personally to read and, it was not an enjoyable time for me. I do believe that the perspective and prose juxtaposition *is* something that maybe should be looked into, but I may also just not be a fan of this style of writing and all of my complaining here is just me not *getting* it. That is very possible.
If you are a fan of darker themed stories, and enjoy a more traditional sense of writing, then I would definitely give this a shot.
Update: 8.05.2021: The review has been updated to reflect the grammar score being closer to the site´s actual average of 3.8 rather than 3.0. It should still not be considered in this review as I do not find myself capable of critique of someone elses grammar.
I am really enjoying the story so far.
Story: The story is very engaging, and I am enjoying what is happening. It is really cool learning about the world and characters, and I am looking forward for more.
Style: The author wrote the story very well. In another story I read, the main character spoke in "Shakespearian" English, and it wasn't very enjoyable to read. Here, however, the author uses some fancy language to supplement his writing, and it doesn't detract from the story at all.
Grammar. Here lies the problem. The author makes multiple mistakes per chapter, and while I am happy to help, seeing the mistakes ruins the immersion and lessens my enjoyment of this story. I think the author said they would get an editor soon, and that would definitely help. (Sorry if I am too blunt)
Character: The people are fun to read about, and it is fun learning about them. I think that the characters, especially the side-characters, could be more developed, but I haven't read too far, so they may be talked about more.
Overall, I am enjoying the story, and like @Probably_an_author said, it is really nice that the author engages with the reader. A few minutes after I post my comment and edit suggestions, the author fixes them, and for some more controversial statements, the author runs them by me to make sure they are better, and that is great. Keep the chapters coming!
Lineage is a combat / war story told in the first person. In the early chapters, it's more combat than war, but war is coming.
The viewpoints drive this story, and there are two. The first, the scholar, is an older man (50s, maybe 40s). He has many talents, including sound battle strategy and medical knowledge. He's one part ruler, one part warrior, one part doctor. I like him. :) Though, I'll admit I didn't have any feelings for or against the scholar, until he mentioned he'd studied medicine. Ooo, a doctor. Terrible bias on my part. I apologize. There are other reasons to like him, but this shallow one drew me in.
The second viewpoint is a young gladiator. He's naive yet determined. Beyond that, there isn't much to tell. He hasn't had too much chance for characterization, but he has room to grow.
The author switches between these two main viewpoints, and I have to admit to some confusion on my part during the second chapter switch. I think the confusion stems from the first person perspective. When a reader reads the word "I," the reader will assume "I" is always a specific person, unless given a signal. The simplest signal would be a heading within the chapter, denoting the character who is about to speak. Chapters could also be titled by character names. Either would instantly clear up any reader confusion, and lots of authors do that kind of thing when using multiple viewpoints, especially with a first person POV. Later, the villains get some screen time from their perspective, so that's another reason to do some kind of heading.
Aside from the Scholar and the Gladiator (I keep forgetting their names, so sorry about that. Or, do they have names?)...Well, aside from the two main characters, there are a handful of others. A few fade into the background as side characters do, but some stand out. Mera, the healer apprentice, and Maati, the captain of the guard, stick out to me. Mera and Maati's personalities shine through their dialogue. I know what kinds of things they like...and dislike, just from what they have to say. The villains are a little one note, but there's time for them to round out. Even if they didn't, it wouldn't be that big a deal. Sometimes, people are just jerks.
Characters and viewpoint really drive the story, but the plotting and battles play an equally important role. Combat is detailed, and I appreciate that the author shows us the choices made by the POV combatants. It does slow the action down a little, but slow isn't always a weakness. Are there times where the action is maybe a bit too slow? Perhaps, but overall, I do appreciate seeing the thought process behind the battle. It certainly helped to make the gladiator battles more memorable.
The pacing is good here, definitely a slow burn. It works well before chapter 10, but around chapter 10, I found the villain parts less engaging. It made things feel slower than they were. I'll admit, I'm not too fond of those villain guys (not doctors, obviously). So, the story lagged a bit for me there. It does pick back up when the POV returns to the gladiator, so it's a short slow down overall.
The balance between telling and showing is tilted more in favor of telling, but the two are pretty well married. This gives the style an old feel, kind of classical. One thing that might be lacking from the style is atmosphere. It's either a plus or a detractor, depending on how much exposure you've had to war stories. The light application of scene descriptions lets the reader fill in what they would like to imagine, and the reader is always going to imagine something better than the writer could describe. On the other hand, a reader who has low exposure to certain types of imagery might find things a little dry. I've read and watched my fair share of ancient Greek and Roman stories, so it worked great for me. Those are the settings I used in my imagination. But, other psuedo-historical settings would work just as well. I spotted influence from India and regions in the Middle East, upper reaches of Africa, and perhaps, a touch of Asia (outside India that is).
Grammar here is good. Nothing to write home about, good or bad. I did notice a couple of tense shifts in chapter 13.1. If there were earlier points where the tense shifted, it went over my head. Just a heads up to the author. I assumed that the story should be in past tense, and I spotted some present.
While present, the fantasy aspect of this setting is subtle and doesn't make an appearance till chapter 10. If you're a reader that needs magic, the story may not be for you. However, if you're a reader that likes strategy and intrigue, especially the kind that you can follow along with, this is a story you'd like.
