What would you give to be a dragon rider?
Before being conscripted to fight in the Total War, Private Hector Park had a shattered family, a collection of old videogames, and a promising career as a motorcycle stuntman. Now, he is dying from a virus threatening humankind with extinction. He has three days to live.
When Hector’s brother contacts him after years of hostile silence, Hector goes to try and make peace. But his brother has an offer even more unbelievable than reconciliation: the chance to cheat death by joining him in Archemi, a full-immersion fantasy VR-RPG video game.
Determined to forge a life worth living, Hector undergoes the experimental upload process and chooses the difficult path of the Dragon Knight. To achieve his dream, he must prove himself worthy of imprinting a dragon, a being with whom he will share a telepathic bond more intimate than any human relationship.
But at what cost?
My Opinion: 426 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning portion of this story, the real world stuff, is a bit slow. I’d suggest skipping it and jumping right to the 12% mark. Just know that the main character (MC), Hector, has disease that is killing him. He and others like him are uploaded into a full immersion game that’s still technically in Beta. Everything else about the real world story is touched on in the rest of the story.
Now, the rest of the novel is quiet good. Like surprisingly good. From the cover, I was expecting another high fantasy, barely LitRPG story, that depended on dragons to make it interesting. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only is this a crunchy LitRPG story, it’s one that has a surprising amount of depth to the game system and the world building.
After character creation the story drops the MC on a magically powered airship as a slave who has to figure out someway to escape. That’s right, a magic powered airship. This novel incorporates magictech. There are hints that there’s a whole magictech civilizations but you don’t get to see them in this novel. Still, that alone told me that this novel wouldn’t be the same old fantasy story.
On the game side, there are lots and lots of notifications, ability descriptions, character sheets, damage notifications, and more. The number of skill and ability choices is varied for the MC and there’s more than enough info to roll your own character in this world. In the first half of the story, there’s even an important survival game aspect that I thought was well done. In addition to that crafting plays a very important part of the story since there are no healer classes.
Not only is there depth to the game system though. More surprising is the depth to the world building. The author describes distinct cultures with their own histories, influences, and biases. Each has distinctive dress, traditions, and even hairstyles. I was truly surprised at how fleshed out the game world felt.
Some of that depth diminishes as the story enters the 2nd arc after the 50% mark. But it just shifts to a smaller story that is a bit more military and focuses on the objective of the MC becoming a dragon rider. However, even in this half, there are plenty of surprises and interesting twists.
Overall, I had a very good time reading the story and look forward to seeing where it goes in the next book.
Score: 7 out of 10