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Trent
Trent rated it
Dragoon
May 3, 2017
Status: --
Trust me, I'm being quite generous with my rating.

Are people so desperate for these kinds of stories that they'll forgive it almost everything and rate it highly? Holy crap. I settled in for a nice, relaxing evening story and got... this. Whether it's supposed to be a real story or a parody of the genre, it fails in all regards.

It's shallow. Terribly shallow. Skimming-a-toe-on-a-puddle kind of shallow. Characters, plot, abilities, pacing, relationships: no depth whatsoever.

-Characters. Maybe two of them are halfway interesting; they're also halfway annoying. Most named characters are one-dimensional, though simply being named puts them heads and shoulders above many others. By an incredible coincidence, the MC turns out to be the same age and attend the same school as the heirs of the other two greatest noble families in the kingdom, and is put in the same class as them... and that's the last we hear of them. I don't think we even learn their names, never mind anything else about them. Oho, get used to that sort of thing.

-Plot: don't even bother.

-Abilities. Pointless, not described at all. Any training's skipped right over. MC's learned invisible (I can only assume, since it's never depicted) elementary magic and some swordplay (don't expect to see him learn; years pass, and woah he's learned them!), and somehow gains some charisma to lead a group of literally nameless and faceless characters...

-Pacing. Boom! 5 years later. Boink! Another 5 years later. Bzaw! 3 months later. Oh? You thought you'd get to see a semester of laidback school life? How adorable. Take a few disorganized paragraphs and be thankful.

What the hell is with the forced relationships? When he's 5 years old, the MC suddenly stops being a useless aristocrat, yet every servant in the castle and every peasant in the land despises the kid, though he's only been running around for two years max. And then a decade of good manners later, and still no one's changed their opinion of him? What, are they convinced that this insidious child, starting in kindergarten, has spent two-thirds of his life trying to get their guards down or something? And his parents dislike him too, for no reason whatsoever given, except the MC just shouldn't be loved by his family so we're supposed to roll with it.

I was reading with steadily increasing incredulity, but had enough when it tried to set a record for worst attempt at romance ever. MC meets blonde elf, they argue about nothing for a couple of sentences. Afterwards, no sighting of her for a few months. Next we see of her:

Spoiler

"The elf girl in question was busy thinking about Rudel, who she had met on her entrance to the school. From there, a considerable amount of time had gone by, but even now she couldn't get him out of her head[...] And every time she heard rumor of Rudel, Millia would grow desperate to contain her feelings."

Oh, and it gets worse. All on the same page.

Wow, I never knew romance could be so easy! Simply argue then apologize to a beautiful girl, and she'll be obsessed with you for months and fall in love with you!

Pathetic.

[collapse]
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The Sacred Ruins
May 19, 2017
Status: --
Wtf. So grandiloquent. It's just like the summary, where the attempt at poetry replaces useful information and obscures the actual story. This web novel is the result of someone trying to do "high" literature but having a misconception about what that is. Whether it's the author or the translator showing off, or both, it's not appreciated; the word count is wasted on verbose and flowery description instead of reasonably paced plot progression, which the novel tries to make up for by skipping explanations about things that actually matter.

I can't even laugh, because lots of the word choices are poor or entirely wrong, so I guess the translator's just putting everything through a thesaurus without necessarily understanding words' definitions or connotations. It's the kind of thing that would-be intelligent readers praise, but it only hurts readability. At the same time, simple grammar's often messed up; how about studying the basics of English language first? Meanwhile, the author/translator cripples POV by constantly using passive voice and meandering third-person.

Who knows, maybe the story that's buried underneath all the ridiculous prose is good, but why should each reader have to pick apart every sentence and mentally substitute better terms to appreciate it? This thing's like an expired microwavable dinner that a cook showers with spices to dress up the taste, then places on china to try to convince its eaters that no, it's actually fancy, and if they dislike it then it's because they're not real gourmets, so they should shut up and pretend to enjoy it or everyone will think that they're hillbillies.
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I’m in Hollywood
April 10, 2017
Status: --
Mmm. No, I can't recommend this novel. It has about one-and-half things going for it, and several against.

The acceptable:

-It's decent for a relaxed read. If you read it when you're really tired, and your brain and conscience are barely functioning, it'll be pleasant.

... more>> -Hollywood and MC are somewhat intentionally portrayed as immoral, rather than totally resulting from wish-fulfillment.

