Tag Archives: dragons

The Lost Continent (Wings of Fire #11)

Title: The Lost Continent

Author: Tui T. Sutherland

Series: Wings of Fire #11

Blue is a SilkWing looking forward to a peaceful life. Under the rule of the Hivewing Queen, life in the Hive is predictable. Safe. But then his sister Luna has an unusual Metamorphosis Day, and suddenly everything Blue thought he knew is turned upside-down. Is it all right to break the rules? Won’t everything go better if he just tries to get along?

This was another excellent book in a strong series. It starts a new arc here, so new readers could jump right in, although the end also ties in with the teaser from the last book.

To most readers, the dystopian nature of Blue’s society is evident from the very beginning, although he’s under the mistaken assumption that everyone sees the world the same way he does. Blue is too nice, too agreeable, too obedient to recognize the slavery the SilkWings are suffering under the Hivewing rule. But that’s Blue’s problem—other SilkWings, like Luna, are more aware.

On the other hand, this is also what allows him to befriend Cricket, a Hivewing. Cricket is one of my favorite dragons in the series. She’s too intelligent for the role she was assigned in life, and her curiosity, boredom, and intellect have resulted in basically a mad scientist. She knows all about various chemicals and isn’t afraid to use them. And she has some rather unusual properties for a Hivewing, which make me suspect she’s either from a different line than the current Queen or has some non-Hivewing ancestor.

I like how the new dragon species are totally different from the ones we’ve met so far. The Hivewings are like wasps, the Silkwings are like moths/butterflies, and the Leafwings have plant-like characteristics.

Overall this was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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Everyone Else is a Returnee

Title: Everyone Else is a Returnee

Author: Toika/Toy Car

Chapters: 348 + 4 extra (Complete)

Location: https://kobatochan.com/korean-novels/everyone-else-is-a-returnee/

Yu IlHan has always been left out because no one notices him. And when God moves all of humanity off to other worlds to prepare for the coming Cataclysm on Earth, Yu IlHan remains the sole person left behind. But the endless years of being alone transforms him into someone able to break all common sense when everyone else returns . . .

This is a hilarious twist on the usual formula. Instead of one person getting sent from Earth to another world, all of humanity is sent to other worlds, and the story follows the one poor guy who didn’t get the intergalactic tourism experience.

So Yu IlHan tries to teach himself what he’ll need to know when mana shows up and monsters start spawning on Earth. With the help of a sole angel who visits every few days to keep him from going insane, he learns combat techniques, blacksmithing, dissection, etc. My personal favorite is how he eventually ends up on a quest to read all the books in the world, because it gives him something new to do.

This is a litRPG, so levels, skills, and stats provide a framework for how the world works. Of course, Yu IlHan is so busy proving he can do the impossible from pretty much the get-go that it’s not like these numbers represent much other than how much experience he can get.

I’m not fond of the predictable way the story set up Heaven as basically just another group of high-level beings who banded together under one leader, which has the expected outcome. The author does make a point that he’s not specifically trying to dump on religion, just use some angel names, but just the structure telegraphs the ending from miles away. So I had more fun with the book before about the last quarter, because that’s when the innovation is strongest and the threats are still credible.

I also hated YuNa. She was funny when it was her aggressive pursuit bouncing off Yu IlHan’s stone heart. It was less funny when this turned into sexual assault. And the harem ending was depressing because the whole story has been about Yu IlHan sticking closer to Liera than anyone else, and suddenly he’s okay with multiple wives because he thinks he shouldn’t limit himself.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love seeing the bizarre and completely overpowered things Yu IlHan creates. I love his pessimism, which prompts him to over-prepare for every possible scenario and then some. (Like how he designed his house to be usable in space. Because he was sure THAT was somehow a likely possibility.)

It’s the kind of mentality that results in this:

“Yes. It’s a great idiom meaning that I should not act until I am convinced that I can defeat the last boss, the true last boss that comes after that, the hidden dungeon that comes after the true last boss, and the hidden last boss that comes out at the end of the hidden dungeon, and the true-true last boss that can only be met when I install a super expensive downloadable content later, even after I have the strongest equipment and maxed out all my levels.”

