I haven't read much but the impression I'm getting is that this is a modified dungeon core story. Instead of a crystal, the main character is a disembodied system hitched onto a hero.
There are a few aspects that I dislike about this story.
The first is that it has major white room syndrome. It's not entirely its fault due to the writing style but there is no setting. If he was in a blank white room instead of a starter village which is explicitly described as bland and generic then nothing would change.
The second thing is that the MC is useless. He doesn't do anything, doesn't acheive anything, doesn't have any goals and spends what feels like half the word count complaining about how unfair it was that he didn't get a tutorial. If he really was as smart as he is described to be then I would expect him to pull up his big boy britches and concoct a plan of attack rather than mindlessly bumbling around.
In the first 5 chapters Parker - the MC - acheives a single thing: casting assess (twice admittedly).
In addition, the blue box gimmick isn't all the necessary since the text is mostly introspection which other books handle fine in regular paragraphs.
Lastly the characters are boring. Parker - the MC - endlessly monologues in confusion, has no goals, no attachments, and no desires besides a lukewarm curiosity towards understanding how to cast spells because it is "cool".
The grammar is clean.
Overall: I suppose I didn't understand it, though I, admittedly, didn't give it much of a chance.
This story is good honest fun with a few problems that are more eloquently highlighted in other reviews. I want to speak a little about Beneath the Dragoneye Moons' message.
Beneath the Dragoneye Moons is an isekai about a healer whose main stand out feature is an oath she takes early on in the story that is enforced by the system and restricts her actions in exchange for power. This is a lovely premise. Restriction skills are always a joy to read about, as they neatly justify why and how the main character is worthy of the power they wield.
Elaine - adorable as she is - is not worthy.
If you are forced to justify your actions after the fact, then you have not thought deeply about the oath you have taken.
Elaine took the Hippocratic Oath because she believed that she will do no harm. The spirit of the oath was to bring good to the world, and after 300 chapters I believe Elaine has thrown away the spirit of her oath and has become a lawyer to find loopholes that she can slip through.
One of the primary tenets of her oath is: "do not kill". This stems from the belief that taking a life is wrong no matter what. Throughout the story, Elaine takes lives. In each situation, her reasoning makes sense and her logic is sound. But that does not change the fact that there are humans. Living, breathing people with families and loved ones and goals and dreams and secrets and desires. People. People who are dead specifically because of one or more of Elaine's - and only Elaine's - actions.
There have been times in the story where Elaine's life was at risk and she was forced to defend herself with lethal force. She was not punished for this for perfectly valid, locally accurate justifications, however, wasn't it Elaine - and not her aggressors - who chose to join a military enforcer group who actively seeks out violence?
So, despite the happy tone, I am forced to conclude that this story conveys a rather dismal message.
It argues that if you take your own choice away, then your actions are justified. It argues that if a white man marches into a black neighborhood 100 years ago, then the white man is justified in killing blacks because they attacked him first. It argues that operating on a patient despite their express denial is ok if the doctor believes that their actions will help the patient.
It argues against choice. Against the belief that we - as humans - have the ability to affect our fate. It says that there is no course of action we can take that leads to zero death if we are thrust into a medieval fantasy world full of war, insurrection, and conflict.
I find that sad.
Sort of a nothing burger. It's not a time loop story, with more of a similarity to Isekai slice of life. The very beginning was fun, but all the momentum drained away the moment he entered the city.
Writing is fine. Lots of adverbs. Gets the point across, tends to repeat itself.
I don't really understand what is going on. After nearly 100 pages the main character has neither 'gotten hard' nor 'risen as a tank'. In fact he isn't even making any attempt at rising. Its all exploration with the express purpose of restarting somewhere else once he has figured out the meta.
The writing focuses on descriptions and 'worldbuilding' but is held back by the main characters insistance on being a bystander. Instead of interacting with the world he is exploring he spends his time flitting from place to place and having conversations that don't progress the plot, his character, or elucidates any character's motivation.
