Kerma B

Kerma B

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The Merchant Prince

What a read, did not expect this at RoyalRoad

Wow. Okay, first off, the author is not kidding about the traumatizing content. This story does not gloss over the dirty parts of history. The story is set in a second-world fantasy in what I would guess is based roughly on 15th or early 16th century Italy, especially Venice. It explores the increasingly complicated system of economy of the world in many details, but also shows the ugly sides of the colonialism with more realism than I have seen in most other stories. While a magician's guild has been mentioned, so far, no magic has been relevant. 

I love that, personally. I love how conflict is derived entirely from interpersonal relationships and the thrive for power of the main character. Augustus has been described as an anti-hero in other reviews, but I personally do now view him that way. He is certainly no angel, either, though. He is a fascinating young man, as is the second main character, Marielle. Personally, I like Marielle even better than Augustus. Full marks on the characters, anyway. 

The style of this story works hand in hand with the world of the story. It doesn't read like a modern web-novel. It reach much more like an older text. There are style issues in the first chapters, like overly long sentences, which get better. The same goes for grammar. Especially the dialogues of the first chapters have some more than minor issues with punctuation. Everything is still readable, though.

As for the story - I don't really know how to sum that up, without giving too much away. I already touched on the worldbuilding, which is awesome and believable, and feels rooted in history and unique at the same time. Beyond that, there's a rivalry between brothers, assassins and a whole new religion. Best if you read it for yourself, especially if you have a liking for history. 


The Precipice of Power

This is the first cultivation story I've ever read, and I won't be surprised if it spoiled me for all to follow. There's a lot of good stuff already - a great sibling relationship, mysterious Saints, forbidden love and intrigue - and it's only at a little over ten thousands words as I write this.

But let's start at the beginning :

Story: The prologue manages, in just a few hundred words, to introduce two protagonists, show a bit about their relationship, raise the stakes for them, and provide a clear, logical goal for one of them to strive for - in short, it made me care about Kiro and Seira. It doesn't feel unnecessary, either, as so many prologues do, and it flows smoothly into the first chapter - which feels like a mirror of the prologue, but with a twist - and from there on onwards.

We aren't deep into the story yet, but so far, it's all believable and engaging. As someone who is new to this genre, I am missing a little bit of world building. Seasoned readers in Cultivation novels might disagree, but I could use a few more explanations. 

Style: No complaints, really. It's well written, and easy to read. 

The grammar is good. I didn't notice any typos, either. 

The characters is where I'm really divided. The twin's introduction is great, as I wrote before, and it gripped me right away. However, a part of me wondered, in the following chapters, how someone with their kind of childhood turned out mostly normal. Especially, since nearly everyone around them seems to be - let's go with less than kind. But then again, we're only at the very beginning of the journey. Clearly, there is more to come and much more to be revealed about their past. 

Overall: I cannot rate this against other cultivation stories, as I have never read one before. But I can say that this is a very good story, regardless of its genre. I'll be sure to keep it on my list to come back to. 


Grimoire Knights

Story Score: Once I managed to get into it, I really liked the story. Other reviews have stated that the prologue might serve better at some other point, but I kind of disagree, I liked it, and it gave a lot of backstory that I think would be hard to insert any other way. I will say that it was probably longer than it needed to be. 

Spoiler: Spoiler

A lot of worldbuilding has so far only be hinted at, and I'm curious to see where this goes.

 

Character score: I gave full points here, despite some weaker, one-dimensional side characters, simply because I think the three main characters, Cara, Akia and Jessica, are totally worth the five stars. I have very rarely seen such a well-written, healthy friendship between two girls as the friendship between Cara and Jessica. Even published, professional authors rarely manage that. I also think Akira is a very interesting character, who gains a lot of depth from the prologue. 

Grammar score: There are missing words and commas, typos, and quite a few overlong sentences, which would have served better broken up. It was never so bad that I couldn't make sense of a sentence.

Style score: The style of this was probably what I struggled the most with and what made me take longer to get caught up in the narrative than I would have otherwise. There are big improvements towards the later chapters, but what stayed were sound descriptions like "*BANG* *BANG* *BANG*" which I personally find extremely distracting - they simply break my immersion into a text everytime they pop up.

Another thing that brought the score down for me is the frequent switching between tenses, which does get better in later chapters, and the back and forth between first person/third person, sometimes within the same paragraph. 

I decided not to let the style score drag the overall score down, because my hatred for sound effects are a personal issue.

Overall Score: All in all, this does have the feel of a first draft to me - which does not mean that you shouldn't totally check it out. It already has a lot of really good things going for it. I'm not even into LitRPGs, but the amazing life-like main characters really carried it for me.

It's already good, and if the progression of the author in the first seventeen chapters is anything to go by, it will only get better.