[Story] Duality

Title: Duality
Author: JohnnyKbca
Genre(s): Fantasy
Tags: Sword Wielder, Reincarnation, Original, Late Romance, Transmigration, Academy, Action, Cultivation, Revenge, R-18, Anti-Hero, Romance, Sword and Magic, Slavery, Battle Academy
Audience: NC-17
Main Lead: Male
Status: Ongoing
VB Assessment Score: PDE 2   CDD 2   SWB 2   || TQ 3   SV 3   ||  Overall: 12
Number of Chapters: 80
Chapter Length: Medium
Reading Level: Medium
Date of First Release: July 18, 2018
Date of Last Update: October 5, 2020
VB Reviewed? No
Available on Platform(s): Webnovel
Number of Views: 399.2K
Number of Reviews: 25
Synopsis:
John was a secret agent before he died while avenging his little brother.
But death was not the end for John, as he had the chance to reincarnate in another world.
Now watch him grow from a slave’s son to a hero and a legend.

Review(s)

Scarlettbunny: After John dies it because a captivating story! You are left wondering how things are going to progress and questions things as one read along but they are answered perfectly making you want to read more. Very minimal grammatical errors so you can easily read without breaking your concentration. The only thing I have to complain about is the lack of detail about the world. There is only a little bit that I wish I could picture exactly the author sees the world for me I think of the forest in princess Mononoke same with the boar and the wind deer as the Forest spirit. The detail of the world does start to expand as you go into the city but again it’s still minimal. Good job keep going 😀

CCMei: I’m pleasantly surprised. I did not expect it to be this good.
The story starts off blocky, from what I assumed was a militaristic style. It was still enough of an interesting hook, if unnatural, about our MC and his revenge to his path to reincarnation. But by chapter 17 it starts flowing like water.
It flows to over a dozen chapters on the mother in flashback that build and fills in so much about this world/society in such a vivid way that I was actually reluctant to see it end.
One of the unique and interesting parts is how the MC’s background, race, and skin color plays such a heavy role. WN being a Wuxia site and just with mainstream media in general, having a black MC with his and his mother’s perspective makes the story riveting. It does not hold back on the painful racism and obvious colonialism callout. Kudos.
Worldbuilding is A+, the background details and cultivation system in a fantasy Western world based very much on our own world history is incredibly well thought up. The author must have spent many hours, months honestly, ruminating and building upon their ideas. More importantly you can see their skills visably improving.
I want from ‘oh ok’ – ‘meh’ – ‘hmmm’ – ‘oh now we’re getting somewhere’ and finally to the juicy story unfolding around the MC that took place before he was born, setting up a great stage for him to step up.
Take your time author, because work as good as this is worth it.

JA_Anton: It seems the reincarnation plot is really quite popular these days 🙂 Nothing against it though, and I must say this story mixes reincarnation with action and magic quite well. The idea of the ‘awakening’ is also a good addition. The premise of the novel, with the warrior levels and all, reminds me so much of an RPG game.
The thing I liked the most about the story is the fact that the MC can kill. He’s not one of those *****, pacifist MCs that could not strike a finishing blow due to morals and all. The development in John’s abilities (the second life one) is also believable. He did train and wasn’t just automatically strong without doing nothing. I find John really likable whether the past or the reincarnated him.
I do have a few suggestions, and some issues I noticed (Please note that these are just my take. Feel free to use or ignore my comments as you see fit)
The pacing of the story is okay since the author managed to show John’s improvement as a warrior. However, I’m not fond of the way the author explained a lot of technicalities of the world in dialogues (during John’s training with his mother). It was a lot of info to take in at once. Also, I don’t have anything against third person omniscient POVS. But I don’t think the POV of certain characters had to be included–specifically, those who eventually died a few paragraphs after their introduction. It just broke the flow of the narrative a bit for me.
Writing-wise, I noticed a few minor grammar errors and some odd phrasings. Moreover, I think the author should check for some redundant statements. For instance: ‘His plan was to find an opportunity to poison Verich.’ I think this sentence is no longer necessary. It was already implied by the sentences that followed. Lastly, the author should also look into dialogue formatting. A comma follows a dialogue tag when writing statements.
For the world background, I already have a good idea of the first world (John’s first life with hints of military and CIA and all). But the fantasy world is still a bit vague for me. Beyond John and his mother, the forest and their house, I can’t say much yet. To be fair, the novel is still ongoing, so perhaps the author would add more details in the next installments.
Overall, this story has a good plot and an intriguing lead character. I did enjoy reading this, and I’m looking forward to how the story will progress in the next chapters.

