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ShinUon rated it
Spirit Realm
February 26, 2017
Status: c303
Why isn't this novel #1 in the rankings??

Normally I don't review for novels that are clearly good and established but this one deserves an exception. I've read most of the novels in the top 20 rankings, but Spirit Realm really takes the cake! It's the only novel in the top 20 that I still regularly follow. It's that good!

Interesting MC that isn't OP and also plays it smart. But most importantly, the tension in this story is top notch! The author knows how to write! Despair, relief, restlessness, rage; the... more>> MC's emotions are well conveyed and felt by readers. On top of that, despite its long length it always manages to stay fresh and interesting. Unlike other novels at the 300 chapter mark, Spirit Realm has managed to keep each arc distinct and different. There's also quite a number of story threads that weave together, so at any point in the story there's generally at least two or three interesting things going on. And it also manages to stay unpredictable. There were more than a few times where the MC seemed seriously screwed and it was unclear what would happen next.

In my opinion, this is hands-down the best xuanhuan in the top 20. It's managed to consistently interesting through 300 chapters, with few boring moments and no repeating arcs. It's not predictable and developments are also original. And on top of that, the writing is excellent. Spirit Realm is like a distillment of good storytelling and is an absolute joy to read. <<less
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ShinUon rated it
The Dark King
February 26, 2017
Status: c75
The concept of the story is pretty interesting, but the execution is quite mediocre. It can also be confusing at times as descriptions of events are sometimes messy or glossed over (example: one person was eaten by a creature during a chase scene but we only find that out 10-15 chapters later in what feels like a retcon moment). I'm not sure if this is the author's fault or the translation missing it, as the TLs are also rather poor.

However, what IS clear is that the author is not that... more>> good at pacing and building tension. This became very clear during the MC's first deployment outside, which were filled with "action" moments, where the stakes were high (life and death) and the pacing should have been fast. However, the author frequently wasted more time than necessary describing things that of little importance. And after returning from this first deployment, I continued to notice this flaw of wasting too much time (whether it be dialogue or descriptions) on things that don't advance the story nor serve an important purpose. This is generally a sign of an inexperienced writer. A competent author would know to cut dialogue or descriptions that serves little purpose.

The other issue is the MC's motivations. Even during what should have been high-stakes scenes, I just don't feel the tension or importance. I see two causes behind this: The first is the author's poor use of the novel medium. We don't really experience the story from the MC's perspective but rather the narrator's. While we do understand a bit about how the MC thinks, it's generally because the narration tells us so, not because we experience it through the MC. The second cause behind this problem is that the MC's goals are simply too far into the future and lofty. And it's never established why the MC should even care. Yes, the MC might just be the only person who can do it, but so what? Why does it matter? From a distant God/Narrator's view in the sky, we obviously see the goal benefits their society. But if it doesn't happen, so what? There's no consequence. So then it boils down to "why does the MC care?" And that's never really established. I think this flaw ties into the earlier point of how the author isn't really writing the story from the MC's perspective. And both are fairly typical signs of an inexperienced writer.

+ Interesting premise

- MC motivations never properly established
- Lack of tension
- Poorly written <<less
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September 21, 2016
Status: c4
I won't rate this as I gave up after 4 chapters. Not sure what I'm missing, but this is tedious as hell to read. It has all the makings of a newbie writer.

Lack of tension, lack of goal at the start, boring writing, and pointless descriptions of every little thing that happens. This makes it drag on without a purpose. I had to force myself to get through chapter 4, and a browse through chapter 5 suggested it was more of the same.

Maybe it gets better later on, but who... more>> knows how long that will take. <<less
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This was pretty interesting during the first two cities. But when the setting changes to the third city (Ienith), a lot of things changed. It almost seems like an abrupt shift in both the genre and story. Genre-wise, the character progression seems to end as we no longer see the MC growing stronger. Story-wise, it almost seems like the relations with older characters is cut. Even that potential romance partner becomes a dead end once the character leaves for Ienith. It honestly feels like a new story with new characters.

To... more>> make it worse, by the third city the story also loses its sense of purpose. Ienith kind of fits into a larger and very distant goal, but there is very much a lack of an interesting near-term goal. While the story hasn't become terrible, it's certainly lost a lot of its appeal from the earlier chapters. It might be fair to say it's become aimless.

The first two cities were quite enjoyable to read and I'd probably rate them as 4/5 (maybe 5/5 if being generous and ignoring the writing quality). But Ienith seems like it only deserves a 3/5 at most. The Ienith arc begins on chapter 54. I've read to chapter 71. I'm hoping things will change for the better in future chapters, but even browsing ahead 20 chapters, it seems to be more of the same and still in Ienith. Pretty disappointing. <<less
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ShinUon rated it
Instant Death
October 17, 2018
Status: v1c37
This is simply okay. The writing isn't terrible, but the story is pretty lacking. In particular, it's missing the ever important "why should I care?" part when it comes to the characters and story. At the beginning, it manages to get by just from the novelty of the MC's super OP ability and him wrecking everyone. But any time that wasn't happening, I felt myself trudging through it.

