Daybreak on Hyperion (re)
- Traumatising content
Born into prestige and gifted with talent, Pascal was a promising officer cadet whose deeds caught even the King's gaze. At the mere age of twenty, he had everything a young, ambitious man could need to begin a promising career.
Except his habitual arrogance had destroyed every opportunity of a close friendship outside his political marriage.
Seeking a companion who meets his protracted list of requirements, Pascal decided to craft the 'perfect spell' for the upcoming familiar ceremony. If those around him were not fit to accompany his genius, then he would summon a best friend through his own hands -- one that was mature, intelligent, knowledgeable, bright, and cute as well.
He received far more than he bargained for... and in turn, so did the shifting geopolitical power balance of his world.
[ Note: if you've seen previous versions of this story, see foreword in 1st chapter for how this relates to the older versions. ]
This is not a power-fantasy or a 'feel-good' story. If you feel that a protagonist should never lack agency (especially in early story) or make compromises due to difficult circumstances, then this fiction is probably not for you.
Daybreak is a story that delves deep into real world sociological/psychological subjects and explores many topics of gray morality. I wrote it because I like stories that makes me think more about the world around us, not to detach myself from reality.
Some things you can expect include:
- [Ruling Class]: political drama, geopolitical/geoeconomic strategy
- [High Fantasy]: how magic changes the sociotechnological evolution of civilization
- [Genderbender]: exploration of gender identity, gender role, and discussion of social expectations
- [Progression]: career capital accumulation and rank ladder-climbing
- [War and Military]: massive battles featuring in-depth planning, combined arms, and operational logistics
This story is primarily hosted on my blog, where all the art/map assets can be found as well as the latest chapters.
Cover art by Nanang (lineart) + AbsolutePower (coloring)
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I have not read either of the previous rewrites, this review is just about what I’ve seen so far here.
Daybreak on Hyperion is the most fleshed-out Ruling class fantasy novel that I have seen. Taking place in a world set thousands of years after the setting of most “fantasy” or progression novels on this site, the days where a single hero could destroy armies on their own power have long passed, replaced by a geopolitical game eerily reminiscent of Early Modern Europe. The relationships between characters reflect this, with a constant tension between personal life and political expectations, particularly in the opening chapters where the reader isn’t integrated with their innermost thoughts.
I will say that while this fiction isn’t the kind that casually throws around chapters full of heartbreak, gore, torture & the like, it has so far steadfastly refused to grant the MC’s the sudden spikes in agency that allow for things like power role reversals. This can produce a sense of inevitably for some events, but the commitment to the principle that one person can only do so much in politics and war.
And now we have the rewrite of a rewrite! I'll repost my review here since my points still stand.
I've read Daybreak a few years ago when it was originally posted on Baka-Tsuki, and was very happy to learn that Aorii has finally started posting it again. The story intentionally takes a serious, darker tone with a lot of thought and research being put into it, with references to various cultures, in-depth geopolitics and various moral issues.
A whole slew of societal issues come into play with the story - it's dealing with nobility of a foreign world; as such, the morals and actions of characters of a completely different culture are viewed through the eyes of a character who herself doesn't quite align with western thinking; rather she is a tad bit more cynical, like Eastern Europeans or Russians, so it may just rub people wrong, especially if you stop reading very early before Kaede has the chance to look at her situation for real. But at the same time, it's a great opportunity to inspect cultural and moral issues from a unique point of view.
If you're here for the power creep, you won't find any here. But if you want something interesting, different and well written, then you are in the right place.
P.S. Yes, Pascal is an asshole. And if anything is as per the original version, it's gonna take a while for him to grow out of that.
The story's not for everyone, and then again, one of the most memorable for others. The main character is different from what you would expect in a fantasy story. And the author has done their research on how their characters should behave.
The politics involved with the world is captivating. Each chapter away from the main protagonists to focus on monarchs and schemers is refreshing. That isn't to say that I don't like the characters.
