Title: Awakened (The Quintessence: Crucible Series #1)
Author: C.M. Carney
Publisher: Self published
Page Count: 402
Genre: Progression fantasy, LitRPG
Cultivation. Progression. Ascension.
On the world of Crucible, where humanity’s spiritual artists train to fight in a war of universal proportions, Aryc Tal Venn has the potential to be one of the gods.
But when he accidentally unleashes heretical powers during his Challenge, he is forced to flee his home or face the wrath of the Inquisition.
With his sister by his side, Aryc begins a quest to uncover the truth of his own existence.
Only to discover a terrible secret.
A secret with the power to destroy humanity.
Will Aryc master his unnatural powers in time to save the people of Crucible or will he be the harbinger of humanity’s destruction?
This was a cover buy. I mean, just look at it. The artwork is stunning! And after having a fabulous time reading other progression fantasy series, I was keen to explore more of the genre. So here we are.
If you enjoy progression fantasy, this story will absolutely tick the boxes. We have our plucky, somewhat block headed teenage protagonist, Aryc Tal Venn, and his sassy sidekick/slightly know-it-all sister, who find themselves on the run from gods and inquisitors when Aryc’s forbidden powers are discovered. And in the way of many LitRPG and progression fantasy novels, the magic system is centred around the concept of qi (spirit/energy) where the characters work to cultivate and grow their qi abilities, be it through meditation and cycling the energy around their bodies or through fighting and eating powerful sources of qi to “level up”.
This book is not trying to be the next Rothfuss or Martin, it is here to be fun. And on that front, it delivers. Martial arts, monsters and intrigue abound its pages. Moreover, I actually enjoyed the fact that its teenage characters behave like teenagers. They are flawed, arrogant, and make stupid decisions on wobbly logic, but that’s what teenagers do. It was also nice to see moments of growth from these characters as their situation forces them to mature.
However for all its pros, there were a couple of cons too. Firstly, after nearly a whole book of build up, the big reveal in Aryc’s backstory felt somewhat underwhelming. It’s a big moment, to be sure, but it didn’t quite get the ‘holy shit, WHAT?’ moment I’d been led to believe was coming. It ended up being more of a ‘oh, okay then’ reaction. YMMV. (Maybe I’ve been reading too much horror and grimdark).
Secondly, the repetition. Because there was a lot of it. For readers with multiple books on the go or for those who read sporadically, the reminders probably served as a handy memory jogger. However, despite bouncing between 2-3 books while listening to this on audio, it grew a little tedious for me.
In all, this is a solid start for a progression fantasy series. Pacey, fun, and easy to read, it has the hallmarks for becoming an entertaining series. Just go in prepared to skim some repeat information.