Ends of Magic: Antimage LitRPG

Ends of Magic: Antimage LitRPG

by Salk's Disciple

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

Nathan Lark wished for magic at every birthday until his teens. When he’s summoned to a fantasy world by an Archmage eager to discuss Earth’s technology, Nathan can finally stop worrying about his dissertation in stem cell biology. 

Unfortunately, that’s because his problems are bigger now. In a world where magic is the tool of the oppressor, Nathan needs to make a choice. Magic, or morality? And once he’s chosen, will he try to survive the world of Davrar, or change it?

Ends of Magic is a high fantasy story where Magic is the source of great evil and great wonder. Follow Nathan as he tries to find a place in an inhospitable world with a deep history and interesting people. He will make friends and enemies, exploring a world that does not work like ours

New chapters will be Monday-Wednesday-Friday. I have a good backlog and will definitely finish the first book. I do have a fairly long story planned, and if I decide to stop posting at any point I will write up a summary of the planned arcs and where the story ends.

Note: Nathan is a Bisexual man, and will appreciate both genders. However, romance is not planned to be a significant part of the story.

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Salk's Disciple

Salk's Disciple

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34 Chapters
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Queso
Overall

Interesting fantasy world, interesting rpg system, and interesting characters. I enjoy Nathans's morality and progression so far, and the world feels believable. The MC is a hard counter to mages but totally sucks against anyone else right now, which is great! It means there's a lot of progression to be had in the future.

ShyBoy
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Berserk antimage crusades against slavers

Reviewed at: Chapter 33 The payoff of Risk

Great style, good to great grammar, potentially interesting (if underdeveloped) cast, and a definitely intriguing world.

Problems: short chapters, somewhat hamfisted progression (in real RPG I'd call it rail-roading), and I also don't buy the rage. Seems forced, or artificial.

I'd also slightly change the protag, see recommendations at the end.

UPDATE: author said to wait for chapter 36, so I shall do at least that.

One by one:

1. Short chapters

Self-explanatory, chapters where I counted the words are 1-3, 18, 19, 31-33. Their wordcounts ranged between 18 hundred and 27 hundred words.

Not a large problem, but leaves you unsatisfied around class choices - then large amounts of texts are things you've read in previous chapters. When 5 class options appear in one chapter, then reappear in another then the chapter feels shorter than it was. When a large fight takes 5 chapters to set up and depict that's... dissatisfying.

Note that this is NOT a problem when binge-reading or when the book is done. It's a problem now, as it comes out. Take "Double Blind". It's latest chapter is 14 hundred words and that's even shorter. Had I been reading chapters like that during the Lux-collection arc there, I'd be seriously annoyed! Since the entire arc was already published while I read it, chapters length wasn't an issue then.

 

2. Hamfisted progression

System in this novel is original. Insights lead to realizations, which then give you an option: you choose if you want a proposed skill or talent. You can have up to 3 talents, and up to 10 skills. The limitation is fine, it's actually solid and I liked it. Our hero, Nathan, due to his advanced scientific education, has many insights, therefore may have strong and unusual talents and skills. I also liked how antimagic even became an option. An interesting twist.

However, if you look for in-depth options study, min-maxing, comboes, path branching and skill trees, look elsewhere, for events do not leave the protag a choice in his classes. Event X happens and it's dire. Therefore, to survive, he chooses CounterX class. He's chased by something powered by Y. So, antiY talent. In a battle, Z appears. The battle goes badly! Therefore he chooses the CounterZ class.... I think that's a clear trend, wouldn't you agree?

Yes, choices are presented but... you can easily gloss over them and just give one class since the choice is obvious (it also doesn't help that system descriptions are skimpy and there's no help option or Nathan has yet to find one).

Now mind me here: that is NOT BAD early on. Again: having the events shape early choices is not bad. While in RPG I'd call railroading and while this takes away the agency from our hero, it's NOT BAD in a novel and could be author's design to tell a story he wants to tell (berserk anti-mage...). Also, his agency at the beginning was almost nonexistent.

