The Featherlight Transmission

TL;DR – This story is criminally underappreciated on this site.  Though it bites off more than it can chew and has some editing issues in a few spots, it is so unique and flavorful that it is easily one of the best fictions posted here.  Read it!  Give it ratings and follows and favorites!  Maybe then the author will make more!


The Featherlight Transmission is what happens when you turn the Imagination dial up to 11, then keep twisting it harder until it snaps off.  It is a wonder of worldbuilding, a marvel of narration, a masterclass in dialogue, and a prime example of the folly of biting off more than you can chew.  I'll get to that last part later.

STYLE: Sometimes I'll watch a movie or play a game which have clear, obvious flaws, but I'll love them anyway because of their sense of style is just so astounding (looking at you, No More Heroes).  TFT has this level of style, the kind where I would give it a 17/5 if RR would let me.  This story is just overflowing with great ideas.  The use of vitae as a way of describing a person and their character is just brilliant, providing the author with a way of encapsulating the feel of a person without having to keep talking about hair color or eyes or whatnot.  Other stylistic touches, like commentary about lollipop flavors setting the mood, show just how much thought and skill went into writing this excellent work.

The story is a noir first-person detective story, and it has all the bells and whistles you'd want and expect from this sort of thing.  It has the tortured metaphors.  It has the detailed descriptions of the world, filtered and skewed through the viewpoint of a sardonic, cynical, weary man who has been through some shit and decided he's tired of everything.  It has the off-handed internal asides, the sarcastic one-liners, and the witty dialogue that makes this a top-class detective-style story.  It's fantastic.

GRAMMAR: I found a few typos as I went, but nothing worth complaining about given the standards of RoyalRoad.

CHARACTER: As the entire story is an internal monologue, meaning every single thing is tinted through the lens of the main character's perspective and personality, the entire story hinges on the quality of this one character.  It's great news, then, that I can report that the character of Baulric Featherlight is an absolute joy to read.  The way he views the world around him, and the way that the world views him in return, given that he is the combination of two separately hated subgroups, kept me engaged throughout.

There are some other characters too that are pretty good, though maybe only one or two really get enough time to grow into something more than Baulric's interpretation of them.  A few characters later on felt a little weaker to me.

STORY: I'm going to separate this into two subsections – Worldbuilding and Plot.

Worldbuilding: This might be the most realized world I've read on RR.  It's astounding, the level of detail the author managed to come up with (even with that Imagination dial snapped off).  Every section of the world of Wellspring City feels like it has a distinct culture and flavor, with well-known sayings and long, detailed histories.  Mystery and wonder abound, sometimes too much (but again I'll get to that in bit).  Wellspring City is large and complex, but the world feels like it makes sense.  It's all explained well and nothing I can think of feels entirely out of place.  In a story like this, the world/city is in many ways a character of its own, and this one is sublime.

Plot: Here, sadly, is where things fall apart a little.  Throughout this story, many mysteries and characters are presented to the reader, but precious few are actually answered, leading to a palpable sense of letdown.  The author's imagination runs a little too wild, perhaps, as they throw plot thread after plot thread at the reader, only to wrap up a small fraction of them.  It's possible that more of these would be resolved in a second installment, but even if that were the case, the way they are presented, not fleshed out, and then ignored just makes it feel like the author shoved in every idea they could think of and then couldn't find a way to turn them all into a coherent plot.  Many of them could be cut from this book (and then perhaps introduced in a sequel) and the work would be dramatically improved.  Remember, kids, foreshadowing that never turns into anything is just broken promises!  A few of these items, just off the top of my head, include:

Delpo Dellweather – shows up in a single conversation, is presented as a mysterious weirdo, then doesn't figure into the plot at all until the very end when he comes out of nowhere to save the day for some reason

Kaiamora Stonecutter – serves no real purpose in the story except perhaps to be a red herring with the water murder

Nine's ancient origins – right at the end, author drops on us that the robot we thought was made by the current evil science people was actually made much earlier, then never goes into anything about that.

Rocky – Rocky is basically a plot device.  You don't get to see it fight, you don't get to see it do much of anything other than move the plot forward and be mysteriously linked to the Wellwardens (who also are talking about but never once actually show up in the story).

Electrofuck – honestly I don't think there's much of a justification for this character.  He seems to serve as a means to an end, the driving force to push Baulric to doing his investigation.  But he doesn’t figure into the actually plot in any way that couldn't be replaced with something simpler.  He's an unseen force, then the Librarian gives Baulric a doodad, then Baulric gives it to Electrofuck, and... that's it.

Electrofuck's dad – literally no purpose in the story for this guy.

Baulric's magic – Baulric needs to learn to use his magic!  He's gotta experiment and maybe read this tome by this other life mage!  And he's gonna!  After the story is over, maybe!

