Garrdor

Garrdor

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Defiance of the Fall

Real struggle and tension in this survival litrpg

Update: this story pretty quickly becomes your standard "Dao of Luck" xianxia fare, with the MC stumbling into treasures and powering up from near death experiences (that should have killed him). You better believe there's a settlement that he wants to protect at all costs and his motivations for becoming stronger are "because I need to". Biggest bummer is his fighting style devolves into "I hit the other guy harder, so I won". I'm still reading, obviously, but I'm definitely less enthused, and my earlier review may create unrealistic expectations.

 

I really like this story. Here are some bullet points of the things I like about it.

  •  Survival- The MC is lost in the woods during a system apocalypse. Always like when a character needs to survive and acclimate to dangerous surroundings, both when it's happening and in the future when the MC gets compared to other people. That seems a long way off, though.
  • Realistic Knowledge- Related to above, this story actually has an MC who doesn't know how to immediately game the system. There are a lot of functions of the system that he doesn't know, and even more that he doesn't know he doesn't know, simply because he missed the tutorial. Rarely, you'll see him do something and say, "what an idiot that's clearly not the optimal choice", but all his choices are rational given the amount of information he has. He's super ignorant of what's going on, but using context clues to help himself rather than an deep knowledge of "What to Do when the System Arrives for Dummies".
  • System- Its a cool system, fairly background, and kind of sentient. He doesn't immediately get skills and upgrades, it's honestly him surviving as a (albiet super strong) human.
  • Struggle- The power creep is good, he struggles for a while, figures out ways to overcome those struggles, and then new stuff pops up to struggle against. Not in the "he'll never see or get hurt by level one mobs" way some xianxia stories do, more like they're there but no longer as much of a threat due to training.
  • Plot- Seems like there's some depth to the plot, he's got semi-manditory quests to complete and that may take awhile, day to day survival offset with hints of all the other pieces of the multiverse.
  • Realistic Knowledge- The MC is doing fairly well for himself considering, but is by no means a Mary Sue. He's bled for every step forward he's taken. He doesn't immediately know bush craft or how to make armor or anything, it's refreshing to see someone struggle this long. He actually may be at a disadvantage compared to other humans, but is finding a different path to strength, helped in part cuz everyone else is stuck in the tutorial whilst he suffers. He uses his limited resources pretty well, spear stake traps and such.
  • Human Emotions- The character actually seems to have to deal with the fact he's stuck alone in the woods forced to fight for his life, rather than just being a mannequin devoid of human emotions. I stress, it really sucks for him almost constantly for the first 30 chapters, but that makes it better IMO cuz there's actually stress when he gets in fights. He actually behaves and feels and thinks in a way that a guy stranded alone might.
  • Consistency- All the system stuff is real consistent. The way skills and classes and items work all make sense in this universe.
  • Enemies- The monsters are pretty cool

Those are some of the things I like about the story, so far I only have a couple minor negative things to mention

  • Lucky- his initial luck in the system, literally a rigged dice roll he shouldn't have won, but that's over and done with by chapter 2 and the plots gotta happen somehow. There really wouldn't be another way to make the same general character and story in a more believable, less lucky manner.
  • Town Building I just generally don't like settlement/town management stories, it's nowhere close to getting to that point yet but it seems like a mechanic that's gonna pop up eventually. That's just something I personally don't want to see happen in any story, and it's barely present so far in this one, I just like to whine.

*Edit: new complaints added here as the story continues*

  • Overly Expositional its a kind of take the good with the bad situation, and as much as I like reading about a guy figuring out a System, we gotta read through his every thought process for what the system is an does. Sometimes there are multiple paragraphs in row of him just thinking through what he knows, doesn't know or assumes about the new world's physics.
  • Overly Introspective - similar to above and also a kind of "too much of a good thing", but the MC will also think through about 4-5 actions he wont do before every action he does do. It just kind of drags the story down at times, I don't really care why he decides not to buy 4 different things if he ends up getting something else, ya know? To me this writing feels like a defense mechanism to shield the writer from RRL comments.
  • Weirdly Competent MCs getting real good at murdering demons with an axe/throwing knives for a guy with a pretty hands off system, real quick.

