Rule of Cool - Know Your Roll


‘Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to scorch the sky.’

Raze has a problem. He’s just a Gearblin.

That makes him a Non-Participating Citizen - he can’t see his stats and he can’t make opposed rolls against Heroes. His life is worth less than the vendor trash he hands out chained to a desk at the worst (and only) arcade in town.

Some say it didn’t always used to be like this, but once RNGesus left the party 1,000 years ago the questionably-blessed Heroes conquered everything.

But Raze has a crush on Patch, and she’s a dreamer. When she wakes up with knowledge of an ancient fortress and a series of symbols in her brain, everything changes.

▲ ▲ ▼ ▼ ◄ ► ◄ ► B A START

The Konami Code makes him a Hero, which means it’s time for Raze and his mismatched crew to square off against an assembly of 15,000 noob Heroes in epic, crunchy, badass, Mechanized carnage.

My Opinion: 529 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased a copy when it became available. 

This story is set in a RPG world where the main character (MC) works in an arcade serving heroes as they turn in or take quests. The MC is a Gearblin (Gremlin + Goblin) and dreg, an actual faction in this world and works as a Non-Participating Citizen (NPC) dealing with terribly rude and crude Heroes. There are lots of pop culture references here, but they’re explained away as having fallen through the rift into this world and being picked up by the locals. The references were immersion breaking for me, but funny. There is good dialogue, and I especially thought the unique world building was done well creating a world from the perspective of an NPC with cultural histories for gaming events.

The story has a well explained RPG system and is consistently followed throughout the story. It even goes so far as to show the math formulas for the many rolls that occur, often with humorous flavor text. However, there are also moments where you can tell things are stretched a bit for the sake of story or humor.

I really wanted to like this story. I enjoy the author's other published works because he always writes something unexpected and quirky. While that continues with this story, this time it just didn't click for me because of two things: the story meanders quite a bit, and I didn't connect with the MC. 

The novel starts off very slice of life, just following the MC as he lives his downtrodden life. There's a good bit of world building and setup for the story but no real plot until about 30% into the novel. From there the story takes numerous twists which were surprising to me. It was nice not to see what was coming but often those surprises weren't completely satisfying. Often a goal would be setup and the story would start towards it but then wander off into some very odd directions. It was kind of a crap shoot whether those odd directions went somewhere cool or fizzled out. Either way that original goal was regularly left to the wayside by the MC and fulfilled by outside forces.

I also never really connected with the MC. He's kind of a jerk and mean to his friends. Which aren't deal breaker characteristics but add in the dissonance caused by me expecting him to act like a native fantasy person or NPC and instead he acts like a player, making many pop culture references. The pop culture stuff gets a loose explanation of why it’s in the world and I get that the author was going for humor with this choice but it made it hard to connect with the MC, for me.

Overall, the story just didn't land with me. I'd suggest reading a sample and if you love the humor of the story or the MC, the rest will really please you. But for me it was just a miss this time.

Score: 6 out of 10

Rule of Cool - Know Your Roll