Scorched - The Winter Winds (LitRPG)

Scorched - The Winter Winds (LitRPG)

by primemountain

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Content
  • Traumatising content

Frank Euler once wanted to save the world. Let the second one be better than the first. 

On Earth he was a student of... well it hardly matters anymore. It was dying, and he and the rest of his fellows and friends studying how to stave off the end graduated just in time to be told it was too late.

That there was not enough time, funds, will, to stop it anymore. That the governments and the worthies of the world had moved from trying to stop it, to surviving the oncoming apocalypse, while blaming each other.

That was a world Frank wanted nothing to do with. One riven by wars for places in the Archologies going up, and between them and the dying world they were leaving behind.

So when a strange voice offered him a way out, to a world unmarred by the poison killing his? Frank took it.

The voyage changed him, made him fit his new world, one of stats and magic. It came with perks, for in passing through their Heavens, they'd been exposed to Divinity, and taken some of the Celestial within them. 

Heroes now, but there are heroes, and there are Heroes. The nobility of the Empire care only for those who carry blessed bloodlines, and their time to adapt and train up for the new world is limited.

Patrons are scarce among those like Frank, with only the base Hero perks, and magic studies expensive and lengthy. Often requiring heavy Oaths to gain the necessary aid to wield mana as a mage.  

Frank found another way. It nearly cost him his life.

Now on the run and burned by the very magic he sought and craved, he is a pilgrim traveling to the The Eternal Tree, font of Perseverance. Frank hopes Ir-karlak will grant him some way to recover from the fires that scorched him. Without snuffing out the embers those fires lit within, for he has learned to harness them and he would not give up magic for the world.   

***

In the last 21 days, as I update this, I've managed about 18-19 updates. So Scorched should update most days, muse willing. She's fickle, sometimes. Not every day, but most.

If there's an update for the day, it will be at 7PM, GMT+2.

*[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge] Actually completed it. :) *

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primemountain

primemountain

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Table of Contents
37 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Prologue: The Sky was Fire ago
Chapter 1: Eversnow ago
Chapter 2: Perseverance ago
Chapter 3: Last Light ago
Chapter 4: Shades ago
Chapter 5: Shelter ago
Chapter 6: Progress and Problems ago
Chapter 7: Cookpot ago
Chapter 8: Men and women… and people too ago
Chapter 9: Trails, Traps and Tales ago
Chapter 10: They Didn’t Want It ago
Chapter 11: Ties that Bind ago
Chapter 12: Gossip and Tunnels ago
Chapter 13: Patrol and Party ago
Chapter 14: Unspoken, Unsaid ago
Chapter 15: Purpose ago
Chapter 16: Delve ago
Chapter 17: Duties and Rights ago
Chapter 18: Stories We Tell (Ourselves) ago
Chapter 19: Nature in Numbers ago
Chapter 20: Auction ago
Chapter 21: Deli’s Duel ago
Chapter 22: “Practical Applications of Mana”, by Frank Ebner ago
Chapter 23: Spoils of Battle ago
Chapter 24: Taboo ago
Chapter 25: Responsibilities ago
Chapter 26: Walls within, Without (Lilijah) ago
Chapter 27: Lakes, Crowns and Pests ago
Chapter 28: Strongarm ago
Chapter 29: The Cruel Cut of a Merchant ago
Chapter 30: Brews and Rules ago
Chapter 31: We Need to Talk ago
Chapter 32: Day of Challenge ago
Chapter 32: Day of Challenge – Part 2 – Ghosts ago
Chapter 32: Day of Challenge – Part 3 – Curses ago
Chapter 32: Day of Challenge – Part 4 – Dances ago
Chapter 33: Afternoon Break ago

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Not bad, but not for everyone

Reviewed at: Chapter 30: Brews and Rules

Minor spoilers ahead.