I have read up to chapter six, and intend to keep updating this review as I read further. Mild spoilers ahead.
I'm going to start off by saying I left a review after reading chapter one at an earlier date. I had many praises for the author's prose but I felt like there were certain narrative choices that made the overall opening chapter slightly weak. The author promptly got in touch with me to address these issues and even went back to edit the earlier chapters to bring them up to par with his later ones. I can't put into words how much I appreaciate an author who engages with their audience and not only takes their critique into consideration, but also acts upon it. Thye had no obligation to do so, but still did.
They did NOT, however, ask me to continue to read and update my review, I am doing that of my own accord. I intend to give my opinion and critique as I would any other book.
The author clearly puts painstaking effort into polishing their prose, and I can appreciate all the work they've put in. As a result, the writing flows smoothly, it's easy to read and just as easy to become immersed in.
Action sequences are well thought out, giving a strong sense of movement and the surroundings. This is further emphasised when the PoV shifts (a flashback?) to the main character fighting in an arena, a much more tense environment which left me begging for more. I hope the author has as much fun writing these scenes as I did reading them, because they are superb.
The characters in this story seem to be fully realised in the author's mind and he translates that very well into writing. Maatilan, Xaender, Three-Claws and Mera are my favourites so far and they all come to life in the scenes they're in. They're unique, larger than life (as all characters should be), and very distinctive, but still manage to come across as believable through their dialogue and actions.
After the author edited chapter one, it now reads much better. Each scene is given the desirable amount of attention to detail, while also propelling the narrative forward. I'm not sure how much the author edited the other chapters as I have only now read them, but they also have a sense of flow that gives this story it's own unique style, while still being able to fit into the mainstream genre. It's an epic tale, and it reads as such.
I still have a minor gripe with the dialogue. The author could benefit from using a few more dialogue tags every now and then, just to avoid confusion. Still, this is only a personal critique of mine, as I feel that other readers won't have a problem with this. In any case, (as bad as this sounds) I don't want the author to spend time, going back to edit the chapters they've already written, when they could use that time to write new chapters. I, for one, can't wait to read more of this story.
To conclude, I believe this story deserves more attention than it's currently recieving and the only advice I have for the author is to keep at it and hopefully people will find this hidden gem.
Worth a read for any low fantasy fan.
The main characters are likable. The scholar is a gandolf style character. Instead of magic it is science and knowledge.
The gladiator is a near blank slate with incredible potential. He is just getting a feel for his new reality by the end of book one.
What that reality is read and find out.
The world building is detailed and relatable. The use of historical themes is well done.
The half point off is because of polish. There are small issues with inter character relations that could use more descriptive language. The shirmish that is detailed is well done. Small amounts of added descriptions could be useful.
The pacing is excellent.
Solid read. The next round is where the adventure will really kick off.
This story is not something I would have stumbled upon by myself, and I would have missed out on a good read (please see the note at the bottom of this review). I do not normally read historic-esque fiction, sticking with fantasy more often as I normally enjoy a story with magic. However, this is a good read.
The story is intriguing, and leaves me wanting to know more about this world. The author has obviously crafted a large and varied world in which his characters seem to have real lives and histories which affect interactions with others in the world.
Characters are well written and consistent. I cannot yet say how much I like them, as I am only 8 chapters into their story, but they are so far quite interesting.
Grammar could use some work, but the story is still enjoyable as is. I have commented on each chapter with suggested edits, and the author is incredibly receptive to these suggestions. I very much respect an author that is willing to take constructive criticism. Whether or not they choose to make the suggested changes is entirely the prerogative of an author, but one who is as engaged and responsive as TheEternalScholar is incredibly rare.
My only criticism would be the use of first-person perspective. Scenery, opinions, interactions, and descriptions are all incredibly well written. The issue I have with this is, when such details are written in the first person, they tend to become too much. Internal dialogue is rarely if ever as detailed as we read in this story. One of my favorite RR fictions also has this failing, and it very often breaks me out of the flow and immersion of the story because of how jarring the perspective shift is when changing points of view. This issue will not keep me from reading the story, but it is still an opinion I wanted to convey.
If there are major changes to my opinion on this story, I will update this review as I read through the story. As it stands though, I would recommend this tale and hope it provides entertainment to many, and satisfaction to the author of a story well shared.
For the sake of full disclosure, the author saw another review I wrote, and asked for my input. I am glad that patience seems to be quite the virtue for author-san, as real life delayed me about a month in writing this review.
My opinions are, as always, my own and I was not guided or coerced in any way by the author to write this review.
I'll start with the fact that the story is nice and my overall score reflects it. It's just not for me at the moment, a little bit overwhelmed by the the tyranny of everyday worklife.
The first person narative is also a turnoff, but it dissapears in the background after a couple of chapters.
The novel is good, and i apreciate the time and the effort the author took to create a complete and interesting world so that we can savor.
I'll update the review after some more chapters.
I'm really enjoying it so far. Well written, interesting characters, and good fight scenes. I like the unique bits so far and the worldbuilding, too. Multiple characters' POV done well, which is nice to see. Interesting take on cultivation type stuff so far.
Keep up the good work, Mr. Author Man.