Mark of the Fool: A Progression Fantasy

A well written story. It has great grammar, good characters and an intriguing world.There's no LitRpg system, rather it feels more like a DnD setting which is great. One thing I'd nitpick though is that while it starts off fairly fast paced, it slows down significantly soon afterwards.

When they get to Generasi

This isn't too bad, but it feels like the story lost a lot of the tension present in the first phase of the story, as the antagonist basically faded into the background and are not really pressing/driving the story forwards.

Tori Transmigrated

Figured I'd give this a try due to the overwhelmingly positive reviews, but after reading several chapters I simply don't understand the appeal of this story. Before I get into it, I should mention that the writing was fine but there were instances where the sentences were awkwardly structured.

The core of the issue is that the setting of the story is weak. It's an otome game transmigration where the twist is that the MC has no special powers or advantages. Conversely, the MC used to be a 40 year old woman who also happened to be exceptionally skilled in a wide variety of fields, including business management, swordplay and martial arts... how novel.

The driving force behind the plot is that apparently in the game, the character she reincarnated as (the villainess) is supposed to bring her entire family to ruination while opposing the protagonist. Unfortunately, as this outcome was driven solely by the old villainess's extraordinarily incompetent actions, it's not relevant at all. Instead, to give some semblance of tension, the protagonist & her love interests + a multitude of side characters all appear to be unreasonably antagonistic towards the MC. Frankly, there's no real draw to the story. Nothing to really hook the interest of the reader.

The characters are boring. In particular, the MC's defining trait is that she has a 40 year old's mentality. She's not funny, charismatic or anyhting of the sort; she's literally got nothing of interest except for having a "mature mindset". The pacing of the story is slow, which I normally don't have any problem with, but it doesn't feel like there's any real purpose to all of it. There's no tension, the character's aren't interesting and the plot is weak. It devolves into detailed descriptions of mundane events that I find hard to take interest in.

Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

Pretty solid, but loses some of the charm later

First off, the grammar is pretty good and I didn't really notice any big flaws. Overall a pretty smooth read.

Novel has great worldbuilding, interesting characters and a well thought out system. The main character is engaging and actually has a personality rather than being a generic wish-fufillment protagonist who knows everything. Some people might not like this, but I personally think it's a plus.

The society she lives in is sexist, but it's a fantasy DnD kinda world with the setting in a medievalesq era. I find it made her story more engaging due to her uphill battle against society and it's not exactly far fetched considering human history. I'm not really sure why it's thought of as a deal breaker or even a problem for many. Either way, it's a fantasy world; I just accepted it as part of the setting of the world and it never really got to me. The quality of the rest of the worldbuilding far overshadows any issue with it.

Character is primarily a healer and will only really fight in self defense, so if you're looking for something else idk what to tell you.

Everybody has clear strengths and weaknesses (Especially the MC!) which is great. Nobody feels truly invincible which is a rarity, especially as novels with systems usually end up with a nigh invincible MC able to do just about everything. The level system is well thought out and doesn't quite fall into the same trappings as other novels, especially when reaching high levels.

Overall a really enjoyable read that doesn't go stale over time. Highly recommended. I feel that there's too many negative reviews that don't actually focus on the quality of the story itself, and are either too hung up on one thing they don't like or just went in looking for something completely different.

*Updated for 2021-12-29

I originally caught up to the chapters at around 150 (like a year ago) and after coming back to it, I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of some of the writing choices in the following volumes:

1 - She literally mentally regresses due to evolving her classes. Its a bit rough getting used to her personality & expecting her to mature over all the wars, plagues and bloodshed she's seen, but then to watch her mental state go backwards towards a 'classic' teenager in the midst of puberty (which from my perspective the change felt forced and kinda came outta nowhere) is honestly frustrating.
2 - From the beginning I kind of expected her to eventually settle in with a cast of other main/support characters after she made her journey from nobody -> sentinel. Unfortunately, it seems to be following a pattern where in nearly every volume the previous support characters are all but forgotten and we see a new dynamic with a new set of characters (ranger squad -> Training -> Sentinel -> dwarves & later elves).
With each new cast of characters, we hardly see the previous ones. This kinda sucks because it feels as though their characters & personalities, as well as their interactions with the mc only really just start to take off & then they're immediately sidelined.