The bad:

It's an unrealistic world with a despicable MC. Real people who would have provided competition for the MC have either been written out of existence or dumbed down for the MC to awe and take advantage of. Even if we ignore much of what's wrong with the MC, it's another matter to ignore all that's wrong with the world he's in, because it's supposed to be the real world in every other way. The story reads like a game on easy mode, but it won't admit it, and pretends to be set in a realistic world.

Upcoming rant, which I don't recommend reading unless you're bored:

1. In order to have a fast pace, and to make the MC able to accomplish everything in his prime, things get done impossibly quickly. I find it easier to accept the existence of multiple worlds, magic, and dragons that shoot laser beams out of their butts, than that a theatrical release's entire pre-production, production, post-production, including advertising and distribution, only take a few weeks, even for a fairly small-scale film. The MC tells a major film distributor to get ready to market and release his prospective film in one or two months, and the distributor has no problem bending over for him. At one point, the MC singlehandedly edits all of a movie's raw footage into the final product in less than half a day.

Just, no, that's literally impossible, the author apparently has no idea of what filmmaking and editing entail despite trying to write a story depending on them.

Similarly, the high-level corporate meetings and negotiations in the novel take anywhere from seconds to minutes, instead of numerous interactions over days and weeks and months, and CEOs decide on multi-million-dollar agreements in a matter of sentences. This is pushed along by the second point, namely:

2. Every character is stupid. The aforementioned CEOs and other professionals are short-tempered and/or criminally incapable if they're obstructing the MC. In a normal novel, this would be annoying. Here, it's downright insulting, because the novel's dumbing down real people. However, this mass idiocy is necessary to elevate the MC from an ordinary guy into:

3. The unconvincing supergenius MC. It's one thing for the MC to somehow perfectly recall every book he'd read and movie he'd seen. And sure, he's middle-aged or something, so he'll act like an experienced adult when he reverts to a young man. But those attributes should not greatly improve his ability to act and direct, to say nothing of anything else. Before going back in time, the MC had been a fourth-rate actor and director, but now, he's somehow become first-rate because he'd seen the finished products (with different actors and actresses from ones he's casting). The author argues that, since the MC had seen the original movie, he's able to mimic the original actor (which makes his acting perfect) and perfectly direct everyone else.

Let the ridiculousness of that argument sink in.

If it doesn't, well, the story's right up your alley.

As with all of his skills, the MC's super directing ability spontaneously develops because the author decides that the MC has to have it. In fact, to prove how awesome and charismatic the MC is as a director, he has the MC lose his temper and scream generic rebukes on set, which somehow causes everyone realize how brilliant and commanding the MC is, and makes all the actors respect him. What...

Of course, because the average world IQ has been lowered by a couple dozen points, everyone's impressed by everything about the MC, from his unusual maturity to his genius, but he's actually a perverted scumbag with no respect for other people.

4. He's actually a perverted scumbag with no respect for other people. Yes, I had to reiterate it. MAYBE we can treat what the MC wants to do to the future A-list actresses as purposefully done by the author to show Hollywood's corruption. It's harder to ignore the author's obsession with a child. Like, dude, have him be a celebrity serial killer if you want, but don't keep pushing a thirteen-year-old drug addict into the plot as a love interest.

When he's not busy taking advantage of women and children, the MC plagiarizes novels and storylines from the real creators. For some reason the author assumes that, since a movie would have been released a couple years later, the idea behind it hasn't been formed yet. Uh, no. However, since no one sues the MC and reveals that they'd already written a similar storyline or draft years before, I can only assume that they, along with their families, friends, business associates, and everyone else they'd shared the idea with, stopped existing when the MC appeared.

For its vacant entertainment, the novel's probably worth more than two stars. But with the MC being not simply unheroic but disgustingly immoral, and the world around him being stupidly simplified to make everything a matter of course for the MC, the story's unpalatable. <<less
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Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey
May 16, 2017
Status: --
First off, the story’s confusing. Second, the translation’s confusing. Add them together, and I can only assume that, given the sudden changes in setting, either the MC’s teleporting everywhere, or he’s like Sun Wukong with incredible reality-defying somersaults. Someone’s an inch away from stabbing you? No problem, just roll and you’ll be invincible! Once you’re back on your feet, you’ll be fifty feet away.

