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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Ascendance of a Bookworm
January 11, 2016
Status: c532
I have read a number of reincarnation novels both xianxia and japanese, but so far, this is the best I've come across. It has quickly become one of my favourite novels.

This novel is not for everyone though:

Warning: Not much action

This isn't an action series and it is slow paced, so if you don't have patience to read about cooking, clothing, cleaning, cosmetics and tons of heavy passages on paper making or printing methods, then don't read this series. The series also suffers (like many others in the genre) of... more>> time skips.

Warning 2: Not much romance, at least for a while

There are hints of romance in some of the MC's relationships and lots of secondary character side stories, but not much happens in the first 500 chapters. Even after that, it's not romance so much as drama and politics.

Warning 3: Slow pace

Because of the slow pace, I wouldn't really bother reading this until you can read at least around 100 chapters. It's pretty good from a slice of life perspective right from the beginning (don't expect the storytelling and pacing to change, it doesn't), but the slow pace will make you feel like you didn't see much. For example, religion/magic, two of the major elements of the story, only get introduced around chapter 65, get some action around chapter 125 and only get really exciting with more exposure to the magic system much later as complexity and developments get layered on, like the magic circle research in the 400s.

Style

It reminds me more of Ookami to koushinryou than of other reincarnation novels. The way business and trade works, the hierarchical society and the behavioural and fashion differences in different social classes. Again, like Ookami to koushinryou, there aren't over dramatically malicious characters – the motives of antagonists are very well calculated. It's almost a bit unrealistic how nobody is an idealistically driven character – there's no one trying to take over the world or bring happiness to everyone or any other idealistic ambitions like that, everything is very closely boxed in communities and lifestyle.

I wish there was more description of surroundings – appearances, clothes, the atmosphere of the academy or church, how people wear things rather than just the materials, etc. It's very much a human drama style. It is already slow paced enough though, so I shouldn't ask for even more details...

Reincarnation genre

One of the reasons this is such an amazing reincarnation novel is because of how the knowledge of the MC's previous life is used so effectively. Because the series does not focus on action, the MC uses her talents to make foods, clothing or otherwise enhance her daily life.

Warning: Main character - the bad

The MC is both adorable, and sometimes insufferable. Mainly, because the author didn't take all of a couple paragraphs to give a rationale for her childish behaviour.

It wouldn't even be all that hard: effects of a young body, hormones, initially trying to conceal her maturity and then getting used to it, that she was actually a 5 year old who was given memories instead of a 20 year old who was given a young body, etc. There are just so many easy ways to explain why she's so childish.

For whatever reason, the author didn't give us any. So if you're going to hate the MC because the author tells us she's actually a 20 year old in a 5 year old body and yet she behaves like a 5 year old... This is your warning, don't read this.

Main character - the good

That being said, I explained it in my mind and got over it. Once you're comfortable with her, the MC is also one of the cutest MC's - she's enthusiastic, pure hearted, a bit naive and benevolent, which, at least from my perspective, make her very easy to empathise with and relaxing to read about.

There's also something about a 5 year old that acts like a 5 year old that is sort of nice. The reincarnation aspect becomes more about the technologies as well as some cultural misunderstandings than the character herself.

Secondary characters

Family, friends and society around the MC change frequently as she moves between social classes. The changes are well done, so characters increase or decrease in frequency of appearance in a pretty realistic manner (don't get too attached to anyone). The supporting characters stand on their own.

Unlike chapters that switch perspective in a lot of other novels, I always look forward to reading the occasional chapter from other characters' perspective, all of which tie directly into the plot with fresh and adorable misunderstandings.

Worldbuilding

The worldbuilding is also superb. The attention to detail in life as well as sophistication of the magic system, religion, the politics, trade, etc are all woven into the storytelling.

Part of what makes it work so well is that the reader is introduced gradually to concepts, shown most of them and always in context of the plot. There's no sudden description of a magic system to the reader, but rather hints and bits of it introduced over the length of 100 chapters or more. Only from other character's perspectives or in talking about situations in retrospect are there longer, more descriptive explanations of the backdrop.

Humour

There's a lot of dramatic irony based on different cultures, viewpoints and how characters don't always have a full picture (perception based on letters vs being there). Not much slapstick, which I appreciate.

Frequent updates

One final strong point: the author is prolific. It's astounding how much content she puts out – almost a chapter a day, and they're long chapters considering the frequency. There's even a separate thread of sitestories from other characters' POV on top of the 500+ chapters currently out. Good to see a group picking this up to translate into English.