I really do like the lore & background of the story, but I found myself distancing myself somewhat from the MC a bit more & more over time due to the direction the author wants to take her. This is compounded by the fact that the author seems to be focusing the story solely around the MC. What I mean by this is that there are no other major characters & there's no reliable supporting cast to fall back upon which is a big downside in my books.

Overall though, I think it is a great read and still is one of the best currently on Royal Road.

A Journey of Black and Red

TLDR: VERY heavy focus on fights scenes with an unlikeable MC. No proper antagonist(s) nor concrete long term goal/objective other than devour and get stronger. Lacks any sort of intrigue or interesting side characters, its basically her travelling around killing people/peons on repeat. Forget anything relevant to "her inner struggle with humanity" outside of the first 5-10ish chapters, its hardly a thing outside of those. Interesting premise & worldbuilding, annoying first person present writing style.

From it's popularity as well as the amount of 5 stars reviews raving about this book, I admit that I was hoping for something more from what I've read so far. The story itself isn't too bad, and is definitely better than many other stories on RR, but I have issues with several aspects of the novel.

First off, the grammar is alright, but I have a bit of an issue with the writing style. The first person perspective as well as the present tense the book is written in throws me a bit off. In particular, I found that present tense exacerbates issues with the somewhat choppy pacing, where I feel like oftentimes the story just constantly jumps between events with no downtime or transition in between.

The second issue I have is with the characters. Most side characters (especially if they're not vampires) feel insignificant and expendable. There's only really one interesting side character, but that's about it. I felt no particular attachment to any side character that's been introduced so far (other than perhaps Loth).

The internal struggles and train of thoughts of the main character at the very beginning of the story were quite interesting and really helped portray the conflict between her humanity and her vampiric instincts. It also gave a good understanding of what her personality was like before her transformation. Unfortunately, this was fairly short lived and has been replaced by outbursts of violent bold lettered thoughts which while obviously meant to represent her vampire instincts, honestly don't really appeal to me/have the intended effect. It's hard to see them as anything more than just some impulses, and everybody experiences those.

More importantly imo, she devolves from an innocent peasant girl to a murder happy vampire prodigy extremely quickly. Frankly, any remnants of humanity seems to have for the most part disappeared after the first 15 chapters or so (so quickly that I hesitate to call it character development). In its place, she has completely adapted to her new lifestyle as a prodigic model vampire within but 1-2 years (which passes by very quickly due to timeskips), without any real guidance on how to be a vampire and all the while growing powerful extremely quickly thanks to her op bloodline. She's figured things out to such an extent that she's the one giving tips to century old vampires because she's just apparently just so good at the vampire thing. As a result, while my first impression found her quite interesting, I quickly found it hard to empathize with the MC and over time grew rather disillusioned with her.

There's a fair number of timeskips, which is understandable for an immortal vampire, but it doesn't really help with character development, nor the pacing.

Third major issue I have is with the story and the plot progression. I'm not really sure what the overarching objective of the MC is other than effectively "get stronger". There's also no real antagonist/threat outside of the first 15 or so chapters, which in combination with the lack of interesting side characters and minimal comedy, makes things a bit uninteresting.

I honestly can't see some evil orginisation (the brotherhood of the new light) that secures some random ancient dangerous relic that came outta nowhere as a real antagonist/threat. And the whole "vampire without a clan" status of the MC hasnt really had a whole lotta impact so far.

The only thing in overabundance over the past 30 or so chapters are the combat sequences (which are very well done) and the killing of a whole lotta different people/groups. 

If there's one part about the story I liked, it was the worldbuilding. The time is set in the 1800s, and the portrayal of the world in that timeframe as well as the different perspective of the characters was pretty interesting.

