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LeaningMaple
LeaningMaple rated it
The Novel’s Extra
July 17, 2018
Status: --
It's another "sent inside a novel I'm familiar with" plot, but it's way more enjoyable than a typical one for SO many reasons:

  • The protagonist (of The Novel's Extra, not of the novel within it) isn't forced to be a villain who's constantly mistreated just because he looks evil, nor is the hero of the novel characterized as a self-righteous prick. The protagonist a normal guy who has a lot of agency because he's not the center of attention, and the hero is actually a likable and good-natured guy (as you'd expect from a novel's hero!).
  • The girls don't develop a fascination with the protagonist the moment they meet him, or fall in love with him just a few encounters later. They keep him at a distance, and he keeps them at a distance. Generally speaking, that distance slowly closes, but sometimes it even widens a little.
  • The protagonist is cool and confident without being a smartass or cocky. Plenty of times he'll just end a seemingly important conversation casually, because he doesn't want to get too close to others. In other words, he's not a playboy or an attention whore. He also makes mistakes, but not foolish "hotheaded behavior" that's obviously a plot device.
  • Unlike many other "knowledge of the future" novels, the protagonist doesn't blurt out knowledge of the future and then make up some flimsy lie that everyone seemingly accepts tentatively because they appreciate his advice. Even up to the latest chapter I've read, he doesn't have any real influence or authority, he's just a normal student.
  • You can tell that the protagonist is a writer and he loves the characters he wrote, flaws and all. The author of The Novel's Extra accurately captures how I feel the protagonist would behave in this surreal situation of entering his own novel.
To be honest, I expect The Novel's Extra to not be able to... more>> keep up this level of quality forever, especially as the setting is fleshed out more--and considering that the "novel within the novel" took place over 10+ years, but at the current pacing The Novel's Extra's would need 2000+ chapters to match that. But that's normal with Korean "modern day world with RPG dungeons that suddenly appeared"-type novels. I'll probably still enjoy it a lot, because I love this genre, and I especially love The Novel's Extra and its excitingly meaningful approach to character development. <<less
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LeaningMaple
LeaningMaple rated it
Sage Monarch
May 28, 2019
Status: c152
I respect everyone's opinion, but I can't help but feel like many of the reviews here are just completely unfair. They exaggerate SM's flaws and don't talk about any of its strengths, and rate it 1 star.

Here is a realistic overview of the positives and negatives of this novel. And yes, I don't pull my punches, I criticize it too, but I also explain why I'm quite fond of it:

Positives:

    • The pace of the MC's cultivation is very fast. In fact, at the beginning, it's at practically a breakneck speed. There are 9 levels within major realms, and it's not uncommon to see the MC only take around 5-10 chapters to achieve the next breakthrough. This is great because you have constant satisfaction of seeing the MC become more powerful, coupled with the author's prose describing in an exaggerated faction how powerful the ancient megamammoths are.
    • Constantly seeing the MC slap the faces of enemies, and defeat or kill them. Honestly, it's a bit of a running joke how often random idiots pick a fight with him (see the "negatives" section) but it's satisfying and serves to show how strong the MC has become since his last cultivation breakthrough.
    • Intelligent MC who tries to think ahead and be cautious. Yes, he's intelligent, though not a genius. Much of the narrative deals with his inner planning, because he has to come up with ways to further his cultivation and avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention or reveal his secrets, along with protecting his family and friends from internal and external threats. And the solutions he comes up with are usually decent.
    • Beautiful translation from Deathblade. If nearly any other translator tried to handle a novel like this, which utilizes many fantasy cultivation terms that are defined largely by their context as well as countless entities within a vast continent, it would honestly seem like a blur. But DB does a wonderful job making the prose flow smoothly (always fun to hear about how badass those megamammoths are) and also cleaning up redundant parts of the original Chinese text (part of the economics of meeting word count quotas in web novel writing) and fixing frequent small technical errors on the part of the author.
    • This is just becoming apparent in recent chapters, but he's building FRIENDSHIPS with other side characters. They're not just becoming either his sycophant subordinates or enemies determined to kill him. He even turns enemies to friends. This is always a positive, because it's a breath of fresh air after all the times in cultivation novels (including this one) that some random incident causes a blood fued between the MC and some powerful faction.
    • Solid, above-average writing. It's not perfectly meticulous in every way, but it's far better than many I've seen, balancing its breakneck speed with adequate explanations/rationales for plot developments and visual descriptions of fantasy elements. According to Deathblade, the author Divine Dreamwalker is actually more reputable than Ergen among Chinese readers who've read his various works.
    • For social readers like myself, it benefits from a very active comments section, getting a minimum of 20-30 comments and frequently reaching closer to 60-70. And still going strong; chapter 145 had 71 comments. The full novel has 1600 chapters, so I'm looking forward to seeing it grow in popularity.
Negatives:

