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WIP The Menocht Loop by caerulex - M - Original Fiction

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Dryops, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. Dryops

    Dryops Second Year DLP Supporter

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    Title: The Menocht Loop
    Author: caerulex
    Rating: M / T?
    Genre: Adventure, Time Loop, Fantasy
    Fandom: Original Universe
    Pairings: N/A
    Summary: Ian Dunai has been trapped in a nightmarish loop filled with contagion, captives, and decemancy for the past three or four years. In that time, he's become a master of decemancy with the ability to control dead matter, whether dried leaves, yellowed skeletons, or hulking corpses. Little does he know, he's just been stuck on layer one.

    Link: Royal Road

    The Menocht Loop is, as the name implies, a "time loop" story. Rather than starting at the beginning of the loops, Ian is well aware that he's in a time loop as the story starts, and has already learned quite a bit. What he does not realize is that this is only the first challenge. This story uses a variation on the time loop that I had not seen much of before, where there are multiple layers to the repeats. This does make things a bit odd early on, as far as reading flow, since resetting in a later loop has further-reaching consequences besides just restarting that scenario.

    There are a few points where I would have liked to see Ian explore rather than looking for a way out, and a few situations that I think could have been interesting to expand on. The characters are fairly well written and enjoyable, although with the transience of the loop, the main character keeps most of the focus.

    The story is up to chapter 41 at this point, with a solid update schedule (according to the author, 3x / week, with the most recent update 5 days prior to posting this). The author says that all of this story is written, and the sequel has been started on. Chapter 41 ends on what looks like a fairly major cliff hanger.

    Overall, I'd rate this story as a 3.5/5, rounded up to 4/5, due to the solid update rate and enjoyable premise, as well as the main character.
     
  2. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I just read through to Chapter 41, which was a good place to recommend it at. That's the end of the 'first book' in the story and it appears that we might be about to exit the time loop.

    I don't remember the last time I read a story this rough. It reads less like a first draft and more like stream of consciousness outlining. Normally something with this quality writing I'd drop, but... time loop. Love time loops.

    This time loop is different than most, because it's layered. Like levels in a video game. Minor spoiler here, but it comes up pretty early in the story. Level 1 is learn stuff and deal with the problem in the town. Level 2 is school. Level 3 is X, Level 4 is Y, etc. If he fails one to goes back to the start of Level 1.

    I think the author rushes through things. Starting the story with the protagonist (Julian AKA Ian AKA Ignatius AKA Iggy) already jaded and trained after years in the time loop robs us of learning who he is. The author tries to fix that later by having us interact with his friends and family, but it never quite works. He feels too detached (and I'm not sure how much of that is intentional) for me to really engage with him.

    There are a lot of things like that, where I can't figure out if they suck because the author isn't that skilled (yet) or if some of it is intentional. I suspect both. There are way too many things that pull me completely out of suspension of disbelief. One of the biggest issues I had was when Ian talks to a therapist at one point, admits to thinking he'd been doing time travel, admits to killing tens of millions of humans at some point, and hasn't really got strong feelings about any of this. Therapist response? Let me help you forge some paperwork! And yes, later... Ian does wonder about that in a 'huh that was weird' sense, but I have the impression the author just put it in there for convenience. Even if the author intentionally made that part weird for some foreshadowing later it still just doesn't work for me.

    A lot of the interactions and actions in this story don't work for me. I'm constantly pulled out of my suspension of disbelief. I don't even know that Ian has really struggled with anything in this entire story. People do things that make no sense. Trusting where they shouldn't, handing out information that they have no reason to hand out, etc. And yes - I'm willing to believe that's engineered and intentional on the author's part, but if it is it is done in a very sloppy manner.

    Anyway. I read it and I'd be curious to keep reading because I sort of want to know what the author's overall plans/ideas are here. But that's because there's not enough time loops in fiction.

    Thanks for the rec.
     
  3. Dryops

    Dryops Second Year DLP Supporter

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    I definitely agree with it being a bit rough. It seems to me like the majority of that is intentionally done, though.

