The Wandering Inn (Volume 1) by Pirateaba

About the Novel

An inn is a place to rest, a place to talk and share stories, or a place to find adventures, a starting ground for quests and legends.

In this world, at least. To Erin Solstice, an inn seems like a medieval relic from the past. But here she is, running from Goblins and trying to survive in a world full of monsters and magic. She’d be more excited about all of this if everything wasn’t trying to kill her.


The Wandering Inn is a web series with some LitRPG elements. What does that mean? Well, the characters in the world have classes, levels, and skills. This means that it isn’t too uncommon to read that a character that is a Level 12 [Warrior] with a [Dangersense] ability. Does this mean that you’re going to hear about about Hit points, Mana points, and EXP? Nah, this isn’t a hard LitRPG, and the video game elements tie in nicely with the story, rather than overwhelming it.

As you can tell from the blurb, our main character is a girl called Erin Solstice, who finds her way onto this video-game-esque world by chance, and immediately has to run away from a dragon. In the process of trying to survive, she seeks shelter in an abandoned building, and ends up becoming an [Innkeeper Level 1!]

Being a web series, The Wandering Inn is also FREE to read, and if you so wished, you could actually click right here to jump straight into the story. Pirateaba is able to spend time on the story thanks to the wonderful patrons over at Patreon, and you should definitely consider becoming a patron if you enjoy the story – especially since it means you get to read new chapters a few days early!

Man, I should really review some non-free books so that I can take advantage of that sweet, sweet referral money.


Plot

The plot is usually what grips you in a web serial. It’ll usually be full of fast-paced high-action scenes that’ll end on a cliffhanger, demanding that you tune in next week for the next episode chapter. The Wandering Inn isn’t like that.

If anything, the Wandering Inn is pretty slow-paced. There isn’t any in-your-face plot devices that drag the characters along, kicking and screaming. In some sections, it’s almost slice-of-life. It’s a story of a girl trying to survive, and finding her place in an alien world. She meets friends and foes along the way, but anything that happens in this story is largely as a result of the characters.

Does this mean that there is no “story” to read of here? No, absolutely not. There are some hints at a larger story that may become apparent in the later volumes, but these are largely unexplored in volume 1.

The story could have maybe used a bit more action in parts, and by nature of web serials, it can be a little disjointed at times, but it is enough to be interesting. Regardless, this is not a plot-centered story, this is all about the characters.

Plot Score: 3.5/5


Prose

This is what every web serial ever gets bashed for. People like to bash them for simplistic language. It’s true that the Wandering Inn will be never be nominated for the Man Booker Prize, but it’s also true that web serials demand a very different set of skills.

Web Serials have to have a writing style digestible enough that a new reader can pick up the story after 100 chapters have already been written, and binge through the whole story in time to catch the next chapter. The Wandering Inn does this. There are clumsy sentences along the way, maybe a few typos, but it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. To put things in perspective, volume 1 is around 340,400 words (approx. 1360 pages) and I read the damn thing in two days.

So, the prose is simplistic and digestible, with the odd purple turn of phrase. But it’s the dialogue that really stands out.

A lot of the chapters are very dialogue-heavy, a lot more so than you would see in the average fantasy novel. But the dialogue is fantastic, and really helps to give an impression of the characters.

Prose Score: 2.5/5

Dialogue Score: 4/5


Character

This is what I keep going on about, but it’s also probably the hardest to describe. You know when you read a story, and it suddenly strikes you that a character has character? Erin is such a sweetheart, and Pirateaba is able to make you feel afraid, happy, and embarrassed for her over the course of the story.

The side-characters too, are a highlight. Erin meets many other weird and wonderful characters, including a spear-wielding anthropomorphic lizard, a friendly anthropomorphic ant-insect-thing, and an obnoxious mage. There are many cool unique and tropey races in the Wandering Inn, and we get to see POVs other than Erin as the series moves forward. One of these POVs is another human, someone a bit more pessimistic and “flawed” than Erin, though I don’t want to say too much about them for fear of spoilers.

I am loathe to criticise these characters, as I fell in love with them, and there is still a lot of story to go. Maybe the character flaws could have been explored a bit more, and maybe the characters could be a bit more “realistic”. I wouldn’t change these guys for the world, but some people may have complaints.

Character Score: 4.25/5


Setting

The vast majority of the story is set in and around the Inn, which is a few miles out from the city of Liscor. The land around the Inn is home to plenty of fascinating stuff. There are toothy fish with poisonous insides, exploding acid flys, firework trees, giant crabs with boulders for shells, flying dinosaurs, and bands of Goblins.

The city of Liscor has three main races. The aforementioned lizard and ant people, and giant talking bear-hyena things. When the people in this world get sufficiently good at something, they can level up in a particular class, and sometimes gain new skills. A [Warrior] could win a battle, gain a level, and learn new combat techniques. A [Farmworker] could spent all day lifting things, level up, and gain [Enhanced Strength]. I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. It’s an interesting way of looking at things, and means that with some quick levelling, or with the right skill, even the littlest person could suddenly become very important.

And on top of all that, there’s a whole world out there.

Setting Score: 4/5


Summary

So there you have it. An interesting world with great, sympathetic, and likeable characters, and a certain binge-ability that rivals even the likes of the Dresden Files. It’s no literary masterclass filled with metaphor and social commentary, but it is a wonderful and fascinating little (huge) story with a tonne of heart. The Wandering Inn is both heartwarming and heartwrenching. If you don’t see me around the sub in the next few days, It’s because I’ll be gorging on volume 2.

You can see the Overview for the Wandering Inn here, jump right into the first chapter here, or check out Pirateaba’s Patreon page here.

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