Surviving in a tough situation is not always the best option; sometimes dying is much better than staying alive. The Academy showed Paladin Yaropolk what makes the world go round: pragmatism and personal gain. Restart was set in motion, but it only makes players more frantic. Now everyone plays only for himself. Yaropolk faces the same dilemma: be like all of them, or keep his humanity and be known as an odd duck. Because there is only one rule in this world: kill or be killed…
My Opinion: 328 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an early copy for review. I purchased the novel once it became available.
In book 1, Sergey was a soldier that died killing a mysterious figure flinging magic around a battlefield. When he woke up again, he found reality was not as he knew it. It turns out our entire universe is just one big game and now Sergey was a player in that game. Under the new name Paladin Yaropolk, he attended and finished an academy meant to teach new players the rules and features of the game. Unfortunately, Paladin Yaropolk also stumbled onto a potential universe altering secret, how to restart the game.
Now in book 2, Yaropolk is in the real game stuck on earth and he has to deal with the realities of a universe where everyone is looking to level up at any cost. He has headhunters, mages, and other enemies trying to get him. Thankfully, he’s safe in Sanctuary, the stronghold of the Paladins. Or is he? It seems an innocent looking quest could sweep him up into even more intrigue and universe changing danger.
The beginning of this story is a little hard to get through. It’s mostly explanations about the location Paladin Yaropolk finds himself in after his adventures in the academy, Sanctuary. He levels up a bit in a dungeon, learns some of the rules about his class and occupation (Explorer and Judge).
Where the novel spends most of its time is on an innocent looking quest to figure out who stole some old ladies pendant. This search turns into this big mystery adventure for Yaropolk that has a genuinely surprising twist ending.
One of the few things I didn’t like about the story was the level progression that takes the main character from level 11 to level 73 in a little over a week. The early parts where the main character is in a dungeon is fine, it feels like the main character is earning his levels. However, later in the story the levels feel like they’re just being handed out to him.
Additionally, the game mechanic that puts a target on a player, or even a quest to kill them, if they have too much money (Granis) seemed a little odd to me. It sort of makes sense as a player vs player mechanic but seems easily solved by just spending the money, putting it in a bank, or converting it into gold, which is not penalized by the game.
Besides those small things, the rest of the novel was rather enjoyable and I was pleasantly surprised to find it turned into a kind of LitRPG mystery story.
Score: 7 out of 10.