Tag Archives: humor

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.

Advertisements

Autumn King (Of Cats and Dragons #5)

Title: Autumn King

Authors: Carol E. Leever and Camilla Ochlan

Series: Of Cats and Dragons #5

Omen and his companions have finally reached the Faerie lands in search of Khylar. But these are realms with numerous dangers for mortals, and when he finally discovers Khylar he finds the truth of their journey has been shrouded in more layers than he expected.

Although this in some senses concludes the adventure that’s been building from Summer’s Fall through Hollow Season, it’s not like everything manages the neat ending Omen was expecting when he set out. I like the layers to the story. Even before now, Omen has had hints this isn’t as simple as it appeared. And once he learns, the right answer is nebulous too.

The characters are fantastic. From the weird and wonderful dwellers of the Autumn Lands (Puppy!) to the comfortable banter between Omen, Templar, and the rest of the party, there was always something new to appreciate. The hints about Devestation’s past are especially intriguing. Or watching Nikki come into his own. The cast has been slowly but steadily expanding and everybody’s got such interesting histories and futures (as hinted by a certain someone early on).

And this wouldn’t be a proper sequel without gut-busting humor. The last chapter is particularly good, but there are moments throughout. Whether it’s Tyrin’s adventures down a mousehole or Dev’s internal commentary on events or the zingers Lilyth inadvertantly sets herself up for, even the most serious bits can’t stay totally dark.

And Templar, among others, learns the perils inherent in saving the world.

Templar shifted uncomfortably in his seat, his eyes downcast. He twisted one of the rings on his left hand. “He told me that if I was now in the world saving business, he had a number of jobs for me to do, things to fix, people to save, towns to liberate. And then he handed me a list — a long list.” He scowled at Omen. “They’re like chores, Omen. Lots of chores! It’s horrifying.”

Overall this is another excellent chapter in what will hopefully be a long-running series. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Stop, Friendly Fire!

Title: Stop, Friendly Fire!
Author: Toy Car/Toika
Translator: Boko
Chapters: 1 – 6.3 (Vol 1 complete, story ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/stop-friendly-fire

Lee Shin Woo has been given a second chance at life by a god who is desperate to stop the undead curse ravaging her world. But his request for an immortal body and infinite growth potential has backfired. Now he’s a skeleton, dropped in the middle of a dangerous world, with the goal of wiping out the undead Empire . . .

This is another hilarious book. The fact that Lee Shin Woo has become a special type of undead allows him to blend in somewhat with the forces he’s out to destroy—although even the stupidest ones can prove deadly if they suspect him. But it gives him the option to switch up his tactics as the situation demands. Some of the funnier fights involve him working with other skeletons to fight the Treasure Eater monsters. He’s encouraging all the skeletons to help him, while at the same time ensuring their numbers stay low enough for him to wipe them all out.

His habit of nicknaming the various types of monsters is also a lot of fun. All of the ordinary skeletons are Paul, and he counts the number of Pauls he’s killed. And this goes on in a similar manner for the other types of enemies he’s dealing with. (Hearing him curse out “Steve” the Treasure Eater kept me laughing.)

Lee Shin Woo does have a grudge against this god, too—his two great fears were becoming bald and impotent, and now he’s stuck with both.

The story is a litRPG, so skills, stats, and levels are an important part of the worldbuilding. I like the absurdity of the leveling system—he’s floored that monsters a single level higher than him are so strong, until he finds out how the mechanics of a “level” actually work. The karma system is also interesting. People’s actions build up karma, and when combined with levels it can act like a job or class change. The bit about spending money at a shop being another form of karma exchange also fits into that.

So far it’s been a good blend of adventure, absurdity, and worldbuilding. Lee Shin Woo seems to be heading for the Trickster karma, which should bring plenty more amusing fights. And given the title of the book he’s bound to have trouble with the other summoned heroes once they actually meet him. 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.

Forgery of the Phoenix (Fantasy & Forensics #5)

Title: Forgery of the Phoenix

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #5

Dayna hasn’t had an easy life since being summoned to Andeluvia, but now things are getting out of hand. The Spring Tournament is coming up, which means burly, boneheaded knights are competing for the right to represent her—and they’re not good at taking “No” for an answer. King Fitzwilliam has assigned her to a knightly order burdened with enough debt to buy a small kingdom. And a phoenix has shown up in the throne room, asking for Dayna’s help particularly to save their species from extinction. Then there’s a new wrinkle in LA regarding her worsening relationship with Bob McClatchy . . .

I love how each one of these books has been picking up a different mythological creature and giving them a lot of depth. Their cultures, physiology, mode of speech, and worldview. Their possible motives for crime. This time around we get phoenixes (who are also criminally underrepresented in fantasy). I love that Dayna keeps tripping over the fact that she’s assuming intelligent beings means thinks like a human. To a phoenix, time, life, and death have much different implications. And I love that to the phoenixes, all other life is basically just sparks.

I also really like the book’s focus on refusing to accept narrow options, and looking for that third choice when an either-or situation pops up. To me this especially comes into play when Dayna finally gets more answers about the ancient war between the Light and the Dark. Which is a variant on “history was written by the winners” as the original sides certainly didn’t label themselves good and evil. And now it makes perfect sense why the sides were basically drawn up at a species level.

Although the title kind of gives away that there is a forgery in play, I think it still works as a mystery because Dayna has to figure out why it matters. The phoenixes certainly only have one concern: themselves. Which is a change for Dayna, because the obvious crimes are being shrugged off by the creatures who should have the most invested in the outcome.

