Memories of the Fall

Chapter 100 edit: I mean, I just have to return the .5 stars I docked from the style category because of the handling of the magic system relative to the characters in the narrative. It's just too crazy. This story is just too good.

Original review, where the style score i gave was a 4.5 rather than a 5:

It's a testament to how good I think this is that I feel like I have to explain myself for docking half a star off the style category before I start.

Grammar (because this category only matters when it's bad): Obviously, it's good. I think this is an objective matter. There aren't mistakes that are immediately obvious - I'm sure I could find people pointing them out if i dug through the comments of every chapter or something, but to me if finding errors is decently rare, this has to be scored a 5.

Style: A story like this can't be for everyone - no matter how much I wish everyone would read it. The penalty comes from how carefully it has to be read. Now that in itself cannot be a problem during the actual reading of the story. The issue is one of format - this is published every few days and it's hard to remember the many, many names of, well, everything. I consider myself at least a decently careful reader but (as a real, recent example) confusing Bright Dream and Bright Fortune leads to a lot of confusion when plot lines from many chapters ago start resolving - or at least progressing.

Story/Character: That of course brings me to the story itself. This is a category which is inextricably linked, in my opinion - more so in this story than most.  Where do I start, really. There are many characters in this. I'm not talking like epic 5000 pages of western fantasy many. I'm talking like eastern classics many. Myriad, even.

Of the many, there are a few POV characters. By a few, I still actually mean many. But how can there not be - I estimate that around 5 or 6 of the pov characters who aren't the main cast (our set of 2+3 protagonists) would qualify as the sole protagonist of their own story. And those stories would be good too.

This story is excellent in a way that stands out because of how hard it is to not care about certain parts of the story - even though the first inclination of the reader is to pay more attention to the marquee point of view characters, the more intermittent stories are written with so much of that excellence that it feels okay to step away from the "main" story.

I have many very, very nice things to say about pretty much all the pov characters - so I'll actually talk about the villain of the piece instead.

In xianxia it's often the case that the villain to be conquered is the reader's suspension of disbelief about exactly how great the protagonist is. This is the case with many, many xianxia staples - and will continue to be. That's just a foible of the genre (and progression fantasy on a whole). That's why Memories of the Fall is uniquely noteworthy.

It's such a deft answer to the problem of meaningful villains that's genre wide because the story uses this problem - the main antagonist is, by and large, what you'd expect a relatively amoral xianxia protagonist to look like to the world. And this is a beautiful solution because somehow in a genre where people fight over what omnipotence means, there's a satisfying villain who doesn't rank amongst any of the godlike entities that make an appearance.

For someone who might not have read much xianxia hasn't been exposed to the many egregious acts of most xianxia protagonists, it's easy to end up rooting for, well, mostly everyone in the story to succeed at stopping him. There's something so pesky about the things the antagonist does to get out of trouble.

For someone who has read a lot of xianxia, it's even better than that. The annoyance built by the entirety of the genre over every plot hole, every ass pull, every sudden and dramatic non sequitur deus ex machina in everything you've ever read drives your rage towards the antagonist. Reading about the things he's done, you'll realize you've never been so mad.

So, uh, read it. Or don't - it's your loss if you don't. Every time I recommend this to anyone I know, they don't want to read it because of all kinds of stupid reasons. And then when they do, they love it.

I've shilled this story so many times that I thought I owed it a review. There's actually so, so many reasons why I think it's great, so I just picked my favorite one.

These Heels Step Heavenward - A Jade Beauty's Isekai Gone Wild

The first, sometimes the only, question that needs to be asked with a story like this is whether or not it's funny.

I could talk about the hows and whys of why Halt's humor lands: The way Daphne is disassociated from the setting. The times that the incredible and incredibly frustrating punchlines hits where you expect it and the times where you got completely baited. The way the prose manages to simultaneously set the jokes up and also be excellent.

But doing all of that stuff properly doesn't make a story funny. And Halt's story happens to do all of these things.

That's the issue with humor - you just have it or you don't. Your jokes land or they don't. You can read a hundred books about how to write humor, tell jokes, et cetera - and people do! But that sort of thing rarely works for improving the most important thing in a comedy.

Sometimes, you just have to have it. And this story has it.

There are many parodies of xianxia themes floating around the internet. Most of them take the form of memes or one line quotes of particularly egregious examples of the genre. That leads to the biggest problem of this story. It's more funny than the content that's like it. I'm finding it more difficult to be entertained by that kind of content because of this story. To me, that's the highest bar there is.

edit: 1/2star deducted because how dare you