Also, the MC’s backstory is ridiculous. Leaves home as a teenager, and in a year, he somehow—don’t ask how—turns ten thousand dollars into five hundred thousand. Of course, genius that he is, he doesn’t take out any insurance and loses it all. So he talks lenders into giving him fifty thousand dollars, which he somehow turns into three million in the stock market (eye-rolls). And then, “he was threatened and had no choice but to work for a giant organization as a trader and to assist in money-laundering operations.” HOW? Police apparently don’t exist, anarchy reigns, and he can’t even use his fortune to buy protection.

This is kind of contrived story gives us an indication of the author’s skill and effort put into the novel: very little.
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Trent rated it
Paradise of Demonic Gods
March 8, 2017
Status: c150
Honestly? Though it had potential, it's not very good, and it gets worse over time.

What's cool:
MC runs around at supersonic speeds kicking butt.

Major problems:
It's fun to see stats, and to be able to compare levels and measure growth, but they're poorly incorporated. The author has trouble making the system work sensibly, leading to a series of inconsistencies that are difficult to ignore. The stats aren't reliable, and they may douse realism and adrenaline when mentioned during a fight.

What starts out as an interesting revenge story of an antihero... more>> becomes an absurd, overly violent Good vs. Evil story for toddlers. The MC gets slapped with the decision to be righteous and mete out justice to all the evil he sees, and the author fails at balancing that with the MC's coldness and desire for power, turning MC and story into one big mess. The MC has no realistic personality to speak of, only an omnipresent mash of impulses: to act and snort coldly while showing off while cutting down his enemies while being full of himself while having either a measure of precognition or whatever esoteric insight the situation demands.

Meanwhile, to make it clear that the MC's actually, truly a good guy, the author makes each enemy out to be unreasonably jealous of the MC and/or all "Truth? Justice? Friendship? They're ruining our empire!" and "Muwahaha! I love selling kids into slavery!" Every enemy is either an aristocrat who invariably thinks that commoners shouldn't dare to stand on their level, etc. Etc., or has been employed or threatened by such an aristocrat to do his bidding. It's quite painful to read. The MC's buddies are all kind and patient, the MC's enemies are all rabid, selfish, and shortsighted, making one wonder how the world made it to the MC's generation without getting torn apart. The author will, however, periodically make a character switch sides at the drop of a hat, which will cause the character to jump from one end of the personality/intelligence spectrum to the other, with little in-between, time, or rationale needed. I think the author got a kick out of doing it once, and developed something of a fetish for it. <<less
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MMORPG: Rebirth of the Legendary Guardian
April 27, 2017
Status: --
The lack of description makes it move quickly. However, whatever happens doesn't

really matter. Some moments have potential, but the writer is unable to capitalize on them. The story's not awful, but it doesn't have just a few problems either, and is poorly written. -Weak characters. A poorly constructed MC, the crappy rich-young-master antagonist, a generic harem of beautiful women who all need the MC to save them, other players rarely exist and are even more rarely given any depth.

-The writer's terrible with basic math and logic. Numbers... more>> used, whether counting amounts or time, don't make much sense, and translation errors don't help matters. You can only do your best to ignore them.

-Awful descriptive abilities, usually doesn't even try to describe.

-No sense of greatness in the MC's endeavors. There's a lack of worldbuilding, and major quests and dungeons are uninteresting.

-Other problems from bad writing and lack of thinking. (Copper above steel? C'mon bro.) <<less
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The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor
July 13, 2016
Status: --
It's a fun story for a while. But, besides its entertainment, it's horribly written. At first, I would have eagerly given it at least four stars. Overall, though, it's worth maybe 2.5 stars. Some of the problems:

Translation quality aside, the author isn't an effective writer and doesn't express ideas well. What's more, he leaves the foundation of the story full of holes. For one example, the story relies upon time passing four times faster in the virtual world. In other words, 96 hours pass inside the virtual world for every... more>> 24 hours outside of it. And that extraordinary function isn't used logically or taken advantage of by anyone—there are no people enjoying much longer lives, no schools holding virtual classes, no company getting a huge edge over others—there are no attempts at optimization, even though benefits would far outweigh the costs. The virtual world exists only for the sake of the MC's success, with little pretense otherwise. Nor does the story improve over time. Instead, the author piles more mistakes onto their growing hill with each chapter, and rarely tries to fix what's bad. The novel endlessly reuses somewhat successful ideas, and seldom tries anything new. It doesn't even stick with its RPG elements very well. Ignoring missions and related things: stats, leveling, skills, and gold lose whatever value they once had—not because they climb up too high, but because the author doesn’t bother keeping them relevant.

