Nash Evers has never played a video game in his life…he didn’t intend to start after death.
These days, most people have their minds uploaded to HereAfter when they die and keep living into eternity. For Nash this means infinite opportunities to grow his wealth and power. A perfect death.
That is, until he gets drawn into a game he can't escape, with rules he doesn't understand, and stakes he never imagined.
Dragons Rising is the name of the game and the humble HereAfter citizens fill the role of NPCs in wealthy gamers' VRMMO experience.
The experience points are real, the magic is real, and death—for NPCs like Nash— is real.
Nash teams up with his hacker son to try to survive and bring down the corrupt organization that started all of this. But it's going to take more than a few potions and some grinding to teach this old dog new tricks. Nash has destroyed men and corporations, even conquered entire nations—but he's never faced anything like Dragons Rising.
My Opinion: 269 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There are some nice character development moments in the story. The relationships and behaviors of the characters feels realistic and interesting. The well developed characters are the best part of the story.
The game stuff, while shown throughout the story, doesn’t make math sense and the RPG rules that are established aren’t followed. The main character (MC) dumps all his stats into a non-combat stat, charm, and leaves all other stats at low levels. Yet he’s repeatedly the bad ass fighter for most of the story able to beat monsters many levels higher than him, sometimes double his level. It was fairly obvious even from the first time the MC gains a level and his health jumps from something like 15 to 60 despite him only having a couple points in the stats that relate to health. It became super evident the stats and levels in the story didn’t matter when the reader stopped seeing stat points applied at all. There’s even a point in the story where the MC reveals he’s been hoarding stat point and not using them so that he can see where he really needs to put them, which is fine. But that means the MC, whose combat stats are penalized as a merchant class, has been fighting monsters 5-15 levels higher than him with the same stats he’s had since he was level 4 and winning. There’s about 5% of the story where the author uses an interesting leveling mechanic related to the MC’s class, merchant, but even that loses specificity and is used as a way to justify the MC leveling without ever giving details. Eventually, the RPG stuff just disappears in regards to both the main character (MC) and the villain in the story. Instead they’re described in more fantasy like terms throwing around never before established powers and abilities.
Ultimately, the resolution in the story occurs not by any earned levels or power, but from suddenly introduced artifacts of power that solve everyone’s problems magically/hackingly.
Overall, the story is well written on a technical level, and the good character development and interesting interactions between them is almost enough to carry the story. There are nice themes of love, loss, redemption, the emptiness of wealth, and the sacrifices we’re willing to make when we love. However, I read the story because the author told me it was LitRPG and I lost enjoyment because the RPG game stuff ultimately doesn’t matter in the story. The VR game world definitely matters, but none of the RPG rules do since their ignored or conveniently missing when the story needs to progress in a certain direction. However, if that stuff matters to you less, you might end up liking this more than me.
Score: 6 out of 10