So overall this is kind of a mixed bag. There is plenty to enjoy, but also some things that really annoy me. Still, it made me laugh a lot. I rate this book Recommended.

Infinite Competitive Dungeon Society

Title: Infinite Competitive Dungeon Society

Author: Toika

Translator: FudgeNouget

Chapters: 354 (Complete)

https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/infinite-competitive-dungeon-society

Shin is following in his father’s footsteps of exploring a mysterious dungeon whose depths are invite-only. Meanwhile, Earth is drastically changing as monsters start appear, followed by dungeons of their own. But Shin isn’t concerned about the new ability users or monsters. He’s determined to conquer the depths of the dungeon.

It’s hard to give this one a good summary because it is a very long story, so there’s a lot going on. On a surface level, at the beginning there are two plot threads that rarely intersect: the Two Moons incident that caused Earth to gain monsters, magic, and little dungeons, and the giant extra-dimensional Dungeon that Shin is working his way through.

It takes a good while before the full story comes out about why both the big Dungeon and the little ones exist, and I like how this takes a familiar trope and twists it a bit, and then goes on to break out of it completely. Heroes defend their world, and monsters invade, but there are reasons behind why all of this is going on, and it’s a lot more grey than it first appears. Shin is stubborn and passionate, and even though Earth is in a very bad situation, he’s looking beyond the immediate problem and towards the bigger picture. Because Earth isn’t the only world facing these kinds of problems. And some of those other worlds have already lost.

This is a litRPG, but it twists away from skills and stats by the end. Actually, it was fascinating that the whole “dungeon” concept is an abstraction, and Shin eventually tries to tackle things at a deeper level. I liked that Shin has actual experience as a spearman from training with his father (and I also like that he’s using a less-common weapon), which makes his progress in the dungeon more believable. He picks up or creates a number of skills and abilities, but I like that after a certain point the concept of a skill can’t overcome actual knowledge/training in how to fight with his chosen weapon or technique.

A large focus of the fights isn’t so much the stats but the strategy. Some of that is tied to skills and their cooldowns, but more of it is about evaluating his enemy, trying to interrupt their dangerous moves, and most importantly not getting hit. Despite his rapidly increasing power, he’s also got enemies far stronger than him—and also a father who is determined to win in any competition against his son.

The one downside for me is unfortunately a rather big one. I don’t like any of the girls. They’re all introduced by hair and eye color, height, and breast size, and every single one falls in love with him and competes to be his wife. They have only the most minor personality variations because of this. They’re flat, uninteresting, and clearly there just to pander. Which makes the harem ending unsurprising but also annoying.

I kept hoping that he’d meet at least one girl that either hated him for real or just wasn’t interested, or could get more of a focus than trying to jump him. In the same vein, all of the elementals are female, all of the tamed monsters are female, and even his sister’s relationship with him is less than platonic (for a while I was hoping she was just playing up to his crush on her to extract benefits from him, but no luck). Even Daisy, who initially appeared to be sane, eventually joins in the “marry me too, please” crowd.

So that being said, I found Ren, Walker, Leon, and Lin way more interesting. Ren is a hotheaded beastman who can’t always live up to his own expectations, but gives his all however he can. Lin is half-dragon and a blacksmith who takes over the dungeon floor shop when Loretta gets a vacation. His grumpiness hides a sharp mind. He’s unwillingly friends with Shin, who keeps toppling his expectations (and thus creating more work with every bet he loses). And so on. The men manage to have better character arcs, and they aren’t spending every other sentence trying to get down Shin’s pants.

The chapters are a bit longer than the other web novels I’ve read so far, so it took quite a bit of time to finish, but the story is complete. I’m on the fence about recommending it, though, as the girls all harping on Shin gets really tedious, even though the fight scenes and the idea behind the dungeon was great. I rate this book Neutral.

Dragon with a Deadly Weapon (Fantasy & Forensics #10)

Title: Dragon with a Deadly Weapon

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #10

Dayna and her friends are running out of time. Between the rapidly unraveling situation with Greyson Archer back on Earth and the threat of the forces of Dark in Andeluvia, she’s been stretched to her limit. Prophecies predict her failure. Prophecies she has every reason to believe will be accurate. But she’s also standing on a split path of fate, and her actions may be what controls the future . . .