Good luck Blastron on this daunting and wonderful project!! <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Genjitsushugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki
November 13, 2016
Status: --
Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this novel at all, despite it being the style I usually enjoy (e. G. Common Sense of a Duke's Daughter, Ascendence of a Bookworm, Release that Witch, Reincarnated Lord etc. If you prefer the advanced economics premise rather then Wolf and Spice or even Maou Maoyuu Yuusha - though I dropped this one too - might be rec's for you.)

The biggest issue is the characters. None of them have any depth of emotion or ties to the setting. They all act like 20th century Japanese... more>> manzai actors with anime stereotypes. The whole premise of the novel is based off a completely anachronistic behaviour of a royalty that apparently can just hand over a kingdom to some rando. The moe princess-knight falls into the MC's lap by the end of the 3rd chapter, and the various side characters spend all their time saying "kyaah, it's the amazing MC and his princess wife" or "well, they made a big music show with 20th century influences, must be good even though it has no connection with our culture, oh, and of course, it doesn't matter that they came and killed all our husbands in a big battle the other day".

I'm not sure I even have to mention that the setting is bad at this point. I don't usually mind if a setting is very similar to other novels in the genre. But the author doesn't seem to make any effort to give it any life. The whole world and all the characters are merely plastic props for the MC to display his "brilliance" (stated, not demonstrated).

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Tales of the Reincarnated Lord
August 1, 2016
Status: c172
I have downgraded from 5 to 4, as there are many things (particularly the ineptness of the author at romantic plotlines) to cringe at. Still give it a 4 for the fun and detail in the statesmanship and logistics, the romantic flashback very early in the story, which I thought was well done and some of the exciting battles (not all of them, by far).

I am also frustrated the author can't add a bit more challenge to the MC's diplomatic dealings. The MC does have setbacks, but never while... more>> he's attending to something. All the issues are done when he's off in another place, or fixing another issues. The MC's creativity and adaptability would be so much better demonstrated if there were actually occasional flaws or unanticipated elements.

The Good

What makes it good is complexity. This is classic fantasy with politics between noble families and merchants and various kingdoms and trade federations. There is an interesting blend of martial arts with magic and medieval war tactics that is filled with grit. The characters each have complex back stories and not everything goes well for the MC (though when it comes to a fight, he wins...). There are some touching moments and plot twists and a kind of lifelike reality to the whole story.

The author's interest in statesmanship is what makes the exciting moments, whether it's his plans for new castles or schools or trade routes, leading of his knights and their soldiers through battles and new products from a different world. All of this is done with a varied cast of brothers at arms, loyal knights and scheming foes.

Spoiler

Unlike other reincarnation novels, the MC of this one is 23 years old when the story starts. He has a very realistic view of romance, considering he already lived passed his 40s in his previous life, so don't expect loli heroines that ruin so many other reincarnation stories.

The first 30 chapters are mostly flashbacks of the 'past 10 years' since her reincarnated, and overly wordy setting descriptions. You have to give him credit for the flashbacks though, showing a heart wrenching romance, his life, as a student then teacher, and introductions to his goofy mercenary and other buddies who he gathers with at the local tavern. The "plot" only really begins around chapter 40.

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Pacing

Just be forewarned that this is a novel where you have to take it slow. Once he gets into it, there are no significant time skips or exaggerated developments. The MC gets tied to his fief, so don't expect big adventures. This is a story of a nation building from farmers and mines and military tactics.

Military tactics

Another warning is that the author obviously has a tactics/military history/romance of three kingdoms penchant, so if long texts about ambushes or pitched battles put you to sleep, this novel will bore you to death. Unfortunately, the detail of tactics is usually destroyed by everything going too well for the MC all the time.

Bad romance

If anything though, my main complaint is about the is the chauvinistic streak to the novel and romance. I have no issue with chauvinism in the context of the setting, so I have no complaints when characters from a medieval world show womanising or paternalistic tendencies. I find it bewildering that every time a girl is (essentially) forced onto some man, as soon as they have s*x with the male character they suddenly want nothing more than to please and bear his children. The romance is all either dry and forced up to this point as it the female characters hardly ever appear except for the occasional s*x cameo. And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against s*x in a novel, my issue is with the lack of any other substantial interactions with women.
Spoiler

And seriously - the author writes an arc about him getting a secretary pretty much just so he f**ks her whenever he wants, or as the author summarised himself: "when there's work, he gives it to the secretary to do, when there's nothing, he does the secretary" (I quote, well, translate.)