The two main characters, Kaede and Pascal, feel like Watson in relation to Holmes. And like the famous duo, Pascal is egotistical, exceedingly confident, and tends to ignore his partner. And I absolutely love it. As the story progresses, a genuine platonic relationship forms. Often rare with stories in Royal Road.
Give it a read, you might just find it to your likings.
This story frustrates me, but the good kind. Like I enjoy all those OP MC as much as anybody, but Kaede is definetly not one. Sometimes I wish Kaede would beach slap everyone like in a chinese novel, but that would end very badly and she knows it. The most unrealistic part of the novel is that Kaede doesn't insult anyone even in her own mind, like I understand she cannot respond as she wished, but I would be insulting everyone inside my mind at least.
Let's start by why you might not like it. It's not always uplifting, and in fact it's pretty dark at times. It puts the protagonist in a hard spot and explores how interpersonal relationships work when one side has dramatically more agency than the other, and that dynamic feels really bleak on occasion. There's no catharsis to be found, for the most part, Kaede doesn't get any power ups or clever moves that let her reverse the power dynamic, she must learn to live with the reality of her new life in a very tough spot. So, not for the kind of people that want an empowering story.
Now, stuff you might like. If you like worldbuilding done well this is your place. Aorii has a rare perspective in fantasy writers that makes certain parts of the world come alive, making the whole thing a thorough exploration of how a fantasy world might actually work. If you like intrigue and scheming there's plenty of that too, in the form of nuanced politics and realistic motivations behind key players. Last but definitely not least, if you like war stories, the author has a gift with narrating battles with vivid descriptions, interesting scenarios and well thought out strategies.
It reads somewhat like a light novel in style, and there's humor and seriousness mixed. Some will probably find the style not to their taste, but the humor and the serious scenes get more separated later on, and it never reached a point where it affected the overall mood too much. Other than that, the speeches are well crafted and the scenes flow well.
Pretty much flawless as far as I can tell, and under constant revision should any of you spot any inconsistencies (seriously, you can go to the author's Discord from their blog or comment in the chapter and point it out, will get fixed in no time). Way above the average around these parts in any case.
It has consistent themes, explores them well and doesn't shy away from tough situations or unpleasant character traits. The intrigue is well explained and it manages the motives of the different parties rather well (a huge improvement over the original work, which struggled with introducing too many characters too fast). It does go to some unpleasant places, handling themes of helplesness and abusive (not necessarily romantic) relationships. Not all of these conflicts will have a happy ending or feel empowering, but as far as I'm concerned any story that makes you feel stuff, even if it's not necessarily pleasant, is a good story. I know some people that are not looking for that sort of stuff, so be warned: this is strictly not a power fantasy, the main character doesn't get free empowering moments.
This might be the most polarizing part. Kaede is not your average protagonist. She's not the one that drives the plot most of the time and plays more of an observer role. Think about her as a narrator more than a protagonist (Pascal and Sylv have a much more active role in shaping the story, for instance). She comes off as oddly detached at times, due to her stoic demeanor and practical mindset (she doesn't worry about stuff she can't say and is very aware she's in no position to be picky about who she associates with, forced summon incident notwithstanding).
Next on the list is Pascal, which is a mixed bag at the best of times. I love him as a character, but being honest he's not going to be liked by most readers, at least at first. He's an arrogant jerk, and despite his best intentions often struggles with his pride. That said, he's one of the noblest characters I've read in a while, with rock solid morals and an a steelclad sense of duty and loyalty. He's complex and flawed, and that makes him feel that much more human.
Then there's Sylv, and she's easily the most problematic of the three. She's probably the most "protagonist-y" of the bunch and she has the feel of someone destined to do something great. She has the charisma to make people look up to her (although that might be hard to see at times given how personal our view of her is). She also struggles with some serious mental health issues caused precisely because of her position and the expectations thrust upon her. This makes her feel honestly monstruous at times, in a slightly unhinged way. That said, there's a lot of potential for character growth.
