A Fist Full of Sand: A Book of Cerulea (Sam's Song 1)


I really, really hate falling. Falling is stupid. Gravity is stupid. Orks are stupid.

Maybe if the Voice hadn’t dumped Sam’s Strength she wouldn’t have ended up chained to a post, waiting to be two orks’ lunch. Maybe if the Voice hadn’t dumped Charisma, she could have talked her way out. Maybe if the Voice had maxed Dexterity completely, she could have escaped without hurting herself. At least, as a halfling, Sam was able to hide easily. Sam wasn’t sure how big people managed in life. They couldn’t fit in to half the places they wanted.

Not that Sam was where she wanted. The Desert where she’d grown up no longer welcomed her, so she made her way to the city-state of Triport. She’d never seen a city before. Once there, she uncovers a danger lurking in the ancient ruins beneath the city, and it will take all of Sam’s Wisdom, Skills, and pint-sized audacity to save Triport from utter ruin.


My Opinion: 358 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

Most of the game mechanics in the story appear in the first 10% of the novel. There’s definitions of stats, skills, and the main character (MC) even has a voice in her head explaining everything. Yet, from the very first pages of the story you can tell that the author is more than willing to fudge the numbers of the game world. There are several fights with a couple of orks that have captured the MC but despite being described as creatures that can ‘one-shot’ the MC, she only takes 1 damage from each punch and stab. At one point, the MC is stabbed, then punched and takes a total of 1 damage. The MC wins the fight by one-shot stabbing each ork, despite being shown to have 6 Strength (very below average according to the story) and surviving with a single hit point left. Which explains why a stab and punch earlier only did one damage, otherwise the MC would have died.

This number fudging sets the tone for how the game mechanics in the story are treated. After the 10% mark, most of the notifications and other established mechanics sort of disappear or at least become much rarer. When they are shown, or the voice in the MC head talks about them, there is often no acknowledgment by the MC or the narrative. It almost feels like this is mostly a fantasy story that had these gaming elements inserted in later.

There are hints in the story that this world, which is well described, may be a MMO or some game, but nothing is ever concretely said one way or the other. So, expectations for what’s possible are never established either. After all, I expect different thing to be possible from a VRMMO world than I do from a fantasy world with RPG mechanics governing it. Different levels of realism and modern knowledge.

As far as the story goes, it’s mostly slice of life, with the MC going on adventures with a gamer’s voice in her head. But because the game stuff seemed so inserted and often unacknowledged by the MC, it also ended up feeling unimportant and I could not get past that. If you don’t care about numbers making sense or the other issues that bothered me, you may have a much better time with the story.

Score: 5 out of 10

A Fist Full of Sand: A Book of Cerulea (Sam's Song 1)