Void Herald

Void Herald

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Tower of Somnus

I will give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: Tower of Somnus is good, and here's why.

Tower of Somnus is a rare blend of cyberpunk, virtual litRPG, and intergalactic scifi, following the adventures of corporate thrall Kat as she tries to navigate both her arcology city's intrigues and climb the eponymous tower (an intergalactic game whose powers manifest in real life). The work manages to blend the various genres into a coherent and rather engrossing universe, and most importantly, develop both the real and virtual worlds in equal measure.

My main problem about virtual reality stories is that the real world is eventually all but left out, but Tower of Somnus makes the cyberpunk Earth just as important as the intergalactic game. As the story advances, threats from one world eventually bleed into the other and coalesce into a strong narrative. 

The story is very slow-paced, which may not be for everyone, but personally, I believe it enhances the novel. The author took the time to establish the worldbuilding and characters in the 'real' world before diving into the game, and most importantly managed to strike a balance between both universes.

Tower of Somnus is a nanowrimo novel (so written with quantity in mind) so grammar errors often creep in. However, the author is quick to correct them and the grammar is stellar for the quantity produced in such a short time, hence why I will rate it five stars. 

However, ultimately, the novel's main strength are its characters. Kat is a loveable and down-to-earth protagonist, and as the novel goes on, accumulates a strong cast around her, from her alien party to a semi-paternal crime overlord. While some villains are a bit one-dimensional, they ultimately serve a greater purpose in Kat's personal development. Somnus also takes the opportunity to deal with some interesting themes, such as whether mankind can eventually learn to cooperate enough to join a greater intergalactic community, or if its institutions are truly unshakeable. 

All in all, Tower of Somnus is very much one of my new favorite novels on Royal Road, and I encourage you to give it a try. You won't be disappointed. 


The Many Lives of Cadence Lee

Multiple reincarnations stories are probably among the hardest to write well. The only constant is the protagonist; each new life means a different cast of characters, often a wholly different setting, and it can be pretty difficult to make a reader invested in the story long-term.

I'm pleased to say Cadence is one of the few exceptions that manage to make the concept work.  

As in, Cadence uses each life to explore a different idea that may serve as a story on its own, from civilization-building in a Bronze Age magical Egypt, to the dangerous life of an amphibian animal. The various Systems offer a backdrop allowing a certain degree of continuity between each life, but the key is Cadence's character development.

Unlike more heroes in those stories, Cadence isn't out to be the strongest. At first, she only tries to live a normal life, and then slowly moves towards trying to help the worlds she visits benefit from her knowledge. Due to not carrying power from world to world (only benefits making her new life easier), the challenge always remains; most of her first lives are in fact cut really short due to inexperience. This makes her relatable and keeps the story entertaining. 

I was actually shocked by the first death because, while it didn't came out of nowhere, it was incredibly mundane. It came as a surprise, and I must say it was a good one. 

My only criticisms are some of the characters, and the fact it takes a few chapters for the story to truly start. Cadence begins like every Isekai story, so most people probably believe it will be like any other; I certainly did at first. But then I found myself really invested in the story when it hit the second reincarnation, as the author pushed the concept into interesting directions (namely, that the time period can change just as often as the setting/system itself, and that Cadence won't always stay a human). 

Second, since character casts change with every lives, they're hit-and-miss. I didn't particularly find the first reincarnation's cast memorable, but the second world had more interesting characters. Cadence herself is mostly the one carrying the story forward. 

In short, I eagerly suggest you give this story a try, if you wish to see a single character explore different story concepts. I'm sure you will like it. 


Supervillainy and Other Poor Career Choices

Supervillainy and other poor career choices is exactly what the title says: the story of someone starting a low-level supervillain career, almost entirely by accident. It's fun, it's entertaining, it's charming, and has become a new favorite of mine.

The story's main character, Erich the Mechromancer, is a mechanic finding himself bullied into joining a supervillain gang after making a power armor as an alternative to shakedown money; he is snappy, entertaining, and in contrast with the usual superhero protagonist, a total shut-in completely out of his depth. In spite of the harem tag and explicit sexual content, romantic interactions are low-key and mostly treated humorously. 

The writer's style is much the drawing point. The characters have a dry humor, witty narration that make the read delightful and entertaining; doubly so since the writer is fond at turning cliches on their head (such as the local supervillain having no interest in picking on superheroes when suggested, as they are out of his weight league). I had quite a few laughs at the jokes and surprises. 

My one nitpick about the story is that the character isn't very proactive, and basically has no goal but surviving day to day (although he obviously grows more comfortable with criminal acts as the story goes on). While this fits his personality as an introvert guy trying to get by, he seems pushed by the plot rather than the other way around. While the author has hinted at further development on that front,  the rest of the cast often stands out more than the hero by contrast and drive the story forward. 

In conclusion, I eagerly recommand that you give this story a go, as I'm sure it will keep you amused and waiting for more.