Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

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The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound

See title. I've read more than a few chinese novels, and The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound ticks all the boxes that would have it fall squarely in the realm of xianxia and wushu. From the format of "growing power up to a tribulation" then "breaking into a new realm of power" to the "there's always a bigger fish" mentality that keeps pressure on the MC, to the focus on literally cultivating your power and meditating on the form of your technique all fit with the traditional framework of xianxia. The way forging artifacts works, the kung-fu attitude many of the stronger characters have, and perhaps most noticably the unique power that sets the MC apart from everybody else.

The level progression and stats aspect of the story are a little misleading, since those are characteristics of a slightly different genre, but they're most often just a way to guage how well the MC is progressing since we rarely get a look at other people's stats and skills and it's only remarked upon once in a blue moon. As of the current chapter (1187) even the MC has acknowledged that his unique cheat has led to feature creep in the sheer number of skills, and is actively trying to consolidate his skills for better growth, so there is some effort being made to prevent a stats screen from becoming a chapter long list. 

Overall, I really like the story. Even at this point, the MC has enough immediate and long-term threats to keep me invested despite being (probably literally) a million times stronger than at the start. The world building is pretty solid, and uses the fact that the MC only has a limited picture of how the world works as an asset to build on its ideas rather than an ex machina where the MC suddenly gains a new power as the plot demands it (nearly always). Power is based on effort and planning, with a healthy hepling of luck, for every character; even the villains and powerful side characters got that way through the same paths to power everyone else did, they're just farther along (most of the time; some people cheat). What this means is that the story never lost me because they decided to give the MC plot armor with no build up or explanation (most of the time, exceptions are more common the earlier in the story you are). I don't like being the guy that says "just keep reading, it gets really good after chapter 300" but in a story 1187 chapters long (for now) it can feel like that after I've watched the slight changes in plot design and writing style that made the story improve over time. At the very least, give it a chance. It's a very good introduction to the xianxia genre, and doesn't count on you already knowing taoism or how the jianghu is supposed to work for you to enjoy it. 

Now with anything we like a lot, we notice its flaws more easily for the extra scrutiny we give it. So here's why I docked points. 

Style: There are several instances where the story will have built up some good momentum, and then suddenly switch gears to give an entirely different character's perspective. This can be pretty jarring, and often distracts from the main conflict. That said, the reason I'm only removing one star for these breaks is that if you read the story as it is now rather than in the daily/weekly release as it comes out, these portions are actually less of a mood killer than they are when it's all fresh. Additionally they're pretty much always contemporary to the current action, never flash backs or "you're wondering how we got here? Let's start back here" deals. Plus, they are actually good world building and always give new insights into the characters they focus on. 

Grammar: The story's grammar is good. I can't think of a time I ran into a sentence I couldn't understand, even as more of the story's specific jargon gets thrown in. Formatting is logical, word choice isn't repetitive, and it's consistent with its 3rd person omniscient narration (though the side stories are sometimes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person). I'm taking off half a point mostly for personal reasons, since I get particular about writing. At least once a chapter, often more than that, words at random are switched with their homophones. You could read the sentence out loud and it makes perfect sense, but seeing it written you can tell there was an error. That's it really.

Story: Most of what I have to say about the story has already been said. Half a star is taken off because the reader is sometimes expected to remember minor hints and foreshadowing from hundreds of chapters ago because there are some very long-term hints at the start of the story. In the middle, too. Come to think of it, we're still getting hints that seem like they won't pay off for another 1187 chapters. Anyway, you get the point.

Character: Characters in The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound are either complex, narratively important, unique people or "I have one quirk and I appear on one page," with the middle ground being "I have one quirk and get recurring appearances." That's not always a bad thing, but it does make it difficult to understand the motivations of several of the supporting cast around the MC and several characters important to the world at large. That can be forgiven slightly since the story most focuses on the MC's interactions with people, but it can still be frustrating. That's half a star off. I take a full star off the character score because Randidly Ghosthound himself can be very problematic at times. Some of his major traits are that he's driven, often spending days or weeks grinding skills (even before power creep made it easier for him) with little regard for the process if the results are worth it, he has some kind of personality disorder, often appearing emotionless or hyper fixating on one problem at a time and showing little regard for social conventions, and he is strongly affected by the events of the story in a lasting way, with some things that happened in the first 100 chapters still being major character motivators for him now. The first one is very clear in the story, but the second and third points are often only implied. For someone who's not reading into the subtext to try to figure out Randidly's emotional state, or interpreting his actions through the lens of a "non-normal" mindset, Randidly can seem to be random at times. There are several points where he appears to be totally unaffected by events, then later is very emotional about them seemingly out of the blue. Similarly, since Randidly is very much a man of action over words (in the most well written way, he's not a meathead) we rarely ever get a manifesto of his philosophies and motivations, and in a story which is otherwise focused on constant improvement this can make it difficult for people to follow how his attitude and beliefs have changed over time. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, Randidly can be a very complex character if you read into him, but those that can't or who interpret him differently may be left confused at times as to why Randidly is doing certain things or reacting in certain ways. It's not poorly written, but it's also not a character everyone will want to read 1187 chapters about. 

Overall, I give it 5 stars. The story has never given me a reason to consider dropping it, which is more than I can say for many of the other long-term stories and actual novels I've read. I enjoy being along for the adventure as Randidly grows. I also acknowledge that even if ti's a story with wide appeal it has its flaws, some inherent and some accidental. Give it a try.