Is it easy to survive in the game world? You could say yes, if you didn’t know what the additional conditions were. They are unusual: it’s the real world in which you have lived all your life. The enemy, craving to destroy you. Your own class who couldn’t care less about you. Are you still sure that survival is easy? Then welcome to THE GAME! It will prove you wrong.
My Opinion: 385 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning of the story is rather confusing. It tries to explain too much at once instead of focusing on the gaming LitRPG stuff. However, once I got past the beginning and decided to ignore the game’s confusing relationship to the real world, I found an interesting novel. The story is not Way of the Shaman. Don’t expect it to be. This has more of a Hunger Games vibe with newly initiated players teaming up and then betraying each other to survive the academy.
The confusing premise of the novel: Our world, earth is really a staging ground for a fantasy game. We’re all NPCs. One day, one of us, a soldier, kills a player in this game. Even though he dies, he’s brought back to life, having earned a place as a player of the game himself.
Now, if that weren’t confusing enough, this NPC soldier turned player, chooses the class of Paladin and has to survive a mandatory period at a training academy where he’s supposed to be taught about the game and it’s mechanics. Unfortunately, the player he killed as an NPC soldier is a mentor at the academy and has sent his mage students after him to end his life. He’s also vulnerable as a player because he missed some initiation and now if he dies, he dies for good.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the novel was just learning about the game world. To leave the academy players must find 10 trainers scattered throughout the vast training area. Each trainer is meant to teach players a different aspect of the game: class combat abilities, user interface, etc. I enjoyed learning about the game mechanics as they were explained through these training sessions and much of the suspense of the story comes from the MC trying to find ways to reach these trainers even if they’re guarded by other players looking to kill him.
Another part of the story I enjoyed, are the main character's class specialization and job. Just the ability to customize a character's general class with a specialization or job is reminiscent of the jobs available in Final Fantasy games. The mechanism allows for a much needed variety to the types of classes that are revealed in the story.
Eventually there is action, betrayal, and some sometimes unbelievable plot twists. But overall, if you think of it as a story of a player trying to get through the training scenario of a MMO with PVP enabled, it makes more sense and it’s quite enjoyable.
I give The Beginning, Dark Paladin Book 1, a 7 out of 10.