Shade's First Rule (Divine Apostasy Book 1)


A new LitRPG world has arrived!

It's Ruwen’s Ascension Day, and he finally dies for the first time. His newly revived body can learn Spells and Abilities for the Class given him by the Goddess Uru, and dying is no longer permanent.

Ruwen’s high intelligence makes becoming a Mage inevitable. With his new powers, he will locate his parents and clear their family name. But nothing goes as Ruwen imagined, and when a rival God tries to kill Ruwen shortly after his disastrous Ascension, his focus turns from his future to just surviving.

His choices place him in the middle of an ancient war, and he must overcome the limitations of his unexpected Class to reach level five. Only then will he have the tools needed to survive. But dying now comes with a terrible penalty, and failing Uru might not only cost him his life and loved ones but his entire world.

It turns out dying on your Ascension Day is the easy part.

My Opinion: 431 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased the novel when it became available. 

This is a seriously mixed bag of a story. There are sections that I thought were quite good, but there were a lot more frustrating moments that ultimately made the overall experience not good.

First the good. The RPG stuff is well thought out and even if it feels like it’s padded in some spots, matters and is constantly used throughout the story. The relationship between the main character (MC) Ruwen, Sift, and Blapy is well written. Their banter and developed relationships is a real highlight of the novel. The story was best when it was relaxed and just flowed with those aspects like the relationship building, or the casual dungeon dive, or the more mundane seeming moments like talking to your class trainer and seeing what options you have or just worrying about the class conflicts between RPG classes. Those chill moments felt the most genuine and had a lot of good potential. 

Now the not so good. The storyline is kind of a mess and feels frustratingly forced sometimes. The novel starts out with this YA,  vibe where the MC is finally getting his RPG class after coming of age. He has a goal to show everyone that his parents aren’t traitors and needs a good class. Then betrayal, and the MC ends up with a class that he thinks sucks but luckily something happens that may change his luck and he gets a potential advantage. The story is a bit slice of life as he learns about this unwanted class and there are some hints that it can be powerful. Good so far. I especially think the bits where his advantage and the special bag of holding he gets are going to be really important to the story and cool. Then the story just makes this sudden twist and it feels like it is forced into a ‘chosen one’ story where the MC is being hunted, then another twist where the story feels forced into a rogue test dungeon dive, then again later forced again into cultivation stuff, then ending in this huge cliffhanger. Ultimately by the end of the story I realized all the earlier plotlines are just not resolved in this novel. The stuff with the parents is never even mentioned past the beginning, the setup for RPG class conflict with the camping is also abandoned, even the hunted chosen one stuff is put on pause while the MC power levels in a DBZ style time compression dimension that lets him train for like a week while only ten hours pass outside. 

There are other issues, like how most of the initial power the MC gets feels unearned. He gets the really cool advantage (I’m being vague so as not to spoil things) for no reason. He gets some really good gear that feels like it belongs to a level 20 character, not a level 1. He’s magically good at things that he should have to practice according to the established story lore, like spells and cultivation. While eventually, the MC does feel like he earns some levels and power while dungeon diving, these other parts made the story frustrating.

Overall, the story has potential, but is too frustrating. I can only guess that the author is setting up some series storylines, but because there’s no resolution to the many plotlines started it ends up feeling like either the author kept changing his mind about what he wanted to write, or that he was trying to check some boxes about writing ‘good’ LitRPG. Either way, the frustration over shadowed the good parts for me. 

Score: 6 out of 10

Shade's First Rule (Divine Apostasy Book 1)