My closing statement on characters is this: when they do wrong, you're not expected to like them. They're humans, and as humans are wont to do they do wrong. They're hardly perfect, they make mistakes and at times their flaws get the best of them. If you can't stand that sort of thing on characters the story follows closely, it might not be for you.
Personally, I feel like the story would be lesser if it shied away from these ugly sides of its main characters, if a bit more pleasant at times. A worthy trade, in my opinion.
[Disclaimer] Taking bits and pieces from my previous review.
Daybreak on Hyperion is a military-college story set in a magical alternate-Earth/Europe, governed under a monarchical system, where delightful creatures such as sky-whales and tofu-pets (not called tofu) exist.
Daybreak (rewrite) is a new iteration of Volume 1, which introduces the reader to the world of Hyperion and the characters to Daybreak.
Written in the style of a shoujo (lit. young women) light novel, Daybreak on Hyperion is a quirky, light-hearted take on the military fantasy genre. Dialogue is smooth and well executed while the author has also put quite a fair bit of work into world building.
Do read this if you are interested in a comparative take on historical events and alternative magical system existed, an MC with a different cultural perspective, and cross-examinations of geopolitical systems.
Disclaimer: This review was written for the legacy version of Daybreak on Hyperion. Once the rewrite catches up to the legacy version; I plan on writing a new review that maintains the same tone as the previous while also covering the changes in the rewrite. It's also worth noting that I've read every chapter that is currently posted to Aorii's blog. (If you like the story, then I'd highly recommend checking out the blog to keep up with the latest updates.)
To preface my review, I would like to say that Daybreak on Hyperion displays a level of quality that is rarely seen in hobby writing. The topics that it touches on are somewhat controversial in nature, but I believe that the author does an amazing job of touching on these subjects with all the respect and thoughtfulness that they are due. With all that said, I will now move on to the actual review.
Aorii writes in the third person, which I believe to be the best point of view for engaging storytelling. Even more importantly, the author has an admirable grasp of both history and geopolitics which they masterfully weave into their story. To say that I was impressed by the depths of the author's knowledge would be an understatement.
Now, I don't know too much about style in general, so I won't profess to be an expert on the subject. I am; however, a very prolific reader. I have a good grasp of what is and isn't a good story pretty quickly, not accounting for taste. The author's word choice is on point throughout the entire work. This combined with a serious political/military tone interspersed with tidbits of comedy makes for a very amusing read. Finally, Aorii's use of syntax is easily comparable to professional authors. I wouldn't be surprised if their career is that of an English professor.
The story of Daybreak on Hyperion takes a common theme in anime but adds an interesting and amusing twist. The protagonist of the story, Kaede, is ripped from his life and thrown into a confusing and fantastical world. This occurs right after he's accepted to a prestigious university in Japan. Suffice it to say, Kaede is not happy with his summoner, the charismatic and brilliant, Pascal. To make matters worse, Kaede is summoned into the body of an adorable girl who looks to be around fifteen years of age.
Now, I know the gender-bender aspect of the story might turn some people away, but trust me, Aorii makes it work.
Pascal isn't surprised to find that he's summoned a cute girl instead of an animal or magical creature. Unlike most stories in this genre, summoning another human being as a familiar was fully intended by the brilliant, but also prideful and lonely Pascal. Kaede takes some time and a little explosive venting, but eventually she grows accustomed to her new life in the fantastical land of Hyperion.
This brings me to the plot itself. Hyperion was originally intended to be something along the lines of a romantic comedy, but Aorii found themselves writing a heavy political/military story instead. What's interesting is that the author still managed to fit in comedic and dare I say cute moments to break up the oftentimes serious political and military side of the story. Furthermore, these scenes are in no way forced. They belong in the story just as much as the serious bits.
