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A mysterious and supernatural sickness has been inflicted upon a member of the royal family of the Ostermanian Empire. The only hope lies in Nordfell, a land on the empire's frontier occupied solely by the descendants of criminals and defeated rebels, where a dark and malignant entity possesses the only known cure. Two travelers must travel to this unforgiving land and confront it.
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A gripping synopsis that made me instantly want to read the story.
The overall formal writing style might not be everyone's cup of tea but those who like might be able to enjoy this, if it did not have a glaring fault - the length of its chapters.
I don't think anyone reading on this site will be able to go through the 1st chapter in one sitting, especially since the story is exposition heavy, has long dialogues, slow paced and is very formal in its overall presentation. I myself had to stop reading somewhere on the 1st chapter. Later on I came back to it, only to realize that I have to painstakingly search for the point where I had left off.
Without that fault, I think this story is worthwhile to read through.
*This review has been updated (update underscored.)
I had mixed feelings about The Cursebreaker, I would say mostly positive, but I did have some issues with it as I'll describe below.
The style of writing is decent, and I appreciate the very high-fantasy feel that it conveys early on. The opening paragraphs are excellent, in my opinion. Unfortunately, later on, there are very long chunks of expositional dialogue written pretty much like narration, not actual conversation. It affected the immersion for me quite a bit. Like the extended dialogue during what could potentially be a fight scene? It didn’t really work for me. They’re discussing political fallout and power vacuums while in a standoff? At least that's how it seemed to be written. I think these devolved into essentially info dumps that made the story drag at times.
On top of that, there’s a random POV shift that’s not explained and has no direct bearing on the rest of the chapter, as far as we know so far. I think that would have worked better as an extended chapter of its own or at least an interlude that connected to the other events more immediately.
The Cursebreaker has the makings of an intriguing story. Demon slaying, curse breaking, a sword of legend—these are all things that I want to know more about as a reader. I also appreciate the European country analogs making it all sound very legit. “Alemanian.” “Iberistan.” Etc. Worldbuilding is one of the most fun parts of writing for a lot of people, me included (usually.)
Sadly, too much of this is lost in long-winded dialogue that stagnates the progression of the story. After 10k words, not much has actually happened, although we’ve been told a great deal about things that already happened in the past and a bit about things that might happen. There was an interesting twist at the end that I won’t spoil here. I admit it seems obvious in hindsight, but I didn’t see it coming—the mark of a good twist! It’s not mind-blowing but it does present an interesting conundrum based on other details presented previously in the chapter. I would actually say this twist was the most engaging part of the entire first chapter and well-executed, and what elevated it to a 4 for me.
Grammar was mostly fine. Dialogue tags were weird in some parts, periods used where typically there’d be commas, and capitalization was not always consistent. Many paragraphs were quite long when ordinarily you’d expect a paragraph break or two throughout them. However, it was perfectly legible and the grammar and spelling issues didn’t distract much from the story.
I have to say Character was one of the weakest parts of the story for me so far. Many of the characters felt flat, and aside from one of the characters (you’ll know the one) I didn’t learn anything terribly interesting about any of them. In the random POV switch mid-chapter, there’s a whole host of other characters we’re introduced to, and I guess I know a little bit about what they want and a little peek at their personalities, but I don’t know how they relate to the story. The otherwise “main” characters felt even more vague to me. They were there to deliver dialogue and worldbuilding and make plans to do things in the future. As someone who has written stories with a lot of characters before, I understand the desire to put all your pieces on the board. But I can understand why many characters and multiple POVs can get overwhelming as a reader now. I think the story would do better to focus on a smaller subset of characters to start and introduce them more slowly.
UPDATED after reading Chapter 2: This story at times contains rapid, sudden POV shifts, sometimes happening mid-paragraph. This is incredibly jarring for the reader. It’s not told so much in the third person omniscient POV as it is a third person limited POV constantly hopping between characters. Even if this is a stylistic choice, it’s one that could stand to be changed. Switching POVs so many times so frequently, even if it’s only brief, deflates tension and makes us wonder who to root for and who we’ll be sticking with after a fight, for example.
