The first few chapters have a forced quality that is hard for me to describe due to their purpose as a info-dump where he is writing in his journal to his semi-sentient journal. Things get smoother once the loop starts. I love loop stories, and if you do as well, there's no reason why you shouldn't read this one.
Some of the explanations for the way the magic works are confounding and pseudoscience-y in multiple paragraphs of nonsense. If you're OCD about having to understand every sentence in a book with perfect clarity, this isn't the book for you. I know this sounds like I'm being critical of the system, but on the contrary, I like the soft elements and the lengthy multi paragraph essays on the way the magic works. I'm not able to discern all of it, but I can understand the general jists. Less info dumps would be better, but I understand they are necessary when developing complex magic systems. This is a hard magic system with soft elements.
The main character is a lot of fun and a rarity in published works (less so on RR). He is an intelligent, bookish guy, who is a magician at heart. He doesn't want to learn how to punch things harder, or learn how to become another magic swordsman in the already huge swathe of them on RR. He is a true mage that develops his own creative spells to handle the brutes. I like this.
The side characters have a lot of potential for development, and the author does a good job with them playing off the xianxia over-the-top tropes without it being excessive.
Never any dull moments. The story continues to unfold at a good pace. Interesting events happen that keep the plot rolling. The only thing worse than a story with zero plot development are when the driving plot events are frustrating and just plain bad.
This story doesn't stagnate with the MC just hunkering down to cultivate for endless amounts of chapters. I think what this story does right is that there is always something interesting going on while he's practicing his magic. For example, instead of training alone inside a mountain cave for weeks until the next breakthrough like in some novels, he's actively involved with training his little apprentice into teasing her helicopter father for him WHILE he is practicing his craft. The dialogue can be pretty funny at times. Small bouts of isolative training would be okay, but I dislike when stories have the huge slog where we as the readers have to grind chapters for them to grind their experience points/cultivation.
I like his writing style. I HATE when books become reduced to American Colloquialisms. This story doesn't have that problem. Beyond that, I'm not qualified to comment on anything regarding style.
The grammar is good. I'm not an editor, so I can't really go too into detail here. I can say grammar won't impair your enjoyment of the story.
Ignore the prologue. Read to chapter 8 before making a decision on dropping it.
I almost dropped the story after reading the prologue and first few chapters. The prologue holds implications that aren't self contained because we know by its sombre tone how certain relationships probably play out in a negative way. DON'T READ THE PROLOGUE.
The story has a slow start that really ramps up around chapter 8, and boy, the quality really starts to shine through. The slow start has an excellent pay off as it increases the overall investment in the story. If you like MoL, you will almost certainly like this story after making it past the first few initial chapters.
Here is the quick rundown on what makes the story so good. The new take on the 'time loop' genre is interesting, and it keeps the story interesting. So far, the time loop operates like the check points in a video game. Honestly, this approach is refreshing, and it also keeps the story from being a totally foregone conclusion. There can't be a "perfect" run so to speak, and keeps some of the suspense that's normally not there in a time loop story (assuming you don't read the prologue).
The MC is also great. He is flawed, and his development in capabilities and personal growth is enjoying to read about. He's also rational without being a sociopath. The story seems to hint at a potential romance, but I have a feeling it'll be more akin to traditional fantasy novels like the Name of the Wind rather than RR Harems. The prospect of a story featuring a light romance like in traditional fantasy novels is a plus.
This story is way better than it has any right to be. I'm so happy I picked this up despite being extremely offput by it being Pokémon fan fiction. It is very much at minimum an 8/10, and it is well worth the read. Trust me, this story isn't trash like you probably think it is.
And at the same time, I wish I waited longer! The story is so good that a 300 page binge couldn't satisfy me. I was expecting a generic intelligent monster farming up levels and experience, so I put off reading this one. It is honestly so much more, and this story has a lot of character. Props to the author.
I highly recommend this story for those who enjoy slow burn romances. As a heads up, go into this expecting to read an actual book and not a webserial/lit rpg. The story feels very planned out with no filler chapters so far. There are no chapters where we just spend a day with the protagonist doing random side tasks. Every chapter has been used to push forward the overarching plot and sub plots in some way.
Just read it. Totally blew my expectations away because the blurb made it seem like your typical generic RoyalRoad story that you shelf forever after you binge up to the lastest chapter. However, this isn't one of those stories. I'll be following this one to the end - I have a good feeling.
I literally have one figurative patch of hair left after wanting to pull my hair out because of how idiotic the MC is. He's frustrating and tbh this story is just cringe at times. I would steer clear of this one unless you can rock the bald look.
Yep, you should just read this. It's in the 99th percentile when compared to everything else on RoyalRoad. It's some good shit. All my feelings are basically said in the other top reviews, but I did want to add one particular thing to the conversation.
I made this review to to reiterate on one of the points from Kuroinfinity's review. The Time Loop does negatively impact the pacing and character development. The secondary characters and the character relationships just don't feel as real as they might otherwise. However, I will say pacing issues are an obvious byproduct of time loops, assuming they're central to the plot.
But Mother of Learning also had a Time Loop and pacing issues (yes, it does), so why are the characters weaker in this story???
Well, it's because of how the Time Loops are handled. In comparison, many restarts in MoL occur in the same location before Zorian explores further, allowing readers to dive deeper into the many character relationships and the outside world as we discover their different backstories. This makes the world feel vast. Encountering them in different contexts would lead to new discoveries about the character's backstories, or potentially even trigger a weird series of events. In BT, it feels like the mc is never in one spot for too long, so we are just missing out on all that world building and character development.
Boring plot. Boring MC. Boring experience.
As much as I LOVE heart of cultivation that is also written by Jacobk (seriously, check it out), I can't say the same for this lit rpg. Skill grinding and upgrading is meaningless when there is no plot and when I have no investment in the characters. Oh wow, his improvised weapons master has been raised to level 4, and he has also been awarded 9 grid points after killing some boars! The level of story telling is on par with playing in the starting zones of World of Warcraft and just reading the combat log.
So, what went wrong? Why is this a 2/5 experience and not a 5/5 like heart of cultivation? Well, there are no developed side characters after 150 pages. Let me repeat that: zero. This right here crippled the character development of the MC because the little interactions--the quiet moments between characters-- are usually the most impactful for worldbuilding and character development.
Heart of Cultibation includes a cast of interesting and nuanced characters, which is why I'm so surprised on how this turned out. In the end, this story falls into practically every pitfall the average lit rpg contains. No plot. Poorly writtenly characters; well, just character.