After quitting her job as a therapist and grabbing some work at a dog shelter, Tess's life became pretty slow. A tad boring, even.
It thus came as no small surprise when she was chosen by a god.
Thrust into a new world where magic, monsters, and character levels are suddenly a reality, Tess will quickly find that just surviving can be a challenge. It doesn't help that dark forces are stirring, she's woefully underpowered, and that spiders keep trying to claw her face off.
One thing's for certain, though: The possibilities are endless. Will she end up wrestling a dragon? Becoming an arch-mage? Opening a quaint, bookstore, coffee shop, and wine bar for elves? The choice is hers... As long as she can live long enough to make it.
Protagonist is a fairly classic LitRPG novel with character levels, classes, stats, settlements, and other LitRPG elements. Unlike a lot of LitRPG stories, while the protagonist has some perks, she doesn't start off overpowered. You can expect to see her struggle as she advances. This novel also takes the opportunity to explore some less frequently seen builds, shying away from any min-maxing. Chapters are about ~2000-3000 words.
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I know two things for certain.
First, this story's class, skills, and Protagonist missions are appealing. But the character is completely aimless just flowing with the wind (plot) so far.
Second I do NOT want to be Tess's friend.
That being said I've thought about dropping this novel a couple of times so far, and that means it's time to begin my review. I will continue reading but if another abrupt change to Tess's character or an incomplete and jarring end to a humanizing sub-arc occurs again I don’t know what I'll do.
Honestly, this novel reads well for the most part, and I have enjoyed the light read. I often find myself looking forwards to Tess's subsequent gain more than the next plot point, but I'm okay with that since the plot points could be outlined as a never-ending task list so far. Problem appears, solve the problem, new problem appears connected to the last problem. And so on.
So why I don’t want to be Tess's friend.
This story so far has encountered a severe conflict with her nature and IQ. The beginning shows that she is not a genius but a perfectly independent adult for a reason. And although she did not enjoy her job as a therapist there are hints that she does understand what a healthy relationship and communication are.
Yet that has been thrown out the window abruptly multiple times in these recent chapters.
Story: "So the Tess has proven to yet find her aim in this world and needs help from people she knows to grow further. So when they ask for help she thinks about how she has no other options and decides to go with it. Tess also finds her first real solace in this world through making her first friend named Hartha from the Red-moss tribe and fights life and death battles with her and the tribe. Proving the lengths she can go for even short-lived relationships with others."
Then Story: "So Tess has been living pretty fast and dangerous lately, let's get her to find some good food, drinks and maybe pick some hobbies during her trip to Fraht(wherever). She also makes a good friend in the form of Nadj a charismatic bartender/aspiring musician. Let's have Tess be looking for an important item during this time. Now let's have Nadj also express her deep friendship by taking a risk to bring her under-leveled and "normal friend " to get her class via said important item. Which is currently being held by the Thieves guild a major branch of a criminal organization you know light work for a bartending/aspiring musician Nadj."
Also Story: "Then to top it ALL off, let's have shit hit the fan. Thieves guild gets word about Tess while Tess and Nadj are in their safe house of sorts for valuable items. Tess gets her class and has little to no strong emotions about her friend Nadj getting Knocked out by a Mysterious invisible third party that shows up again. Tess fights a little, bags the important item, ditches her knocked-out friend, does not question the mysterious invisible man much, and returns the important item."
Story immediately after: "THEN a week passes before Tess has to continue her travels and mission. But you know never really was that close to Nadj. No need to go explain a few things or confirm her well-being after being seen as the epicenter and thus blame for a major theft from their branch's CRIMINAL organization. She's a bartender/aspiring musician, so she's GOT THIS! So we can pretend like she never existed and leave after spending a week of doing nothing and not ever worry about her"
Our brave and caring ex therapist became a whimsically heartless person who just wants to move on from the troublesome things she's a part of.
As a reader, I happen to become pretty invested with the nature of the main character of the story, so when they do a 180 like this it completely snaps me out of any immersion that the author built to that point.
No matter how good everything is, I personally think that a LitRPG runs based on how it flows, and this title definitely delivers. Although the LitRPG Isekai setting has been reused an uncountable number of times, this one does deserve a read from fans who can’t get enough of the genre like myself.
Concept(3/5): The overall concept of a LitRPG Isekai with a system to guide the progression of the main character is overdone and repetitive. Yet the author does a good job at writing a refreshing first chapter to make the theme feel newish.
Experience(5/5): The LitRPG Isekai genre, even though oversaturated, still manages to remain highly popular. Why? Because there is something fundamentally addictive and fun about its nature. A majority of us love the fantasy of living a new life with awesome perks. The RPG mechanics support the progression of the Protagonist Tess in a satisfying and engaging way. I have experienced this progression loop many times before, and still, I just can’t get enough of it. Please send help.