Speaking of the story, I still haven't addressed the plot itself. The setting of the story, initially, is inside of a magic academy where Pascal is one of the most gifted students. The first part of the story can be summed up as Kaede acting as Pascal's familiar and familiarizing herself with the academy and the world of Hyperion. In this time, she befriends a number of friends in the academy and even contributes to the foiling of a dastardly plot. Soon after the story shifts to the capital of the empire that Kaede finds herself in, and the politics/military side of things comes more into play.
I could summarize the entire plot in this review, but I don't want to spoil anything for future readers. To it simply, the plot is detailed and a joy to read. Go, read it. You won't be disappointed.
In terms of grammar, this story sets the bar that every other story on this site should follow. The grammar is amazing and I was never torn out of the story because of any form of spelling or grammar mistakes. Simply put, the grammar of this story is without fault that I can find.
One of the strongest points of Daybreak on Hyperion is the characters. You have Kaede who is a Russian/Japanese boy turned cute fifteen-year-old girl. She had been accepted to Tokyo University and planned on majoring in history and media studies. Her knowledge and love of history play a crucial role throughout the story. In addition to making her a valuable assistant and advisor to her master, the brilliant and prideful, Pascal.
Pascal is a brilliant, creative, charismatic, prideful, and arrogant man who is very isolated at the onset of the story. This is because he expects perfection from himself and those around him. Anyone who doesn't meet his lofty expectations isn't worth his time or consideration. Predictably, this attitude of his doesn't make him many friends. But Kaede slowly changes him into a better man as the story progresses.
While Kaede and Pascal are undoubtedly the main characters of the story; there are also a number of fleshed-out supporting characters that are introduced throughout the story. I might edit this review later and cover one or two of the supporting characters, but this will be the end for now.
Daybreak on Hyperion is a story that touches on a number of serious and heavy topics. It has an engaging story and an entertaining cast of characters. The worldbuilding is masterfully done, and the grammar is impeccable. This is currently my favorite story on the site.
P.S. If you go to the author's WordPress, then you can read all the way up to volume three, chapter three. Please leave some love for them on there. <3
P.P.S. I've seen comments from some people who claim that they have to suspend their disbelief when it comes to Kaede being so accepting of her new body. Firstly, Kaede is not from a western country. He was raised in a different culture, with different values. Secondly, not every person is either male or female. There are so many shades of grey between the two absolutes that it isn't even funny. To me, Kaede dealt with the situation she found herself in admirably. Finally, there are some who are annoyed by Pascal and Sylvi's seeming objectification of Kaede. To those people, I'd say that Kaede wasn't isekai'd to a divergent world in modern times. She was brought far into the past before basic human rights were guaranteed to all. Their values are literally worlds away from our own. To Pascal, at least early on, Kaede is his property. She's a very valuable piece of property, but she still belongs to him. That's why, when he
gives her citizenship to his country
, she cries. She's still his familiar, but he gave her the agency to be her own person. To Sylvi, Kaede is an obstacle that stands between Pascal and her becoming lovingly wedded. As someone who is used to being in control, she saw nothing wrong with establishing her superiority over Kaede. While her methods can be seen as cruel and insensitive, Kaede is basically an unwanted mistress that she can never get rid of, at least early on in her eyes. The situation is comparable to how Catelyn treated Jon in GoT. He was innocent of any wrongdoing, but he was also a constant reminder of her husband's seeming disloyalty and infidelity. Now, imagine if, instead of an innocent child, it is a mistress. In all honesty, Sylvi handed things pretty well after she got over the initial hurdles between the two of them.
Lastly, I'd like to say that, to my knowledge, the story was initially supposed to be along the lines of a light novel-esque romantic comedy. If I know anything about gender-benders, it's that the girls always find a way to get the gender-bent girls in feminine clothing. So... Ignoring all of the other justifications, it's just being written the way that it should be. x3
Disclaimer: At the point of this review I have read this story up to V3Ch9 on the authors blog. This is a second (?) rewrite of the original story however this time the rewrite consists of ironing out some rough edges.