The mysterious internal voice – somebody's talking to Baulric and being all creepy about it but nothing really comes from it at all.  Maybe related to these sudden violent urges that he gets, which also kind of come out of nowhere and have little impact on anything.

Marmalade – I didn't notice the first mention of Marmalade, in chapter 5, until I went back looking for it after it being mentioned out of nowhere in the Library chapter.  Marmalade is mentioned several times in the story, without explanation.  It seems to be featured in a pair of chapters (the original 5 and 6) that were cut from the story for submission to a magazine (yes I went googling).  I found the original chapter 5 (you can't hide from me or archive sites) but haven't read it because it doesn't have anything to do with the plot whatsoever.  An editing mistake, but a very jarring one.

The ending is the worst part, by far.  It feels rushed, like a TV show that had 3 more seasons planned but the writers just learned they have half a season left before the show is cancelled and they have to cram everything they can into the last few episodes.  Another review states that Baulric gets "caught up in a grand conspiracy", but when all is said and done,

the conspiracy is decidedly not "grand" in any way.  It's actually really basic and kind of boring.

A lot of my complaints stem from this ending, because the way it comes about makes this all feel like the author just got tired and wanted to stop.  That's why the unresolved mysteries hurt so much.  If there were resolutions in a follow-up story, then many of them would still feel kinda not great, but definitely much better than how it is now.  But the way the ending happens lends a tremendous sense of the author just kind of running out of juice.  It saddens me.

ANYWAY!  The fact that this story is in my top 3 stories on the entire site, given the myriad issues I've mentioned, speaks to its quality perhaps better than anything else I can say.  That something like this goes almost entirely unnoticed while generic litrpg story 19385439 gets a million views says a lot about this place.  Read this story!  It's highly entertaining and its highs overwhelm its lows.  You will not regret it.

He Who Fights With Monsters

Generally good but too in love with the MC

Generally a very well executed story.  If I'd written this 25 chapters ago I would have scored it much higher.  However, since then I've really soured on certain parts of the story, especially the MC.  Did you know that he's a brilliant social manipulator?  Well if you didn't, don't fret!  The other characters will tell you how smart he is, over and over and over!  Everybody loves him, you see, except the people who don't, and that's how you know they're the bad guys.  If I could find somebody to love me even a quarter as much as these people love Jason, I'd have the best wife in the world.

Update: Couldn't take it anymore and dropped it a few weeks ago.  Updated with my final ratings.

They are Smol

The funniest story on this site

Style's good, grammar's good, all that shit is good.  But what really matters is that this story is the only story on RR to elicit a legit vocal laugh from me, and it's done it not just once but many times.  Read and enjoy the chronicles of multiple species, each with their own points of view on life and yet all equally very bad at not fucking up.

Accidentally Blessed by a Goddess Before Reincarnating

I will not deny that I can be very hard to please when it comes to stories on this site.  With that in mind, I lean towards reviewing only those that impress me, rather than slagging on the many that don't.  However, this story has multiple reviews touting it as a high-quality story on this site, and I feel I need to provide at least a slight bit of counterbalace to them.

While I am hard to please, I am usually willing to bend on many things if I can see something of value behind the issues a work my have.  However, there are a few problems I just cannot ever tolerate, and this story has an abundance of the one I probably hate the most: run-on sentences.  Even worse, much of it is run-on dialogue.

I think it was "I am not her brave soul but I am her mother however so I can see how you could come to that conclusion, I have many names but you may call me Aphrodite" that finally broke me.  Or maybe it was "However I feel like a soul like yours never truly belonged in such a peaceful world your fighting spirit is amazing in this new world you will plenty of opportunities to fight worthy battles".  I can't read this without hearing it in a monotone without any pauses or breaths.  There's no cadence to the speech because there's little to no punctuation, so everybody seems to speak like a bad text-to-speech program in my mind.

I skipped ahead to see if this was just a temporary problem, but...

  • Chapter 7 - "Father I believe I have attracted the attention of someone troublesome at the reception Darius was his name." - Nope, first sentence.
  • Chapter 15 - "Hey Zyra you still have those hairpins that can change your hair color I know you just recently started selling them?" - Still no.
  • Chapter 21 (latest update atm) - "Please you must keep that a secret you said I could trust you." - Not as bad but still happening.

Now I will not deny that the overall magnitude and severity of run-on sentences has decreased significantly as the chapters accumulate.  There is a great difference between the first chapters and the latest ones.  But there's enough in the newer content to still annoy me, and I can't make it through the old stuff to get to the improvements without wanting to give up two paragraphs in.

If the author were to go back and polish the starting chapters I would be much more willing to give this another shot, but until then, pass.

Slip Hero

This is the kind of story where you can totally see something coming and you still love it when it happens because it's executed so well.  Perhaps the best world-building of any story I've read here so far.  The world isn't incredibly unique, but it doesn't have to be.  It simply feels the most realized.  Could use a proofreader in the later chapters.  A lot of typos and words that are real words which pass spell-check but are one letter off from the intended word.

