Lion’s Quest - Undefeated

Astarar Unlimited is the best virtual reality game the world has ever known, and Leo "The Lion" Lennox has been the game's champion for ten years in a row.

But when a mysterious woman tempts the champ to try her cutting edge game, Leo discovers a world that is beyond fantastic. Can he resist the lure of this strange world and the beautiful woman that has asked him to quest on her behalf?

My Opinion: 697 pages, $7.49, Not available on Kindle Unlimited.

Full disclosure: The author sent me an advance copy of the novel for review but I’ve purchased a copy since it came out.

Author Michael-Scott Earle has written several successful series, including the Destroyer and Concrete Chaos series. Now he’s written his first LitRPG story, Lion’s Quest - Undefeated.

Leo “the Lion” is a competitive VR gamer who’s at the peak of physical and mental skill and has been the undisputed champion of Astarar Unlimited for the last 10 years. After his latest championship bout he’s approached by a beautiful woman and introduced to the next generation of immersive gaming, Arnacript. There he’ll experience gaming so real it’s indistinguishable from real life and meet fantasy creatures that he can form real connections with. Unfortunately, someone doesn’t want the champ to retire from professional gaming and will do whatever it takes to stop him from switching games.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can see great potential in the series. The characters have depth, the fights are wonderfully descriptive, and I genuinely wanted to read more about the world of Arnacript when the novel was done. I have a few quibbles with the story but overall I really enjoyed my time in this world.

The beginning chapters of the story are almost an exploration of virtual reality tech. Astarar Unlimited, uses technology that is mostly available today. VR goggles, a omnidirectional treadmill, and haptic feedback based on vibrational motors. The new game, Arnacript, uses the type of next gen full immersion system that virtual reality enthusiasts dream of. The two different game worlds are both interesting, one as an extension of the popularization of competitive gaming, the other as an exploration of a detailed simulated world full of realistic A.I. If all this novel did was describe this advancement I’d still think it was a good story. But it does so much more.

Combat in both Arnacript and Astarar Unlimited were visceral and fun to read about. In Astarar Unlimited the combat it very game oriented, with hot keys, pre-selected classes, levels, and abilities, and player versus player tournament battles. In Arnacript, combat is more realistic, though gaming aspects are slowly introduced. These difference adequately describe the different game worlds too. Astarar Unlimited is a popular MMO that’s a notch above Warcraft. While Arnacript, when first encountered passes as portal fiction. Though slowly, gaming element like health bars, item descriptions, and character sheets are introduced, it still maintains that feel of simulated reality with both the world and it’s inhabitants being indistinguishable from reality.  In Arnacript combat is based on a person’s real world abilities and Leo as a martial arts master is totally over powered in combat but somehow still makes the fights interesting.

Two things I think could have been done better: Less time in the real world, and more world building.

The format of the story is set up this way, about 15% game stuff, 35% real life stuff, the remaining 50%  game stuff. I have to say that while the real life stuff created some real emotional connections to characters, it just of went on a little too long.

One of the only other things I would have liked more of in Arnacript is world building. We’re only introduced to a few races and locations in the world. I would have loved to get more stories about each race's culture and some more historical understanding of the world than just a reference to a single event.

Lion’s Quest - Undefeated gets a big recommend from me and solid 8 out of 10.