L.R. Knight

L.R. Knight

Norsege Isles: A Farming LITRPG Survival Experience

Please note that a three star review is average.

This is a strong start. I was engaged from the first paragraph, and it held me throughout the first chapter, which is what this review is based on.

The stregth here is in the author's character building. The MC has a personality; thoughtful, longing, considerate, and peaceable. He longs for a time when the world wasn't ruined by climate change, but was born into a storm sewer of a world. Along comes a Mysterious Benefactor who offers an alternative, virtual world to escape into, and the LitRPG is off to the races. The ending is a little twist, when the character chooses a skill path that I did not expect.

I don't normally like LitRPG; I've read very few, and those have been clunky. This first chapter feels more natural, perhaps because it is a conscious choice the MC makes, rather than a NG+ style rebirth episode. Within that framework the game mechanics make sense, so they don't jar the narrative.

I do think that the LitRPG style clashes with the world building, however. We're told that there are hundreds of kingdoms and dozens of earth surfaces to explore, but he lands on "Norse" as automatic default. Not Aesgsrdian, Aesirian, or some fantasy-variant of 'aryan' (the historical Aryan race, not the fabricsted Nazi ideal). That was a bit of a misstep, I think.

The weakest part of this introductory chapter is the world building. The author doesn't seem to understand the mechanics of climate change, or of solar system layout, and this is reflected in the exposition, which is clumsy, self-contradictory, and rushed. More time to linger on the world, and give context to such a grave choice, would have been better, I think, particularly as the character essentially texts his parents a suicide note before plugging into the matrix.

Overall, I was intrigued. The author has a good handle on orthographic conventions, has a fairly strong voice, and has done a better job integrating the LitRPG mechanics than any of the (few) I've read. I think I'll return for more.

Unwillingly Reborn

Interesting, but raw, beginning

Please note, 3 stars denotes an average fiction, not sub-average. Also, please note that my criticisms here are limited to the first chapter.

I was drawn into this fiction by the title, which is clever. When we think of rebirth, we typically think of it as a good thing, or as a desired thing. No one wants to stay dead, right?

The MC in this fiction certainly does want to stay dead, and for good reason. A failed Olympic athlete, abandoned by those who love him, fallen into alcoholism, he finds release in taking his own life. Unfortunately, the release is but temporary.

While the premise is certainly interesting, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The paragraph structure is virtually nonexistent, which confounds the eye and makes the entire thing feel like a stream of consciousness. While at times appropriate within the narrative, I found the staccato line breaks a bit tiring, visually. The narrative voice is also not particularly strong, partly due to the stream of consciousness aspect. The main character's narration seems unfocused, and at least in this first chapter, tries to explain too much, too fast. As with the paragraph structure, focus is key, especially with a first chapter.

Beyond the structural weakness, the writing itself is fairly raw, with a great deal of tensing errors and typos, mixed constructions and just clunky phrasing. I cannot know to what degree the author is familiar with English orthographic rules and grammar conventions, but there are enough that I cannot go into depth. Instead, I would recommend linking up with an editor or writing buddy who can explain errors and coach one towards more fluent writing. Personally, I found writing buddies extremely useful in developing my voice.

While I found the premise interesting, the writing did not engage me enough to merit a return. Nothing here is "unsalvageable" or "garbage" or anything like that. It's just raw, and as the author says in their bio, they're new to this. So with sincerity, I wish the author happy trails and hope they continue practicing and telling their story—every new beginning is a place to learn!

The Great Continent

Just as a reference point; three stars is average, not an indictment.

Devanpanda's beginning is strong. It seems to be an isekai story, with a man named Florian "waking up" in the injured body of a Spartalian soldier on a gory battlefield. Crows are feasting on a heap of bodies, as well as some other nasty creatures. Fairly quickly, he meets Baudric, a helpful, but slightly mysterious person who takes Florian in.

Devanpanda's dialogue is fairly good, though it is spaced out by 'crunchy' descriptions of what the characters are doing between many, or most, lines of spoke dialogue. Stylistically, I think this shows that Devanpanda has a director's eye, but it does read a bit clunky. Word choices are sometimes awkward or unnatrual, I think because the author is trying to keep it fresh. Personally, I would probably trim the exposition down and let the reader's imagination take over, but this is a subjective style critique, and others may read this much differently than I did.

Of major typos or grammatical issues, I saw nothing worth remarking on. A few dropped points of punctuation, sometimes around dialogue lines. Devanpanda's writing, mechanically, is sound and will not get in the way of you experiencing the story.

There are other areas where the language is choppy or clunky, or the vision seems to contradict itself. In the first chapter, for instance, the crows are feasting on innards and eyes, but then they're merely flapping in circles above the mound of bodies. I think with revision, these sorts of internal contradicitons could be teased out for a moody, bewildering intro to a horrorish fantasy short that doesn't shy away from the ugliness of war.

I don't see anything here that can't be improved on and tied up over time, which is a good thing! I'll be back to read more as it is posted.