Tone(5/5): The tone is definitely humorous and light by default, but the author definitely knows how to build up tension whenever it is needed. Overall the tone felt pretty balanced to me.
World(3/5): Nothing particularly interesting and unique about the world has come up till now, and the author has preferred character development and progression over worldbuilding up to now. Of course, that is the main plot device of a LitRPG. The world feels sufficient enough to let the Protagonist flourish.
Philosophy(3/5): Although many would argue that there is no philosophical undertone of LitRPG’s in general and that they are just for the fun and thrills, I would like to disagree on that. This fiction for example does delve into the meaning of being a ‘chosen’ being and the main character shows off relatable morality and altruism. The only problem is that such things have been done many times before, but WhimsicalDeity has done enough to keep it refreshing.
Psychology(4/5): The protagonist actually starts off as a therapist in her real life, which makes her an interesting and different character to follow. Her interactions up to now felt pretty thought out and kind of complex. She definitely isn’t a bland character and has believable psychology. She seems intelligent and observant. Albeit how normally she takes the whole death and new life ordeal felt a bit immersion-breaking to me and I think that her emotions could use a bit more work, although there is already a ‘mechanic’ used by the author to make her reaction more believable.
Flow(5/5): This is where it shines. The absolutely tremendous flow of this title completely engulfed me. I couldn’t stop reading and kept wanting to know what was going to happen next. From the absolutely captivating first chapter to the vivid and concise action scenes, it shows that this work has been in development for quite some time. No matter how good everything is, I personally think that a LitRPG runs based on how it flows, and this title definitely delivers.
This is an okay story. On a surface level, the technicals are fairly good. But, on some of the more nuanced issues, it falls a bit flat. While the LitRPG aspects are fairly well executed, it's a fairly straighforward action-adventure isekai.
Foremost, I'd like to clarify a point about one of the big themes: Whimsy. That's not uncommon in fantasy or LitRPG on this site, but usually it's played for laughs. And I think that's what the aim was here. But, I think it comes across more as terrifying a la the Greek gods being whimsical. Like, even if I live well and take all necessary precautions, I can't escape the possibility that the gods for no discernable reason will just cause shit for you on a whim. It's... like a cat toying with a mouse. So it's less comedic and more used (narratively) as a means to throw apples or rocks at Tess up in her tree.
Stylistically, it's first person POV and it leans into that hard. Occasionally, it feels like her inner monologue slips into breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience, which is weird. There's also some other weird stylistic shenanigans (mostly related to cohesiveness of the story as a whole) that makes it a little awkward to read, but it's a fairly subtle point that can be ignored as long as you don't read too deep.
Grammar does appear to be flawless though. Full marks.
Tess doesn't seem to be fairly well-defined as a character. Which is odd given that some of the side-characters (e.g., Rock, a military trainer, and Hartha, in a happy-go-lucky archetype) are fairly well-defined. I can see how these side characters might react in a novel situation, but I can't predict how Tess would. So, on a technical level, there's some improvement.
On a subjective level, there's something really subtle, but I just don't click with Tess as a character which is very rare for me on a story (such as this) where the technicals are so good. I don't actively dislike her (which happens often enough on this site for whatever reason), but she's just present within the story, rather than the character I'm looking over her shoulder from.
Synopsis mentions its a fairly classic LitRPG novel. And it does remind me of some of the stuff that was published 5-10 years ago, for better or for worse. There's a strong game-like element, rather than a lived-in feel to the system. She makes a few meta-humor jokes about why a world would even have a LitRPG system. But, overall, the story itself feels very vanilla and doesn't bring much to the genre. Like, I feel that the story has a LitRPG checklist and it's just going through them, so I'm almost never surprised or amuse by a new twist because those just don't appear.
This brings me to a question I had at the beginning: Why is the title "Protagonist"? I get the subtitle ("Whims of Gods," see whimsy discussion above), but why "Protagonist"? Yes, in-universe, that's a specific "title" that can be earned. But it'd be like if you named your book "Chosen" because the protagonist was "chosen" by the gods, or "Hero." The general consensus seems to be that would be poor naming sense and I tend to agree. I think there is some sort of meta-humor going on here regarding literature and this genre, but whatever it is, it's over the head. (Also, this paragraph is less a discussion about the title and more about the overall style of this LitRPG story and whether or not it is a comedy and/or satire).
So, all in all, it's an okay addition to the LitRPG genre. I wouldn't recommend it to a general audience, but if you're really into LitRPG, then this is something to read.
