Tharis doesn’t know who he is, what he is, or what he will do. All he knows is that he must fight and kill as that is what his IRL player tells him to do.
Soon, Tharis realizes he can taste, feel, and even think on his own! With life becoming more real every second, Tharis finds that he can take control of his own destiny--literally--against the will of his creator. Yet all decisions have consequences, and with awareness comes the fear of death.
And for Tharis… there is no respawn.
My Opinion: 280 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
From fantasy writer Stevie Collier, this novel tries to unsuccessfully combine an awakened AI story with MMORPG storyline. You can tell the author has lots of gaming experience but he ultimately sacrifices the game parts of world for the Story.
As I read the story, it became very evident that the game mechanics and world rules would be ignored anytime a certain story event had to go a particular way. You can genuinely read the first 23%, skip to the 41-44%, then skip to 86-89% for the big reveal about what’s happening in the game world and lose nothing. Everything else feels like RPG themed filler.
The novel starts our with a new character being created in an MMORPG. This character is blank and is somehow aware that someone else is making all the choices about his race, appearance, class, and gender. He’s then dropped into the world as Tharis, a level 1 half -elf warrior, even though he’d rather be an architect. Up until the 23% mark, the story follows this character as he goes on a series of quests to level up, get new gear, and work with other characters to find some way to beat Toxhin. Toxhin is a killer that has taken the starter village hostage, demanding money and killing anyone that gets to high a level.
This first 23% is a good story. There are hints that the MC has some ability to see beyond the code and question if someone is controlling him. At the same time, there’s plenty of RPG questing stuff. My only complaint about this section is the lack of depth about XP, and weirdly never seeing a character sheet or getting any numbers for health. There’s a distinct absence of info, especially when compared against the other game details the author provides.
However, at the 23% mark, just as the main character (MC) and his friends are about to be killed by Toxhin, there’s some serious wand waving and MC uses his Neo like game powers to fall through the floor to safety. It’s at this point that I realized that game stuff, the rules, the whole system doesn’t really matter to the story. This is further confirmed as the story suddenly allows the MC to talk to animals, trees, and get quests from them. Then get arrested by his own faction and is forced to power level to 19 (lots of level skipping here too) just to be sent back to the village and face off against Toxhin.
Their final conflict really ended my interest in the story, as again, some serious wand waving occurs. Again, just as he’s about to die, he’s forced to kill his friend and it’s just enough to get level 20, refill his health, earn a legendary subclass, auto equip magically protective armor, and beat the bad guy. And that’s when I realized why the author never showed how much XP characters got or needed to level, otherwise, this exact scene would never be possible.
The rest of the story is just filler, getting the MC more levels, some specialized skills, and equipment, and finding more people like him. It all culminated at the 86% mark where the MC gets all the explanations he wants about him being in a game and is told he’s destined to save everyone.
The novel actually ends at the 89% mark. The last 11% of the novel is also filler, or rather, the beginning of the authors fantasy novel. Nothing to do with LitRPG.
Overall, I liked the first quarter of the story. But once it became evident that the game rules established didn’t matter. That they would be ignored anytime a certain story event had to go a particular way, I honestly lost interest. You can genuinely read the first 23%, skip to the 41-44%, then skip to 86-89% for the big reveal about what’s happening in the game world. Everything else feels like RPG themed filler.
Score: 5 out of 10