Scorched is an interesting novel. Although it's technically an isekai, it plays with the genre in unique and fun ways. Rather than starting with the typical truck/meeting with God/etc. then onto adventures, this novel picks up a few years after the protagonist is summoned - specifically, after leaving the politically treacherous kingdom that summoned him. We follow Frank trying to make his way in a new country, and more importantly, a new culture. This novel puts a heavy emphasis on cultural differences (among other things. We'll get to that) which is, well, a novel take on the genre that I was very excited to read. Unfortunately its success in tackling that concept is mixed, as is the execution of many of the primary themes of the story. Still, it's competently written by an author who has clearly put a lot of effort into setting up an engaging and unique world. There's a lot to enjoy here.


Grammar & Style:
It's a bit of a rough read. There are quite a few minor errors - odd phrasing, commas where they shouldn't be, things like that. What's worse though, well, it's a bit difficult to describe; paragraphs will talk about 'it' with no indication of what 'it' is, or characters will suddenly stop walking when it wasn't written they were walking. It's as if it's missing pieces. It varies in degree, ranging from minor hiccups in flow to leaving the reader lost for paragraphs at a time. That being said, the author has acknowledged this issue recently and identified it as an artifact of a rushed editing process. And it's improved! Newer chapters are much more coherent - there's still the odd confusing moment, but the worst of it has definitely been alleviated. For the most part this rating reflects the more recent chapters, although with how rough some of the earlier chapters are it's hard to rate this aspect of the series as a whole more generously. 

Which is a shame considering there's actually some solid prose underneath the hit-or-miss editing. It uses a fairly simple and direct style that works well for easy readability. It's rambly at times, and a bit too light on environmental descriptions, but when it get a chance to shine through the left-out-content thing described above it's a smooth and satisfying read. You can see this most in fight scenes. Characters' actions are described well, and despite the sparse descriptions of surroundings it's hard not to have a vivid image of the events as they play out. You get the feeling it might be different from what the author had in mind writing it, but it matches up in the important parts - which is actually more impressive than an overly detailed description of action which leads the reader through each motion yet leaves them bored. The strongarm fight in chapter 28 felt like a movie was playing in my head, with each sentence a new shot.

Overall, the style and grammar is a bit of a mixed bag. Scenes don't feel very well grounded and you often feel lost due to lack of information (be it from lost sentences or not describing the surroundings well) or distracted by an oddly phrased sentence. When it's at its best it's great, but the lack of consistency leads to an uneven reading experience. 


Story:
There's some great stuff here conceptually. Unfortunately, pacing issues (in part due to a truly staggering amount of page space devoted to Frank's sex life, among other bizarre inclusions) slow the pace to a crawl and distract from the solid core built up so far.

In broad strokes the story starts out very strong, the first few chapters gripping me despite some of the worst of the 'missing pieces' issue. Deli flagging and Frank helping her (Chapter ~9) was a notably well set-up emotional climax, bringing together ideas that had been building for a while in a satisfying crescendo. The quicker pace, higher stakes and survival aspect of the first ten or so chapters highlight the strongest parts of the story in all respects. I particularly like the emphasis on cultural differences - it's an interesting lens to use in approaching the isekai tropes, and not one you see very often. For the most part, the culture of the world feels rich, and comfortably focused on the day-to-day aspects of life rather than the politics of the world as many worldbuilding-heavy stories favor. It comes at you pretty strong, the story electing to both show and tell the reader about the culture, but it's entertaining to read and serves to set the story apart from others.

Unfortunately, Chapter ~10 also marks the point where things start to go downhill. After Frank's arrival in Blighttown, the story starts to feel like a collection of sidequests (of varying interest) strung together with hollow moral grandstanding. Stakes feel frustratingly low - between the protective blanket of the town, consistent derailment into irrelevant topics, and little major plot development, any sense of urgency or danger is effectively erased (and not in a fun slice-of-life kind of way). There are some high points, but the oppressive filler makes them hard to enjoy.

And those irrelevant topics - yowza.

