Yesterday he worked in a coffee shop, today he is the lord of an empire.
Jack Halberd's great uncle disappeared for forty years, and when he suddenly reappeared, he couldn’t move or speak. Jack spent years visiting him, but never learned what had happened. Soon after his uncle's death, Jack gets hit by a car and he wakes up in Royaume, a fantasy land that reminds him of the new virtual reality RPG games that are all the rage.
It seems that the Halberd family has a curious curse, and Jack begins to understand why his uncle was missing for decades. He discovers that he is the lord of a castle, just as his uncle was before him. He’s never ruled anything before, but with the help of his allies he will have to make himself, and his new empire, as powerful as possible.
If Jack can battle an ancient enemy that threatens Royaume, he may be able to get back home.
My Opinion: 547 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a longer version of a previously published short story on Amazon, The Forgotten Throne. It was supposed to be a serial but the Author might have thought a serial series was not the way to go so turned it into a full novel.
The first 18% is the short story. The main character (MC), Jack Halberd, has a dying uncle that disappeared for 40 years. The MC puts on this bracelet while visiting his uncle and is transported to a medieval world where he’s Lord Halberd and has magical game powers that he’s supposed to use to build a kingdom and defeat the evil bad guy.
The original short story only introduced a few RPG mechanics at the very end of the story and then just ended. Thankfully, this full novel does better.
After that 18% the new material in the story expands on the game mechanics. There are health bars, experience points, levels, skills, and RTS kingdom building mechanics. So, plenty that makes it LitRPG.
The story presents the MC with an abundance of problems and challenges that he has to face including a super evil and powerful bad guy, a class of peasants he has to win over, the need to find resources to build up his castle, other lords that want to take over his lands, a massive inherited debt, mysteries about the companions he’s forced to trust and rely on, and how to raise an army to fight the big bad guy.
There are even smaller obstacles set in the main character's path but on the whole, most of those problems are never resolved. That’s probably one of the biggest issues I had with the story. By the end, only a few of those problems were resolved. Which made a lot of the novel felt like filler or setup.
The other big issue I have is that even though the first half of the novel does a really good job introducing and describing good RPG game mechanics. However, after the 50% mark, they mostly disappear. There are still occasional level ups and notifications about population stuff but it’s rare. It feels like the author got tired of writing about the game stuff after the midpoint of the novel.
Overall, the novel improves over the short story by including and expanding on the game mechanics of the world. This novel is LitRPG, but as it progresses past the midpoint, it feels more and more like general portal fiction. That plus the let down of so little resolution by the end of the story left me feeling ambivalent about the novel.
Score: 5 out of 10