The overall tone is aimless.
The first eleven chapters can be summed up with this quote:
--For about a half-hour, with no specific aim, I continued exploring Amberkeld Town to learn more about how MCO worked. And also to simply take in the atmosphere of a fantasy world.--
I've read this story before. Not exactly but the story beats were so familiar that the feeling of deja vu was strong throughout. Its a 'from womb' story but doesn't make the mistake of keeping the MC as a baby for an extended period of time...except then traps the MC at age 9. Its whatever. You have to suspend disbeleif with all these stories imo.
Overall, its fine. The genre carries it, but the writing quality leaves something to be desired. The author tends to tell rather than show, then remind you three more times before the end of the chapter. Can be skimmed without loosing understanding.
The one thing that it does 'differently' is that it looks at the military. The iron discipline is amusing, though there is a shocking amount of long-winded explaining to a 9 year old recruit. The battles are ok, though the MC's tendency to start daydreaming during them is annoying and bleeds the tension.
Style: Terrible. Relies heavily on exposition, tends toward passive voice, tells more than shows. Heavy and slow to read.
Story: Fine. Baby is born, somehow manages to enter into a grueling training program for the first decade of his life, then goes on to the wider world. Doesn't have the stupid let's not trust our parents trope which is nice, but doesn't do much else interesting otherwise.
Character: Fine. The MC is a little insert and a little overpowered. Doesn't really want things. The other characters are better but they are also a little bland. The family revolves around him, and somehow so do the later segments.
For a mindless litrpg its fine. I recommend skipping the first few chapters. It sadly doesn't have any skills since the MC's build is about as anti-build as you can get.
This is a rags to riches story in a highly segregated world using the awakened variant of the muggle/wizard system. The grammar skimmable but poor. The tone is deeply misogynistic. Lots of profanity. The mc is a pretty shitty dude, and there does not seem to be any indication that they will become better.
The magic system is cloning where each clone reduces the physical stats by half. The mathematical consquences of this geometric series aren't explored and each clone is treated as if it is a regular strength person. The exhaustion mechanic is also ignored after being introduced, except as the explanation for the cap on clones.
Too much focus on emotional turmoil for it to be a proper leveling wish fulfillment, plus the story tends towards beating the MC down, rather than up.
That being said, it is a clone story, with all the usual hyper efficient training arcs, and one-man-army dream.
edit chapter 100: After chapter 100 5/5 stars. Upload schedule has slowed but is still quite brisk (5 chapters a week). Story is engaging, the mystery is better handled (no longer feels like a fish to the face) and the problems with the writing have diminished. It is still not a comedy, though the running wisdom gag is amusing. The rest of this review doesn't make a whole lotta sense for after chapter 100, but meh. Here is an invisible cookie for the poor fingies.
Tldr: the story is fun with a fast upload schedule best enjoyed by speed reading.
Prose handling emotions is clumsy at best. There is very little body language and there is absolutely no subtlety. The main character is a blank slate unless they are actively grappling with anger or confusion in a way that actively feels like padding. And I mean that literally. It is not uncommon for us to get dragged out of the scene to some unexplained mind space where he literally battles his emotions like a malfunctioning robot who takes a lot of deep breaths. Some sections read like a stream of consciousness. You may find entire sections of chapters - or in one particularly egregious case an entire chapter - to be immenently skippable.
The tags are also a little strange. It is not a comedy though it is light-hearted (mostly), and it is not a mystery. Just because there are things the main character doesn't know doesn't make it a mystery. It's only a mystery if the main character is actively searching for the answer. In both cases of mystery that I recall, the mc actively sets it down because 'let the adults handle it' and 'she will tell me in her own time'. The MC isn't even convinced that they are the only solution. They are just going to get mysteriously plot-smacked by the convenient villain that they are aware of, we are aware of, the authorities are aware of, but apparently no one is going to do anything about until things get so bad that a 3 year old who barely knows magic has to take care of it. Don't think to hard and it's a fun story.