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I must note this is with the exception of what I thought was a very well done romance/break up in the first 30 chapters of the novel, which was one of the reasons I managed to keep going despite the slow pacing.

Summary

Overall though, the author has managed to create a complex world and detailed plot with a lot of N. American/European fantasy influences, more so than any other Chinese author I've read actually. The world building has a style similar to Malazan, if a more focused POV on the MC.

I did read the first 10 chapters in English and I was impressed with the quality of the translation. <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Dungeon Defense
October 20, 2016
Status: v3c6
This is unfortunately a mixed review:

Volume 1 was amazing: I previously had this series rated 5 stars. If you're considering reading this series, I encourage you to do so, it is definitely worth your time. As others have mentioned, this has emotions and characters.

Volume 1 is a brilliant build up towards the first Night of Walpurgis. The author cleverly introduces characters, gives a complex and heavy past to the MC (lots of room to grow), and uses eloquence and manipulation to create a very nice climax.

Volume 2 is... more>> still good. I enjoyed the use of flashbacks, the plot devices giving you hints and red herrings of where it might go, and the mellow conclusion. The introduction of romance was also working quite well.

Another thing worth noting is that this is not a hastily slapped together web novel. This is a very well planned and crafted story. Volumes 1 and 2 were obviously reviewed and edited to have great dramatic effect. The pacing is good and the story falls into place.

Our negative protagonist is hinted to be growing into his father's shoes despite the hate he held for him. He is quite obviously destined for greatness and evil, but in volume 1, there is also a very key aspect of elegance to his character. That elegance was something I really saw as integral to his personality. It explained the remarks in the prologue, complemented his physical frailty and fit well with the machinations of the nobility.

Author betrays key foundations

I have a number of reasons to suspect that the author fell off his original path:
- The game elements that were important details at the beginning - and part of his cheat skill selection, practically disappear later.
- Related to the above, but the choices and infamy/fame. In volume 1, (even in the prologue, which is much later chronologically), the MC was obviously weary and distraught because of his infamy increasing. The choices meant something special, they were part of his internally conflicted psychology. The choices become almost inconsequential later on, having to do with his love life instead of his mental development.
- If you read the prologue carefully, you see a very different man than the MC in later volumes. He is disappointed in Cristiane because she is selfish and shameless and doesn't have the elegance of the nobility. The whole beauty of a negative protagonist is that they are evil because they make the "right" choices. The prologue really gives that flavour and gave me false expectations.
- The theme of authority and love of authority becomes too dominant. I liked it a lot when it initially came up. It enhanced the MC's manipulative side and explained many of his actions. But when it also (unintentionally on the author's part, from what I can tell), stabilized our MC's emotions. The beauty of this MC was his insecurities, the contradictions that made his actions interesting, the falling in his father's footsteps despite the hate he had for the man. But authority grounded him. Suddenly, the contradictions were all downplayed, he had an ideal and the power to get to it. He was no longer evil because of a mix of genius and helplessness, he was just evil because he wanted to be.

Plot becomes forced instead of crafted

Slightly, in volume 2 and much more in volume 3, we see elements destroying the appeal of the MC:
- The colloguialness/vulgarity that gets added to his talking habits. It works well as a nice counterpoint, for sure, I applaud the author for introducing it. But a contrast is only as good as it is sparse.
- The overemphasis of wanting to have s*x with everything, and I don't mean tasteful s*x scenes, of which there are some (I have nothing against a well done, complex interplay of romance, but there's just girls *senselessly* wanting to have s*x with him at every turn by volume 3.)
- The ever increasing moe characterization
- The shift between plot and character: Volume 1 was all about the plot, with the MC's cunning playing into it, twisting it, putting him on the stage as a player. We had very good secondary characters with different motives. By volume 3, it is predetermined that the MC is always going to win, there is very little that happens that is not caused by the MC's "cunning", which ends up feeling plastic.
- The less and less apt use of evil and manipulation. The MC just becomes a symbol of evil, instead of being a character of internal conflict, striving for his twisted aesthetic. Instead, he just wants to kill humans to advance the plot.

Read it though, it's a good novel, volume 1 particularly is inspirational and I hope many more korean authors follow in this style.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Master Hunter K
May 2, 2017
Status: c133
Quite spectacular.