There are also very annoying things, like how no one on Earth apart from the MC's crew can accomplish anything, or how women only exist to be beautiful and circle around the protagonist. Some females are given little thought or description for their debut, and suddenly become very attractive when the author decides to turn them into love interests for the MC or another male character. Others are "love" interests from the beginning, as considered by an author who can only mock the word.

On another note, the protagonist is not only terribly written, but unlikable. The problem isn’t that he's an antihero—he starts out as a potentially interesting one, with awesome if bland determination, a history and perspective that induce musing, and a purpose that could have been interesting or at least consistent. But his purpose becomes murky and he increasingly ignores logic. He'll throw all of his money at risky endeavors, but inevitably waste time pinching pennies. He doesn't understand, or care, that other people might need money too. Since he doesn't even have much empathy, there's little depth left to him, and he remains selfish and unlikable. He fails at providing a refreshing viewpoint. His potential complexity never arrives at an intriguing dissonance; instead, he falls into the underworld of failed characters. His holes aren't intended, he simply isn't well constructed, and the same applies to the story as a whole.

So. Depth, plot, writing skill and effort: everything's bad. But the novel's enjoyable for a while, until it finally suffocates underneath its shortcomings. Still, if you have a pair of sunglasses and an oxygen tank handy, you can determinedly ignore the novel's failings and have a good time reading it. <<less
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Trent rated it
Galactic Dark Net
June 14, 2016
Status: c42
The first few chapters, before the protagonist gets his abilities, are intense. The several following chapters are somewhat intriguing. Afterwards, it's boring. Most people seem to love the story, though, so there's a big chance that you will too. My biggest complaint is that the MC is too straightforwardly OP. He obtains an SSS-ranked power, which has previously dominated the galaxy, and everyone can see that he has it. Since his ability trumps all other abilities, there's not much thrill in seeing him become powerful, especially after drug injections make... more>> him even more OP. His quickly improving strength, caused in large part by his method of acquiring his power, makes his journey even less interesting. Altogether, there'd be something wrong if he DIDN'T become the most fearsome guy in the galaxy. That alone might not have stopped me from reading the story. However, characters are flat and stereotypical, as are the MC's interactions with them and their interactions with each other. Influential elders pin their dreams on the MC, the world oohs and aahs at him, and so on. The story is written like a somewhat bad amateur work. <<less
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Trent rated it
The Tutorial Is Too Hard
July 5, 2017
Status: c45
This. This is it. The dungeon story I’ve always wanted. Where one needs, and gains, more than just game skills or stats. Where grinding is painful and dangerous, but valuable for those who are motivated enough. Where the MC’s thoughts make perfect sense, whether they’re ultimately correct or incorrect. Where the excellent humor doesn’t undermine the seriousness of the situation. Where the story doesn’t skip levels.

The mental traps. The dangers. The opponents. The gods. It’s not just the challenges; everything’s great, every action and feeling’s believable. The MC’s superb, he’s so human but the right kinds of abnormal to survive and thrive like no one else had. The dungeon wonderfully lives up to what it’s supposed to be: a place to train survivors into warriors, and warriors into heroes.

Years ago, I hoped I’d be getting this with ToG. Later, I thought I’d see it in other dungeon novels. Finally, I’ve found it here. I kiss you, TTiTH.
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Top Management
May 6, 2017
Status: c48
I feel like the story could go down any path and I'd enjoy it regardless; it's that well-written.

Every character, encounter, and problem is realistic. Some people are really petty, but that might be a thing in show business for all I know. I get why some reviewers feel that the MC's premonitions occur too conveniently. But if he didn't have them, then we would have complained that his decisions were stupid, and that luck or plot armor was the reason for his success. Moreover, his premonitions are actually quite rare, and from what I can see, they're not so much answers to his problems as hints, and the MC has to decide how to interpret and react to them, and then actually try to work towards a better future. His ability is much less overpowered or cheaty than... really any other novel's cheat ability, actually. Huh.