For one, sex, sex, sex. It's never far from the minds of anyone in this universe, particularly Frank. Aside from the early scene with Deadbeat (which I actually kind of liked, although it wasn't technically a sex scene), it typically comes in the form of hearing about how much Frank wants to have sex, or wants to have sex with Deli but won't (he's too noble for that), or his regularl visits to a prostitute. It happens very often, and it takes you out of the story every time. Almost as bizarre as its prolificity (but not quite) is how it's not mentioned in the description at all considering how central it is to the story.

The second odd inclusion, while not entirely irrelevant, gets a frustratingly large place in the story considering its middling relevance to the plot and the lack of depth (which is especially important for the subject matter) with which it's presented: the moral discussions. Sexism, homophobia, abortion rights, tolerance of cultural differences, and other similar topics make up a lot of the story. Considering the strong theme of culture shock in the novel these are pretty natural inclusions for the most part, and combined with the isekai theme plus fantasy elements there's a lot of potential for some interesting discussions and character development. In practice, though, it's all rather two-dimensional. The discussions and ruminations about these concepts in the story often imply a 'right answer' to the questions brought up, which, aside from bringing an uncomfortable white savior undertone to it all, doesn't leave much room for truly interesting interactions or character development. Rather than characters with different viewpoints from Frank meeting halfway with him, or showing the complicated pros and cons of each view, typically, Frank will make a judgement about an aspect of this culture and decide if it's good or bad then be vindicated in some way. It's also all rather inconsistent, with the morals, values and beliefs held by both Frank and the inhabitants of the world sometimes not lining up with their actions - the reader is told, then shown the opposite. Overall, these themes just don't come with the heavy nuance necessary to carry them as a central part of the story. 

All things considered, the story is alright. The core setup and the direction the story is heading is quite good with lots of potential. The world is wide, the cultures rich, the system, fantasy and progression elements are well integrated into both the story and the world. However, it does get bogged down pretty heavily by various minor activities and rambles which kill the pacing and stakes - most things that happen in the story feel like they should be side events supporting a central plot that doesn't really exist.


Characters:
Not much to say here. The characters are pretty colorful, and though no one is all that complex, there's generally enough depth for them to function fine as supports for the rest of the story.

Frank isn't a great protagonist. He rides a somewhat frustrating line between a character study sort of character - someone you aren't always on the same page with but is interesting to read about - and a blank slate, self-insert type. Either are fine (provided they're executed well), but the middle ground struck here feels a bit like the worst of both worlds. We're made aware of his values to some degree, but he lacks the unique voice and character quirks needed to feel like a fully fleshed out character. The execution of his values is also somewhat inconsistent and hypocritical (this is never addressed or pointed out by other characters) which pretty much leaves his only primary character trait as 'sex fiend'. When he's doing standard protagonisty things he functions fine, though - conversations that have an impact on the plot, fighting, experimenting with his magic. It's all there, and while he doesn't stand out too much when going through these things, he gets the job done fine with the occasional moment of cleverness or fun to spice things up.

The side characters are... well, they feel like side characters. The important ones (mostly just Deli so far) feel a bit flat but have enough to them that it can be fun watching them interact with the world. POV shifts are a bit disappointing, though. The voice feels more or less the same as Frank's, which makes it feel like it's all the same perspective, even if it's a different point of view. 

Regardless, there are some great moments on top of the fairly solid foundation of side characters, so they do a fine job filling their roles when necessary and pleasantly surprising the reader from time to time.


Overall:
As some things seem to be improving (particularly the grammar/readability, although the plot feels like it's about to pick up again) I'll keep an eye on this one a little longer, though I'll likely be dropping it soon as it's been leaving me more bored and annoyed than anything else.

It's pretty solid - above average, I'd say - but the issues and how much they bother you will depend a lot on preference. A rewrite or some heavy editing could elevate this story to one of the greats here on RR. As-is it's not there, but there's still quite a bit to enjoy.

jessicaroyale
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

First chapter took a bit too get going, but pretty soon the worldbuilding, novel magic system, and character development will have you hooked.  Still pretty early in the story, but if it keeps up to quality this will be great.

