Isekai by a writer who likes them, for fans of the genera.
The story is unapologetic in its status as an Isekai. It sticks to a number of conventions with some clear influences. Our guy, (Wu) is your average guy, pulled into a world to be its savior, if only he can figure out how. Its complicated with the twist that the title indicates. If that’s what you came for, that’s what you’re going to get. With the occasional wink and nod here in the text its clearly written by a fan, for other fans.
Style: The authors style, is actually pretty interesting. He uses line breaks, as a kind of textual marker, almost like one would a verbal pause, or a purposeful alternate in tone. It’s genuinely interesting, and I can’t say I’ve seen its like elsewhere. There’s some potential for confusion here, especially in dialogue blocks, but it seems like there’s bits here and there to keep it straight. He alternates, between a more high minded narrative style, with dialog breaking into a more modern sound. It grew on me over time, and has humorous twists that flow from the block breaks. Pacing wise, this story has places to be, so isn’t bogged down with undue description or exposition and errs on movement in the story instead. There’s also some head hopping, but due to the line breaks its not difficult to infer when it happens, and from context whose head we’re peeking into.
Story: World building is definitely where this story feels like it got its start. I mean, the author has a world anvil link, and clearly the magic system (The Wave) has some work put into it. If its hard, its yet to be outlined in high detail, but I think the author has its limitations in mind. The plot is pretty straight forward at least in the broad strokes. It’s broken down into small, tight arcs, that are really more like vignettes which gives it an episodic feel.
Characters: The characters remain distinct, and manage to be rather expressive despite some having little screen time in some cases. There’s some clearly archetypal setups here, so some character relationships develop a bit fast, but I chalk it up to genera convention. Very much a we know where this is going, so lets just get there type move. There’s some inconsistencies in feel that I suspect draw from this decision to lean into expectation, with the characters being defined in the writers head and simply a lack of screen time to let these things fully get laid out. Places to be, as I said above. The dialogue is passable, with lots of informal slang, and is serviceable when its not. That said, I feel like I’m missing some communication signals that are artifacts of convention, that as at most a very casual reader, I think I missed.
Grammar: This, is the weakest part of the story for sure. There’s places where tense changes occur that take a bit to get accustomed to, or words choices that are just a bit off. Possibility for possibilities or happens for happened coming to mind. The punctuation is fine, and the meaning is clear, but if you’re a stickler there’s a passage or two likely to pull you out of it. His diction is good, leading me to believe its likely that English is not the writers mother tongue.
In summary, its a fast paced story with an interesting style. The plot is what you expect, with the usual suspects in tow, but its clearly for the isekai audience. It revels in what it is which is rather refreshing. It’s got an interesting world, that I can tell is developed, just waiting for readers to experience it.
The story primarily details the travels of two aspiring students of magic as they deal with the dangerous creatures of the world. Its a story of small scale, personal, and filled with tension and a creeping dread.
Style: The style can primarily I think be represented with its two largest components. First heavy description, of both characters and their world, to really drag the reader in so that they might feel as the characters do. Second, slowly layering details of the encounters with the monsters that are the focus of their adventures. Slowly building dread, with brief periods of calm, a welcome respite from the tension. Both are effectively used, and are good choices considering the genre.
Story: As I mentioned, the scale is very close to the characters, which I think is a major strong point. The monsters which are the focal point of the story, are done very well, and appear adequately dangerous. That said, even taking the nature of the story as being one of horror, I think it takes a bit too long. The first arc I think being much better paced of the two. Its very hard to maintain effective tension for too long.
Grammar: Its very good. A few very minor errors blemishing what would otherwise be a perfect score. There is some repetition in the diction, but its a nit-pick.
Characters: While grounded well in archetypes, and well balanced between the two central characters, have enough added dimensions to avoid cliché. They’re interesting, and their differentiation shows up effectively in their worldview, and interestingly in how they perform their art. The side characters despite many not having that much page time, becoming endearing enough in good time to work quite well. Dialog is a bit repetitive, recycling the same rhythms.
For sake of transparency, this was left as a part of a review swap.
This is a story of gods, of combat, and deception. It takes place in a realm filled with shadow, a grand tournament to see who shall rise from the candidates to become the next Tu'i. Theoretically.
At least, that's as far as I got. As many other reviewers have noted, this story is a challenge to get into, for a few reasons.
To the specifics:
Style: The author has a clear sense of what he wants the world to look like, and it is an interesting world indeed. His action scenes are punchy, brutal, and effective. His dark tone, reflects the tint of the shadow hanging over the strange locales, which he lays out in vivid details. It is excellently executed.
Story: The basic layout, from what I have read appears to be quite straightforward on its face, however due to the meticulous layering of information over time, I suspect it has hidden depths. It is a slow burn, it builds, trickling in information, slowly fleshing out the world, its machinations moving inexorably forward. This story clearly wants to take its time, setting all of the pieces into place. It is though for me, a bit too slow however.
Grammar: The author, has an excellent grasp of the tools of his trade. I only spotted one error in the eleven chapters I read, and it was a very, minor one. There were spots where the writer erred from ‘proper’ structure, however its clearly from a place of knowing where the rules can be bent, coming off more like speaking than writing. It works, rather effectively.
Characters: This is for me, the sticking point. The story, clearly has finds inspiration in older stories, I’m guessing, pacific islander in origin, but I can’t say for certain so my thoughts occurred in a vacuum as it were. They’re not flat, they have clear personalities, and the dialogue quality isn’t low by any stretch. The characters follow very human patterns and are well built.
That said, I find myself not wanting to read any more though, because I don’t like any of them. I would take it a step further, and say the majority I actively dislike. I can find no fault in how they are crafted, yet I don’t want to read about any of these people. So I find myself not wanting to continue, despite the interesting world they inhabit.
In summary, the author is clearly skilled, and knows what story he is building. He is in no rush, to get to the end, and has created a very intriguing world, filled with an unusual cast of characters.