Overall, I was hoping for a story with a larger variety of elements such as subterfuge, politics, inner conflict, horror and similar topics, rather than one with such a heavy focus on fights scenes and hunt/feed/devour/kill. Also maybe one with a MC who can be empathized with, or at least a bit less kill happy/battle junkie. A proper antagonist or at least a more concrete long term goal/objective would also be appreciated.

The Calamity of a Reborn Witch

Sometimes you just stumble upon a story and from the first few pages you read, you already know it's a cut above the rest.

There's really not much to say about The Calamity of a Reborn Witch other than that it's amazing. The writing style feels good to read, no noticable grammar mistakes, incredible characters and intriguing plot. There are numerous POV changes at times, but they make sense and progress the plot. It doesn't hurt that the side characters are all so well fleshed out with their own personalities and motives that it's for the most part just as enjoyable to read from their POVs.

Overall, I'd have to say that The Calamity of A Reborn Witch is the best novel I've read on Royal Road and is a must read for anybody even remotely interested in the synopsis/genre.

The only potential concern I might have is what I fear may potentially happen in the current story arc, but from what I've read I'm sure it'll be fine.




Incredible first volume, falls off a bit over time

Volume one of Threadbare was amazing, one of the best story starts I've read on RR. Unfortunately, like many others, I found that the second volume wasn't quite as good as the first.

I'd like to start of by saying that the grammar is excellent. Sentences are coherent and paragraphs are pleasant to read. No issues here.

Regarding style, I personally found that the author's writing style peaked in the first volume, as the way he portrayed and described the struggles of a newly animated teddy bear was incredible. Don't get me wrong, I found the writing pleasant to read in volume 2, but volume 1 was on a different level.

The story is where the big issues start to appear for me. I personally found the plot progression to be well paced and worldbuilding was very interesting, but the story took a very different approach at the start of the second volume.

First off, there's a 5 year timeskip. Many of the previous side characters are dead and Celia's been abducted by her evil father & demon "mother". 

The interaction between Threadbare and his surroundings in volume 2 feels completely different from volume 1.

as he has basic human intelligence and the ability to speak. The way his decision making process was described was also a bit different.

This makes him feel just like a human and no longer like the teddy bear given consciousness that he used to be. This was honestly probably the biggest negative for me. In exchange, we get a huge focus on LitRpg aspects for not only Threadbare but many other characters. LitRpg elements are fine, but in my opinion it fell into the trap of having dozens upon dozens of active skills, with multipage long skill lists that are pretty damn difficult to keep track of. The combination of the MC feeling more human & the emphasis on LitRpg elements made the story feel much more generic/uninteresting to me.

Finally for characters. They were pretty fleshed out and had distinct personalities, but I found that volume 2 introduced some weird inconsistencies that I found difficult to stomach.

Some characters hardly changed (Zulla, Mad, Garon) while others, in particular Celia, felt completely different. I'm also a bit miffed about what was done with her. She gets captured by her evil father/mother who upturn her entire world around, then the next time we see her she's acting like a princess/knight in service to the king (her father). We're told at some point that it's because she's been brainwashed for 5 years.

The worst part for me was the following sequence:

She then leads a force against Threadbare and co and we get a somewhat anticlimactic reunion. Then she immediately gets killed by her demon mother but then reanimated as a doll shortly after and everybody pretends that all is well in that department, let's march off and stop the evil king frond doing more harm. It was all very sudden and kinda just... Hard to accept.

Overall, I'd give volume one a 4.5+ and volume 2 something like a 4- or so.

The Perfect Run

In my opinion, this is one of the best stories on RR atm. You need to get a bit into it though as the initial chapters can be a bit disorienting. The MC initially seems a bit insane, but he really grows on you over time as you come to understand his thought process and the state of the world around him.

Cinnamon Bun

Strong start, grows a bit stale over time

Has a great start and it's great change of pace seeing such a wholesome MC. It's very well written, with emphasis on the homeliness and adorable actions of the protagonist. Unfortunately, there's a lack of tension within the overarching narrative as there's no real antagonist or tangible goal for the cast to work towards. Instead, there's a very vague "save the world" quest provided by an unknown power that has no time limit nor apparent reprecussions.