I am usually very hesitant to give rather mindless, action flicks like this such a high rating, but unlike a lot of other stories in the genre, the writer is really consistent, doesn't drag scenes and is good at introducing new characters and making a fairly vivid instance world.

Not only does the plot and MC manage to keep itself together, but there is still a decent amount of challenge to show off the MC's OP qualities being put out every level. The whole premise is that the... more>> system is impossible to win, so there are hints that that edge can still be kept for a long time to come.

The worlds of each level are also each quite unique, and, in the dragon arc (~c100, starting to give hints of a larger world-building and beings beyond the system, which is intriguing.

Some very soft romance, which is sweet and, so far, very much a side story - hoping the cute archer is getting somewhere: this series is not ruined by harem or smut stuff.

I'm not much of a Romance of the Three Kingdoms fan, but I have quite enjoyed the references the author have made and appreciate the effort the translator has gone to to make it accessible to english audiences. Hats off to the translator, btw, since they have great quality and frequent releases too.

If the plot manages to keep itself together like this, this will truly be the king of the survival game-world genre.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
VRMMO Chef
June 7, 2017
Status: c4
So far so good, the series is laid back, talks about food and casual gaming and has a nice world.

It's one of a number of JP series like this that seem to go slowly, but are enjoyable (I've added my votes to the recommendations section).

Warning: there's only 76 chapters written over 4 years, and they're really short chapters too. Don't expect much content or an intense plot, because it's not there.

If people are enjoying this one, I'd like to mention a similar series, Gate of Amitiricia Online,... more>> also about a laid back VRMMO player who cooks and gathers ingredients. It's, if anything, a bit better than this one, and, although it doesn't have many chapters either (150ish chapters over the same 4 year period), they are slightly longer. Something a translator, maybe even Art of Butchery can look into if they like this kind of series.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Magi Craft Meister
December 20, 2016
Status: c130
This is quite an enjoyable series. It's a relaxed series about technologies and foods being introduced to a fantasy world by an adventurous and easy going MC. I frequently look forward to seeing what new idea the MC will come up with and how it will send ripples through the world.

World building is pretty good. I love maps, and he actually provided one. As the MC is an OP mage and engineer, he gets to see various countries, essentially be a tourist, which is neat.

The enemy conspirators are... more>> pretty comical in their attempts to revive lost technologies and their constant blunders and shock of the MC's oppressive fascist- ahem, military strength.

I am not a fan of harem manga, but most of the romance is platonic enough that I didn't mind for a long time. I did get a bit bored after 130 chapters, partly because some of the royal court scenes were annoying in their banality and the harem romance was taken a centre scene. Not sure if I'll go back and continue...

There isn't much development either. The whole "I have an automated super military of magical robots" thing just destroys much of the plot, as there's little to go from there. His whole Japanese-nostalgia island paradise is also neat enough during the first two volumes when he is building it, but then just feels boring and unnecessary without anything to add to the story later on. <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Dragon Order of Flame
May 16, 2017
Status: v1c4 part5
This is a very strong novel so far. I highly recommend it.

Issues

First a quick overview of the bad: slow pacing, short chapters and slow releases, generic premise. That last one because it's yet another reincarnation tale where the MC has some badass teacher, so you sort of wonder why the author needed a reincarnation plot in the first place. Arguably might have been better to do this one with just the dragon or just the reincarnation. But meh, small faults.

A reincarnated MC that acts his age?!

What makes it... more>> good is the depth of character creation so far. It's so rare for a reincarnated MC to actually act his age and be mature, so I really like that this author is pulling that off. His hero isn't only growing quickly and taking advantage of tricks, but he is also avoiding being petty and trying to create a better environment and relationships around him.

Secondary characters

This is particularly seen in the development of his father and brother's characters. They're both really well done, each with their own achilles heels that led to their downfall in the past, Marvin actually the MC's bully. But the MC takes the high ground and actually manipulates Marvin to get a better result for everyone.

Xianxia strength system

Another cool detail in this one is the strength system. It's a kind of xianxia style levels of power, but by a Korean author in a Western style fantasy world. It reminds me somewhat of Tales of the Reincarnated Lord, another great novel with a compelling world and character building and a xianxia/reincarnation element.

Worldbuilding

Can't quite speak for the rest of the world at this point, but the hints of details are positive, whether its the various ways of training martial arts, the complexity of the noble politics or dragon politics and the development of the relationship with the dragon in his head.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Undefeated God of War
December 20, 2016
Status: c85
This was... really bad... ?