I received this book for free, and was asked to provide an honest review.

This was the perfect cap to the series. There’s still a bit of crime drama, but there’s a lot more on the fantasy-action side of things. Yes, the big thrilling showdowns are spectacular—but the heart of the book is the relationships Dayna has built with all of her friends. Including some surprise reappearances.

Although the ending TOTALLY made me cry, the humor is still very much on point:

“Finally, thou hast come to understand the need to perish gloriously!” The drake enthusiastically nudged Liam’s side. “See? I told thee that Dayna would come around in her own good time!”

Or Dayna’s negotiation with the unicorns for assistance. Windkey is still very much himself . . . and Dayna’s HORRIFIED to find she’s sounding like Zenos.

I am pleased at least one of Dayna’s friends finally gets to see Andeluvia. I have hopes the other might someday, just because imagining the reaction is too much fun.

And the griffins proved once again why they are my favorite creature in this series.

Overall it’s hard to say too much because I don’t want to spoil any of the really neat twists. If you’ve liked the series at all you owe it to yourself to read this one. If you haven’t read any of them, start at the beginning, because this book picks up little bits from all the previous and ties them together. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #1 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #1

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Satoru Mikami had just gone out to meet a coworker for lunch, but a thug wielding a knife put an end to his ordinary life. As he’s dying, he hears a strange voice responding to his thoughts . . . and when he wakes up, he realizes life is going to be very different from now on. He’s no longer human, and the various abilities the voice had mentioned are now his to command. This begins his adventures as a slime . . .

I saw the first few episodes of the anime and got intrigued about this, and too impatient to wait for the rest of the episodes to come out to learn what happens next.

This is a game-flavored story for sure, but it doesn’t lean too heavily on those mechanics. The skill system seems to be run by some gigantic computer-like entity, but other than that more of the story proceeds like a fantasy than like a game.

I really enjoy watching Rimuru (Satoru’s new name, eventually) learn about himself and his environment. He’s still got all his human memories, but now he’s got a body where none of that applies anymore. He doesn’t breathe, doesn’t really eat, doesn’t excrete, and obviously has no limbs to speak of. So he enters this new life blind and confused, and his explorations often have comical results. As a migrant soul, he’s definitely got some overpowered skills, but he’s still figuring out the best ways to use them. (And unlike similar types of series like Overlord, most people who arrive or reincarnate from another world get overpowered skills, so he’s not the only one with an ace up his metaphorical sleeve.)

And Rimuru can use a mimic skill on things he’s eaten, so he gets a number of fun transformations as he confronts various monsters. His reaction to some of their skills as a giant NOPE was funny too.

Rimuru is also a pretty cheerful main character, eager to explore, and easily talked into helping out the various monsters he encounters who are in trouble. One thing I also appreciate about this book is that the majority of the focus stays on the monster characters, whether it’s the dragon Veldora, the goblins, etc. Ranga was my favorite, because giant storm wolves for the win. Humans exist, but they’ve got a more minor role so far.

But this isn’t a novel about everyone fighting. It’s actually got quite a bit of construction as Rimuru and his new monster allies work on building themselves a place to live. I liked reading the details of how they intend to set up a town, and the various people they recruit to try to make it work. He certainly isn’t planning on something small, but given his propensity to recruit powerful allies, everything’s more or less working out.

Overall this is a fun story that opens what looks to be a promising series. If you want a bit of a different twist on a story about traveling to another world, this would be a good book to check out. I rate this book Recommended.

Trash of the Count’s Family

Title: Trash of the Count’s Family

Translator: miraclerifle

Chapters: 28 (ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/trash-of-the-counts-family

One day a young man fell asleep reading a series of books, and woke up as one of the characters. Unfortunately, the identity he was given was that of the wastrel son of a Count, and his destiny is to be beaten up by the main character in the first book and then never be heard from again. Cale hates pain, and decides to use his knowledge of the events to come to position himself in a better spot . . .

This is hilarious. Cale is unabashedly self-centered (although maybe not as much as he wants to credit for himself), and very much interested in staying completely out of the events described in the books he’d been reading. Unfortunately, there’s only so much he can do to stop the plot from rolling along—but he’s determined to influence what he can, where he needs to, in order to live his dream of being a couch potato unaffected by the catastrophes to come.