The system and the worldbuilding are pretty well done but the main focus is on the MC having fun & fluffy moments with her friends (no romance/yuri, just a whole lotta friendship). These moments are well written with minimal grammar mistakes, making it a pleasure to read.

Unfortunately, the adorable antics of the MC can only go so far and be entertaining for so long before it gets repetitive, and at that point the lack of tension makes itself known. The characters themselves are pretty well done, but seem to fall under certain tropes and stay as such (there's no real character development).

I found that the story was very engaging for quite some time, but after a hundred plus chapters it wasn't quite as entertaining and was becoming a bit stale to read.

Wander West, in Shadow

After catching up with the current chapters of "Wander West, in Shadow", I found it to be so enjoyable that I thought it a shame that the story wasn't more well known. 

To being with, it's a story set in a high fantasy world without any connection to the modern world (no isekai, reincarnation, etc...). The initial synopsis provides a good introduction to the premise, though it should be said that the plot starts small in scale (very personal and character focused) and seems to be slowly expanding.

Furthermore, it should be said that while the story is very engaging, it has a much slower pace than a lot of the more popular stories on Royal Road. It's not a slice of life, but the author spends a good chunk of time focusing on character interactions and details. Instead, tension is built up over time with layers of details, allowing for moments of highs and lows, with brief moments of respite in between. This results in a story that's not as easy to read and action packed (though there's still plenty of action) as many of the most popular novels on the site. I find this to be fine, but I know many other readers may not have the same tastes.

Worldbuilding is also very well done and well executed. Rather than large infodumps that are chores to read, the author generally provides the readers with information on the world through character interactions. There are no LitRpg elements or anything of the sort. Rather, magic is not super well defined or structured, but I'm fine with this as it retains some of that mystery element. The MC's feel very much mortal (especially in the face of the things they meet) and thus need to use their wits and eachother to survive/progress.

The story is very well written with excellent grammar, and more importantly it felt pleasant to read. I don't remember any point in time where I had to reread a sentence or paragraph because the structure didn't flow well.

I really enjoyed how the author put a heavy emphasis on characters, resulting in the main cast having very interesting personalities. In addition, I like how the characters each have their own secrets, allowing for additional tension and making character development and interactions much more engaging.

Overall, I truly think that this story deserves more exposure, as it is definitively in the upper echelons of quality stories on RR.

Wooden Gem

Interesting premise, but deviates afterwards

The story has an interesting premise and the first volume was well done, albeit something of a slice of life as the MC didn't have a real driving motive. This was fine as there was a good mix of action, tension, interesting characters, decent worldbuilding and okay grammar. The LitRpg system was interesting but wasn't a huge focus. I found the most enjoyment from this arc from characters interacting with the MC as well as watching the MC try to adapt to this new environment and attempt to get stable footing.

Continuing from the first volume, the MC is 

stuck in a dungeon with her adoptive daughter and an agent of the church after running away from the slavers. 

This arc continues for at least half the length of the first volume. The issue with this development is that the antagonists from the previous arc are shoved aside (understandably). Unfortunately, these antagonists were a major source of tension in the previous volume and helped rectify the issue with the MC having no real future plans or concrete goals. The new issue/antagonist

(Trying to get out of the dungeon)

is hardly a point of tension and the story suffers for it. In exchange, the author begins to focus very heavily on the LitRpg aspect (crafting and leveling) which wasn't one of the strengths of the first volume. Due to the MC's situation, there's a limited number of characters around her and thus the second volume also lacks the interesting character interactions in comparison to the first volume. Instead, it focuses primarily on Ashely and Lynn, and I honestly don't really think that they're very interesting. (Ashely kind of feels like she's a template for a bogstandard young weak-to-strong MC and Lynn isn't really that likeable)

It really just felt like the first and second volumes had completely different focuses and I stopped reading when it didn't seem that the focus would shift back within the remaining chapters. It's a decent novel though and I'll probably revisit when there's more chapters.