    We see that the time dilation is essentially used as a lab experiment where the scientists don't know all of the details, and a third party entered the values. They used some past pieces and scenarios to build it, and are addressing far more fears than is typical, for a longer time than they have ever attempted.
    I see the rough simulation as showing the system behind the loops breaking down faster and faster, until we reach the current point. I believe how the author handles the real world will show us more about his or her skills as a writer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
  4. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    A lot of what I'm talking about isn't done intentionally, to be blunt - it's just poor writing. There's too much of it for me to think it's intentional or that it will improve without more practice and/or a beta.

    The plot related stuff? Yeah, that might be done on purpose.
     
  5. Dryops

    Dryops Second Year DLP Supporter

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    I was thinking specifically of some of the out of character reactions, due to the nature of the loops as opposed to more traditional time loop stories.

    In this case, the existence of loops used in this way seems to be fairly common knowledge outside of loops, so even the looped versions of characters are more likely to recognize and act differently, or are designed by the instigator of the loops, like the therapist.

    I do agree the writing outside the plot could use some work as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
  6. Sauce Bauss

    Sauce Bauss Minister of Magic DLP Supporter

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    It feels odd to call this a 3/5 after also giving Never Die Twice a 3/5, but while that has potential to jump to a 4 I feel like this one is struggling a bit just to reach this lofty height.

    The author's sense of scale threw me off to the point I was frothing about it on discord. Coeur Al Aran of RWBY fame has the same issue, where passage of time and scale of setting aren't respected. In this case, the protagonist has spent so many years living a loop to try and save a city from a not!zombie plague. This amount of time was enough for him to memorize thousands of details, meet many people, master a branch of magic to the point that he is a world shaking level of mage after beginning as little more than a muggle.

    How long was this epoch he endured, where he forgot the names and faces of his friends?

    4 years.

    Jesus Christ.

    That said, the rest of it is serviceable enough. Popcorn reading at best, and largely forgettable.
     
  7. Otters

    Otters Second Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I struggled with this. The time loop mechanic was compelling. Combine it with necromancy and wizard school, and yes please. Those are three of my favourite tropes right there. I had so many hopes for this.

    But that's a big part of what stopped it working for me.

    The craft behind the necromancy is fascinating, and I loved the sections exploring that. The protagonist spent half the part I read concealing his powers. The time loop was great - but there are arbitrary resets which are not narratively satisfying, and video game style levels. These levels seem to be intended as the novel factor which should be a draw, but they're the part which broke my suspension of disbelief and hamstrung my engagement.

    There was a point where I was beginning to really get into the story after an extended period in one setting when bam, time loop reset left me with blueballs. After that it skimmed through a few different "layers" which I really struggled to get into because I just wanted to get back to what had been set up as a facade of a main story.

    This is very much a case of me getting into it and then having my expectations subverted D&D Got S8 style in a manner I didn't enjoy, so I've gotten sour and bitter. I dropped it soon after this point but have been told that not too much further after this point, it gets good again.

    Definitely a story which has some interesting but self defeating ideas which was let down by the nature of serial publication and the lack of large-scale editing which comes with it.

    I've been promised on Discord that it begins to get good again soon so I intend to pick it back up and may well amend this review. For now, it's firmly middle of the pack: okay but not stellar writing, fun ideas which aren't executed very well, and poor pacing.

    3/5
     
  8. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    It arguably gets back to a quality closer to it's original quality during the first arc, but I wouldn't say that it definitely does (or that it's ever something I'd have classed as 'good' to begin with, more guilty pleasure).
     
  9. Donimo

    Donimo High Inquisitor

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    I'll give it a 3. I'm not fulling caught up yet but it's enjoyable enough. I'm a sucker for time loop shenanigans, the story isn't actually very well structured or well written.
     
  10. aleph

    aleph First Year

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    Yeah, that's the exact problem I had with it as well. What worked with Mother of Learning was how it maintained the same basic setting, but fleshed out different aspects of it and new characters over time. The end result was a single setting explored more deeply than would have otherwise been possible. This does the opposite, taking superficial glimpses of each and haphazardly sticking them together with the layered loop plot device.

    I'd give this a 3 for the moment, but could go up to a 4 with the second book, which does seem to be improving on some of the weaker parts people have pointed out above.