The MC and heroine are fairly 2D without much depth given to them, and the story and their goals is as superficial as... more>> the stories found in action games. Perhaps the only reason to read this is to see how bad of a trainwreck things can become (as some other reviewers hint at), but I'm not quite seeing it yet.

Maybe it gets better later, but I think I've already given it a fair shot. I personally think this is a clear 3 of 5. It's okay and something to read if you need to kill time, but it's not the type of series where you want to keep reading. <<less
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ShinUon rated it
Nidome no Yuusha
September 21, 2016
Status: c12
This is an interesting one. It combines the tropes of summoned hero, "redo, " and betrayal. Throw in revenge created from the "redo" mechanic, and it makes for a very fresh take on this mix of concepts.

The MC's character becomes pretty twisted and is definitely an anti-hero. However, the MC has a clear purpose, is driven, and the writing is decent. This makes it pretty good and I have expectations for it, but the main issue is the speed of releases is glacial so this will likely sit in the... more>> backburner for a good long time.

Potentially a 4/5 or 5/5, but I normally don't rate until there's more chapters than this. <<less
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ShinUon rated it
Heaven’s Devourer
November 17, 2019
Status: c360
This is an excellent story. But it should be emphasized that this story is first and foremost about the MC and his path toward attaining immortality. It is a long and arduous path, and he will have fated encounters and meetings and eventual partings as well. Such is life.

The second important point is that this story is very much rooted in Buddhist philosophy. In that regard, at its core it's a bit different from other xuanhuan and may conflict with what some readers expect from this genre.

Those two points (story... more>> of MC's path toward attaining immortality & roots in Buddhist philosophy) go together. They explain the MC's character, his actions, how he evaluations his decisions, and why some things happen (karma/fate).

The path to immortality (or enlightnment in Buddhism) may involve fated encounters and guidance received along the way, but it's primarily one you are responsible for walking towards alone (it's based on your own efforts, comprehension, control of your mind, and decisions). In that regard, the MC's actions and thinking are generally very consistent and also explain why he lets some things go while not others (he prioritizes not letting things distract his mind and lets things go when possible).

There's also a recognition that he is his own person with his own beliefs (dao) while the same applies to others. The MC recognizes it's not possible to force his dao on others and vice versa. This is an important point for being at peace with oneself and to be in control of your mind, and is an underlying basis for his interactions with others (it may not be obvious to some until near the end of the Shushan arc).

Anyway, some of the criticisms I might give for other series, I can't give here as it is part of the Buddhist philosophy of the story and handled naturally. Overall, I've enjoyed the read so far through chapter 360. <<less
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ShinUon rated it
Battle Frenzy
May 27, 2019
Status: c98
I wanted to like this, and it's not bad when the MC's story is being told. But I seriously wonder who the main character is supposed to be sometimes. The MC seems to get 50% or less of the screen time.

There are many "episodes" (which span multiple chapters) about side characters, and these sometimes relate to the MC, but most often not. There's nothing wrong spending some time on side characters if they will eventually cross paths with the MC, but the amount of time spent on side characters is... more>> excessive.

In the last 40 or so chapters, the episodes went something like this: MC, side character, MC, side character, side character, MC, etc. It's starting to feel like the side character episodes outnumber the MC's.

As I trudged through the chapters (especially ones unrelated to the MC), I can't help but wonder if the author is just writing text for the sake of filling space to increase the word and chapter count. There is a lot of superfluous content and a good author knows to cut useless content and keep the story focused, but Battle Frenzy seems to be looking to be an example of what writers should NOT do.

If not for that, this would be okay read. But unfortunately that is not the case, and it doesn't look like it gets better from what other reviewers farther ahead have said. When the series moves along and the MC's story is being told, it's interesting enough. But when it drags on, my god does it drag. <<less
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ShinUon rated it
Advent of the Archmage
June 17, 2018
Status: c196
There are two big things that make this novel interesting. The first is the main character. The second is the plot structure.

The MC in this story is very different from those in other stories. While he does have the fortune of having talent/gifts/blessings, the primary driver for his successes and rapid growth is his laser-focused concentration and dedicated effort. As a mage, he lives and breathes magical studies. If he's not sleeping, he's probably spending 95% of his time thinking of ways to improve his survivability, develop new spells, practicing... more>> to speed up his casting times, or some other activity for improving himself. This single-minded pursuit of magic and self-improvement has to be respected, and he doesn't let himself get distracted even by the beautiful women around him.

The second thing is the plot keeps plenty of crises for the MC. In fact, the story starts off with a major crisis. Admittedly, I think the first one does go on for a bit too many chapters considering it's the beginning of the novel, but it's still interesting enough. Underlying all the crises the MC has to get through is a major conspiracy/strategic plotting by the enemy forces in the war, with the MC trying to stay ahead. Therefore there isn't much fluff in the plot as everything ties together and the MC's motivations for getting involved in the mini-plots make sense.

Overall, a good read. <<less
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