I also really like how the MC responds to his visions: uncertainly, viscerally, yet carefully. He doesn't put his future at their mercy, but doesn't stupidly ignore them either. He never gets the full picture, and often worries that he's making the wrong decision off of what he's seen. Despite that, the novel's feel isn't one of angst, but of hope and tension as the MC steadily progresses and grows along with those whom he manages. His trials and successes are very well-balanced, so the MC never seems to have a too easy time or gain too great a reward, while it also doesn't seem as if the author hates the MC; instead, every step presents challenge and opportunity, and requires hard work, consideration, and risk-taking to overcome. Even then, everything isn't inside of the MC's control, since he lives in such an organic, realistic world that other characters are very much a part of.
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Super Soldier King
August 2, 2016
Status: --
So contrived and corny... The modern setting makes it all the worse; things that we get used to hand-waving in mediocre cultivation novels appear outright ridiculous when brought closer to the world we're familiar with. The author doesn't bother compensating for that.

There's no depth. The novel skims atop clichés, but butchers even them. It's just a series of nonsensical situations involving absurd characters and interactions. In this case, the title and summary are good indicators of how poorly written and childish the novel is.

Honestly, I can't even give this two... more>> stars, or it'd be an affront to the novels that I have graded so. <<less
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Trent rated it
History’s Number 1 Founder
August 15, 2016
Status: c81
... I feel sort of bad for breaking up the train of nice reviews. But here's my opinion: the story gets stale.

The beginning is great, but the author seems to lose inspiration and put in less effort after a while. Overall, the novel isn't satisfying as a parody, but it also isn't able to stand alone as an entertaining story if we ignore that purpose.

The spoofing has stalled. It reached its peak a couple dozen chapters in with a wonderful utilization of the Mistaken for Badass trope, and it's been... more>> running on fumes for over fifty chapters since. The protagonist's genre savviness and composed attitude were enjoyable at first, but they've undergone little development. Now they're beating a dead horse, and each chapter's become boring. You know what to expect, and the story sticks to its formula and doesn't exceed those expectations.

Good parodies are insightful and funny, but this one's been missing those sparks for a while. It mostly points out and expands upon conventions, which is commendable in its own way, but it tends not to go the extra half-step of humorously deconstructing or exploiting them or whatever else. Instead of regularly making clever, comical observations, the novel does so a few times, and then recycles them whenever a similar situation pops up. So we don't get to see twenty different witticisms, but four... five times.

On a couple levels, the story jumps on top of what other stories have built without having a solid foundation of its own. It's a problem that the author's other novel seems to share. <<less
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Trent rated it
Swallowed Star
April 28, 2017
Status: c--
With Swallowed Star, IET originally seemed to intend to write a more sensible story with a more compact scope, but then gave into his modus operandi of skipping through the home world to go to bigger worlds to star systems and so on. The novel's like Dragonball, where the early and later parts are entirely different.

Like, take a look at the novel's synopsis. Go ahead, look over it. Take that kind of badass, special ops scenario, mix it up with training, a bunch of monster-slaying, at least as... more>> much conflict between humans, and some familial and romantic love, and you have the first 5 or so volumes. The MC becomes a Fighter (a cool, non-uber title), and he's fast and strong but not beyond imagination. He goes out with a squad to kill monsters for their body parts, and they have to be careful and use tactics and know their limits, but they might die anyways. Awesome. 4+ stars for this period.

But as usual in IET's works, before long, things become so magical and large in scope that their descriptions become wonky, and each level and what the MC accomplishes at each level becomes forgettable. When they were revealed, I metaphorically slobbered over the title "Warlord, " and creamed myself at "Wargod." Like, hell YEA, reach those levels MC! But no, it turns out, each level is just someone who's a certain amount stronger and faster than the one before. Ptooee. And then you have a bunch of following levels and spaceships and aliens and galactic battles and whatever, and the story gives up on being down-to-earth and enters Super Saiyan mode, then x2, x3, x4. If you're fine with that sort of thing, no problem; if you're not, you should probably stop reading before it gets to that point. <<less
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Trent rated it
King of Gods
May 13, 2017
Status: c218
The worst novel that I actually read. It’s sh*t. Absolute sh*t. But it’s easily, rapidly flowing sh*t, practically diarrheic.

Cultivation and fights are simplified below what should be their bare minimum, making the story very fast-paced. If MGA, WDQK, MGS, and their kin are one kind of bad, then this is another, largely because the MC isn’t mass-murdering maniac (yet?) and antagonists aren’t quite as copy-pasted.

Let’s do some Q & A.

Q: What are cultivation levels here?

A: Ah, just things to overcome in a few time-skipped weeks by eating a few nameless pills. It doesn’t have to be the MC, everyone does it.