All in all a very well done survival litrpg, with some wuxia elements blended in.


Last Flight of the Raven

Fantasy version of "The Crow", except...better?

This is a straight up fantasy story, with only the barest hint of litrpg. That hint comes from the main character being able to use "essence" to modify his body or to invest it into learning skills.

I'm a card carrying litrpg fan, but an argument could be made that this story would benefit from less quantification of abilities; something about a godling imbuing his body with mystic magic juice and getting "Improved Constitution" just seems odd to me.

I like a lot of things in this story, but I'm having a hard time articulating all of them. Just gonna ramble out some bullet points of my feelings.

  • I like the gods of the story, and I like the Twice-Born mechanic of giving individuals with narrative significance who resonate with that god's ideals power. It seems like a fairly reasonable way to kick off the MCs rebirth, compared to some stories where a god will intervene for the shallowist of reasons simply because the plot demands it.
  • I like the world building, it seems to have some serious depth. There's a lot of history behind every new setting the MC wanders through, they never seem like they poofed into existence solely for the protagonists benefit (or detriment). Each spot seems to have it's own actors with their own goals, and it's kind of neat to see an MC who's either irrelevant to their plans or an unwitting accomplice, while the Raven still pursues his own goals.
  • I'm sort of half and half on the formal tone of the story, on the one hand sometimes I feel like it's corny, on the other it does lend to reading from the perspective of a deposed prince of a dead people. I alternate between noticing it for positive or negative reasons, as it sometimes seems authentic and sometimes seems phony.
  • I don't really now what the cost of using the essence is, pretty early in the story he rebuilds his body from essence alone, but after that it seems relegated to just being a currency he can spend to but the litrpg aspects of the story. He's become a demigod, and it seems like he'll eventually encapsulate some sort of concept as he grows in power, but as of right now his toolbox is sort of lacking. 
  • Related to above, this is a dude from the middle ages, he doesn't have any "gamer instincts" like you'd expect from an isekai protagonist. He doesn't look for exploits between stats or try to min/max, it's a lot more organic, which is part of the reason I feel like buying skills and stat boosts is a detraction.
  • The plot is well defined, driven by outside forces, the MCs internal motivations, and the changing nature of his newly immortal existence.
  • The mind scape magic bazaar is shockingly well done, it's usually something I actively hate.
  • Rich and varied side characters, who are a product of that deep world building, and thus are not dependent on their relationship to the MC for their characterization.

Probably add a bunch more eventually, I really like this story and look forward to watching it grow.


The House Witch

Exactly as advertised, and fantastic.

Exactly as advertised, and fantastic. 

That's all I really wanted to write, but its a romance focused around a magic cook as he interacts with a loveable royal family and their court and servants. He's not macking on the queen, the king and queen are happily married, and most of the main characters have a refreshingly earned moral high ground. There are some more serious themes below the surface, but for the most part it's just delightful campy fun. I don't really enjoy romances, but it's a story like a marvelous farmer: out standing in it's field.

I'm taking a half star off cuz I'm not sure if the food is geographically/historically accurate (I'm not sure if cantaloupes existed close to sauerkraut, physically or in point in time). Its mostly a penalty for my own ignorance, but if I don't find something to complain about I'm pretty sure my head will explode.


Snowstorm

So, you think you can protagonist?

If you're a naggy, experienced Royal Road Reader (or neRRRd), you've surely run into a "guy gets sucked into a world where all tropes are real, and he's self aware" story. Sometimes they're good and they're often entertaining, but most frequently they're forgettable and not very well written. This story goes the opposite direction, "what if someone came from a world that ran on literary conventions, and then got sucked to a place where everybody was low key kind of a dick?".

Whereas the first style lends itself to world building, as the mc tried to figure out how everything works, this story instead focuses on character building, as Snowflake (the MC) tries to find himself in a town where everyone was at some point their world's "Chosen One". I think it'll be interesting to see Snowflake adjust to not being a main character, now that things won't necessarily work out for him.