The story can be a little too heavy on the in-universe measurements. It makes sense to include them here and there. But repeating the phrase “imperial pace” or “half an imperial pace” or “four-sevenths of an imperial pace” doesn’t add to the reader’s experience. A character gets kicked through a railing—that’s the important part, but I don’t really need to know the precise length of said broken railing. These kinds of measurements would make more sense being spoken between characters, unless the unit has been clearly defined for the reader.
I found the use of the r-word and f-slur quite jarring, to be honest. I think offensive epithets can have their place in fiction, but either to contextualize the setting or in characterization. This story seemed to have a medieval-to-perhaps-early-industrial setting (somewhere in that millennium) but the words used are much more modern. A medieval-style story with disabled characters could just as easily call them “simple-minded” or “lame” as was the archaic style. I learned this lesson in my own writing as I wanted to paint one character as very evil for using lots of dehumanizing language, but less is more. If neither contextualization nor characterization is your intent, I must say I didn’t understand the need for these words at all. My advice would not necessarily be to remove them—just consider why they’re being used and if they’re justified.
There’s a section that seems meant to play out like a flashback, but it’s just in quotations and is a rather abrupt inclusion. It doesn’t really add anything to the story. It would have been better if this section were actually included earlier to function as a flashback, or if the information was conveyed in another way. The tension feels contrived in this part.
I also felt that Chapter 2 was very long, like Chapter 1. These feel more like parts than chapters. I felt that each Chapter as it stands now could easily be divided into 3 or 4 standalone chapters. The longer the chapter is, the harder it is to establish tension or a clear rising action; it just feels like a long series of events happening one after another with no breaks.
Overall, I think the story does have potential, and I admit I’m curious to see how the setup here plays out. I just think some aspects of the dialogue, pacing, and exposition could use some work for future chapters. I definitely recommend giving The Cursebreaker a chance.
A gripping fantasy story with impressive worldbuilding, drawn from some serious research, even if it can be too much at times.
Cursebreaker has been a fun read so far for me. In fact, I went through the existing content in a few hours, with breaks in between. I enjoyed the way the author has been handling his action scenes (which can be a hard thing to pull off at times) and his worldbuilding is SOLID. The research the author's made is really showing through and, considering myself kind of a history nerd, I enjoyed finding the sneakier references thrown in the world overall.
Now for the bad stuff: the story does, unfortunately, have a case of the "tells don't shows" which takes away from it, with long exposition that takes me entirely out of the flow of the story I've enjoyed so far.
Furthermore, the world building can get to be a bit much sometimes. I really appreciated the author adding the notes inhis final chapter explaining the days of the week in the story but I'd much rather he set up an outright lexicon/crude gazetteer in a separate chapter I could flip back to. In fact, it would probably do a lot of good. A map (even a crude one) would also do wonders, given how important grasping the setting and its powers is.
Will be keeping an eye on this story to see how it improves.
As in, 'I have no real idea when people were talking or people were thinking.' The author liked to put in thoughts in the middle of paragraphs and regular sentences 'something like this where it becomes hard to figure out whether or not it was spoken.'
The difference between spoken and thinking was too small and without proper distinction in formatting in where it would be, I had trouble with skimming the novel. Highly suggest to standardize formatting to site-standard. It's a plus that it has short paragraphs but grammar might also need some work. 4/5 for now.
The Cursebreaker is a pretty straightforward story where the path ahead for the MC is clear from almost the beginning. What makes it interesting is how they'll get there with all the politics and possibly romance (?) along the way. The writing style is okay, it's not my cup of tea, but some people do like it.
What I disliked, and what drags down the vote, is the insane amount of exposition present that kills the forward progression of the story, too many names too quickly, and the mid-chapter POV switches.
The story is pacing right, I like the characters and the dialogue is quite nice, The world building is quite likely my favorite part of it, It's structured like a mind palace, and the description of the world and how the characters act is spot on, 5 stars, Would love to see more of the story, so updates are important eh.