Author rushed into creating a character without really thinking about what a realistic character but somehow still attempting to make one. Like it teeters on trying to be a relatable mc but it feels forced, and childish. Mc is all over the place. Personality keeps shifting to similar personalities until its quite different from the beginning but lacks the depth and detail that such a change would require. Your character struggles to become enjoyable because the world is half-baked but that would be remedied by making a guideline and following it. And trying to think from your characters point of view, and take in your surroundings. To become that character, to invest yourself into that characters situation. Why, how, what, who, when, taste, scent, memories, history of the world (your world didn't come to existence just because of the character? If so you get to explain the process, yippee, sounds like a chore!), your characters personality. Plus you can't just have a personality without factors. You have a character in mind? How'd it get there? What is her/his personality that you want now?
But yeah I'm getting distracted. Sorry. I like teaching. Uhm. Yeah just lacks a punch, needs more depth, and author needs to slow down and feel. Breathe, no one's gonna be upset if it takes you longer for quality.
Very good! Top marks. Humorous, without detracting from the seriousness or suspension of disbelief or consistency.
Main character not randomly overpowered, a little boost as needed for an isekai progression fantasy, but not extreme or unique to her.
Main character fairly believable and not self-harming or hyper-training for power.
Mix of actions and slicing up life.
Spiders? Spiders?! SPIDERS!! Goodness gracious there are so many spiders. If I were in the protagonist's shoes, I'd cower into a ball and weep my eyes out. Speaking of such, "protagonist" is literally the title given to the main character of the story. It's quite meta, but bares great significance in the grander scheme of things. "How important" you may ask? Well, come on in and find out for yourself.
Style 5/5: A bit bias, but the style is very, very similar to my own. As such, I was able to follow along very fluidly and get a good laugh here or there at certain points.
Grammar 5/5: Not many grammatical errors from what I can see.
Story 4/5: Yes, to be quite frank, the story is quite generic and something I've seen done in other works of fiction. Our good friend, Sir Truck, comes in and crushes our MC into a bloody mess. From there, MC is transported into another world with game-like mechanics. It's a classic formula. Now, does that invalidate its entertainment value? Absolutely not! The fight scenes done in the story are well detailed and choreographed phenomenally. However, even then, I did happen to find myself rather bored during some parts of the story. I also found the leveling up scheme in some cases happening all too suddenly and without much effort to obtain it. A bit of a stickler statement, but I am sucker for characters working their asses off to become more powerful.
Character 4.5/5: I really enjoyed Tess's inner monologues and witty personality throughout the story. However, besides Tess, I never really found myself resonating with the others too well.
Also, for some reason, I have this really huge gripe towards Rock. Something about his personality confuses me? Like initially, he was very hostile towards Tess. And then in a matter of one chapter, although he still held some resentment towards her, I didn't really feel that fiery hatred behind his words anymore? Perhaps I'm just missing something here, but that was my initial feeling while reading the story.
Overall, it was a very well-written litRPG story. A bit generic, sure, but its entertainment value still holds true.
The background would be ok, the writing is ok, but what really spoils this story for me is the MC.
Lethargic and passiv to an extreme, she never stands up for herself and just tries to ignores problems in the hope they go away. this kind of person is sooo infuriating, and i had to deal with someone like this in RL enough to really hate it.
I've never reviewed anything here before, but since the author quit their job to write a story most people will read for free, I feel like this is the least I can do to support that. Plus I do really like this web novel.
Protagonist is written in the 1st person and the past tense, which lets the mc's personality come to the forefront. I think her decision making/thought process is believable and relatable, and her mental commentary provides some nice lighthearted humor. The settings she finds herself in are often well described, with enough detail to present a clear and unique image.
It's early days yet, and there hasn't been a huge amount of world building (which I appreciate as big chunks of exposition make for dull reading), but I'm very much interested in the world the author is building. The foundation of the litrpg system is very familiar, but there's enough nuance to set it apart from the rest. I really like the pacing, as Protagonist's story develops quickly enough to never be dull without feeling cheap or lacking in impact.
The five stars for grammar aren't just a token 'well done there aren't any spelling mistakes'. This is a well written story, with vocabulary and punctuation that allows sentences to flow well and read easily. It's clear that thought has gone into how each paragraph reads and, unlike some web novels, does not seem like a first draft.
It's hard to give a score for the character section since, excluding the mc, only 3 characters have been given parcticular attention thus far. As I said previously, the mc acts in a believable, and has enough personality to make the 1st person style fun and interesting. I wouldn't say she's very unique or different however, although I think that's inherently a bad thing. Of the 3 supporting characters we've seen in detail, only one has undergone any real development (though I suspect that will change in the next few chapters), and it was pretty interesting. Protagonist doesn't seem to be a character focused story, and hasn't had enough time to develop a proper cast so I decided on 4.5 stars, since I think it's awesome all around and don't want to spank its ratings.
