Aurora's Rift (Celestial Arcanists Book 1)

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Evie Winterbourne has had it.

After five exhausting years of video game marketing for a struggling MMORPG and one too many instances of her ideas getting ignored by her boss, Evie's fortunes seem to change when a chance encounter introduces her to her company's rival just as she quits her nightmare job.

Evie's dream was to work on games themselves until her ex cheated her and her team out of their beloved project's success--and it seems that the rival CEO knows her story and her potential. As a gift, he gives her the chance to play his blockbuster single-player fantasy game Aurora's Rift, and the world within might just change Evie's life forever...inside the game and out.

*** 

The rift begins a new Age, splitting time itself with magic older than the forgotten gods. It is a moment of chaos and upheaval, when alliances fracture along fault lines and peoples are raised up to thrive…or brought low. Anything is possible. Anything can happen. Ancient secrets are revealed, futures forged or broken.

Aurora’s Rift demands heroes to shape what comes next.

It is the anvil upon which your mettle is tested.

It is the arena in which you will wrest your future from the ashes of the past.

Take your place among legends.

Who you’ll be is who you truly are.

Who will you become?


My Opinion: 296 pages, $4.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited

The author has a dozen fantasy and urban fantasy stories to her name, but this is her first LitRPG story. The beginning does a pretty good job of setting up the main character and why she’d spend any length of time playing a single player game. But once the story shifts to the game world things get more mixed. 

The ‘game story’ really just felt like a fantasy story with dedicated sections that dealt with RPG mechanics. Like a dedicated section to character creation, or little sections for assigning stat points a picking spells. But the rest of the novel reads more like fantasy with the MC having grown up among elves and having a ton of lore and backstory magically known to her and her character not acting like a gamer or game developer but as an actual elf who has lived her whole life there. She goes on an adventure to discover the rifts and what they mean.

The magic system is also described in fantasy terms more than game terms. “I lay the lines of the triune threads across each other, over and under, around to form a lattice.” (11%)  “Threading heat into the spell..” (13%). 

There are quest notifications and experience given out for tasks and levels earned, but it’s a bit hit or miss whether the story even acknowledges the notifications. The stats though they improve as the MC levels, don’t have any real impact on the story. Having low strength doesn’t impede the MC, nor does having high magic help her. Her spells, even though we get inserted descriptions, don’t really have any limits in the actual story or in use and as mentioned the magic system is ‘fantasy flexible’ letting spells do things not described in the spell descriptions. 

Overall, it’s not a terrible story. But it didn’t work for me because I often felt like the game mechanics didn’t matter to the story. Sure they were there and the MC levels, so it’s technically LitRPG, but if I took them out the story wouldn’t be much different. I think the story would have been better if written as portal fantasy on an RPG world. There were just too many conflicting expectations between the VR game premise and the story for  me. Fans of the author’s fantasy series may like this more than me.

Score: 6 out of 10

Aurora's Rift (Celestial Arcanists Book 1)

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