Since I have already started off with multiple I Eat Tomatoes series I decided to keep on going with the theme, in this case, the series called Desolate Era.
Desolate Era has one of my favorite tropes in a book, the chance to start life again with your memories intact. Ji Ning died young, he was wracked with illness and infirmity his whole life but when he dies he gets a chance to be reborn. Due to certain circumstances Ji Ning manages to keep his past life memories and uses them as fuel for his new life in this new world full of immortals, monsters, and godlike beings. Things will not be easy for him as he was born as the world was declining but watch as Ji Ning rises and makes this Desolate Era his.
I Eat Tomatoes manages to do it again with this series, a great world, amazing start, likable characters and once again he hits a home run on the training sequences. In the Desolate Era, I feel that I Eat Tomatoes has polished his writing skills, the stories pacing is smooth and it is evident he has found his writing groove, though with this high polish it also makes his weaknesses jarring when they occur. I feel that he has 3 weaknesses that he needs to work on:
- Love Interests – He has gotten better at this but there really isn’t much time spent on the love interests, sure he will create a background for them like with Delia in Coiling Dragon but as soon as the MC gets together with them they fade into white noise. Only when something dire happens to them will we see any sort of development from the love interest but then they quickly fade away again. I think he should focus a little bit more on them as a change of pace and to showcase their personality/skills.
- Apprentice Development – This came into sharp focus in Desolate Era when Ji Ning actively sought an apprentice, managed to get a very good one called Bluecliff Xiaoyu, yet instantly she gets shoved off to the side to be used as comedic relief. Sorry, but that is just not acceptable and I don’t even understand how I Eat Tomatoes can justify this. Becoming an apprentice and being taught by his masters is a big deal for Ji Ning, yet soon as he gets his own he ignores her and shuffles her off to the side? I Eat Tomatoes is a master at training sequences so why not do a training sequence with that disciple. I wonder if he has ever heard the saying: A good apprentice will teach the master just as much as a good master will teach the apprentice.
- Combat – This is actually more of a minor flaw, the combat in his stories starts to narrow down and become more repetitive the stronger his MC becomes. Sure, for cannon fodder it’s okay to just have him sweep through them but it’s not okay to have the major enemies be defeated in almost the exact same way the MC defeated the cannon fodder. It’s like making a great meal only to put it away in the refrigerator instead of eating it and then the next day reheat and finally, eat it. It will still taste good, but not as good as when it was made.
Desolate Era is one of the finest series that I Eat Tomatoes has ever written and I heavily recommend reading it, just be aware that the series is so polished and well done that when you run into a minor imperfection it will feel like you hit a speed bump.