    • The power levels are a bit loosely defined. By power levels I don't mean literal power levels, as those are more or less clear, so much as the relative power of various organizations, or the explanations for why certain people don't attack others. Sometimes the author will sort of forget what he said earlier, or he'll qualify it in some way, or in rare cases outright have the MC realize he was mistaken. For example, in chapter 1XX, the villain says: "Yang Qi is back from ***. Now is the perfect opportunity to make a move. The only reason we didn't dare to do anything to the Yang Clan was that he was holed up in ***. If we wiped out his clan when he was away, he would never let the matter drop until he got revenge." But then a few paragraphs later, he says: "Although, our orders were to kill Yang Qi in front of all the other clans of Yanhaven. If we strike fear into their hearts, and show them that we don't even care about ***, then they'll definitely acknowledge allegiance to us." Those two statements don't seem contradictory at first glance, but if their orders are just to kill him in public as an example, why would they be so afraid of his revenge? Thinking about it a bit more, someone readers would probably say, "It's because they expect him to hide himself and increase his cultivation strength, or try to borrow the influence of *** to strike back, which would be inconvenient to them." But since it's not clearly spelled out, it's left the readers' imagination. In another case, it's not clear why the Sage Ancestor Dynasty would acknowledge and send congratulatory gifts to a place that had rebelled against them implicitly, but readers could guess that it's because they are so politically weak they're currying favor. And in another case, a certain person was unable to leave their current location due to "enemies" yet at the same time were able to act as a deterrent to a different (weaker) enemy faction, and that was never fully explained (yet--we still don't know who those "enemies" are). But still, it's not like it's impossible to come up with an explanation, it's just too much to expect that of readers. So anyway, if you like to nitpick, you'll probably notice some pseudo-plot holes.
    • The fights are just the MC smashing enemies with his overwhelming energy arts and/or devouring their cultivation bases. No real strategic elements at all, beyond the interaction of different attributes of arts like godly versus evil. And he's practically guaranteed to achieve a breakthrough in every mildly challenging fight, because that's how his "godmammoth" cultivation technique works. Well, the fights are admittedly still fun to read/skim, because the author utilizes vivid imagery.
    • The apparent biggest one: Many Western readers of cultivation novels have fairly different tastes from mainstream Chinese readers of cultivation novels. In particular, they love calm schemers. Whereas the MC here is the orthodox type, a hotblooded youth who pursues power constantly, which is probably easy to identify with for younger Chinese readers. He's the type of person who, before he kills an enemy, will reveal one of his big secrets just to see the look of despair on the villain's face. And whenever this happens, the commenters on WuxiaWorld basically FLIP out and call him an idiot, because they are paranoid that someone will overhear it! Even though it's been established that his energy arts let him monitor the surroundings. It would almost be funny, if it wasn't also kind of sad... that this trope of having someone "overhear the MC's secret" and then run away to tell a senior is so prevalent, that readers have been traumatized by it. Anyway, the MC is a teenage kid, who will even do things like angrily tell his enemy that he's looking for a chance to kill them covertly later, unlike some other cultivation novel MCs who will act aloof until they suddenly strike like a shark beneath the waves. So yes, many Western readers of cultivation novels obviously HIGHLY prefer the latter type of protagonist. But still, the MC of Sage Monarch is far better than, say, Lin Dong, because he has a sense of wit. He's not the sort of "thug/murderhobo" that people use as a joking description of a cliched cultivation novel MC, either; he honestly tries to NOT make enemies. Though frankly, he still does "stand up for himself" a lot.
    • So far, there have been no emotionally compelling plotlines. It's largely a story of the protagonist adventuring and obtaining strength amid various obstacles and enemies, without any touching plot elements.
    • Cliches. To be completely fair, I actually had to list "cliches" under negatives, but cliches are a staple of the cultivation genre. Yes, it's the same basic start as novels like WDQK and BTTH and Invincible and ATG, where the MC is crippled but finds an OP secret item/cultivation technique and proceeds to rapidly cultivate and slap the faces of scheming fellow clan members. And yes, people constantly arrogantly pick fights with him. And yes, there's a high-handed ex-fiance-like character who he's targeting for revenge. And yes, his mother has a mysterious past and was forced to disappear when he was little. If you really dislike these tropes, don't read this novel! It feels like 90% of the negative reviews here amount to "*gasp* It's a power fantasy that utilizes a lot of cliches!" Well, I can respect that some people legitimately hate that, but the rest of you, just admit it, power fantasies are the reason you read cultivation novels.
Anyway, I highly recommend checking this out. If you love well-translated novels and don't mind orthodox style stories, you're missing out if you skip Sage Monarch. Sorry for the wall of text, by the way, that's just how I roll.
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LeaningMaple
This is a funny story, with largely likable characters. The art is nice as well. I think a large part of the reason people are so harsh on this is that they're used to more "alpha" MCs from Chinese web novels.

