Aethernea by Chloe D. Frost
This a web novel that I really wish I could like more. It is set in a fascinating world where you (eventually) learn there is only one country left standing. Regardless, it is certainly well thought out. There are two main races of intelligent beings (the Argel and the Elibu), though a third has been hinted at, and one enemy called ‘The Tainted’ of which, very little had been revealed. The magic system has been well thought out; the two races independent systems is a frequent topic, which leads into one of the main flaws of the series: the numerous info dumps that not only break the flow, but also slow down the already somewhat molasses-paced story. There was one chapter that was entirely devoted to describing one of the tests for the entrance exam. I appreciate that there was a lot of thought into these tests. However, we do not need to know the minutiae of it. Another big complaint. Over 100 chapters devoted to the /entrance exam/ of the magic school. Granted, other things happen, but it’s not like other stories I’ve read, where events are continually occurring, and that’s why very little actual time passes. There isn’t enough for it to justify taking this long. Now the characters. I like Kiel and Elaru: it did feel like Kiel was opening up more to her, but honestly, they seem to be developing a bromance much more than a romance. The fact that Elaru hasn’t (as of where I have read) really reciprocated opening up or stopped jerking Kiel around at all makes him feel more like a fun toy to her. He does have a stick up his ass, and a little bit of spontaneity does him well, but she keeps throwing ridiculousness at him. In summary: I enjoyed the world and the mystery surrounding it. I really do want to find out more. The characters are well written, though not always likable (which is fine). Unfortunately, the pacing is sluggish, the flow often broken, and the characters don’t feel like they are developing the relationship the author promised us. Overall rating 3 stars. With a good edit, I think this could be fantastic, but right now it is only average.