I liked the pacing, and the constellation ideas behind the world building and magic were briefly interesting, if not developed in any meaningful way.

The set of characters were interesting enough in the starting city, but then everything becomes belaboured as soon as they leave for the vast world of boringness. MC gets OP thanks to the cheat item he picked up, gets sent down a different route from any other relevant character in the novel and travels through dimensional gates as if it's nothing (despite... more>> no one else doing this) with random bodyguards that appeared, seducing random shop owners and riding his mecha-ostrich!

Had lots of potential, so I'm sad it flopped so badly T_T <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Hachinan tte, Sore wa Nai Deshou!
December 20, 2016
Status: c52
I actually quite enjoyed the early chapters of this novel. It has a fairly good setting in a developing remote region where his father is a lord.

Learning to be a member of society and of his family and about the fief and its responsibilities is pretty interesting.

Then the MC starts grows old enough to venture out of this fief and go to nearby towns, the capital and the country, and the story derails completely:

  • He suddenly gets surrounded by girls out of nowhere who become the base for an annoying harem series
  • He makes inordinate amounts of money rapidly removing any kind of interesting developments with the world and society
  • He loses responsibility and family ties since now he's just an adventurer who doesn't have to take bother with fief politics anymore
  • And then, he goes off and slays invincible monsters, becoming a rising rod in the capital, beloved of king and nobels, betrothed to the most loli-big boobed heroines there...
long story short: human drama is non-existent and you just have some really terrible self-realisation wet dreams with an incompetent hero from then on. All the more a shame, since the premise and world building seemed good initially.
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Release that Witch
October 21, 2016
Status: c408
One of the best reincarnation/transfer-to-another-world novels. Long may it last!

Not only is the world building great, but wow, the speed of the releases, both in the original and in English is really commend worthy.

One thing that impresses me is that the author often reveals reasons for what seem to be inconsistencies in his setting. For instance, setting the bar low for the MC to shine with really simple observations such as 'oh, witches could be useful' is no doubt a bit patronising, but when the history behind why the... more>> witches are in their current conundrum is revealed, it all kind of makes sense.

Another good point is the pacing. Release that witch is not slow at all. Even so, the author manages to work in many details of the MC's modern knowledge in engineering and cultural tastes.

Compelling characters: Attractive heroines and solid soldiers. The range of ages in the cast is refreshing.

Political intrigue is well portrayed. The siblings all compete for the throne, and we can see the hierarchy of nobles and all the small plots of hidden daggers and deadly poisons.

And the plot only intensifies. From warring princes to catholic conspiracies, to Sauron and his horde of steampunk demons from the abyss. The spiral of the plots is quite amazing, particularly considering that the author actually uses the later plot developments to explain early setting quirks, which takes a lot of planning and writing talent.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Dungeon Hunter
September 21, 2016
Status: c97
Enjoyable.

This novel is far from refined in its prose, not the least original in its tropes and not deep at all when it comes to characters or plot.

It's very straightforward. A quick paced, in-your-face OP MC and his legion of not-sure-if-good-or-evil gone to become the Devil King in a game-like-setting war of dungeons and dragons set in the 21st century world. Along the way he wows and deceives his allies and enemies alike.

Expect the staples of reincarnation like the heated auction house, the stat updates, the provocations... more>> gone overboard and the takeover of the world!

Quite similar in atmosphere to Reincarnator, which also focuses on an OP MC paving the way after a time slip to lead a race against other races.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
The Amber Sword
February 16, 2017
Status: v3c76
This is a really great novel, I highly recommend it!

Warning: Action scenes can drag

My main issue with the series is that a lot of the action scenes drag way too much and they often stop making sense at some point.

... more>> The author writes in arcs, usually centred around some big battle or prize

Warning 2: Deus ex machina random OP power ups

Another reason for facepalm moments in this series is the random power ups the MC gets. They are often totally unnecessary, and curve balls that have little to do with anything that was mentioned before. For example:
Spoiler

a) M*gic the gathering: One of his abilities is from the card game system of OP magic that nobody else has any clue exists and yet where cards appear all over the place in people's pocket's and out of thin air. I think it's a great concept... for a novel that actually focuses on that. As a system of magic, it just has no relation to the setting, other characters or the mythology (yeah, he tries to create deep hidden conspiracy theory type explanations, but it's pretty lame).