To author: ways you can improve the prose: Avoid the word overwhelmed. If someone is feeling overwhelmed have them avoid eye contact, clasp the back of their heads, stutter, act out, or blink a lot. If you can add the sentence: "he teleported to a blank white room." before a paragraph and have it still make sense in context then consider changing things. Use body language to convey emotion. sadness (bowed head) playfulness (wink, nudge) disgust (curled lip, flinch). Or dialogue choice: (he was very angry vs how dare you!). People's writing instincts tend to introspect way more then necessary (especially when dictating). If you cut down on introspection you can turn a good book to a great one. Currently it reads like a spoken story but without the benefit of being able to see you across the campfire and have you direct my attention with hand gestures or wide eyes or vocal tone. You are missing tools is what I'm saying.
tldr: A well written litrpg with a familiar system, competent fight scenes, and a hefty load of adventure. It has consistent style so you will know fairly early if the story is not for you, or if you would likely enjoy it until the end.
This is a well written litrpg isekai following Tess as she goes from being clueless in a new world - and all that entails - to collecting many allies that help her tackle a world shaking quest involving the clash of deities. Our burgeoning herroine is chosen by the god of luck which seeps into various aspects of the story from stat allocation to the manner by which quests are granted and eventually solved. Yes, this is a 'lucky' hero story however up until ch48 the author brings it to bear with a subtle touch and we don't have enemies tripping onto swords comically. It is early days still, but so far the lucky aspect has only played a small - if amusing - role. In an attempt to try and balance the curse/blessing that is imparted on her by the god of luck, Tess choses to become a fairly unique type of spellsword (at least I haven't read about this type yet). Due to the nature of the system, Tess has also done a fair amount of crafting (both mundane and magical).
I personally don't like Tess as a character. There is nothing overtly wrong with her: She is well developed, with a backstory, clear likes and dislikes, etc... However, I get the feeling that she doesn't actually want to be in the new world. Whenever a problem arises she seems business like, and when something great happens she tends towards being astonished for a breif moment before shrugging it off and moving on. She doesn't get super excited about it. There isn't for example something that she is doing because she wants to do it (drinking with buds doesn't count). All of her main activities are in line with her main quest. She doesn't - so far - have a long standing challenge that she struggles desperately for because she wants a dog shelter for example. In all honesty I feel that I have explained myself poorly here, and there is a good chance you will not share my opinion. The other characters are pretty good, though there is some cardboard cutout syndrome happening.
Worldbuilding is pretty standard as far as I can tell. This is a fantasy world pre-industrial revolution, but with some familiar comforts like hot cocoa. Not bad. Didn't knock my socks off.
The system is fairly standard. It has familiar levels, stats, milestones for those stats, classes, skills, etc...
Plot is quest based after the first couple of chapters. Tess receives a quest, goes on the quest, repeat. (We have not had an escort quest yet). There is an optional 'convince Tess to do the thing' segment which doesn't always appear but rarely fails in convincing her. Although it has not happened yet, there is a distinct possibility of city building in the future.
Why 4 and not 5 stars? Aspects of the plot - which are supposed to be exciting twists - come off as contrived instead. This is a result of our heroine being 'lucky' and is really an issue in foreshadowing.
I don't know how to solve this per se, but perhaps making it more apparent that luck is involved might help. As in. Tess is lucky yes? So that should manifest itself in some way. A strongman is strong because he has trained (how to improve), we can see their muscles (how is it apparent), so it is satisfying when they win the arm wrestling tournament (result of effort). Tess should be the same. She is lucky. This is apparent already in how she gets better gear then everyone else, she is 'good' at gambling, she spawned in a favorable situation in general.
How does she get more lucky? How does she improve? This is harder but what about praying to Dex? (cursing Dex out might be more thematically appropriate) What about 'guiding' her luck by purchasing volatile elements that preferentially favor her. (volatile bombs that may or may not explode at juust the right moment could help her fighting style.). Tess is essentially evolving to be a Jack so her only super special attribute is her luck. Lean into that. She is a protagonist for a reason no?