Overall this continues to barrel through things at a spectacular clip, deftly balancing mystery, epic fantasy, and plenty of humor. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Summer’s Fall (Of Cats and Dragons #3)

Title: Summer’s Fall

Author: Carol E. Leever and Camilla Ochlan

Series: Of Cats and Dragons #3

Omen’s penchant for adventure has been tempered by Kyr. Taking care of his older-little brother is enough of a handful, even without two talking cats that cheerfully complicate life even more. But when Tormy is recruited to help solve a kidnapping, Omen ends up on another adventure, like it or not . . .

I received an advance copy and was asked to give an honest review. I bought the book anyway because I loved it.

These books just keep getting funnier. It’s hard to tell how much of the cats’ innocence is real and how much is an act. They certainly know how to cause trouble (as Dev notes, anyone with less connections and wealth than Omen’s family would probably go bankrupt trying to care for Tormy). The scene where Fog, another talking cat, comes to recruit Tormy for a “secret mission” was my favorite part, but pretty much everything they do is great fun.

I love Omen’s new awkwardness in trying to take care of Kyr. He wants so badly to give Kyr everything Kyr was missing, and has no idea how to deal with Kyr’s ramblings. As a reader, it’s fairly obvious that Kyr is seeing things on multiple levels at once, but Kyr can’t distinguish between what only he can see and what everyone can see.

Templar returns! I love how he and Omen play off each other. The new additions to the adventure are equally intriguing. Devastation Machelli looks to have a backstory just as interesting as Omen and Templar, for all that he’s not sharing much of it yet. Dev’s lackadaisical attitude and finely-tuned ability to annoy people made me laugh, especially because his target of choice is Avarice. I love the names in this family. Shalonie provides some much-needed level-headedness and the general smarts to balance out the boys.

And Devastation is just the best. He’s turned trolling into an art form.

“Surely you’ve already told my mother everything there is to say,” he groused. “You can’t possibly have anything more to tell her.”
Dev’s lips twitched upward as he continued to write. “You are correct,” he agreed mildly. “I don’t think she’ll ever use the term ‘excruciating detail’ around me again.”
Omen blinked at him in shock. “You’re purposely annoying my mother by writing nonsense to her?”
“Oh, we passed annoying days ago,” Dev replied.

The action scenes remain strong, too. A gigantic sea monster nicknamed the Widow Maker has shown up off the coast of Melia, and it has a particular interest in Kyr. But Omen and Kyr need to get past it somehow to complete their quest. This is a difficult fight since their opponent is monstrously big, out in the ocean, and attacks mentally as well as physically.

Overall, this is just the first part of the quest line, but it introduces several engaging new characters and sets up an epic adventure. You could technically start with this book but I would encourage you to read the first two books because they’re amazing and will help set the stage. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Lord of the Rust Mountains (The Faraway Paladin #3 – Secundus)

Title: The Lord of the Rust Mountains

Author: Kanata Yanagino

Series: The Faraway Paladin #3 – Secundus

Setting out after the dragon, Will and his team make their way up the river towards the back door to the Iron Mountains. But this terrain has been unknown since the demons overran it two centuries before, and simply getting to the dragon will be a quest in and of itself.

I like how the books keep teasing that old loan Mary, Blood, and Gus made when they slew a wyvern. I hope Will can go after it soon. And Reystov’s fishing adventures cracked me up. He needs to find another fishing spot. Or maybe better lures.

There’s plenty of fun on the way to the dragon. Al gets to see much more clearly how Will behaves in actual combat (and the discussion about Volt’s hero who slew a hydra by himself was funny). Something I really appreciated is that Will actually steps back for a number of these fights and takes a more supportive role, instead of trying to do everything himself. Since Will has magic and benediction, he’s just as effective in a supporting role as he is on the front lines, and although he’s strong and proactive he recognizes that doesn’t mean he has to do everything.

I like the secret they find on their way to the mountain. I’m going to be vague to avoid spoilers but I loved the character interactions, and what it might possibly mean for the future. Specifically Menel’s future (although his choice of words could easily cancel that out, but I think he’s still got a chance).

And I love the deepening layers of temptations that Stagnate keeps dropping on Will, and his response to them. And what ultimately becomes of them. Will is utterly opposed to Stagnate—but both Stagnate and Gracefeel are, in a way, gods of second chances. His understanding and respect for Stagnate results in several very interesting conversations, and Stagnate is beginning to respect him in return.

The confrontation with the dragon was amazing. Valacirca proves as unpredictable as Gus warned, and I like that Gus’s suggestion to see if there wasn’t another way to resolve this gets explored at such depth. Will—at least once he’s not panicking—can clearly see the benefits and disadvantages of the alternative.

And this is THE fight that tests their teamwork to the absolute limit. It’s epic in so many ways. (And that ending . . . Ouch). This is the ultimate fight so far, and as expected of a dragon, Valacirca is both terrifying and complex, able to use multiple strategies to maximum effect. I do like how Will points out that because this is life, not a game, and therefore not tied to stats, there’s a chance (however small) that he can win. And conversely, even if he’s dealing with small fry, he needs to stay alert because there are multiple ways a weaker foe might be able to capitalize on an opportunity and take him down.

This was a wild ride all the way through. It’s a struggle of dwarves who are fighting to take back their pride as a people, to somehow erase that failure of 200 years ago that drove them away from their mountains. It’s Will’s struggle to find bravery in the face of something he knows he’ll need a million miracles to defeat, and the courage to choose to not give up even in the face of horrific opposition. Everyone is choosing to move forward. I rate this book Highly Recommended.