Dan_Ryder: Takeaway: Reading this story is like listening to the drunken tale of a deranged mad man as he slowly trys to fumble through an incoherent story he can barely remember.

So first we have to start with Writing Quality, I’m going to give this a solid 2. And that’s only because the author got a little bit better over his time writing the story. Most of the use of prose and syntax is ill advised. Author also has the *******ish habit of using any synonym for said he can find in his story. Instead of painting a vivid picture of what happens through words the author tells you.

Stability of Updates: A solid 1, if you start enjoying this novel, which you won’t, don’t expect any releases soon.

Story Development: There is none, we have an mc reincarnated into a new world. We then get a flash back 30/57 chapters available. Then mc gets a McGuffin and sets off on some type of quest. Throughout it all the author consistently fails the reader to deliver a coherent narrative. This has a lot to do with the stability of updates, it just feels like the author keeps changing direction constantly at what he wants out of the story.

Character Design: The mc is interesting, but all of the other characters lack any discerning soul or individuality that it’s very disconcerting. They might as well all be named Random Stand in #1 or Random Stand in #2 from all the times the author introduces new characters that have no effect on the over arching plot. If a character isn’t important don’t even bother naming them. I mean half the characters introduced sit in a 30 chapter flashback, so it’s pretty bad. The mother who is the star of the flashback is a walking piece of garbage with no redeeming qualities.

World Background: Just your standard fantasy world, filled with mysteries and mystique that never quite get answered. At 57 chapters in we still barely know anything about the world, the op mc has barely set out on his Mcguffin warranted quest. I doubt the author even knows anything about it at this point to be honest. The world background was not well planned or taught out before writing. Might as well call the world DND Module World #32 for the lack of world building that goes on here.

[spoilers noted by reviewer omitted]

NovelReview: The author requested this review to be done from chapter 17 onward.
Writing Quality- 2- Note that 2 is actually better than 90 percent of all novels in this platform. The prose is a bit awkward with long sentences separated by commas. In writing we must focus on giving rich sentences. Short sentences are powerful (But it doesn’t mean that we should make all sentences short. It will sound awkward). Also there are unnecessary words which could have been trimmed. Take the beginning of chapter 22 for example.
‘It wasn’t an easy sleep, however, as every little noise wake her up. And then every time she would double check the locks on the doors, losing precious minutes of sleep every time’
This could be cut to
‘Every fleeting noise jarred her sleep. She would check the locks with every waking, precious minutes of sleep lost’
You don’t have to tell the readers that her sleep wasn’t easy. All of us experienced this kind of hellish sleep before.
There are typos and incorrect spellings but once again, your novel is better than most in this aspect. We make mistakes and without editors, we cannot perfect every word.
One more problem I saw is the occasional transition to omniscient point of view. I forgot where but this did happen a few times. It is not a big problem though some readers will notice it.
Stability of Updates- 5 – I rate every novel 5. Not many readers know this but a single chapter would take hours to write.
Story Development- 3- Chapter 17 to 35 focuses on Dene, the MC’s mother. I rate this high as her story didn’t feel like a backstory at all (Given, it is 18 chaps long). Her rise from a defeated wretched is a compelling tale. Do note that the standard I used is based on published novels. 5 stars would be story development rivaling Mistborn or something.
Character Design- 4- Dene is a great character. Her personalities are fleshed out and she feels real. The readers would understand her actions. The dialogues are also great. The author slips world building and personality traits into dialogues pretty well. 5 stars in this would be character design equal to Glokta in The Blade Itself.
World Background- 4- It is a normal fantasy world with kingdoms and such sprinkled with unique things. Cultures and the people were explained well. I can’t really say more about this as I don’t fully grasp what Webnovel means by ‘World Background’
Additional thoughts.
Although my review only spans chaps 17-35, I think the author should cut the prologue. It is too long and feels like a different genre. Prologues are meant to present a flavor to the readers. It is like the first sniff of coke or something (for the lack of better analogy. Don’t do drugs kids.).
Final thoughts.
This is a great novel. I can’t say much about the MC but Dene’s story is rich with her character. 95th percentile compared to the other novels here is my estimate.