Another reason is the issue I have with it: this light novel obviously mimics the sort of title you'd find in a Japanese web novel, yet the story is as tame as they get. The protagonist doesn't act romantically assertive toward the girls, despite the fact they both have subconscious... more>> crushes on him and practically cling to him. And he's never unforgiving or decisive. Instead, he's practically a saint! I rarely see protagonists as nice as him. (Although that actually makes the comedy so good. Probably the funniest male tsundere I've ever seen.) Anyway, the protagonist is totally unlike the edgy/misanthropic/distrustful, self-absorbed, and possessively lustful MCs you would find in a Japanese WN if it had the same name.

Probably the only part of this light novel which is faithful to what people probably expect from the title is the fact that the protagonist is OP. In fact, the way he messes with people and makes jaws drop is just like the reaction chapters that cultivation novels are famous for. <<less
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LeaningMaple
LeaningMaple
Warlock of the Magus World
July 11, 2016
Status: c185
The protagonist is a lot like Meng Hao of ISSTH. He's in a world of survival of the fittest, and quickly adapts. Stronger cultivators suppress the cultivation of weaker cultivators. He keeps his strength and trump cards a secret (although unlike Meng Hao, he deliberately feigns weakness and acts friendly in order to always have the best position strategically). He's ruthless when appropriate. (Note that unlike Meng Hao, he casually considers killing innocent people... yet as of chapter 185, he has yet to actually kill someone who wasn't an enemy... more>> or a criminal, and in fact, he's treated many side characters very well). And much like Meng Hao, and also like the protagonist of World of Cultivation, he has a vast array of cultivation techniques he explores in parallel and is extremely strategic and persistent in furthering them. He's definitely more like World of Cultivation's protagonist in terms of his cautious, meticulous, and studious approach to everything.

The A.I. chip isn't really a deus ex machina so much as way to let him memorize and collate vast amounts of data to construct inferences that would take experts countless years to come up with, which was a somewhat new and fun idea to me. If the author had just said he was a peerless scientist with a perfect memory, I bet that he could have achieved nearly the exact same effect. It's nowhere near as broken as the likes of Nie Li in Tales of Demons and Gods who's like "My comprehension, battle ability, etc. etc. are all the best in the multiverse, it's just that my cultivation is too low so I can 'only' beat [x] levels above mine."

The setting and attention to detail are among the most impressive I've read. Perhaps my major complaint is that he doesn't really have any close friends. Most side characters are too weak and fall by the wayside, or they're rivals or business partners. The protagonist never really trusts anyone. The plot always makes this the correct behavior, however. For example, he declines to stop a crime, and a little later the readers see that the "victim" is actually a cold-hearted person with bad intentions, so it would've been a terrible liability if he'd intervened. That's the sort of worldview this WN has. There are, of course, pure and kind people, but they tend to be depicted as naive and unlikely to ever excel in their cultivation. Also, I wish the protagonist had serious goals besides just pursuing strength for its own sake. <<less
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