The Rising

There's a real high ceiling for this story.  Grammer checks out, characters are fine so far.  Story is still early, but few missteps at this point.  Not a fan of how MC just happens to stumble upon the prince so early.  It's a little contrived/unearned but I can forgive it because everything else holds up.

A Hero's War

I usually can tell how good I feel a book is by how little sleep I get after I start reading it.  I got 3 hours of sleep last night.

Characters are good.  Dialogue is pretty good and natural.  Nice attention to detail.  World is somewhat fleshed out.

I don't understand why its rating is only around 4/5.  Should be much higher compared to half the stories rated better than it.

Before the Day Is Done

The story is just starting to really develop, but I'm already hooked.  The author does a great job of bringing the reader into the MC's head, and makes her and her circumstances different and interesting.  A+ so far, and you can tell it's about to get so much better.

Infinite Horizon

This does a great job of capturing that "Deadpool" vibe, whether it's going for that or not.  Good grammar and spelling too.  Not every joke is a classic (the Battlefield 1 joke for example dates this immediately) but in general there's a lot of good ones.  Easily the most I have laughed from a story on this site.  Thumbs up.

Savage Divinity

The most cohesive, well written story I've read here so far

I have been constantly impressed by the quality of this work.  I have absurdly high standards for what amounts to amateur storytelling, and Savage Divinity has done well to exceed my expectations on many levels.  The prose flows smoothly and naturally, the experience unmarred by grammatical missteps or awkward turns of phrase.  The story is moving fairly nicely, with some interesting developments and a plot that is so far neither too basic nor overly convoluted.

With that said, I do have some (arguably extremely minor and nitpicky) issues.  As I said above, my standards are rather unfairly hard to reach, and here's the aspects that failed to meet my lofty standards:

  1. The main character is supposed to be from our world at least to some degree but so far the author has done very little with that, to the point where if this was written without that point I think it might make it a better story.  There's been a little bit with him viewing certain actions in a different light than other characters, but the MC coming from a different world isn't required for that.  You could make the MC just be a slave who has amnesia and he could still be written as at least 95% the same character.  The MC makes little to no use of other-worldly knowledge or anything of that sort, and the attitude, while explained by the transfer, could be believable without it in my opinion.  There's still time for this to change and turn into a real asset to the story, but so far it seems that the most relevant thing brought about by this is nerdy references that no other character understands.  Speaking of which...
  2. He can't remember where rubber or plastic come from, and doesn't seem to remember much of anything from his past life in the form of knowledge that could help him or others, but he can quote Monty Python and Conan the Barbarian with the best of them.  I ended up just rolling my eyes eventually when this became a semi-regular thing.  I feel like it pulled me out of the world more than anything else and the work would be better if that was all just cut out.
  3. It would be nice if any of the villains were more than just walking stereotypes.  I mean, the author has really nailed the whole Wuxia "haughty aristocratic youth" mindset, but it is tiresome to me at this point in reading so many other Wuxia/Xianxia/whatever stories on the web and here.  I usually don't consider this a complaint, but the author has done a very good job with the protagonist characters, and so it kinda made me want more from this end too.  The one Defiled warrior has promise.  Everybody else so far... it's like every aristocratic person is the same character but a different age.  Lots of "savages" talk and disrespecting people because they're the Other.  You know, standard stuff.
  4. My brain is weird, and so I don't know if this is fair, but certain things about societies in written works get to me and break my suspension of disbelief for the weirdest of reasons.  This was the one in this story that bothered me: Story: "The world is a world of martial arts where there's beast people and humans and people have Spirit Weapons and know Kung Fu." Brain: "Sure, sounds cool."  Story: "People ride around on giant otter things."  Brain: "Awesome, I'm down with that."  Story: "The protagonist is adopted into a utopian community where everybody is happy and society is functioning smoothly and everything is perfect."  Brain: "LOL NO."  I remember the stories my father told me about the time he lived in a commune in Israel back before I was conceived.  It was a kinda similar setup: somewhat isolated, insular, cooperative.  And what was it like?  He loved to talk about the petty feuds and spiteful grudges given birth by simple human ambition and jealousy, about the arguments over the stupidest of things, and the issues caused by both the misuse and distrust of authority.  The place barely kept together, and it was as dysfunctional as you could imagine.  That's real society, and when I see depictions of places like the home of "The People" I just have trouble believing it, more so even than giant otters.

With all that said, I think the above complaints are of little significance here.  You should read this.  While I don't find it perfect by any means, I will say this: I'm currently working on a story that I will eventually start posting on this site and Savage Divinity is the story that I will be using as the benchmark for quality in my own attempt.  That's perhaps the best compliment I can give.  Well done so far, keep it up!