Q: So why are there people who stay low-leveled and don't improve for years?

A: Um. Next question, please.

Q: Then what are skills?

A: Just these things that don’t need much description... they don’t really matter anyway, just imagine something whenever their names pop up.

Q: How would you define character depth?

A: Uh...

Q: What do the words arrogance, self-centeredness, and “cleverness” mean to you?

A: The defining traits an MC should have! No—the only way any character should be!

The author’s name is quite apt; can he truly be so self-aware!? However, I would suggest a small addendum: Fast-Food-Restaurant-That-Builds-Its-Burgers-Out-Of-Addictive-Chemicals-Which-Give-You-Food-Poisoning.

Consider it, author, yea?
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Trent rated it
Ace of Ace
August 1, 2016
Status: c2
It might be too early to rate, but the beginning is rushed, unfulfilling, and confusing. There are too many cliches thrown on top of one another, and too little attention's given to any one of them. Two short chapters in, we've already got a runaway truck, a ditzy angel, mistaken identity, time travel (I think? It's confusing), game elements like stat screens, and special abilities. I dread to think what the third chapter will add.

I was looking forward to a refreshing sports novel. This isn't one. The MC's a superhuman... more>> Gamer. Unless the Major Leagues are actually home to Super Saiyans or Xianxia-ish cultivators, he has no business participating there and competing against athletes limited to the peak of human ability. What's satisfying in seeing an OP dude with cheats become the world's best baseball player? A mysterious second chance would have been enough on its own, without all the other props.

I guess after the MC dominates the diamond, he'll go beat up a group of toddlers to become the world's top martial artist. Before he can, though, he'll need an indestructible vajra body, the Five Heavenly Artifacts and Nine Divine Pills, and Excalibur.

Take this review with a grain of salt, the story may acquit itself later.


Chapter 10 update: My opinion hasn't changed much, but now I'm more confident in my rating.

The power-ups he's gotten until now haven't been overwhelming, but thoughtfully limited, which is great. Unfortunately, that's about it, and the rest of the story has remained poorly constructed and translated.

It's nice that the MC's willing to undergo pain to reach his goal, but his pain and determination are blandly described. And if at any moment the story needs a character, the author makes one up, but isn't able to give anyone a foundation. There's some antagonist in the MC's past who I can't bring myself to care about, but everyone else just sort of exists for however long they need to.

Maybe worst of all, it's just. Not. Interesting. Parts away from the field are boring, while the climax of each practice and game seems to be: shall the MC throw this kind of pitch, or that one? But with the poorly constructed characters, there aren't any psychological games to make such contemplation worthwhile.

I'm also sort of incredulous over whether the MC's really a sportsman. The reason given for why he hadn't been able to improve his knuckleball in years is just unbelievable.

Spoiler

He didn't realize that wind could affect pitches...

[collapse]

Just... just wow.

Also, it turns out, there's no time travel. Which is... good?

<<less
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Trent rated it
Trafford’s Trading Club
May 10, 2017
Status: c32
It's been really enjoyable so far. We get into the meat of the story from the first chapter, so you don't have to force yourself through a long introduction. The world-building is more "show and suggest" than "tell and force down readers' throats." And it flows so smoothly; rather than splitting the plot entirely into separate story arcs or missions, it offers a more authentic moment-to-moment view of the MC's activities. And unlike in many other novels, the difficulty, complexity, and rewards of trades and missions don't seem to artificially escalate as the MC gets stronger. Instead, the world proceeds as it does, and the MC decides what he can and can't get involved with, and chooses how to go about doing things (with his assistant's help and advice, though she'd prefer for him to be more self-sufficient).

The MC's assistant-cum-teacher is interesting and discreetly funny. The MC himself has a good mentality: he understands that he's become (sort of) immortal and (sort of) tied to the Club, yet he's not angsting about it nor forcing himself to change. Instead, he'll let his personality change naturally over time, and he'll enjoy what he has while he can, and won't let this new world scare him. Actually, he has fun taking advantage of people's perceptions to appear especially mysterious, to seem more badass than he has yet become because why not?