Well, rounding off my first ever review, I hope reading this was insightful. I think anyone who enjoys litrpgs should give this one a shot, and I'm really looking forward to what's to come.
As always, try reading the story yourself a little and judging yourself if you want to read it or not before reading it instead of relying on biased opinions like mine.
So! You want to hear a story eh? Perhaps a litrpg fantasy like you see everywhere around here. You like protagonists don't you? Every story has them, and the ones in first person are a bit rare, what's even rarer being the good ones. Is this story good? In my opinion, yeah. So go try it yourself and give it a read.
You want an actual review though? Lets get into more detail.
Grammar and spelling: Perfect, even the paragraph structure and punctuation is very good.
The characters: The story is still quite early on, but at least eight "important" characters have been introduced and then quickly fall to the wayside in favor of the plot progression speed. Do I remember them all? Yes. Does that make them memorable? Ehhhh no. Not really. The plot progression speed makes it difficult for any character to last more than five to ten chapters before the protagonist had to move onto something else in my opinion. This makes it hard for me to care about anyone but the protagonist. I know they are the main character but still! I want memorable characters that make you feel things that cement them in the memory of the reader. So far this story does not have that.
The Main Character: High intelligence? Are you sure? Because while I love the main character and her sarcastic and funny to read attitude, she seems rather dense at times. I understand that the higher stats the main character gets, the more it cuts on the comedy and weight of actions because it makes certain mistakes they make less believable. But still I found myself thinking "Wow she really needs to focus and get her head in the game. It's a murderous fantasy world for gods sake!" anyway. I don't think I would want her as my psychiatrist either, she doesn't seem very trustworthy when it comes to understanding and judging people.
The Plot: The plot is... good? Yeah it's good. It's a fantasy litrpg story at a level I would rank as pretty good which is above the rank of just good. A good 70 to 75 percent rating of decent plot. It does give off a feeling of being railroading but when has an rpg story not been like that? Quests are quite literally supposed to be a railroad from one plot destination to the next! It's just, well, once again it feels like nothing has much weight to it. Currently we are 26 chapters in and barely anything is known about the world at all. Just that there are gods and each has a chosen protagonist among other plot things. But not many worldbuilding things. I do like the whole "chosen by the god of luck" thing though. It gives plausible deniability to certain events and things happening that might feel forced or suddenly random. Heck even the concept of "Protagonists" helps the plot out in that regard. Save the world plot? Makes sense. Be the greatest artist ever? Their a Protagonist so I believe it. The main characters just going along and pulling the reader along with them. I quite like that.
Does all that make this a five star story for me though? Well if you read my review then you might understand that I believe this is a four star story. People commit to five stars way too easily when reviewing should be objective and five stars left for the best of the best.
Maybe this story will be worthy of my five stars one day, but for now? It's just pretty good.
Protagonist is a LitRPG that really shines. There's nothing groundbreaking here, as far as Portal Fantasy goes it's pretty standard, but it knows that and excels at it.
I don't have much in the way of critique here; the writing is punchy and flows well, the stream of consciousness adds humour and charm throughout and there's rarely a moment where I found my eyes weren't glued to the screen. The action scenes so far need a little bit of tightening, but the above comments about stream of consciousness still manages to make them entertaining. Without spoiling anything, there's a great moment early on where the MC is about to engage in a fight and quickly goes through a series of "five thoughts" assessing the situation that adds a distinct feel to the whole encounter.
The best part about the story so far. We learn so much about Tess through sprinkles of information in dialogue and the way she naturally interacts with her world. It never felt like the author dumped too much information about her and her backstory all at once. If something was relevant, it came up organically. The way Tess sees the world is filtered through her personality really well, too. A trend I notice in a lot of LitRPGs is when in combat, characters seem to lose their personality, becoming vessels for fighting and not much else, only to resume who they are after the fighting is done. That doesn't happen here. Tess' observations and decisions she makes on the fly while she's fighting make those scenes so much more interesting because she still feels like a real person.
The other characters introduced all feel distinct, with their own mannerisms, voice, and personality. Even in the little time I've known them I already have a strong sense of who they are and how they relate to our MC.
The plot appears to be pretty standard fare for Portal Fantasy. It's not a bad thing, as it does the classic style really well. If that's the sort of thing you're looking for, give it a read. You won't be disappointed.
Seemed pretty impeccable to me. Grammar isn't my strongest area, but there weren't any sentence constructions or descriptions that felt clunky or awkward. It all worked.
A really good read that I highly recommend!