Azarinth Healer

There's just too much content for me to go into a deep dive but after catching up over the last week a few things stuck out as overarching themes.

First off, the writing mechanics just aren't good. There is a noticeable multitude of technical errors that need correction every chapter. However, there's been significant improvement over time and the effort is definitely appreciated. I say this because the first few chapters were nearly impenetrable for me.

There is actual complexity in motivation across the world and cast. People are rarely just good or bad and often have very concrete motivations for their actions and show development as events progress. The main cast develop well too, growing in both power and responsibility as they learn more and more about their world.

Third, this is the first Isekai-type series I've read that has an epically powerful main character progress rapidly in a way that makes sense. That's hilatiously rare.

Illea's a special combination of lucky and insane - she gets a powerful class in the beginning (which seems to make sense in context) but the way she carries it forward into development is incredib..ly painful. Her training is so ridiculously agonizing she develops skills related to it. It's also made very clear that the progress of her growth is driven by ludicrous levels of risk and a willingness to dive headfirst into the impossible when others would have given up long ago.

If she had never been transported to Elos, Illea would have probably taken up basejumping.

Overall, I highly recommend this series for a read.

Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

I will first admit that this was a mixed bag for me in the first few chapters.

The setting was and remains more interesting than the LitRPG norm in a sociological and infrastructural sense. These people are used to living with superpowers in a way that is rare in other works. Everyone is aware of and consciously adjusts to System granted levels, stats and skills in a way that makes each character more immersive for us readers.

Remus is also, of course, a classical Roman Empire expy with all the negative cultural baggage along for the ride. This includes sexism that resulted from women being able to give birth somehow resulting in their being equivalent to property despite there being no System-based differentiation between genders when in an empire waging endless war. So interesting idea, but I can't see a whole lot of justification behind it. 

Now we come to Elaine the MC. She's fun with a social energy to her perspective despite a lack of social skills but started out almost abrasively childish before being spoon-fed staggering abilities. Said staggering abilities however end up just barely being sufficient several times which is a nice change of pace. Her power tier is solidly "higher than you but not enough to solve her problems" which makes for good social interactions and interesting challenges. 

When it comes to he rest of the cast, I feel that this work stands head and shoulders above the in one area: agency. Side characters complete impressive to legendary feats in their own without Elaine having to do a thing or be in the same area. This is undoubtedly a great thing and builds an impression of characters who keep developing even when not in focus.The time scales are far better implemented as well. It takes weeks to walk long distances and battles can take days. Healing thousands of people takes a long time as well even if every session requires a short exchange and a touch.

There is a sense of scale and history being communicated in side mentions of other events and beigs that we haven't yet seen in-story. Big fan of that as well.

That said, I'd also like to mention my biggest issue: the leveling uses nonstandard ranges and each stat limits the growth of another. LitRPG is not a creative genre - it reduces the complexities of every task and attribute down to a series of rough integers. So when someone plays silly buggers with it for creative reasons, I get a little confused. Sure, there are enough context clues to not actually need to do any math but why break down progression into this weirdness?

Long story short: cool story, interesting layout a protagonist who is less of a Mary Sue than the usual. Looking forward to more!

The Primal Hunter

The rough arc I've read through so far entails the protagonist starting the battle royale of a tutorial, learning he has a strong individualist streak, refining his abilities and progressing through a trial to meet a certain someone at the end.

I can feel there is some consistency in the setting being sketched out. However, the setting lacks a great deal of depth which leaves makes engaging with the main character a bit if a trial.

For starters, Survival per se isn't much of a concern. No sicknesses, infections, hydration issues or similar ever actually make themselves known. People are certainly scared but not palpably tired,  emotionally drained, fragile or otherwise overtly inconvenienced by the setting itself. The exclusive threat is by express violence delivered by some variety of monster - the human variety included.

The character writing is most accurately represented in the dialogue - there are no discernable characterizing traits at all. No verbal ticks that contribute to emotivity. No change in how contractions are (inconsistently) applied.

I can't much agree with how the rising action of leveling was arrested with a Challenge that shifted the combat focus to an academic one, either. Moreover, I take issue with it being far more rewarding than actually taking the survival challenge head on as the protagonist originally set out to do. The updates from all the side characters while the protagonist was off being spoon-fed power were far more intesting.

I did appreciate the portrayal of how the others are advancing during the tutorial on contrast with the protagonist's path. I just wish they actually had discernable characters


Good characters, slow build

The plot so far takes the fairly well established trope of repeating timelines with two interesting changes.

First, our hero has a different ability every repeat. Second, events are hideously chaotic.

The timeframe within which events take place cover the last few hours before multiple plans from different formidable antagonists unfold and the protagonist is not the most capable of men by default. There is a steep, trauma-laden learning curve involved alongside any changes  propagating in unpredictable ways.

The character writing is rich and varied but slightly limited by the medium taking place across the same events. This means that most character development is more revelation of hidden depths in a way that makes the entire experience one-sided across resets. The Hero/Villain dynamic isn't anything new but does involve character flipping roles frequently. 

The pacing starts off ploddingly slow but not without payoff as we see just how difficult the end goal is revealed to be. Just getting to know the local heroes well enough so that he isn't immediately arrested takes some doing. Sometimes there are even setbacks during which nothing useful is done even with more impressive powersets making it so that powers will almost never be what allows progress. Instead, our hero's development as an effective person and his building of relationships is the key to moving things forward.

Beware Of Chicken

Xianxia doesn't draw me in much but...

This story has a fascinating naturalist approach veers from the typical story focus of the genre.

The idea of investing yourself in your surroundings to give back instead of extracting things of value at every opportunity hits in a way that differs greatly from the theme's power-focused roots.

This approach is, I feel, something that strikes closer to the mysteries of harmony and focus found in legends of Kung Fu.

The fact that the title underscores a major element of the story is just icing on the maple cookie. 

Stray Cat Strut ⁠— A Young Lady's Journey to Becoming a Pop-Up Samurai

Word count isn't too high so far but what's been put down sets up an intriguing powerset, primary conflict and sociopolitical setting. Cast seems faceted and reasonable so far - traumatized does not mean unreasonable, authoritarian does not mean inflexible, this sort of thing.

Great start!