How do we see the result of the effort? This is also difficult, because being lucky generally isn't understood as constituting effort. But this should follow from 'how to be more lucky' segment. Perhaps she should be able to get a weapon/skill that ggives her a random weapon. Or buffs her weapon with a random spell effect. You could perhaps make it so that Dex is happiest when she makes super unlikely events happen. So Dex rewards her for that.
What a story.
This is a 1500 page training montage following an overpowered reincarnated soul in a fantasy world with some prodigious world building sprinkled in.
The system is achievement based (like AH or BTDM) but with a heavy focus on science and experimentation to figure out the underlying workings, which are heavily inspired by physics in our world. You will find analysis eerily relaying to electromagnetism, gravity, strong and weak nuclear forces.
The main character's motivation is training, and much of the story is dedicated to that, however I feel like that is because the words are focused on that. She spends a lot of time doing other activities, it's just that they are skimmed over because they are less interesting.
There are many time skips but none more than a month or two. We get to watch as she grows from baby to teenager week by week.
Tldr. An achievement based Litrpg with a focus on leveling. What's not to like?
The Future That Never Was; The Cyperpunk Western is set in a dystopian future which is also somehow stuck in the past. This gives it a charming retro vibe which draws you in with each chapter.
The story is told from the perspective of Ali, and her cat Lee-. Ahem. Excuse me. It is told from Lee's perspective as her human companion who just so happens to hang around. This is actually a lovely addition and makes way for a lot of amusing comic releif which is oh, so needed in the absolutely grim society that is portrayed.
Luckily, Ali is allergic to vegetables which at least means that life is worth living. :P
The story follows the dynamic duo through several disjoint adventures throught he solar system as they try to scrape by. Yes. This story is actually composed of short stories in case you missed the tag.
What I find interesting about this story is that while Lee and Ali are very competent bounty hunters they are utterly eclipsed by the other legends that they encounter on their journey.
Now the star explanations.
Style: 4/5. The author has a diverse vocabularly that colorfully paints the scene with an exlectic brush. It really brings the world to life, and does wonders to for making the sometimes odd events or characters seem real and human. I personally feel though that Mr. Pickle tends to move super duper fast, especially during combat scenes. Because of this I sometimes had trouble following, and had to reread to figure out why this particular japanese samurai was unintelligable.
Grammer: 5/5: Excellent. As mentioned before Mr. Pickle not only has no noticable syntax errors, but also uses diverse prose to bring the world to life. No complaints.
Story: 4/5: I prefer long form stories. I found that while each individual arc is well done, they pale in comparison to each other. I found that some of the stories feel random, or less interesting then other segments which detracted from my enjoyment of the fiction. I often felt in the beginning of an arc, that just random things are happening, and only after a chapter or two, was I more able to understand the situation and truly appreciate the story.
Character: 4.5/5: This is an interesting one. Lee is a cat. Which is just amazing because he is pretentious, stuck up, and territorial. The story has all the usual cat jokes. Ali is entirely unique and is much more willing to just shoot her problems away. There is a large cast of characters that we meet breifly and they all come off as unique and decidedly human (or psychopathic but that counts right?). The reason for the 4.5 is that I think that the first arc is a masterpiece, while a lot of the hilarious jokes and interactions between Lee and the others kinda become more rare in the later stories.
Lastly, this story is very quotable, which I think is an amazing quality. It has numerous one liners which just had me giggling queitly as I read this late into the night.
“Just one. It’s a gig in the belt. It’s on our way, but no homicide allowed. Capture only.”
We both let out a groan of disappointment.
Come on. That's hilarious. And that's just one of many interactions that so perfectly encapsulate the characters, that no amount of exposition could match.
If nothing else I recommend you read the first short arc. It is only three chapters and is an absolute masterpiece.
Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the author in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.