So far, the character of Snowflake is a good mix between "intelligent and clear headed" and "so innocent he never expects the person he's talking to to screw him over". Every now and then there are other POVs that show just how cruel the world can be, and TBH I start sweating anytime Snowflake starts talking to a pretty girl cuz I expect him to get eaten mid-sentence. The kids gonna fall, and fall hard, but it hasn't happened yet.

The magic system is interesting, everyone gets a unique skill upon leaving their fictional world's, which they then combine with cores and classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It all blends to create a litrpg/cultivation fusion, full of cool powers and abilities.

Story is ticking along, Snowflake has some internal motivations for gaining strength and sooner or later the external pressures are gonna start squeezing him to grow, it should create a very fluid plot progression. So far we've just barely passed the initial training arc, unsure if it's straight into the lions den or more training next, but either way I'm excited for it.

I have never once understood how to rate Style, and the grammar is good.

Another criteria I'd give 5 stars is that the author seems to avidly seek out opinions and advice from their readers, which shows a willingness to grow as an author and a level of interaction that is just downright heartwarming.

Big fan of this story, I recommend it to people with my exact taste in stories, whomever that may be.


Nero Zero

Only time I've kept reading a story this poorly written

Edit: Just to be clear, I also stopped reading after making this review, so it's not interesting enough to warrant indefinite reading without improvement.

Usually when I find a story like this, I immediately give up, I'm not one to muddle through if the writing is noticeably bad. The characters (and culture) are all pretty standard wuxia tropes, the dialogue isn't great, there's a ton of weird exposition, oddly forced plot developments, and the worst offender is the grammar. The grammar is real real bad, words out of order, misspelled, or just plain wrong. I just noticed it says I read up to "CHPATER LIII", which isn't a great sign. If you've read some poorly translated Chinese novels, you know what to expect, except it doesn't have that annoying constantly repeating paragraphs thing (to it's credit).

Super negative review aside, my main point is that I've kept reading. I'm chalking it up to the novelty of the system, and how that weaves throughout the world being built. Using trading cards and Yu-Gi-Oh arm things to handle all the RPG elements (skills, classes, creating items, enchanting items) just really tickles my fancy for some reason.

I'm not sure if the author is a native English speaker, a lot of the intentions are in the right place but the words don't support the vision. Usually I'd nitpick with the best of them but mistakes are overwhelmingly common. If the mistakes could get wrestled down to even "whelmingly" frequent, this could be a very good story. Kind of bums me out to be honest.

I gotta say, as all the reviews should insist:

FIND AN EDITOR

Edit- More random complaints I'll keep adding as I think of them:

Spoiler: Spoiler

 


Giant Eater (LITRPG)

I'm a fan so far, enjoying the start of a new story. Definitely way more fantasy than litrpg, but that's not a mark against it. It's the sort of litrpg where statuses are only made visible with the help of an item, and that's only happened, briefly, twice so far. People's powers don't stem from being able to see the system, rather that's just a way to quantify the magic already inherent to each person, so even without blue boxes there's magic to be had.

Quick synopsis, a father and son are bestowed Classes after killing a giant, and then for an undefined reason take a test to be qualified as Adventurers a year later. Think "Black Clover" meets "God of War"; strong dad with mysterious past and his son trying to join unique magical squads with competitive relationships who function as a part of the kingdom's government. We're at the first step of what looks to be a lengthy entrance exam arc, after some city shenanigans got resolved and a framework for the plot going forward was established.

Plot seems to be chugging along, world building is great I'm very invested, and characters seem to be multifaceted individuals. Sometimes the characters are a bit hard to nail down as having specific personalities, can sorta switch from one line to the next but overall they're consistent. Grammer is good.


