The Steel Hounds (The Artar Chronicles Book 1)


Stan, also known as Mongoose, is an extreme traceur and a freerunner, whose real-life talents attracted the attention of The Steel Hounds, the most notorious and private clan of the virtual world of Artar, famous for serving the grey cardinal. While the political landscape for this new world is yet to form, intrigues, conspiracy, daring raids, and sabotage are the main weapons of the Hounds, and his evaluation has just begun.

To complete it successfully and become a full-fledged member of the clan, Stan will have to adapt to working side-by-side with the most unique people with shady backgrounds — even if he is not a team player by nature and has already failed at the very beginning by choosing the least suitable class for teamwork: Battle Monk.

Stan is rebellious, free-spirited, and daring. He risks his life every day just to avoid getting bored of the daily grind. Normally, an expelled student has no hope of entering the virtual world of Artar, an expensive online VR project, but when a suspicious organization offers to pay all expenses to let Stan in for a special purpose, Mongoose gets his chance to become one of the select few. However, to successfully complete his trial, Stan will have to face his main enemy — himself, while finding peace and mastering all five styles of the Battle Monks of Artar.

My Opinion: 374 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

This is a slice of life translated novel from Russia with a Monk as the class for the main character (MC).

Game mechanic wise the story is unique in some respects but intentionally light in others. It’s intentionally light in that there is no HP, Mana bars, damage notifications or numbers to keep track of except the occasional mention of stats increasing which is just about the only RPG progress you’ll see since there aren’t levels either. You can tell the author likely just didn’t want to deal with tracking all that. But there’s lots of gamer and MMO culture in the story. Lots of guild conflict and behaviors from players that sees straight out of someone's experience playing an MMO. There are item descriptions, quest descriptions, MMO vendors, Mobs rubber banding, etc. that give the game world an MMO vibe. Uniquely, the most time is spent developing the MCs Monk elemental view of the game with his class being uniquely able to see and harvest elemental Qi to improve stats, power special abilities, or unlock/improve abilities.

Story-wise, this is pretty slice of life with an even mix of monk class development, quirky adventures, and guild versus guild conflict. There’s a little bit of intrigue in there too, but that ties to the guild stuff. The monk class, while not seen often, isn’t amazing here. Don’t expect the MC to be a kick butt Kung Fu fighter in book 1. Instead I think the guild stuff is likely to be the biggest draw for readers. There are some interesting guild related plays for power, real estate, and alliances that seem to be a focus of the series. Those themes are interweaved fairly well into the action and adventure parts of the MC’s story.

While a little light on RPG progression, it’s an entertaining story that is interesting enough to get me to want to read book 2.

Score: 7.4 out of 10

The Steel Hounds (The Artar Chronicles Book 1)