Where I take issue is with the ending of the disadvantaged period. With second class advancement. I wanted - and from a scientist protagonist: EXPECTED - a better approach to it than "well, during some battle this will pop-up and I'll then decide, in the heat of the moment".

Major experiments are best controlled and if you can control extra variables, I'd assume the scientist would want it. Here, I didn't see it. The alternative title for this review could very well be "not enough science for a protagonist so described".

 

2. Artificial rage: one does not simply begin a crusade.

The baddies here are slavers. And this sets Nathan off... post factum. When he first hears of slavery, he's polite - which given that he's facing his de facto kidnapper is more than understandable. His feelings however are nothing like wrath, rage, or even anger. Let me offer you a quote, when Taeol table-manners and slavery are presented:

 

the combination of chewing while speaking and additional sprayed food turned Nathan off the platter nearly as much as Taeol’s words.

 

This depicts... mild to somewhat strong disgust. Not explosive rage. Yet later, it's slavery that's practically the only reason for making life choices! Nathan battles, risks his life (continuously!), and makes it his goal to (spoiler from chapter 18)

destroy the entire nation and scatter or kill off their elites.

 

I call virtue signaling. Pitting MC against slavery is supposed to clearly mark him as good (which, honestly, was never needed).

Either Nathan's against slavery so badly, that the mere concept sets him off, that hearing "slaves" makes his blood boil, etc. In short: he should be a radical abolitionist. Which - as a fanatic - makes him not a very interesting character IMO.

Because normal people don't go on crusades, not on real crusades, where there's violence, even slaughter, and pain. It's one thing to say "that's a bad idea" or even denounce someone as evil for their doings and totally another to move from words to actions. To decide: I will dedicate my being to destroying this evil person, those evil people, giving and risking everything that I have. That's... drastic.

So, he's neither a crusader from the start nor is it in his nature nor it is a major decision to commit himself entirely and begin a crusade.

 

3. How to change the protag?

Currently, realistically I'd expect the MC to suffer a breakdown later on when he realizes the weight of a crusade or finds out his zeal wasn't as strong as he fought. Which then would mean he should look for "how to change my classes cause my choices weren't optimal".

I'd expect more weight and pondering in the later choices.

That is... if the author really wants to portray a scientist by heart.

Current Nathan seemingly has chosen science as second best since magic was not an option on a mundane Earth... but while words are said that convey that, actions don't follow. There's pragmatism and no regret. No worry. No what ifs. Nathan doesn't even think about other paths, about following his childhood dream. He simply discards it. And this is OK, but what I came to read was about a dilemma. Magic or morality, as the story synopsis said. Instead I got "welp, magic is a threat to me right now and there's this anti-mage option...". And just like that, neither magic nor morality was really on the scales, it was instead survival-motivated pragmatic choice under duress.

 

I can't help but feel that the author wanted to tell a story about a berserk anti-mage crusade against slavers.

And some concepts, while convenient early on, are in the long run not so useful. Science, for instance. Childhood dreams of magic. Leaving Earth behind.

You see, IMO if Nathan wasn't a biologist, but instead an anti-slavery activist, a BLM believer, a survivor of human trafficking who meditates, and AS A HOBBY did seriously advanced biology/science... then the story would essentially be the same. And I wouldn't expect him to use the scientific method at all, I'd be fine with him making his life choice in an instant since slavers, I wouldn't mind him choosing the rage path with a smatter of meditation, I wouldn't want him to spend time exploring the interesting world around him, testing the boundaries of the system etc.

Heck, I wouldn't even mind him having YET to ask, after weeks (or months) in the new world, what "the Endings" are. Because they are cataclysmic from the context alone, not to mention the word meaning, but he's so far dropped that (and many other balls) totally.

So, summarizing. As it is right now, as of chapter 33, this is a story of a berserk anti-mage, who crusades against slavers in a new world. Which is a darn shame, for I wanted to read about a scientist in another world, more than about a berserker, but I'll live.

The magic vs morality dilemma is not featured at all, world exploration is left for some other time, tho the sky! That was a great scene and concept, made me think 20 minutes about possible explanations there.

