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WARD

From Worm to Ward – Arc 1 Initial Review

By Feam, member

Dec 10, 2017: [This review contains meta spoilers for "Worm", as this series is a sequel to it. Though if you’ve read Worm and you’re not yet sure whether Ward will give you what you want, read ahead!]

Balancing a consistent theme with interesting twists while retaining reader interest, all throughout a lengthy and complex Web serial, is really tough. Wildbow has mentioned it before.

Yet creating an entirely new piece that manages to connect to the first, approach the same world from an entirely new angle, addressing the shortcomings of the first work and building on its high points, all the while satisfying old readers and attracting new ones alike – That has to be ten times harder.

And in just a single arc, Wildbow has proven that he can nail that.

Worm had a lot of elements that people applaud it for (World-building, a vast cast of realistic and interesting characters, incredibly cinematic and evocative scenes, an incredibly executed Power system with heaps of depth and polished concepts), but also some others that were considered controversial or unsavory to certain readers (A constant sense of escalation with an unforgiving pace, a somewhat unreliable narrator that painted the world in a particular light and a perspective)

While things may change in the coming arcs, Ward shows conscious effort to address, and at times subvert the expectations and trends built from Worm – all the while retaining the familiar writing style of Worm, with added years of refined expertise.

Worm’s perspective of tactical pragmatism to every encounter and social situation is supplanted by a view based on emotion and empathy, which lets us delve deeper into the characters’ personalities rather than the specific situations they’re at.

Worm’s focus on conflict and escalation is replaced with recovery (both within and without) and resolution, with a main character that has a dynamic personality and strong experiences in the original series that shaped her into the perfect lens for the new world.

As much as Ward feels like a response to Worm, it manages to keep that same sense of mystery, of grandeur and a sublime world with extraordinary people worth exploring. It also keeps that sense of intimacy between the first-person main character and the readers, allowing you to live through her experiences in a way very few works of fiction can capture.

It may be too soon to come to a final verdict, but to me, Ward feels like the perfect follow-up to Worm. Both for the people that loved every bit of the original, and those who liked parts of it, but desired a different experience.

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