Into the Light (Axe Druid Book 1)

IntoTheLightSmall.jpg

Chris and his friends had been hearing voices begging for help, but aren’t dreams supposed to stay dreams? When they finally answer the call, they’re pulled into a fantastic world with themes similar to modern role-playing games. The world of Brindolla. This is what every gamer has always wanted… right?

There's one major problem: War. The big baddie of the universe has come to collect another planet for his relentless march. The Brindollan Gods only have the power to hold him back for a short while, which they can only hope will be long enough to give Chris and his buddies a fighting chance. Either this team gets rid of War’s vanguard of minions and generals, giving the Gods a chance to keep him out for good... or War comes for Earth.

The group is ready to dive into combat, magic, and any other obstacles that come their way. No matter what needs to be done, Chris and his buddies will always do it together


My Opinion: 524 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 novel on the whole is very slice of life. Even though it’s setup as this save the world with your military buddies by your side, the novel really just follows the main character (MC) as he goes on adventure, gets quests, levels, advances his class, trains, and even crafts eventually. There’s no real plot as much as there are a series of adventures/scenes connected with the vague goal of ‘beating the darkness and saving the world from War’.

The game mechanics aren’t unique but they will feel familiar to RPG gamers and D&D players. They’re fleshed out enough that a reader can speculate about what kind of build he’d make in this world. There are unique races, classes, skills, but most of those aren’t detailed well. The game mechanics that are fleshed out the most relate to the MC and his class. But for most of the story there are loads of notifications, item descriptions, stat sheets, and RPG progression.

Storywise, there’s a bit of a rough start. The MC and the group members are introduced quickly but I’m not given any reason to really care about them. Combine that with the weak premise of just randomly accepting an offer to save some world you think is a dream and the motivation to save a fantasy world and thus your normal world as a vague motivation. Eventually, this is fleshed out a bit more as you get small stories about the MC and his family and it’s at least sort of believable that he’d sacrifice himself to save his son in an abstract way. Still, looser start than I’d like.

The early RPG - world portion of the story is actually decent. Not super grab you by the shirt engaging but the action-adventure is good. Just about all the fights in the story are well thought out and written with good tactics and good description. For some readers, this alone will make the story worth a read. Early after the group in on the fantasy game world though, the moments between fights are frankly lackluster. Still, it’s good enough and by the 35% mark the story seems to find it’s rhythm with a training, action-adventure, and world building cycle. Even the moments between fights start to get interesting as crafting is introduced and developed, and training gets some depth.

Unfortunately, the story loses me after the 65% mark. I won’t spoil things, but it really felt like the RPG progression mostly disappears after this point. There are still quests and some notifications but the story takes on a more fantasy vibe and almost all the new power increases aren’t earned but gifted or forced on the group. Even the couple levels given are literally gifted by powerful beings. The story here isn’t bad or anything and the world building in this section is actually more in depth than earlier section. However the story advancement repeatedly feels really forced by outside forces and not advanced by the group. After the 65% mark, it really reminded me of situation where a group of high level tabletop players start to get bored and the DM whisks them away to new dimensions just to shake things up and forces them down a story path.

Overall, even though the story has good action and adventure, it’s not enough to carry the story for me. I never really understood why most of the group members even exist in the story other than to provide good banter and fill out a balanced group. I was never given much background or reason to care about anyone except the MC. The other group members felt like pulls from someone’s tabletop game with unique races, classes, and ability paths. That’s cool, but I honestly wouldn’t have cared if they all got killed. I had zero connection to them. Add to that the loss of RPG progression near the last act and the feel of a forced storyline, and I just stopped enjoying things.

Not a bad story, but it did lose me at a certain point.

Score: 6 out of 10

Into the Light (Axe Druid Book 1)

https://amzn.to/2T7adLm