The cast so far was transitory, only the recent team is somewhat explored. MC I already spent several paragraphs on, moving on.

Style is great. I totally dig the new sayings, the vein of gold being one of orichalcum and the like. That the language is using DIFFERENT sayings or idioms is fantastic, 5 stars.

While there happen to be some typos, the author works on them and fixes them and there are several chapters without a single "edit suggestions" comment. The effort gets 5 stars.

Overall - be warned about the twist and give it a read yourself. I'll stick around for several more chapters.

Korr4K
Overall

Good start but in need of directions

Reviewed at: Chapter 29 A Blooding Patrol

First thing first, I have nothing to note about the writing and the RPG element of the story. Keep it up, we are definitely on the right path here.

 


I prefer to focus on the two main aspects that I feel the story is currently lacking if its aim is to be something more than just an amateur writing on RR:

1) the MC personality is all over the place. He is introduced like a mature young man who has lived a full life on Earth, initially his behavior felt right but then as soon as he starts to interact mostly with teenagers he also appears like one of them. My advice here would have been to do the opposite, highlight in your writing the difference in their age and level of maturity. The MC should feel out of place in a party of teenagers, there should be plenty of situations where he would prefer to do things differently and so provide his guidance and be annoyed when things still don't go his way

2) the story really needs a direction unless you want it to be just random adventuring. The whole idea "I want to deal with this group of people because they are evil" isn't enough as a final goal because they haven't done any particular lasting harm to the MC and they also don't pose a serious imminent threat for their world. We readers aren't therefore invested in it and don't really feel the need to move towards said goal. A story needs some sort of real deal that must be dealt with.
For example in this case we could learn that what Taeol did was just one piece of the puzzle, his nation built their knowledge by stealing insights from other worlds and their final goal is to properly invade them and steal their resources. Up until now they weren't able to create proper, stable portals and the project was somewhat labeled as too dangerous/expensive to follow but Taeol successfull experiment opened a new path: it's only a matter of time before they'll develop a working strategy and start to gather whatever resources they need to make it real. This would open a clear path for the future of the story because Nathan must do something about it before it's too late, be it killing them all or to collect whatever resources they need first (which would justify delving dungeons/ruins if what they require is lost somewhere in there)

baelrath
Overall
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Story
Grammar
Character

What a delightful read. MC is a brilliant post doc something something so he knows all about the body and the itty bitties that make it up. Remember that for later.

Forced into this world he has a rather harsh beginning, no slimes in sight, and has to think on his feet, fast, to avoid annihilation, so no pressure or anyting. But hes a Phd, so stress is second nature.

This system this time is all about discovery and what you know, you have to understand what you're getting or no dice. So combine our delish microplastic 21st century know how... boys got a real head start on some goodies.

Its the rest of the social atmosphere he's clueless on that hopefully won't get him gutted. Cause in this world, what you know is absolute power, and everyone wants some of that!

Hey, might as well push this into a big boy review. 

All this other bits are top notch.

Story has good flow to it, MC starts off with a highly intellectual background so they tear apart stuff and think real good so that part is believable. 

Grammar and other mechanics are flawless, didn't notice anything.

Characters aren't given a heaping of screen time yet, but each has at least memorable ticks to separate them from the crowd. You instantly know who you want to avoid at least.

Story has certainly got some juicy underbits that are dying for our molecular savy MC to poke his resistant nose into and i can't wait to see what titans he unleashes :)

Ranzbart
Overall

interesting premise AND trinary numbering system

Reviewed at: Chapter 2 A new system

the system in this story is on a base9 counting system.

i love it.

that makes trinary logic more intuitive, allowing a distinction between "neutral no" and "opposing no". i wonder how their math works intuitively when even numbers dont exist (in base9, 10 is odd [thats our 9], while 11 is even)

will probably not be too much or a plotpoint, but allowing me to nerd out about this makes this story worthy of a 5 star review on its own.

besides that, the magic system behind seems to be built with underlying principles instead of the usual fantasy handwaving "its magic bro". im gonna stick around just for that reveal.

Night.Sparrow.777
Overall

This story is really good! 

