Realm of the Nine Circles, Book 2
Welcome to Plexcorp, the largest tech company in the world and creator of the world's most popular MMORPG, Realm of the Nine Circles.
Through our pioneering research in artificial intelligence and self-organizing game worlds, we're rapidly developing the technology that will allow you to experience the Realm as if it were real life.
Our cutting edge immersion virtual reality system is in late beta testing right now. You may be playing against our beta testers and not even know it.
In fact, you might be playing against the founder of Plexcorp himself, because he has gone insane and has put himself into a coma so he can become part of the game world and rule it like a god.
That's right; our artificial intelligence is based on interconnected human brains, some of which were harvested on the black market and reanimated in our very own Plexcorp basement. So really, our "artificial intelligence" isn't that artificial after all!
Plexcorp is run by an insane, super-genius criminal who tried to kidnap and kill his own employees to keep his technology secret. How exciting is that?
Dante Alger doesn't think it's all that great, but if he were in charge of writing press releases, that's what he'd say.
Unfortunately, he can't do that, because to stay alive, he made a deal with the devil. Now it's Dante who's keeping Plexcorp's secrets as he dives deep into a virtual reality world to try to fix the system from within. He only left university a few years ago as a B student, and this is the first job of his adult life.
Great career move, Dante.
To make matters worse, he has to fix the game world with a level-one character who must reach level twenty in seven days or the system will crash. Why? Because his old character, Kalmond the Dwarf, a Rogue and a Thief, died a hero in the game world war that set the harvested brains free.
No cheating allowed. Dante must grind to survive.
My Opinion: 313 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Book 1 - Got a score of 6 out of 10. Not a bad story, rather good in fact. What brought it down for me was the lack of information about the game world. There were inconsistencies in how the damage was described number wise, no real detail about how characters progressed, etc. The story was rather engaging, if heavy on real-world events.
Book 2 - Almost the complete opposite of book 1. Tons of game mechanics with solid numbers everywhere. After every level up, you get to see the main character’s character sheet and all those stats. Damage given or take from combat is also described with numbers. This book is crunchy with numbers and descriptions. There are also crafting, some town building, which helps to break up the stream of combat in the story.
On the opposite side of the coin, the larger story. The one with the brains used as organic processors, the megalomaniac trying to take over the game, that is sort of put on the back burner. I mean there’s some progress, and Gideon (the bad guy) pops up occasionally to remind us he’s still trying to kill the main character (MC). However, actual advancement on that larger story won’t be seen until the next book.
This story is as advertised. It’s titled The Grind. That’s what it is for the main character. He has 7 days to get his new character from level 1 to level 20 and conquer some dungeons to get to the proper realm and try to defeat Lord Mylos aka game Gideon. So, he has to grind out those 20 levels. He starts out killing wildlife, dies a few times, and then moves onto simple quests for a village. From there, the quests get more complicated and interesting as the villagers seem to become more self-aware and complicated. There are some genuinely funny new NPC characters that are introduced. Also, crafting is introduced. As are some town building aspects.
Still, the focus of the story is combat. There’s a nice variety of combat situations, monsters, and strategies to defeat them. However, sometimes it feels like the main character is running from one fight to another fight with occasional brief breaks to turn in quests, sell loot, or craft. You really do feel the grind sometimes.
While book two gained a ton in terms of solid game mechanics, what the story loses is a sense of tension. In book 1, the MC had to complete his mission in-game as his friends were being attacked in the real world. If he took too long they died. In book 2, there’s nothing except a clock running down to indicate that he has to hurry.
If you’re looking for a good combat focused story, this is the story for you. Overall, a good read with huge improvements in the descriptions and details of how the game world works.
Score: 7 out of 10.