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A Real Slog

By Thedude3445, author of Rainbow Destructor

Jul 17, 2019: After a first chapter like Inexorable Chaos’s, you might be expecting something real interesting. The story begins with the Trickster Gods of a half-dozen Earth mythologies coming together into a mysterious realm at the behest of Loki, and then getting trapped as Loki begins the first phase of a mysterious plan. The story hits the ground running with a really interesting setup, and you have no idea what direction it’s going—

—And then chapter 2 is about an isekai hero, apparently an author insert because he has the same name, being summoned to a fantasy world and beginning his quest to become the strongest person ever thanks to his overpowered stats.

Yes, the story is a LitRPG isekai harem. No, it isn’t advertised as such. And from my other reviews of LitRPGs, you already know that I don’t generally care for the medium because I think that the stories focus far too much on the "mechanics" of their world than telling an interesting story or going anywhere with the characters. Well, now I feel like I judged "I Hate Being Wed in a Fantasy World!" way too harshly, because Inexorable Chaos is a big step down.

The protagonist, despite having nearly nothing to do with Loki as far as I read (Chapter 22 out of 43 currently), has a decent origin that could make for a fun story— he’s a Hero for Hire, someone summoned from Earth into various fantasy worlds to deal with the stuff that pops up. He’s jaded and grizzled, and this adventure is his very first LitRPG. Doesn’t that sound like a good metafictional setup for a lot of fun comedy?

It’s not.

The story, by Chapter 4, devolves into just . . . fighting and fantasy worlds and RPG stats and talking endlessly about leveling up abilities and . . . My word it’s hard to get through. There’s like two dozen characters, including a side-protagonist Jessica who is native to the fantasy world, then a DIFFERENT summoned hero Frankie, whose personality I was never able to pin down. Though, the protagonist Quasi Eludo ALSO had a personality I couldn’t pin down at all; besides insulting the characters around him and literally having the superpower to attract all females around him, he didn’t have one trait I could name.

It’d be okay if the writing were decent, or the fights were fun to follow. But the prose is so, so flat. Nobody ever has any emotions or personality. There’s never any imagery in any of the descriptions, or anything FUN. It’s like someone writing a transcription of a bunch of video game cutscenes.

I was determined to read to the end, I really was. But the final chapter I read began with a slave rape scene, one that was portrayed so graphically it bordered on fetishistic, and that’s when I had to bow out. There was no going further from there.

Unless you are an absolute LitRPG die hard and have no other stories to read, stay away.

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It shall return!

By Pengrey, author of Acolyte

Jun 23, 2019: Hello! For anyone who was looking to read Acolyte but couldn’t because the site was down, I have now restored it! I seemingly lost many of my files in an SSD malfunction but have since recovered them and can continue promptly. Two the two who have reviewed what little I have to offer, I am eternally grateful for your feedback and I hope you find this and are able to continue with me.

Thank you 🙂

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What a Wonderful World

By Arcturus, member

Jun 6, 2019: I had been thinking about writing a review on Worth the Candle for some time. I hadn’t found the time or energy to write a review for it, but finely managed to get around to it.

  1. Style The author very much has a keenly developed writing style and voice. They know what they want to say and how they want to say it. It is by no means beautiful prose and can tend to verbosity (intentionally so), which can make certain portions a slog to get through, but it is still thoroughly well-crafted It can be off-putting at times as well, with the author’s voice overshadowing the characters, but this problem becomes lesser as the story goes on.

  2. Setting Well. This is by far the strongest point of Worth the Candle. The author has gone to tremendous lengths to build an incredibly fascinating world that dominates the story. The entire world and how it integrates with a LitRPG system is intricately connected as each new facet is exposed my appreciation for it grows further. In particular the exclusion system is just so perfect for LitRPG novels. All of those stories with how the protagonist finds one bug/trick to work the system would certainly have a problem in Aerb. It’s not merely the system though. It’s the world’s political system(s), the various races and their cultures that have been developed, the profound impact of history. Everything is realistically interconnected and lovingly developed like the GM Joon is. This is, of course, not the most surprising as the author readily admits that it is a self-insert story. But it is still a transcendent example of the peak of world-building.

5/5 stars.

  1. Plot The story of Worth the Candle is also very well done. Early on it establishes some major goals for the story and its protagonist and it does a very good job of working with those. It is a story that is very much woven into an exploration of Aerb and its system as the main cast searches for answers, much like we the readers do. Tropes and clichés are explored, subverted, discarded and played straight, all to the benefit of the plot and keeping the reader thoroughly entertained and intently reading.

Worth the Candle can be incredibly slow-paced at times, however. It veers off into digressions and side stories about the things the author (and thus the protagonist loves). The world, philosophy, tabletop gaming, character backstories, everything can and will get a story that may be only very tenuously connected to what is currently going on. While the vast majority of these are quite interesting alone, a few are quite tedious and even the interesting ones can be quite distracting from the main story. This problem seems to be inherently part of the author’s writing style and is unlikely to change.

I give it 4/5 Stars.

  1. Character The characters are wonderfully diverse, in every way. We have diverse personalities, sexualities, appearances, relationships, etc. As the story goes on, we also see some serious development for some of the characters and it almost never feels out of place with each of their arcs. This becomes more something noticeable later on in Worth the Candle as the author becomes better able to create different voices with nuance. Early on, as I mentioned previously, while the author presents different personalities and a very diverse cast, they struggle at times to truly separate them from their own. Even the characters who are portrayed as being more emotional and motivated by whims become absorbed into the cold rationalism of the author and protagonist. This can make the characters hard to care about as more than vehicles for the author to write the story and world. It also dampens the emotional high points that could otherwise be quite moving. While eventually the author manages to make the character voices readily distinct, the author still lapses, with it becoming less and less common as the story goes on.

3.5 stars.

Altogether, Worth the Candle is certainly worth your time. It particularly caters to the rationalist crowd, but it is much, much more. It is, most memorably, an example of a LitRPG world done right, something that is quite rare among the vast sea of LitRPG. All of the other elements of the story are at least well-done, despite their problems and make for an eminently readable story. For now, I rate the story 4 stars, with it being just some continued growth in the handling of characters away from 4.5.

Also, the title of the novel is really stupid and cheesy and honestly I hate it. But that’s no reason to hate the story.

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