The author clearly thought out how the world, system and characters would be written. And it doesn't seem to be going down the path that some other novels take, where they suddenly add some elements to the story that don't match the pace of the story telling or world being built, but do help the main character stay relevant. 

Even though there's only 13 published chapters at this point, I am waiting for the next one already!

Continue posting!

kohr
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Real Score: 4/5, but I want to help the story through the fucked algorithms. I do this so I can give constructive criticism without harming author motivation and stuff. Anyway.

If you clicked on the story intrigued by the premise, trust me, it delivers beyond expectations.

This story has one of the most interesting ways of using anti-magic I've seen: it's not like it usually is where it's just magic except it hurts other magic. It is something distinctly separate from magic, with its own limitations and interactions that are legitimately interesting to explore. 

There isn't very much to say definitively beyond that this early on. I can talk about the flaws I've been able to see so far, and I suppose I will, but I'm going to preface it by saying that the author has shown he knows how to build a world and the players in it. It's very possible I can't see everything. Essentially, everything past this point is 'speculative criticism'.

I don't know who the core characters are going to be yet, but Nathan feels, so far, to be fairly defined by his abilities. I don't know much about his life or motivations, but he seems to represent a sort of wish fulfillment of a modern person being capable of actually fighting injustice directly. I hope it explores that concept in more detail without becoming a kingdom building thing of a modern dude with zero knowledge of the local culture changing the world to fit his views after the evil empire falls. I'm fine with wish fulfillment, but a lot of people assume that means that the characters just have everything work out with them. The wish can be as little as an opportunity.

There's, say, a lot of risks in the spread of knowledge when it has the potential to exaggerate personal power to great extent, but also a lot of virtue, depending on how it develops in turn to cope with that. If it does turn into what I mentioned in the last paragraph, I hope it does so with resistance, conflict, and lessons learned regarding all of that. That's just an example, of course.

I'm basically trying to show the main thing that I think his character needs to define itself: meaningful conflict with his ideas. The author has done a great job of giving him agency and the opportunity to make choices for himself that aren't obvious, but those choices need more going into them, more potential conflicts, and their consequences need to be explored more.

And that's where the plot and characters should come in. Perhaps give Nathan a foil, or an antagonist that develops with him that isn't a genocidal maniac, one who also has agency and an important role in the plot. The Heirs had the potential to be this, but they've mostly just ended up being spoiled rich kids, and they still mostly accept and agree with him, not people who have ends and motivations with real plot relevance. At least as far as I can tell- maybe it's setting up for something I can't see, but with how easy resolutions have come with them I sort of doubt it.

But, overall, as long as these flaws dont fester to the extent I described, I'm sure I'm in for a pleasant romp. The story is altogether well-told and the power system is interesting enough to keep me speculating more than anything I've seen or read in quite a long while now. The dialogue is quite good already, the author obviously has a lot of wit, so I'm sure it'll be great once the author introduces a character that really clicks with the MC in one way or another. The grammar is perfect, the style flows well, blah blah blah, all the stuff I need to mention for an advanced review. Again, if you're on the fence, give it a shot, you'll probably get something from it, and, depending on how it goes from here, maybe even far more than you think.

Extacy
Overall

So far the story has been great. Recommended for anyone wanting to read high fantasy fiction with good world building.

The settings were clearly established and characters are decently fleshed out. Consistent POV help the narrative. Science and Magic are my pet peeve especially in high fantasy settings like HP.

Some minor grammatical errors but nothing major preventing immersion.

Want to see antimage to go the Dota2 antimage with dual Egg blades.

BookKobold
Overall

A super refreshing fast paced progressing story with a MC I enjoy and powers and a system that really make you wanting more information on how it all works! I am in love with the story and hope we get as many chapters as the author can give us. Give it a try if you like a smart, strong MC at the start. 

Zawayuki
Overall

I was recommend this from another story and I was hooked quickly.

Science based magic is one of my favorite fantasy styles and you do it well. I'm interested to see where magic comes from in this setting.

I read everything you have posted and was disappointed there isn't more yet. Good job on the editing as well.

One of the best I've read recently.