Naturally, Choi Han would be doing the battling. Why would Cale even try to fight when such a strong person was next to him? Cale thought paper-cuts hurt a lot, so he didn’t want to even think about getting cut by a sword.

But his little machinations are already having bigger ripple effects. Take the dragon. Cale’s main goal is to stop it from rampaging, as well as get a little revenge on the noble who’s torturing it. And everything goes more-or-less as planned, except for one major thing: the dragon isn’t interested in following Cale’s version of the script.

It’s likely Cale’s attempts to keep himself out of the spotlight will only put him into it. And he might start having problems holding on to his bad reputation now that he’s proving he’s far more competent than anyone gives him credit for.

It feels kind of short right now because of the low chapter count, but this is already a very promising series, and one I’m looking forward to immensely. The updates should be pretty frequent for now, which will help. Highly Recommended.

Shining Resonance Refrain (PS4/Switch/XBOne/PC)

Title: Shining Resonance Refrain

Systems: PS4/Switch/XBOne/PC

Yuma is a young man with the power of the strongest dragon, the Shining Dragon, living inside him. After being rescued from the Empire’s clutches by the knights of Astoria, they beg him to use his power to help them fight the Empire. Yuma isn’t eager to grasp a power he doesn’t fully control, but the Shining Dragon may be the only hope against the powerful Empire . . .

This is a mediocre game, which can still be fun but has a lot of lower-budget frustrations. If you know what to expect going in, that should help decide if it’s worth your time.

The voice acting is excellent (too good for some of the lines these poor actors had to say). Zest and Agnum were particular standouts for me, but pretty much everyone is done really well.

The gameplay is not too bad. The action battle system provides virtually no challenge if you’ve spent a bit of time investing in aspects (I didn’t even get the best magic-boosters and was able to use Agnum to basically solo the final boss in about a minute). There’s a lot of flexibility with setting up your characters to suit your playstyle, and the Grimoire makes obtaining materials much easier. Some drops are restricted by chapter, though, so it’s not possible to craft certain aspects early.

It is disappointing that the “true dragon form” is actually worse than the first form (and the game recognizes this enough to give you an aspect to change Yuma back to that first form, if you feel like wasting a slot). It wouldn’t be as awful if you could at least pick the elements to attack with, instead of cycling through all the elements with every breath. Dragon form is a fun gimmick at first, but it doesn’t take long for un-transformed Yuma to noticeably out-damage his dragon form.

The world map is frustrating. You can warp back to the main city, but there is no way to warp anywhere else, which means re-treading the first few areas of the map over and over and over and over. At least the enemies are on-map so they’re easy to avoid.

Also, I’m not big into framerate wars, but this game was absolutely terrible at managing a decent framerate when magic spells or flashy abilities are on screen. It was dropping to a point where everyone was running in slow motion. I avoided Excella because most of her gravity spells caused huge lag.

The story lacks any real standout moments. There were a few places where I was laughing at something that wasn’t supposed to be funny, like Excella declaring she’s totally for the people in the same speech where she’s willing to sacrifice the whole nation to keep her dying father alive. But there were also moments of genuine humor, and although some characters stuck closer to their tropes than others (Lestin), it was still fun to see the various character interactions.

I’m not a fan of the visual novel format, which looks ridiculous when the screen blacks out to show a slash mark as a substitute for actual fights. I’m also not really a fan of the whole dating aspect, although that part at least is entirely skippable.

You do get some control over the ending, which is nice. I picked Agnum, because he was my favorite character all game, and he had the most interesting hints about what he and Yuma would do after the game is over. I mean, exploring the uncharted areas of the world with a guy who is also an excellent cook (and also cheerful, encouraging, and generally a total best friend) sounds like the most fun to me.

Overall, this is a budget title and it shows. I found it enjoyable enough since I knew going in the kind of game I could expect, but I don’t know that I’d be interested in a replay (I set it down after beating the final boss, with no interest in postgame). It took me about 60 hours to beat the main content, which allows for quite a bit of grinding, so the actual story content could be beaten significantly faster (especially if you don’t max out every character’s affections like I did). I rate this game Neutral.