He's curious and calm, very well suited for his position. At the same time, his likable personality may be a weakness of the novel. He's so calm, so well-suited for his position, that he doesn't really have to grow into his function. Sure, I'm glad he's not whining about it or messing things up, but I'd like to see some character growth, or even better, for his personality to continuously change over the decades. As it is, he's pretty much static. His zombie-doll assistant seems to have more room for transformation than him, actually. Not sure how much of her personality is a front, though...
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Trent rated it
Forty Millenniums of Cultivation
June 6, 2017
Status: c125
This is a cultivation story which flips off the mass of copy-pasted xianxia and makes its own path. It’s not as exciting as some others, but it’s among the more original and well-written ones.

About its “nationalism” (it doesn’t actually need a spoiler, but whatever) :
Spoiler

When it doesn’t terrify me, I actually like the “nationalism” in this story. Partly, that’s because it’s not nationalism: nations are forgotten, and no area of people seems to think it's better than another area. It's actually humanism. And partly, it’s because it’s reasonable for it to exist, and is a major building block of the story. In the setting, humanity has just recently freed itself from its nonhuman overlords, and is still in the shaky process of establishing its territory and beating back the monsters. Of course the Federation will propagandize how humans must stay united against everything else. The result is that civilians are in awe of militants and soldiers who have gotten injured fighting for humanity, while soldiers in turn are willing to sacrifice themselves to protect the civilians. It makes for some emotive and awesome scenes. But it’s also likely that the MC will someday be forced to realize that non-humans aren’t automatically bad, and that humans aren’t necessarily in the right. We’ve had hints of that all along.

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Worldbuilding: 8.5 / 10. Uncommonly grand and unique, but often dry; the novel isn’t able to smoothly realize its ambition. Basically, there’s lots and lots of background thought up, but too much of it's info-dumped, and characters often speak unnaturally to explain relevant topics.

Plot: 8.5 / 10. One arc in particular has hinged on unbelievable things. The goals of the MC's journey are either too nebulous or easy for him to accomplish. However, each part of the story so far has been original and pushed the plot forward.

Cultivation: 9 / 10. Each stage of cultivation is distinct, follows different rules, and is connected to more than simply greater generic power. The MC power-skips where he should and doesn’t where he shouldn’t. However, disparities between power levels aren’t well defined.

Action: 9.5 / 10. Fight scenes are generally brief and poignant, though the author may sometimes devote too many words to short battles, creating “slow motion” and reaction scenes which are sometimes cool, sometimes annoying. The MC doesn’t fight all that often, but when he does, you can get goosebumps.

Characters: 9.5 / 10. At first they’re mostly bog standard, but they become three-dimensional and impressive like few web novels can do. The MC isn’t the only, or even the most dazzling, “genius” in the world; other people are given their due. And characters don’t have to be powerful cultivators to be awesome. The MC has moments of awesomeness, craziness, and recklessness, but he doesn’t become an arrogant toerag that you can’t empathize with. He can be vengeful, sure, but in a humorously “cruel” way instead of the “massacre everyone who doesn’t give me face!” way. He periodically shows how he’s still, at heart, the guy he was before he got his lucky chance. Like, at one point after he finishes being a solemn heroic badass,
Spoiler

a young female author gives him a pair of novels to read. He forces himself to skim through the Shoujo one. Then he turns to the second, realizes that it's BL, starts sweating, and ‘Nope!’s out of there.

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So, 4.5 if we’re taking each part individually, tearing me between a 4 and a 5 (and it’s easily a 5 for the standards of xianxia). But there’s something missing from the story which keeps me from ever really getting into any chapter. And the translation’s really well done, and does a great job carrying across the militant tone! But for whatever reason, the story doesn’t have much of a feel that pulls me into it; the style’s too mechanical. So I’m reading and objectively appreciating the story, but it never comes alive to me as some more poorly written stories can do. So it’s a really good novel, but not a fantastically good story.
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Trent
Trent rated it
Transcending the Nine Heavens
April 25, 2017
Status: c320
TtNH is in many ways my favorite novel, particularly when reading Walk the Jiang Hu's translations.

I think everyone's already covered why TtNH is awesome. The protagonist is great, the antagonist is excellent, other characters are three-dimensional, the story's well-written, and so on. There are a few things that not everyone likes, though, which I'd like to address.

The MC makes it clear that his primary concern is not to gain more power, but to ensure his beloved's happiness this time around.

