TL:DR: If you want an engaging empire-builder that doesn't spend an eternity on technological progression, that also contains some masterfully-executed SF military combat, as well as a rich emotional arc involving the themes of retribution and justice, this is the drug of your choice.
This story is an empire-builder - you've probably gleaned that from the synopsis and other reviews. What you may not know is that it is also much more. It is also a deep emotional story about vengeance, and includes proper SF ideas and combat. Spoilers below for those who want more.
This empire builder does not stop at the stone age, nor the iron age, nor even the information age. By chapter 11, we have a full-on space empire, replete with epic, masterfully-done space battles that rival some of the best on this site(Two Worlds comes to mind). Even if you don't care about the non-human leads, even if you don't care about empire building, it's worth it just for the space scenes.
The highest praise I can give to well-executed style is that it gets out of the way, which is the case here. I was immediately sucked into the universe, and did not find any parts of the story immersion-breaking. Pacing is perfect, if on the slightly faster side of what I personally enjoy. I think most will find it similarly well done.
The story, while it may not be gripping at times, is always engaging and moves at the perfect pace. There were many times when I got emotional over the plot and story events, that should speak volumes about the quality. The author gives us precisely the right glimpses into each technological phase of the society in order to paint a rich and compelling picture, but not so much that the reader loses interest. In fact it moves extremely fast for a story of this genre, something I think will please most readers.
Among the best on RoyalRoad. I found no obvious issues. Paragraphing is well-done, and the sentences flow from one to the other. Easy 5 stars.
Here I think expectations need to be set. This is an empire builder, and one of the main characters is the empire itself. Given that, Threedak and the other lead characters are very well-done. They are characters you can relate to and sympathize with, and while you may not know about their dozen different hobbies or what they do after work on a Friday night, why would you expect that out of a novel like this? The author gives us enough details to let us fill in the rest with our imaginations. If he fleshed these characters out any more, pace would suffer, and in doing so the story would lose one of its greatest strengths.
TLDR: If you want well-executed character progression involving an original, if controversial and ruthless protagonist in a compelling fantasy universe, give this one a shot.
While Avery Light's Horizon may initially sound like a standard reincarnation fantasy story with a gaming-savvy MC, it hides an emotional rollercoaster centering around the reincarnated MC Viers.
Some character arcs map a steady progression from weak to strong, or weak-willed to confident, or even evil to good. While elements of those exist here, at its core it is the story of Viers revealing/embracing his inner, ruthless self. Without going into spoiler territory, I can say confidently - love him or hate him, you will be invested in the MC of this story.
The author has a distinct style involving the extensive use of inner monologue in the first-person to convey the MC's thought processes - which is crucial to the story as Viers' thought processes differ drastically from most peoples'. Worldbuilding and scene descriptions are well-executed and pull the reader into the author's universe.
The story progression so far has focused on laying the foundation for what could throw the story into a truly compelling direction. The events thus far have all held reader interest, and the fight scenes are well-executed. I feel like in this case, Viers' actions are so integral to the storyline that the Character score rubs off on the story score as well.
This is where Horizon shines. Viers' character will elicit an emotional response from you, whether you decide to root for him or see him fail. While he initially comes off as a slightly-game-crazy introverted weirdo, this changes pretty rapidly, and the effect is shocking(in a good way). The extensive use of inner monologue really puts the reader right into his mind, and though he may arrive at some pretty outlandish conclusions, his thought processes are usually extremely logical. It's just a very alien logic that readers may not expect.
The author is extremely receptive to feedback and has made multiple iterations of the story since it was first published, so I believe the version I read was much improved compared to older reviews. I found the grammar to be easily better than many stories on RR published by native speakers. Still, there are still some issues with run-on sentences and incorrect tense usage, but they were never bad enough to break my immersion and the issues steadily decrease in the later chapters.
Well done so far. I have to continue to see how Viers navigates his new world!
Seerica's A Super Robot Story is an engaging tale of what life might realistically be like for a mecha fan who wakes up in what initially seems to be a world of his dreams where mechs are real and are integral in protecting humanity from fearsome monsters.
The story is replete with the expected mecha battle scenes that fans will look forward to. These are described in painstaking detail but the story doesn't end there. Equal importance is given to the slice-of-school-life story of a student who, mecha enthusiast though they may be, needs to work their way up the rungs of the pilot ladder. No instant-competence here, Tsune/Lyle put in a lot of hard work to make it, growing greatly in the process.
