The Wandering Inn by Pirateaba sits comfortable as one of the best fiction novel I have ever read, webnovel or printed. The series has brought me on a roller-coaster of emotions through the last few months. Never have I been so vested in a series’ world and the characters. Personally, I rate it even above George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It gives the same sense of shock and loss when a character you believe important to the story just gets killed, but it is even more pronounced when it happens between lighthearted slice of life days, days of adventures of both planned and unforeseen, and hints about a bigger issue at hand.
The word count is HUGE (over 5 million words by volume 6) but yet I am constantly pulled into the story, wanting to know what happens next.
The main aspects that draw me to the series are the world building and characters. The world is immense, distinct, diverse and deep. There are continents with distinctly different climates, factions with entirely different agendas, history of thousands of years that tells of the rise and fall of species and cities, species that are so diverse each have their own cultural differences stemming from their characteristics, cities built or revolve around different ideas/people. Especially the detail into each species. They have their own culture, how they act, communicate (even how they curse), the way they build their cities/settlements, and the way they form their armies all ties in to their characteristics. And it even trickles down to what the children of the species go through as they grow up. Like how goblins are taught to never cry when sad because it is a waste of water given how they have to survive being hunted by every race, how drakes are related to dragons and end up having to ween off hording phases when young, or how the stitch-folk, the cloth people, fear fire over blade, as fire is one of the few that can truly hurt them.
The story starts small, from the main character and the inn the story revolves around, before branching out to seemingly unrelated characters in cities or factions half a continent away or on an entirely different continents. The story would feel disjointed at the start, with different characters going through a survival story? A slice of life? A classic sword and magic adventure? School life? Politics and monarchs? But the story just gets better and better. The author did an amazing amount of planning as every continent, faction, character and twisting plot slowly gets intertwined into the overarching story.
For some series I read, I have difficulty tracking who a character introduced chapters ago is. But in The Wandering Inn, all major characters (and there are a LOT of them, close to a hundred or more by now) has a backstory that is naturally/thoughtfully revealed and characteristics like speech or personality that define them. Most characters struggle with something in their life, and as a reader, we get to see them grow in their own ways, in reaction to their circumstances. Prejudice and discrimination is a strong theme in the series, and the author makes you root for them (sometimes for both sides of the story, even some of the ones most characters in the world find evil).
The story is unique in the teleported to another world and leveling genre. The main character’s, Erin Solstice’s, only knowledge from Earth is playing Chess and fast food. Which makes Erin so much more believable and relatable than other stories where the main character has perfect recollection of all sciences and technology. But it is a powerful story as Erin, who slowly grows and actually has a choice to go down the warpath to protect her loved ones, choses to be an innkeeper, a constant in other people’s lives, to be there to do the right thing, to give second chances … and to play chess.
The leveling doesn’t get bogged down into stats and such and only boils down to levels and skills, and the leveling mechanics fits seamlessly into the world. It also brings a refreshing take to it, in which you shouldn’t screw with the older generation or seemingly harmless classes, because they probably have higher levels and better skills than you do and can easily wipe the floor with you.
The series is excellent for all fantasy fans. A must read. In fact, it is completely free on their website. The Wandering Inn
To the idea that binds it all: ‘No killing goblins’