He comes to realize that, in his first life, he'd... more>> been so driven by his need for vengeance and power that he'd caused her to quietly wither away to her death, and he refuses to do that to her again. Chu Yang's determination to keep Qing Wu happy and regain her love is sometimes extremely humorous, sometimes absolutely epic. He's willing to sacrifice his time and stunt his martial growth for this cause (which makes him quite different from other novels' MCs who vaguely argue that they pursue power to protect loved ones, then disprove the idea by drawing the ire of increasingly powerful enemies). This doesn't mean that Chu Yang doesn't become stronger, but his journey is more purposeful. Personally, I love this aspect of the novel, but if you're looking for an MC who desires to become stronger at all costs and grabs every opportunity to do so, I suggest looking elsewhere.

The immature comedy that's a staple of the author's stories.

Fengling writes complex novels, filling them with formidable enemies and machinations. However, rather than making us read hundreds of chapters of seriousness, he intersperses them with puerile humor. I (and most of the story's readers, honestly) think that the contrast works very well, and while some of the bouts of comedy simply make you smile or chuckle on your way to the next period of SRS BZNS, others are quite unforgettable (Chu Yang's indignant "Your mother's fart!" speech often comes to my mind). However, these comedic moments are not enjoyed by everyone, and probably not always by anyone, because their method of breaking up tension can cause a scene to lose authenticity or characters to lose gravitas. Personally, I enjoy at least 9 out of every 10 such slapstick situations, and only a few make me frown.

The author's cultivation stories don't pay much attention to cultivation.

Again, it's not something limited to TtNH. While it can be refreshing to read a Xuanhuan or Xiaxia where cultivation isn't the most important thing, not everyone will be pleased about that aspect of this novel. I am ambivalent about how TtNH shows from fairly early on that the lower cultivation levels aren't worth much. Of the 11 or so martial (cultivation) levels, anyone who's not in the highest 3 or 4 seems to live a pretty sh*tty life: in nearly every engagement, the first five, "Martial Pupil" through "Martial Grandmaster, " are just going to get mowed down; "Revered Martial Artists" are actually treated more like dogs; "Martial Kings, " despite the lofty title, are more often than not simple bodyguards. It often makes me wonder why anyone actually wants to pursue the martial path. The novel's also inconsistent about the disparities between levels, and tries to set up a system of checks and balances to explain why the most powerful cultivators can't run around doing as they like, but often contradicts itself. On this note, my biggest gripe with the novel is how it stops taking into account level and numerical differences for minor plot purposes, or to turn a struggle around. For example, at first, a "Martial King" can move and strike faster than "Revered Martial Artists" can react to. Later, a "Revered Martial Artist" can outpace and dodge dozens of "Martial Kings" for hours.

Over-the-top situations.

In wanting to express how significant a problem is, TtNH may toe the line of realism (personally, I think it sometimes treads well past it). Like, the amount of... enemies of the state that Chu Yang discovers as the "King of Hell Chu, " and their passive responses to being discovered, boggle the mind. The antagonist is a legitimate threat, but considering how many plans, fail-safes, and agents he ends up having, you might wonder why he even felt the need to have so many fingers in the pie, given how they've far passed the point of efficiency and each one is a liability. Whether it seems like prudence or oversaturation is up to you. <<less
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Trent
Trent rated it
Stop, Friendly Fire!
October 18, 2018
Status: c5 part5
AKA Grim Reaper: Origins

Toy Car's usual genre-savvy protagonist meets Brook the Straw Hat, complete with all the skull jokes. Really, if you at any point liked the author's other stories, you'll probably like this one. It's exciting and well-paced so far, at least, though our sketagonist's getting stronger quickly, so hopefully it'll still be interesting when he's powerful.

Plus, since he's a skeleton, we definitely don't have to deal with a harem strangling the action/adventure and turning this into a rom-com. Definitely not. I hope.... good gods, I hope, because this'll... more>> just get weird if it does. <<less
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Trent
Trent rated it
Rebirth of the Thief Who Roamed The World
July 19, 2016
Status: c16
At first I was impressed. Later on I wasn’t.

Viewed one way, the transition between reality and game is smooth. And then you realize that perspective doesn't give a reliable indication of the author’s skill, and he’s just writing whatever he feels like. He farts on logic and sanctifies inconsistencies.

The virtual world in this novel is a fun place when it’s making sense. But seriously, I have no idea what I’m reading by this point. The MC is a patchwork. The author isn’t picky with his clichés, and just puts one... more>> after another without shaping them to fit the story.

Eventually, I may try reading more in the hope that it improves. For now, I'd give it 2.5 stars. <<less
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