My biggest issue of all is that he could have done everything the cards do without the card system.

b) Ring of the ancients: so yeah, it's great you got an heirloom from your grandfather, it's great it gives you a magic spell, some stats and I'm even fine with it having a backstory and ancient spirits with sword skillz. Why did the author have to make it materialise an ancient spirit that wasn't even supposed to be in the item... ? If you're going to make an OP item for your MC, don't make it more OP than it would normally be just to make your readers facepalm please.

c) Lionheart sword evolves into Gigasword: Again, he puts a neat backstory to an item, makes a nice scene where he gets the approval of some ancient king who wielded it... then a few chapters later decides it wasn't good enough, so he says it's only 1/4 of the sword that was actually an even better sword that belonged to an even more ancient king. Now he'll be 10 times more powerful!

Why?

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Warning 3: Harem

So, to be honest, it's not so bad, as far as harems go. There are actual cool male characters in the series in all the arcs and most of the girls are quite well developed and aren't all kya kya, but smart heroic characters. It's still a harem series with a lot of the usual issues of harem series:
a) girl characters appear randomly even though it doesn't really fit the plot,
b) lots of 3rd person pov chapters of how a girl comes to terms with how she's in love (I mean, it's not as if they're terribly written compared to some other harem series, but it is a bit repetitive and boring)
c) a lot of the usual social tensions and frictions that make a gritty fantasy so good don't happen because everyone loves our MC or is an outsider to his inner circle.

This last one means you basically have your typical villains or groupies, not much in between.

Warning 4: Reincarnation/game system issues

There's a lot that doesn't make sense in the main premise of the story. The author sets up a couple premises such as "this was a game world", "this is not a game world after reincarnation", "

Tactics

One thing I really like is the tactical and use of skill (... sometimes...) to win the action sequences. Despite a lot of stupid OP moments, there's actually quite a bit of good description of how the MC overcomes odds stacked against him through tactics, positioning, command decisions, etc.

Worldbuilding

The world and its lore is quite good once you get into it. It can be a bit boring early on when the author just gives you blocks of text with names and names in them that he doesn't elaborate (he likes doing that...), but he does eventually get to explaining places and different kingdoms and races, their magics, etc. There's quite a bit of depth and originality in the Amber Sword, and the author manages to weave a lot of it into his story quite effectively.

MC's character building

Brendal's character building within Sufei is quite interesting, if not very common. I particularly the grandfather who appears every so often.

One thing the author does very well is describe the mystery around Brendal in other characters' POV. I love how the author uses particular regions and lore to support who characters thing Brendal might be, giving quite a complex and interesting mosaic of different perspectives. Brendal himself is quite mysterious and often makes excuses such as "oh, I know about that because I learned from the mages in the black tower" or some such.

Spoiler

Some of these images include his disguises: a highland knight and then later on as a Viscount from the South of Ailuin, his NPC identity as related to his grandfather, some of the other misunderstandings are even more interesting: as a dragon when the dragon loli helps him out with Makalov, him being a sun knight when he uses charge or the misunderstandings as him being the Dragon of Darkness by the witch and later undeads.

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Freya

I'm hoping Freya will be developed even further. At this point in the story, she branched off from our MC for a while and has a few nice side stories. She's pretty interesting as a character and where she might go, as well as the Princess. At this point though, they don't have too much screen time, unfortunately.

Anyway, I very much recommend. There are some parts where it's a chore to read, but try to skim over and get to the next good part! <<less
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tallrice
I give it a two for the premise and the fact that the manga rendition came out pretty well.

The story starts off not so badly, but quickly unravels into the MC prancing about fighting random RPG monsters with his harem girls...
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Ookami to Koushinryou
December 20, 2016
Status: v12
A classic and one of my first light novels.

This is really the gold standard for light novels. The world building is superb (and original!), the romance is delightful, the characters are deep and compelling. The author manages to paint all the slices of life you could want in this Northern European inspired fantasy setting.

Whether it's the smells of the market, the bite of a late autumn wind, or a travelling partner's sarcasm, the leer of a plotting aristocrat or the shrewd bargaining of a merchant or coin exchanger,... more>> Wolf and Spice has it all. And a giant, loveable kitsune-mimi heroine to boot.

