Mother of Learning

by Domagoj Kurmaic

Rating: ★★★★

Long, engaging web serial tackling a D&D fantasy setting where the main character is a mage stuck in a time loop. Despite an occasionally under-polished style, it wins my approval for having a main character I can actually somewhat relate to, and an obvious focus on worldbuilding and magic system design which somehow manages to avoid standing in the way of the plot development.

It's great to see a time-loop story where the main character spends his time learning, and where this usually happens on-screen rather than as background for some other conflict. It is even better to see a prominent villain which is still incredibly dangerous despite his opponents having godlike foreknowledge and ability to prepare for confronting him (making total sense -- Zach and Zorian had decades and years, respectively, to hone their skills. The lich had a millenium). In fact, the general humanity of the villains is another great feature, leading to interesting nonstandard resolution of some obstacles (like the dragon-mage).

There are some unfortunate holes the author seemed to write himself into. Most critically, the identity of Red Robe was kept hidden for so long that no satisfactory answer was possible, so he ended up being essentially just some guy, and the explanation for how he became a looper was full of holes (how and why did Zach get the crown from the lich so early, given a more advanced Zach and Zorian together could barely defeat him? How did Red Robe get his hands on the dagger so easily, given the uproar when the heroes did the same? How did he get the lich to help him when it was established that he only started trying in the last month?). Overall, though, my gripes are significantly lesser than my enjoyment.