In the future, androids have taken over most jobs, leaving humans with little to do and even less to motivate them. Enter the World Tree Online, a fully immersive virtual reality experience. Join Byron in his first 30 days of a non-stop fantasy adventure in the cursed province of Hurlig Ridge, a land filled with monsters, mysteries, murderers and treasure. The people of the province have been tormented for centuries by a pack of voracious wolves. Now, with the arrival of the adventurers, dark forces have begun to stir, accelerating their dark plans. Can Byron unravel the mystery of this curse before it’s too late?
My Opinion: 595 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased the novel when it became available.
The first 35% of this novel is rather impressive for the author’s first full published novel. From the very first pages you can feel the gamer excitement exuded by the MC as he waits for his pod to get installed and explains how the VR tech works. The main character (MC), Byron is in the game by the 2% mark and takes the game name Bye-Bye Jacko. I was genuinely impressed by the amount of interesting detail and balance the author added to not only the game mechanics, but the game world’s lore and history.
On the game mechanic side, while there is leveling and a familiar stat and skill system, the game relies on training to improve stats. So, no free stat points when a character levels. This leads to a lot of training scenes. Alot, alot.
Additionally, Even though the MC and his group get unique and power abilities, they’re never overpowered. Every bonus is well balanced by a detriment or a condition that limits that power. The author did a wonderful job of thinking through his game system and balancing things out.
Storywise, the novel is mostly slice of life adventure but there are a couple of interesting story threads that give the story a bit of direction. One thread, revolves around PKers and PvP, and while the story thread is highlighted in the first third of the story, it unfortunately dies off as a major plotline. The 2nd big story thread, starts out rather small as a mystery and who-done-it but grows to be quit epic. I really enjoyed how this storyline was developed overall.
However, the momentum built by these two threads slows down after the 35% mark in the story and the middle of the story is almost entirely slice of life adventuring and lots and lots of training. There’s some added character development as the MC finds his group during this section. This isn't a bad section of the novel. I was still entertained, but it is slow compared to the pace of the first and last third of the story where things pick up again.
Additionally, some of the relationships in the story feel a little forced. New people just kind of pop up and within minutes seem to join the MCs inner circle and learn all his secrets. A small thing most people won’t care about but it made those relationships feel less special and earned to me.
Overall, I liked the story. It was a good read with lots of action, adventure, and some unique powers and RPG progression. Again, I was also very impressed with how much work went into creating a balance in the game mechanics of the story.
Score: 7.4 out of 10