To my own surprise, I actually found myself really enjoying those slice-of-life scenes. In fact, watching Lyle grow into and come to accept his new identity as Tsune is what I enjoyed most out of this story. Surprising because as an action junkie, I thought it'd be the mecha scenes that would hook me and keep me interested.
I believe this is for a few reasons. Firstly Seerica really knows how to tell a compelling slice of life story that is both fun, engaging, and relaxing to read. The other reason is because I feel the action scenes try to bite off a bit more than they can chew. What does that mean?
Each scene is described in painstaking detail as the author walks you through the motions that the pilot takes, which in turn causes some corresponding action on the mech itself. This breaks down a bit when the pilots are engaged in complex maneuvers, or Tsune uses an innovative weapon readers aren't normally familiar with. The clinical level of detail on the minutia of who pulls what lever and how the mech's upper body reacts vs its lower body, serves to kill the fight's momentum, taking the emotion out of it. The result is that some fights require a few readings to understand what is going on.
My advice here would be to trim the fight scenes down to their very core components. I understand that actuating levers and getting the inside scoop on what the pilot is doing is part of the appeal for mecha stories, but glossing over some of the details in the interest of maintaining pace may actually both keep the adrenaline flowing as well as let the reader fill in what is happening with their imagination. So long as certain key cues are inserted in the right places.
That said, some maneuvers definitely need an explanation on account of their complexity and I here think using the right analogies to something familiar can really help out. The author gets better here as the story progresses, but I think it could still use further refinement for clarity. Analogy is a powerful hammer and sometimes it can do more harm than good.
The grammar didn't impede my enjoyment for the slice-of-life scenes, but I think better phrasing and framing of the action scenes will go a long way towards clarity, and I think sentence construction and flow can really help guide the reader from one thought to the next there.
The strongest point of this story are the characters, especially the protagonist Lyle/Tsune, and this is where things shine. While I haven't read many gender switch stories, this one was very well-executed and realistic. I found myself understanding and rooting the protagonist and enjoyed watching them develop from a boy who denied reality to someone who started walking down the road of embracing both aspects of their personality.
Thanks for the read! Overall, I enjoyed this one.
Legends of Regalia is a novel take on the cultivation theme. Zaid ZZZX has created a compellingly foreign dystopian universe and seeded it with dynamic, relatable characters who all undergo progression(even in the early 14 chapters published thus far). His worldbuilding is top-notch, painting vivid landscapes that let the reader lose themselves in the story.
That said, there are a few points the author could work on to tell this compelling story all the better, namely style and phrasing. Note that this is a RR writeathon story, and writeathons are demanding with wordcount so take this commentary with a grain of salt - the author has mentioned they will edit it once the writathon is finished. Regardless, the writing quality improves significantly in the later chapters(especially around chapter 10 onward), so I wouldn't be too worried here.
For me the biggest issues earlier on had to do with somewhat inconsistent events - characters may be in one location in one scene, and hours away from it in the very next without explanation. Some of the speech was also difficult to follow initially but again, this all resolves later and from chapter ten onwards, I encountered no such issues. I predict these will all be resolved when ZZZX does an edit pass post-writeathon.
The other aspect I find a bit lacking in the story is a sense of real tension. The characters all have believable reasons for their actions, and the author gets the reader interested in following their progress as they learn the ways of cultivation. However there's no real goal in sight as of right now, nor a real antagonist. I think having the main characters work towards a unified goal would really strengthen the narrative.
That said, this is a great read and definitely worth your time! The confusing storytelling seems to be a thing of the past and I suspect that the lacking tension will be soon as well.
I've really enjoyed the read thus far, thank you!
This collection of shorts is a gem. Impeccably written with perfect grammar, each standalone story is prefaced by a narrator introduction and covers a range of genres. I'm not a mystery guy myself, but I had to admit even those stories managed to suck me in right away. And the science fiction ones? They're honestly worthy of being published.
Thought-provoking, intelligent and deep, the author puts just the right amount of words on the page in the right order to suck you into his universe. When a story manages to elicit an emotional response, you know you have something special, and many of these stories did that for me.
For fans of SF especially, this is a must-read. And who knows, you might even find yourself smiling at a fairy tale story of a lonely teddybear.
Thanks author for sharing your musings with the world!
I love the universe, and the author is setting up the foundations for a pretty cool luck-based build for his MC which has been well-executed thus far. His sidekick is adorable and I'd like to continue seeing more of their interactions.
If the author continues to flesh out the characters and really dive into their minds to understand how they'll react to their situation, this story can go far. Excited to see where it ends up!
I'm deferring commenting on grammar and style in this review. As per the author's notes, this is a rough draft that will be cleaned up later.