As with my review to the original rewrite let me get something out of the way at the start: The story lives from well developed and controversial charachters and the discussion and exploration of different topics during the story. Most of these topics are not black/white. It is basically impossible not to disagree with something somewhere. Some of the points some people may find uncomfortable (?) because they'd prefer something simple(r) but from my point of view nothing is presented as some 'absolute truth' and thus I do not see any issue with bringing controversial topics into the story. Summarizing: I expect you to disagree at some point, however I do also think there is no reason to ever be "offended" - especially since on RR there are enough stories about (basically) genocidial maniacs.
The setting of the story is basically an alternative earth. The key difference is that magic exists and this has major impacts on the development and structure of nations, societies, conflicts, etc. The exploration of this different path is a major, well though out, feature of the story.
In this world we follow the (intertwined) story of three characters: Kaede (who has been (involuntarily) isekai'd into this world), which was done by Pascal (who is an important Noble of Country A), and Pascal's fiancée Sylvaine (who is crown princess of Country B). With all of them being different and in their own way rather extreme characters with a lot of conflict and tension between them - which they somehow will need to fix/deal with. Take note that of those three the actual protagonist and pivot of the story is Pascal - not Kaede.
The overarching story then is a further and further escalating conflict with Sylvaines home country in the center. Here the story presents all (in the desciption) promised aspects in detail. However while the story is good and satisfying to read the focus of this work in on its characters. One can see this from e.g. how the "action scenes" have been refined but also compacted in volume compared to the original story [note: I can only judge this for the first 1.5 volumes - I did not read the original further.]. As of now there is no problem with the ratio between "story" and "character interactions". However, I see this as a potential pitfall for the story to only become a stage for developing the charachters.
Be aware that I think the majority of Books (and nearly all stories on RR) fail to keep these two points in an delicate and near optimal balance of the story being driven by the characters but also the story letting the characters grow in tandem. Daybreak is close but I think is not quite as good as possible (e.g. parts of volume 2 have a taste of "powerleving" the (young) maincharacters). But I also have to concede that Aorii, in Daybreak, is juggling with a few more "hot potatoes" by discussing a magintude of serious topics instead of 'only' telling a story.
Let me summarize my review as a good story about excellent, sometimes controversial, characters. While I agree that the story might not be for everyone I disagree with any need for an "outcry"/being offended by the story. I think the intentions for the story which Aorii detailed in multiple blog posts have been well realized.
Overall this puts 'Daybreak on Hyperion' into the top echlon of stories on RR - even if it is "different" than your usual fantasy story.
€ edited some typos
So, this story is an interesting one. Please be aware that there are spoilers.
I found the first novel to be very engaging, providing excellent food for thought on a variety of topics, many of which were unfamiliar to me. Kaedes personality I found to be highly relatable in some respects, far less so in others, which was very interesting to read and think about. For the first volume I would say the story deserves excellent marks.
The second volume broke the story for me though. What I enjoyed most in the first volume was thinking about a the complex social and psychological topics the story engaged with. However, in the second novel I found Kaede to be less and less relatable. She becomes more and more involved with the world and military around her, even as the more she, and by extension I as a reader, learn about the countries and culture she is aiding the more flags are raised. From social stratification based on nobility and mana, with commoners being drafted for no reason other than to absorb casualties as cannon fodder, to the dehumanisation of foreign cultures (historically a frequent precursor to genocide), to punitive raids by aerial cavalry as the immediate response when hostilities open, the people Kaede is helping are not ones I could conscience supporting. Kaede herself goes from logistical organization to unflinchingly helping to organize an air strike using chemical weapons without any thought to what kind of power she is aiding. While I realize that Aorii has made excellent efforts in making these societies reflect actual historical nations, I have a hard time envisioning Kaede, or anyone with a modern understanding of what entails a war crime, having no reservations aiding such poilties without any reservations.