With the real world in ruins, Arantor is the place of refuge: A virtual game world set in fantasy that anyone can play, but not everyone is equal. Jane has played for years but by no fault of her own is hamstrung compared to other players. All she wanted was to not be a burden on her friends. One day a glitch changes everything, but her new found power comes with a price, and soon Jane finds that there are plenty of guilds and players that will try to use her for their own gain.
Follow Jane as she navigates - and tries to avoid - the world of guild politics, and as she quests to the far ends of Arantor, to places where the rules of the game can change.
My Opinion: 265 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This story has a rough start but I ended up enjoying the first part more than I thought I would. Unfortunately, it lost me near the end when it becomes more fantasy than LitRPG.
This is a LitRPG story with a strong female lead. The main character (MC) and most of the world plays a FIVR game because the world in ruins. She has played for years and never been able to do well though because of an issue with her low alignment, a game mechanic that is frustratingly ill defined but serves the purpose of creating a flaw beyond her control. When an update seems to reset her character with a good looking avatar and a new rare class, she becomes in demand. Most of the first part of the story is about her dealing with this change in dynamics. It has a definite “She’s all that” kind of vibe where the MC was ugly and underpowered and a sudden reversal in that changes her life. She has to deal with the emotional developments that brings her as well as the new attention from competitive guilds including a Mean Girl type guild.
The game mechanics in the story are mostly solid. The MMO world that the story takes place in is detailed and the MCs character is well balanced with detriments that balance out her classes potential power. There is also lots of details about player behaviors, guild tricks, and gamer culture that shows the author has real experience with MMOs and guild politics. The few issues I noticed are that the XP calculations are off for companion leveling, and the alignment mechanic is so frustratingly vague and contradictory I almost put the novel down at one point.
I will note that while the story does a good job detailing RPG stuff, that’s not the focus of development. The story is mostly about the MCs emotional, personal growth, and some minor romance threads. There are lots of fights and XP grinds but the action is never well described, the majority of the fights are summarized, and there are several big level jumps without any details.
Additionally, the story takes a hard turn into a fantasy chosen one plot after the 60% mark. It’s all very much in line with the story and is foreshadowed, but it loses me because all the powers, including ones used to advance to plot, are suddenly wand wavy fantasy and have more to do with feeling the magic and imagination than anything game related. Additionally multiple story threads, prominent characters, and romantic interests from the first half the novel are just abandoned after the 50% mark.
Overall, this was almost a good story. Though RPG stuff isn’t as important as I’d like it to be, the character development and plot lines with the guilds almost made up for it. However, a definite lack of any well described action and the fantasy turn at the end stopped me from enjoying as much as I could have. However, if you don’t care as much about those issues or you just want a story focused primarily on character development, you might enjoy this more than I did.
Score: 6 out of 10