Aberrant: Unbound Soul

Other reviews really do this story dirty

I don't think there's anything about this story that justifies a one or half star review, it's well written and well visualized. It certainly has a unique portrayal of a man who's spent an interminable amount of time in a void before being reborn, but who's to say how accurate it is? It certainly makes more sense than the "whelp glad I'm out of that eternal prison of loneliness and despair, time to start kicking ass" archetype.

Granted, the main character has a slow road to recovery as he recognizes and overcomes the trauma the afterlife ingrained in him. It's very annoying at times, but also so skillfully depicted it's hard to form any compelling arguments for how to do it better.

Part of the problem is that this site has gotten us all used to bite sized and episodic chapters, whereas this story is much closer to a long form novel series than most. The first 300 pages have very little power creep for the MC, instead focusing on emotional development and world building. It's nice, it's good character work, but that character has some serious issues (and again, can be super annoying). If you want a hack and slash Dao of Luck cultivation story, look elsewhere. Personally, it just makes me more invested when the protagonist actually struggles to find an unorthodox path to power, and I can't just assume MacGuffins are gonna fall out of the sky.

Quick synopsis, dude struggles to escape an afterlife or two before being reincarnated on a world where magicians cultivate. He's got some issues preventing an easy road to strength, and his low station forces him to grab whichever educational opportunities come his way. He's made some compromises along the way and is still trying to figure out how to succeed (or even what he wants to accomplish).

Style is a nebulous criterion to judge, I like the world and the way it's explained. Story is going alright, plot seems to be ticking along, MC has very little agency due to his weakness but is figuring out who all the players in the game are. Grammar is good.

4 star character rating cuz everyone in this story is well written, and despite wanting to smack the MC around from time to time, he's still a very compelling character.

Anywho, I really just wrote this review cuz the story doesnt deserve the negativity heaped on it in the reviews; I was biased by them and read the first chapters just trying to find all the issues mentioned, only to be disappointed at how overblown the complaints were


The Gray Mage

Cool world not my cup of tea.

It seems well written and the world is very well put together, but it's a little wish fulfillment-y for my tastes. From being the highest ranked in all types of magic to labeling himself a prodigy at learning how to use mana, the MCs succeeded at everything he's tried to do on the first try. He wasn't even actually blind for that long, as soon as he awakens his magic he easily develops 6 different ways to see.

Very cool setting though.


Nanocultivation Chronicles: Trials of Lilijoy

Cultivation/Litrpg and Post apocalyptic/VR tightrope act

Here's some stuff going on in this story, most of which I really like.

  • Got some nanobot cultivation, special mc underdog pitted against giant clans and an unforgiving world. Everyone's got the nanobots, and people behave accordingly. Nothing frustrates me like reading a story and the MC is the only one who actually uses their powers.
  • In addition to the cultivation aspects 'Outside', there is also a virtual reality 'Inside', set up by an AI that kind of half heartedly wants to ensure the human species stays alive. 
  • The first arc takes place primarily in the real world, with just the foundations of the VR world laid down. Both worlds seem like they'll be equally interesting, and the way that society and culture has adjusted to people preferring to live in a video game rather than an apocalyptic setting is pretty well explored. Definitely mysteries to uncover in both realms.
  • Mysterious AI in the MCs head, helping and unequivocally an ally, but there's still some stuff to figure out.
  • Pretty cool apocalyptic setting, pretty well defined reasons for the apocalypse and the measures used to survive it. There is an AI that is omniscient, but it really takes a hands off approach so far, very few Deus ex Machinas goin on.
  • A young and unknowledgeable MC who discovers the world as we do, and has no preconceptions about how things should be so instead she's a breath of fresh air for the other characters, and we get some world building as people react to her ideas.
  • Big world, believable geography, plants and animals and other people inhabit it.
  • Well defined characters, from the mc to the slowly growing side cast. The MCs big goal is having agency to make her own decisions, and it's very nice to see a protagonist actively impact the plot rather than blown about by the stories fancy.
  • A youthful mc who acts like a smart kid raised in a horrible situation. Often I say young MCs who either act like a sociopathic 30 year old or who make me grown with their unnatural idiocy. This is a good combination of a super smart kid who still enjoys finding out all the pleasant things in life.
  • Well written, well paced, yada yada 
  • Bullet point to save space for negative stuff cuz I got lazy writing this review, but there aren't many glaring problems

In conclusion, as of the first arc I'd say this simultaneously a good blend of cultivation and litrpg, and a good blend of post apocalyptic survival and fantasy VR. Gonna be a tricky line to walk keeping all those elements balanced but I'm hopeful.


