Miles Boone is finally an adult and able to roll up his permanent character. He will join the Game that the world has become. Most of the planet is now dominated by feral AIs and nano who behave as all the monsters of man’s imagination. Every adult left alive plays, striving to keep the the AI and nano from wiping us out completely. Success in the Game is survival itself. Success in the Game is success in life. If only the game wasn’t rigged against anyone who isn’t a member of the Party.
A desperate bid to get the same chance at success in the game as Party members lands him at the mercy of his family’s enemies. Now his freedom and life rest on winning a bet. Lose and he will grind the rest of his life in the beginner’s area for the Eastman clan. He will need all the luck he can get. Too bad his enemies have broken his character and gotten rid of his luck stat. How do you play a game without any luck?
Miles is going to have to outplay and outsmart his family’s enemies, corrupt GameMasters, the Party, and of course the game itself. Life is a game. His father always told him, win or lose, it’s how you play that matters. Now he is praying his father knew what he was talking about.
My Opinion: 308 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel from the author. I purchased it as soon as it came out.
This is a good novel that comes close to being great. The game system is a modified version of the 3.5 D&D rule set which is still considered by many to be the best D&D game systems. What the author does that is different than other LitRPG stories is 1) Setup an interesting real world that has a legitimate reason why people would immerse themselves in a VR game for long stretches of time. This a fully fleshed out world with it’s own politics and culture. The real world is as interesting as the game world. 2) The author tries to bring a sense of realism to the RPG mechanics. Due to the terms of the bet, Miles, doesn’t get access to the AI assistance that most people use. So, no hot keys or AI assisted combat. Anything MIles wants to do, he has to learn how to do the long real way. Want to learn herbalism? Better pick up a book on botany and start memorizing. The author extends this realism into magic. There’s a really cool, if overly long, section of the story that turns yoga, chakra points, mantras, buddhism, taoism, and a more mystical traditions into magic training.
However, some of the same things that I loved about the story just went on a little too long. There are realistic politics in the story but some of the political rhetoric goes on just a bit too long and starts to get a bit repetitive. Additionally, the magical training scene is cool. But, it’s also about a full 10% of the novel. That’s like 50 pages worth of information about magical yoga poses. Everything described in that section makes sense and grounds the verbal, somatic, and focus components of spell casting in real historical mystical traditions. It just goes on too long.
Additionally, there just wasn’t as much progress towards the main quest in the story as I thought there would be. A part of it gets solved relatively early in the story and I just expected more progress to be made on that front in the rest of the story.
Overall, a really good read that pits the little guy against a powerful enemy that’s willing to cheat to stop him from proving his point. The sci-fi elements are also a nice break from just straight fantasy too. A good read that’s just shy of great.
Score: 7 out of 10.