If there's anything to criticise, it's the pacing and the episodic nature. Laurence and Horo move North, each volume being in a new location along their route (until later on, when they stay in some places for longer periods of time). Very few characters make it from one novel to the next (again, until later on in the series). Wolf and spice actually explores the cityscapes and politics of each place they stop in, and has no lack of quips between our main pair, so prepare to spend a long time basking in their slow developing romance.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
The Nine Cauldrons
August 18, 2016
Status: Completed
Spoiler

I quite enjoyed nine cauldrons. I was not able to get into other of IET's novels, but I should try again, perhaps.


The story itself is quite generic, so I can't give a stunning review in terms of a gripping plot or deep personalities or even original setting. It suffers of a common xianxia fault, which is a kind divorce of the MC from the world. The first arc (about 200 chapters) sticks to his hometown and local forces, but ever since the Da Yan Mountain arc, or even before that with the short arc on the fire fruit, the author starts going on these quests around the world, and there is neither proper description of his trials and daily life, or the sights he sees, nor is there a social context - enemies and allies, objectives to accomplish. So it grows harder and harder to turn the pages.


He does go back to his hometown, but it feels like the author lots touch with it a bit. He is so focused on getting to the point, setting up his Xing Yi Men and showing that he lives happily ever after (with a few intense battle sequences here and there) that he just resorts to time skips (both big and small) and informing the reader of stuff the MC apparently did that prepared him for stuff, but that the author was too lazy to write about. The biggest regret I have here is that his children become really shallow characters. They both seem lovely and interesting, but there's just not enough time given to them, the author was impatient by the end.


That being said, his cultivation system is good. I like that the MC focuses on his spear technique, and develops his own moves, slowly throughout the story. The author later in the novel reveals a lot about the 2 predominant schools and sets the MC on course to create another, and I quite like how he describes the process and the differences between these 3 daos.


I also quite like certain impressions the author here and there leaves on me. Sometimes this is a quick description of the weather to set the mood, sometimes the way he describes the MC's insight into a technique, sometimes in the unexpected decision one of his character's arrives at, or the introduction of music or art or other details that add to some of his arcs and ambiences.


I also enjoyed the romance.

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Spoiler

The MC actually fails at protecting his first love in the new world. This is significant in Chinese literature considering most just end up with a girl and remain faithful for evermore. There was room here for the author to explore some other emotions, like the regrets and will to avenge, as well as the happier side of getting together with another girl. The plot with Li Jun is slightly insipid though. Our MC is so concerned about his previous life's lover that he denies he has any feelings for her for too long. Fortunately, he changes his mind and they have a sweet, if not all that exciting, marriage and family life. I do quite enjoy the scenes with his family when he returns to Jiang Ning Jun.

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Be it the close parallels between names of historical characters and the geography with actual Chinese history, the close resemblance of the cultivation style with other xianxias, there is a lot of standard xianxia fare. But the execution is smooth and overall, this has been quite enjoyable.

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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Dominion’s End
December 20, 2016
Status: v3c8
Recommended. I am not usually a fan of zombie stories, but this one had quite a lot of momentum, pretty good character building and interesting super powers.

The reincarnation/gender bender plot added into that makes it a page turner and exciting to see where it's going to go.

I got a bit bogged down after the double brother paradox, and the journey to reacquaint with his fam. The whole underground laboratory is intriguing for the lore but was also somewhat... distasteful, but that's what a zombie series is all about.... more>> Looking forward to the translations catching up so I can skim read over the remaining chapters until the reunion, when I hope it shall pick up again. <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
The Youngest Son of Sunyang
October 17, 2017
Status: c14
This series is amazing, both so far, and from what I hear, later on too.

In fact, it's the most popular online series in Korea, as you might notice by going to the Munpia homepage (http://www. munpia. com/) where Youngest Son of Sunyang seems to have been in the top left (most popular) series spot for over a year now.

Unfortunately, many of the references are lost on us non-Koreans, as we don't know enough about the Samsung family, who are the real life 'basis' for the story. The series... more>> isn't a historical fiction or anything, it's only loosely based on the Samsung family but the author makes some clever social commentary mixed in with his reincarnation competition to be the next millionaire.

Lots of tension, lots of realism and some great characters, I strongly recommend the series to anyone who might give it a read! Would love to see more series like it, and more chapters translated... It really deserves some love. <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
Emperor of Solo Play
June 18, 2017
Status: c135
There's something different about Emperor of Solo Play that makes it quite exciting. The story has so many tropes common you can find in many a similar novel: a reincarnation premise, a VRMMO setting, poor player living in a hard society, the necromancer, game filming and video reactions, the solo player - but the author puts them together pretty well to create his OP strength necromancer.