Eight

Reincarnation survival litrpg/cultivation

I like this story, it's got a lot of things I personally like and not a lot of things I personally dislike. Here are some of those things, starting with the more positive:

  • First just to get it out of the way, the grammar and wording of the story is great. If you find a reason to dislike this story, it wont be the actual quality of the writing.
  • I've said it before I'll say it again: always a fan of survival litrpgs from the perspective of an uninformed protagonist. That's basically all the first 27 chapters of this are, a guy trying to figure stuff out and survive.
  • An actually reasonable explanation for the MC knowing a bunch of random stuff. A former documentarian (documentarist? documenter?) production guy, he's got vague memories of a bunch of interviews from experts. Also he's a fairly big nerd, which translates into caution and genre savvy.
  • The story has a guy reincarnated in a kids body, but the guy doesn't start actually acting childish. Granted it's just him and an otter in the story, there could be a middle school arc eventually, but fingers crossed we don't get any of that.
  • The skills are pretty gnifty impressions of the right way to do something, or knowledge skills are memories of him learning that knowledge that can be more or less detailed. No information downloads out of nowhere, no ancient spear fighting art tracers correcting his stance. I like the ratio of hard work to effective and interesting mc.
  • Clear surface reason relatively early in the story for his reincarnation, while maintaining a fair bit of mystery to allow for some wonder. As in , readers know a god reincarnated him as a reward, but he never had a conversation with that god or an expositional character selection moment.
  • Cool magic system that starts basic and leaves room to grow, again without making the MC OP. The capability for the MC to eventually be a powerhouse is certainly there, but it's not given to the character on a platter. Plus I like when there's qi stuff and Mana spell stuff in stories, personally.
  • Always a fan of his type of build: 
    Spoiler: Spoiler

     

  • Character has a well developed backstory and personality, often a hard thing to pull off in a lone survival story. Really evokes some surprise emotions. Bonus points for managing that whilst not being cringy edgelord nonsense.
  • Cute otter.
  • Hints at a larger unexplored world, both natural and spiritual.
  • Like an mc who struggles, the guy almost died a bunch of times without taking that final step, without it reeking if too much plot armor. Also like that the MC is cautious, and genuinely terrified of turkeys and everything else. The low level mobs like bugs and plants have almost killed him at basically every encounter.

Some less positive things

  • Seriously detail oriented. I'm a huge fan of going into the weeds on survivalist details personally, the kind of guy who downloads and reads survival guides in case I'm ever in a plane crash, but I can see that being an issue for some readers.
  • Because of the above, some people may find it to have a slow pace, but I think it has a good ratio of crafting minutia, learning, and life-or-death situations.
  • This is just unfounded paranoia talking, but because of the detail to surviving in the first thirty chapters I worry that there may be a lack of an over arching plot. Like it seems like the author has a passion for describing making simple tools and stuff, and I hope this story doesn't stutter after the MC gets slightly more established. Although judging by the characters wonder at discovering magic, it could just turn into a wandering protag in a dangerous world sorta story, which if done correctly isn't necessarily a bad thing.
  • Little bit plot armor-y, everything he survives is reasonably explained and consistent with the world he's in but still a lot of close shaves in the first few days. Also, he one shots the most dangerous (or at least coolest) thing he fights after almost dying to flies and fungi. That's a fairly specific and minor gripe of mine tho.
  • While the story does give a reason, the mc does know or have access to a bunch of random knowledge suited for his current situation.

All in all I like it, it checks most of my boxes, neat world decent character fairly realistic, I highly recommend it.