ihateyounot: As of this review, there are 32 chapters posted.
First of all, I quite liked seeing how the author’s writing improved as the number of chapters increase. The earlier chapters do need to be polished, and there are minor mistakes here and there, but ultimately the quality is there. The author recommended that I should start reading from Chapter 17, but just like any other books I’ve read I would naturally start from the beginning, and I am actually glad I did. It was rather wholesome to see the growth in quality between the first few chapters and the later tens of chapters.
The story begins with a man executing vengeance on the man who sent his brother to death, and in his quest for revenge, he dies, meets some deity, then reincarnates into a world of swords and magic. This premise is so cliche that I feel like I can pick out any ol’ fantasy webnovel and it’ll probably have a similar storyline.
However, what sets this story apart is the fact that the protagonist was born to a particularly marginalised ethnicity (as in, neither asian or western like most other stories of similar concept) and it was very clear that he would not have an easy life. I think this is my first time ever reading a cultivation-style webnovel with a protagonist who is so different in terms of appearance compared to the society he was reincarnated in. Even a non-human protagonist would usually carry humanoid looks, and, well, light-coloured skin. To read about a dark-skinned protagonist was certainly a breath of fresh air and unique in a way.
Moving on to the protagonist, John. As of the writing of this review, there is not much known about the protagonist, as the current arc follows his parents’ backstory. However, being a veteran-soldier-cum-secret-agent, he appears cold, decisive, and ruthless when it comes to executing his duty and in dealing with enemies. My concern is that I hope this story won’t end up like other stories where the protagonist is a one-dimensional mindless serial killer who kills the people who oppose him for the sole reason that he does not like them. With his cheat of reincarnated knowledge, the protagonist would probably utilise them—as any other cheat!MC would—to do some (or a lot of) face-slapping here and there. I hope to god that there are some depth to his character, and that he would not become a character who only knows to speak with violence (or face-slap) at every turn. And I could say the same to the other characters as well. Hopefully they are not as stupid as that boar-bait-backstabber guy in the beginning.
Also, the fact that the protagonist does not immediately remember his past life after birth is a nice change. Though, to me it seemed a little off-putting that he managed to integrate his memories and get used to his new life so quickly. But hey, dude’s got ten years on him, and his mum wasn’t really the sweet, cuddly type—given his upbringing, he was probably a bit more mature than other kids of similar age to begin with.
It appears to me that racism is a big theme in this novel, seeing as it is modelled after the concept of white supremacy. Just like any show of racism in real life, it irks me how much contempt the people were showing to the protagonist (or his mother, in the backstory arc), and how much the author tries to paint the people with the ugliest image possible (IMO), but I suppose every story needs a villain. I (personally) don’t particularly enjoy plots where race is the major cause of strife, but it’s the author’s story, so who am I to judge? I’m neither white nor black, nor ignorant, nor am I a part of the story, so I don’t think I‘m in a position to pick sides or say anything about it either.
All in all, it was a good read with a lot of potential. Had the author do a bit of editing (and post at least a hundred or more chapters), I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the higher ends of the rankings. Good work, author!

Story Post Last Updated: October 6, 2020

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