Not only that, but he has a fast paced writing style that rarely gets distracted from his plot.

There are a lot of OP... more>> characters in this genre, but this one has some thought put into it. Can't say that the full strength necromancer is realistic, but it's just believable enough and carried out well enough that it's an amusing read and I applaud the author for his daring concept. Just to put this in context, I've read tons of novels where the MC is OP because they picked an 'unpopular' class... I find those premises so stupid because, no, archers or priests or thieves, etc, etc are never going to be unpopular in a fantasy genre. Maybe the vast majority of players just follow the herd, but top level players do research, they find the math and determine which ways to min/max their characters - you'll never become an OP/better than everyone else player by picking a class. But using an AI differently? Choosing a completely abnormal stat with a class? These are interesting concepts to do a novel in this genre.

If you just want a necromancer or black magician story, go read awaken online, seoul station's necromancer, king of the battlefield, warlock of the magus world, don't fear the reaper - there are tons.

Most importantly though, this story is well written. Like Tidal Moon and God of Music, much of the excitement is driven by third party views of comments on videos and other players reactions to the MC, which is a technique I quite enjoy. The world building is also pretty decent, giving a solid VRMMO world and immersing the reader in some nice dungeons and quests. <<less
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tallrice
tallrice rated it
God of Cooking
May 27, 2017
Status: c154
Top chef+reincarnation+tender romance... ? It works wonderfully.

Plot

There are many things that make this plot great, but the best ones are the maturity of the cooking and the international context. It's a pretty damn good job on showing cities, lifestyles, ethnic differences, separation from home and food... ah, the food.

The plot advances through public appeal. If you're not sure what I mean, than think of Emperor of Solo Play or Tidal Moon and their youtube videos and forum comments. (If you haven't read them but like that aspect... more>> of God of Cooking, they might be a good suggestion for you).

Although this works a lot like other cooking anime and manga (think Shokugeki no Souma or Yakitate Japan), I rate this higher than I would those for its maturity. It's more like Nobunaga no Chef if anything (manga, not drama), in it's level of maturity in presenting good foods and reasonable reactions instead of literally blowing people's pants off.

Characters

Jo Minjoon. We have an MC who has struggled to find his dream, his frustrations from following another path, his maturity as someone who taught and made decisions for himself. But what I like most, is his family backdrop. His parents and sister are done beautifully. Wish they and other koreans played a more major role as secondary characters.

My main issue in characterisation is with Kaya, who is described again and again as a hothead, angry rude girl, but never actually seems to reflect that enough. In fact, there is altogether too little conflict between characters, which would have added some nice counterpoint to the tender camaraderie and romance.

Romance

Funny, you'd think a cooking novel didn't have one of the best romantic plots I've read. It's really well paced, the whole thing spins out with heart-warming scenes and humorous reactions from third parties that make it touching and exciting. Not to mention the love triangle.

Unfortunately, few secondary character romantic sub-plots to give as a contrast, so it feels a little cloying. The one that shows up in the second arc is very welcome.

Cheat OP MC

This is usually a bad thing in most novels. To be honest, to make this a 5, it would have needed to avoid it.

That being said, it's not badly done for a cheat. Minjoon makes a real effort, he questions his power, he grows beside it. And those small glimpses of deus ex machina kickass are exciting scenes.

Ingredients

This is another criticism. Although it makes sense in the cooking competition arc, not going further into ingredient quality in the second arc was surprising for me. It would have been an essential to really explore food outside of restaurants and what the restaurants actually does.

The reason this is lacking for me is because the series becomes too overshadowed by celebrity cooking influences, instead of really developing the nature of cooking, which would have complemented Minjoon's ability really well.

Spoiler

For those who have read the series, I do like Rachel Rose and Alan's kitchen etc, but cooking, as well as Minjoon's ability to sense quality and freshness, really start from putting together tastes based on produce. Developing that would have really given Minjoon's creative evolution real legs to stand on and broadened both his and the readers horizons much more than focusing solely on celebrity chef world. I don't think they're mutually exclusive.

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Highly recommended!

It's really close to a 5 on my scale, but for the issues I mentioned above, as well as translation quality, or, to be more precise, proofreading quality: the translation itself is decent, but the proofreading polish is really lacking. Just in case anyone is confused "roamed" = lingered. <<less
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