I really enjoyed reading this story, even the drafts seemed of high quality to me even though the author didn't want me to read them. Few stories I've read on this platform have managed to transmit me the emotions of its protagonist and immerse me so much in its world.
This is perhaps my least favourite part of the book, although that doesn't mean it's bad. The author uses several techniques, such as 'corrupted' or 'digital' letters, to give some 'freshness' to his style, but in my humble opinion it makes the whole thing a bit chaotic.
He also combines the present tense with the past tense, I don't know if it's on purpose or by accident. The same goes for the POV. In the first few chapters the story is told in first person from the protagonist's perspective, but there are moments when an external narrator suddenly assumes control. Maybe if it's executed well it can look good, I've tried it myself without success, but what I've read so far has been a bit confusing.
On the other hand, paragraphs are very irregular. There are three, four or five-line paragraphs followed by a one-line paragraph. Or several one-line paragraphs. Perhaps it is the author's preference to arrange the information this way, but the ideal would be paragraphs of consistent size that bring the information together in an organized way.
My recommendation is that the author concentrates on a single POV and a single time, that will make things much easier. I would also ask him/her to arrange those single sentences into larger paragraphs. Despite everything I've said, I'm very flexible on this because the author himself/herself has stated that he/she still has to edit them.
I won't go into details because I don't want to spoil anything, but everything is excellently executed. He/she doesn't rush to reveal anything, his/her story is the perfect definition of "show, don't tell". The pace of the story is slow, very slow at times, but his/her wonderful way of narrating what is going on makes you forget that the story is not progressing. Moreover, he/she knows how to convey perfectly everything the protagonist feels and knows how to touch the reader's heartstrings.
Moreover, the story is much more original than I expected. I have rarely seen an introduction like that, so intimate, so dark, so raw, that with few details about what is happening captures your attention. I have no complaints, the author has excelled himself/herself. Never ceases to surprise with every scene.
A few mistakes from time to time, but I know the author is perfectly aware of that and will fix it. His/her vocabulary is rich and varied and knows when to use the right word at the right time. It never feels monotonous. Sometimes he/she forgets to capitalize names or put full stops or commas to separate sentences, but that's only in the first few chapters. Overall it's very good.
The characters are slow to appear and the only one we really get to know is, as usual, the main character. I can only rave about how well constructed he is. The beginning of the story is narrated entirely by him, so in addition to helping us understand his view of the world, we discover things along with him.
His psychology is very well achieved, I felt really sorry for him in his moments of reflection and crisis. He is not a Gary Stu, he is not a hero above circumstances who is unaffected by fear or pain. He's HUMAN, one of the most human characters I've seen in Royal Road, and I appreciate that such a character exists. I liked seeing his kindness, his fear, his pain, his regret, his longing, his cowardice, his bravery... He was an important piece in setting the tone of the story. That's the right way to go, author.
My only complaint here is the lack of dialogue and how incoherent it can be. At the beginning it's justified because it's just him and he practically talks to the viewer all the time, but later on I missed more dialogue amidst all the narration. I also noticed that some sentences, not many, lacked meaning or importance. Maybe it's a matter of taste, maybe. But it would make the characters even better.
Like all stories, it has its mistakes, most of them easily reparable. I have named many things I didn't like, but considering the things I did like, I don't mind them at all. I enjoyed it very much, and that's all that matters when reading. Congratulations, it's an A+.
Kirra, our protagonist, is an orphan rejected by her people who must rise from the lowest to fulfil the wish of her fallen goddess.
Its style is dominated by narration through an omniscient third-person narrator, although sometimes only what the characters, i.e. Kirra, know is told. The story has hardly any dialogue as such. All the conversations are told to you by the narrator him/herself, but it's not as extreme as I tell it. In my opinion, I think this hurts the understanding and development of the characters, but it's a hard thing to judge because of how young the story is.
Other than that, the author's prose is beautiful. He/she makes good use of his/her large vocabulary and doesn't fail to describe scenery and landscapes. It has minor flaws as far as characters and their characterisations are concerned, but it gets its descriptions of settings and situations right. One of the strengths of this fiction.
The first chapter of Realms is a good example of how a story should start. It's exciting, action-packed, and gives us a context for the world and our protagonist without resorting to long, boring explanations. The fate of Kirra's parents leaves a lot of questions for the reader, and if you manage to do that at the beginning of everything it's very possible to have a higher reader retention. Congratulations on that.
After the introduction, the story puts the brakes on and focuses more on world-building. It introduces in a few chapters the most important concepts (The gods, the wars that killed Ammone, the different clans, their society, the places, etc.) and I think it does it quite well, as it doesn't detract from the point the story is at. The lives of the Snowscars, Skyfire and the rest of the clans are centred around the gods, so it makes sense to talk about them to keep building the story. It's a natural progression.
I don't have many complaints about how the story progresses from there. There is conflict in little Kirra's life, and her struggle to survive is compelling. I have to say that her adoptive father's illness played less of a role than it should have. It is resolved relatively quickly and there is no further mystery to the matter. But while this subplot is undermined, another is created. In search of a cure, Kirra meets the guardian of her goddess and is given an important mission. She is then in serious trouble with the leader of the tribe, and is only saved by that mission. This shows the good coherence and connection the author can make between the different plots.
The next part is the one I liked the least. To receive her awakening, Kirra has to enter a dungeon. It's supposed to be the biggest challenge she's had to face up to that point, but multiple conveniences save her life. Traps that even she didn't know were there finish off the monsters that inhabit the dungeon. The trap doors open to save her from danger. This doesn't kill the story, but if the protagonist still can't fight it would be wise not to put such great dangers in her way. Or at least solve it in a more intelligent way.
To end this section, I must express my dissatisfaction with the way the backstory of the world and the characters themselves is laid out. Kirra's origin is well done, but it is the only example I can remember. Many facts about her father or about the goddess Ammone are told as if they were anecdotes. I would have preferred to see these things first hand, rather than hear someone else tell them. And if that doesn't work either, telling it in dialogue wouldn't have been bad.
I don't have much to say in this section. There were a lot more mistakes in the beginning than there are now, so I can assure you that the author listens to his/her audience and works hard to fix them. There are still some small mistakes, like the change between male and female pronouns for Kirra, but it's not a big deal. Some letters are left over and some are missing, but as I say, overall there's a good standard of writing. (In answer to the title, I think this story shouldn't have been a LitRPG. I'm not very experienced in the genre, but so far no system has been introduced to make it feel natural afterwards. There were barely any stats in the awakening of the fourth son. Also, I don't think it needs any system. It could be a traditional fantasy fiction and it wouldn't make any difference).
Finally, the characters. I really like Kirra's parents and Kirra herself, even the tribal chief. They have their charm, personalities and impact on the story. You can easily empathise with Kirra and support her through her journey. She is not strong, she is not rich and she is not loved by her own people. But that is her greatest virtue. She strives to live and care for those she loves, and that makes her a good protagonist without needing to be psychologically complex or physically powerful. The leader, on the other hand, is a good antagonist. He favours his own, naturally, and his dislike of Kirra makes sense.
Unfortunately, the other characters have little to say. Kirra's adoptive father serves only to develop her story. The hunters are a stone in Kirra's path and we hardly know anything about the gods or the priest. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the story still needs to move forward. I'm sure it will become a great story as time progresses. Best of luck!