“A Practical Guide to Evil” by ErraticErrata, Book 6 Chapter 63

This is a web serial, so there are no pages, only chapters.

I very much regret having chosen to read this over the past eight day cycle. Not that it’s a terrible or even mediocre piece of writing- the Guide is a fantastic webnovel that has kept me hooked for the several months that I have already been reading it- but there are several things about it that make it difficult for me the write a meaningful reflection on it. This is why instead of reflecting on where the plot is going or what I can use in it to write my final academic essay, I will be expounding why I will not be using it in my final essay. I hope this will be enough to convince you that I have put a suitable amount of effort into pondering my chosen read.

First off, a little about the Guide. It’s a hard fantasy set in a world where the ideology of Above and its servants war with that of Below. Fate is so intertwined with reality that well-known stories end up influencing the flow of events in the world, and people can end up as character archetypes that grant them powers that activate when they are in dramatic scenarios that fit into stories. The Guide’s key topic is the nature of morality, with various shades of it being shown clashing with each other in the story by the actual clashing of servants of Good and Evil. It’s a beautiful and thought-provoking web novel that I would highly recommend to anyone who is of suitable viewing age (YA novels and all that). The novel contains such well-written scenes about treacherous politics, scintillating battlefield tactics, and intimate and deep character relationships that I found myself wondering as I read whether ErraticeErrata had a part time gig as a general and/or a politician in addition to being a writer. Being six years in the making already, there is no shortage of material to binge-read. In fact, I have only just finished my binge and caught up to current chapters.

Onto why it’s difficult for me to write blog post about it. The wonderfully ironic thing is, for such a meta story about a world whose events tend to fold out to fit predictable story types, it is remarkably difficult to predict what will happen next in the Guide. I have been thrown for so many loops that I now know trying to guess what’s coming next is an exercise in futility. After finding out what we could include in our blog posts, I tried to come up with some predictions for the Guide, but I legitimately had no ideas. There are just so many possibilities, and I know that EE is a cunning writer that would never let their readers strike true with predictions.

Full disclosure, I am writing this two days after we were told to write a blog post, so I am a little foggy on what the options for post subjects that were written on the whiteboard are. Let me check what other people have written for their posts.

After scouring the blogs of other students and reading the task sheet, I have recollected that we were also told to include how our readings connected to ourselves. I dislike having to make connections to between myself and books, because to be completely frank I do not see the point, but that is one thing I can do. There is a lot of arguing in the book about what is just, between different characters and between characters and themselves, and that is something I can very much relate to. A lot of philosophizing goes on in my head whenever I’m eating soy, looking at stray cats outside, and using the restroom. It is not something that I enjoy, because I can’t come up with a “right” answer or one that I am satisfied with. I don’t understand how philosophers can bear having a war fought in their brains every day.

Despite having found one aspect of the assignment I can accomplish, I am still going to explain why I am not going to use the Guide as my final essay subject. Besides the fact that I still only have a vague idea of what our final essay can be on, the Guide is also far to large. Not in just the word length sense, though the fact that it’s six books longs with an obscene amount of chapters and interludes in each- six years in the making, as mentioned- does weigh in. I don’t want to have to re-read even just one book of this behemoth. The Guide is also large in the sense that it is complex. The subjects of morality that it broaches are too lofty for my feeble mind to consider, much less come up with a thesis or argument about. By complex, I also mean how it develops its characters, world, and text through meaningful interactions, subtle details and artful literary techniques. The characters of the Guide are like wine that has been left in a cellar for years, maturing and developing over the long course of over four hundred chapters. If I were to write an essay on how EE has developed a specific character, it would probably take six years as well. An if my terrible simile has demonstrated, I haven’t a good mind for analyzing the use of literary techniques and details in writing. My mind skims over the ornaments of the writing, only registering the tree underneath. See? Another one. It would be physically painful for me to go back through even one book of the Guide and analyze its flower garden of literary techniques. Drat, that one wasn’t even halfway decent. Point is, I will not be writing about the Guide, so in place of the ideas for our final essay, here is the paragraph on why I didn’t brainstorm those ideas.

Now that I have come to the end of my month long binge of the Guide, I can now read other books without wishing that it was the Guide. I’m itching to finishing the last two books of the Scythe Trilogy., so I just borrowed Thunderhead. You’re next, Toll. Prepare to be read. Does that threat of violence count as personification?

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