Okay, so some people might be wondering why I would rate such a great story only a 3.5. But hear me out first and you too will understand.
The world that the author is writing is great. Its one of the few reasons I still keep reading this novel. Sure its got your typical fantasy jargon, etc. but the author knows how to make a decent world with very little hypocricies or missed details written in. The world is large, and has a lot of races, environments, motivations, and power structures to it while still being kept relatively simple (aka with ranks, immortality, etc). It could do with a little spicing up in certain locations, but the MC isn't in those places for long so the written detail would go to waste.
Speaking of the MC, the main gripe I have with this novel comes into play. The author is caught in worldbuildism and explanationism, something that I too suffer from. Its why I usually forget my novels; because I get a great idea, start a Chapter 0, and write up a huge world. But I completely and utterly forget about my /characters/ and how they'd fit in the worlds I create, and end up getting either bored or frusterated and moving on. The author of this novel has something similar going on. He is very good at EXPLAINING everything, but thats the issue; he tells, and doesn't show very often. So most of the novel is simply him explaining his characters and the world, and not how they actually fare or grow up in their environment.
We don't feel the emotions of what happens to Dee, or get invested when sometihng happens to her or other characters because we don't get time to or shown how; it merely "happens" as the author explains it through third person or another character and then we are told the aftermath. Its hard to explain in words, but those who know what im talking about can see this happening numerous times throughout the novel.
This brings me to the timeskips. Timeskips are great, but I feel like the author is doing them because they cannot write a proper childhood or training period. Which is understandable; I myself suck a lotta butt at them; the main issue, however, is the same as the above. We don't get to understand truly why they are training and the feelings they are going through; its just one or two chapters of characters talking about the training as if they are a narrator and us then moving on to a more powered up MC. It reminds me much like the bad Xianxia and Wuxia novels I read; the MC gets talked about needing to power up, they go closed door for 10000000 years, then come back as a beast till they have to do it again against a more powerful enemy.
These major gripes is what is holding this story back from greatness, in my mind. Less telling, and more showing is required to get us much more invested into the character. This telling is even within emotional scenes like (SPOILER) when Dee and the Sidhe woman Noyla start developing feelings. I felt like (FINALLY) the author was going to slowly integrate them, but then HUGE walls of text appear about "how dee is feeling, how it usually is, how it is now", it was like reading a weather report. We don't need that much detail told to us; we can slowly infer it from their actions. But all of that suspense is removed when everything about the characters is explained in a few paragraphs constantly.
A lot more showing, a lot less telling (which is done sometimes in the latter parts of the story, though this review is up to Chapter 99, so I can't be completely sure).
Wanted to review this since its the first time ive seen a cultivation novel do things "right". This cultivation novel brought me back to the first two arcs of I Shall Seal The Heavens, known as ISSH. The character building, the sane yet insane twists, and the decent humour mixed in that made ISSH one of the better cultivation novels out there.
What this novel excels at is bringing forth a developed world that doesn't center around slapping people around because you looked at their favored woman too long. Sure there are scenes like these, but they all have built up reasons behind them, and its not merely because "YOU LOOKED AT MY WOMAN FOR A SECOND LONGER, PREPARE FOR YOUR ENTIRE CLAN TO DIE!"
The MC also doesn't fall into the sterotypical genocidal route that most MC's of cultivation novels fall into. I won't spoil it too much, but the temperment of the MC is built up and has proper reasoning behind it. He goes far, but not too far, and is fair in his judgment of those who go against him.
The cultivation realms and how they are achieved also make sense, and the author goes a long way to build up the realms as well as the people in them as people who actually, GASP, get SMARTER the higher they cultivate. Which means the much higher cultivators are more and more cautious, and only let down their guard against exceptional circumstances. They don't fully underestimate the MC and/or his entourage unless there's good reason for said underestimation.
On top of that, the author doesn't use redundant nerfs or stupid mechanics to keep the MC weak, like him finding a heavenly herb but it turns out his physique negates the amazing powers of the herb because he needs more consumption or some stupid mechanic that is similar. Instead, he introduces tougher enemies and slowly broadens the prospects of the MC by adding new realms that have people above his abilities, instead of merely nerfing him into the ground. The times he DOES nerf the MC is for character development purposes, which mature him as a person (and makes him less annoying than the first 30 chapters).
Just power through the first few chapters and those who are familiar to ISSH can see a classic already in the making.