Grammar was good, a few odd constructions but nothing that would distract from the story.

As of chapter 8, side characters are starting to pick up some depth, and MC has a distinct voice that seems like a real person.  White hat good guy, but not juvenile or terribly naive about it.

Story is hard to rate, as it is still early days plot wise.  8 chapters in and you know the world, and some of the challenges the MC faces, but not sure if I could articulate an overarching storyline beyond issekai guy progresses, but some stuff has been foreshadowed.

I like the style.  Not grimdark, but still has that gritty realistic feel to it instead of cartoon violence.  World is original, not just a Tolkien ripoff.  The magic system is slowly unfolding but seems to have consistent, logical rules so far, which is a big plus for me.  The way the stats tie into the story is done well, although there are definitely less blue boxes than some of the crunchier litrpgs.  If you're tired of reading the same tropes over and over again on RR, this might be right up your alley.

Slief
Overall

This novel is better than most, Hella good writing with exciting plot. I especially like the characters and the narrating style!

Don't know about other but I'll definitely be keeping up with the updates.

Block if text, block of text, block of text, block of text. Block of text. Block of text. And more block of text.

TheOldLord10256
Overall

The grammar of the story is phenomenal and the sentence structure flows very well with little to no garbled sentences.

The style and characters of the book aren't cardboard or floppy and they have depth to them.

Some sections of the book would not be great for some people due to slight trigger warning sections because the book is very real with some of the culture clash that could occur.

The magic/litrpg system that is used is very new (at least to me) and is a very interesting way to go.

The only gripe that I could have with the book is due to starting well into the journey of the main character you don't get the learning bump that the MC gets at the same time so it almost feels as though you are trying to piece together the system and the world while everything else moves but I was able to get a grip on the system and some of the ways of the people within the first few chapters so it wasn't terrible or bad but certainly not great.

The book is an interesting read that you might just like if you can look past how you start in the middle of the MC's journey.

Moritz Hauff
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Thoughtful and character focused

Reviewed at: Chapter 24: Taboo

Really loved it so far. Came for the kingdombuilding I thought I read in the synopsis, stayed for the characters.

The story starts with in my opinion beautiful world building and a direct but gentle introduction and/or motivation for the MC. He is one of many typical isekai heros who got summoned by an actual kingdom(empire), trained and used for war. Now at the beginning of the series he is still further disillusioned, deserted from the empire and at a quest for magical healing after his company got ritually annihilated.

It really hooked me how he has a sensible motivation for what he is doing and how he goes about it. I also quite liked how he is contemplating the moral and ethical implications of a magical socitey with a system and that he for parts trying to adapt to them but also parts trying to change them. But well changing society is hard as one single middling powerful man and I approve because also in stories not everything should be solved with one remark of the mc or two sentences.

Style 

Third person character focused? (You can read what he thinks). Additionally there are some few well placed changed POVs.

It tends a little to rambling but not the author but the mc is easily distracted or not really distracted but introspective and contentplative. I liked it because at least for me it managed to generate interest to think for myself about those topics.

Story

5/5 story so far. Not your run of the mill hero summoning or VR little but an organic world with a mc (who was a hero) but has now an individual and challenging task. You got enough style of life and thinking but also action scenes, so a good mix and thus far no grinding or always the same fights. 

Grammar

Not a native speaker myself but I would say one of the better ones and already edited. I didn't see major mistakes (or any at all but as I said I wouldn't see this myself probably). What I can say is that the sentences flow easily. 

Characters 

Good MC and many interesting and individual side characters with their own little problems. Personally I love those rational sciency main characters but this one is not to in the nose or perfect and also has flaws, vices. I approve and the story deserves to be one of the best in the category psychological.

 

 

Idea for improvement: don't really know how to do it better but the synopsis doesn't encompass the story good enough for me. Or for such a great story and also great hook and development in the first chapters the synopsis garners proportionally not enough interest.

Cheers, have fun reading

and also have fun writing and thanks for your work.