Perfect for fans of Ready Player One or anyone who has ever enjoyed playing an MMORPG. Erik, a young boy in a futuristic society, tires of scrabbling for his day-to-day existence in real life and in a virtual world, where all wealth and legal issues are decided by combat in a game called Epic. Almost everyone in Erik’s society kills kobalds and other low level monsters every day, to gather pennies to improve their online characters and, therefore, their society. After dying, yet again, and crushing his family’s hopes for his advancement in Epic, Erik creates a ridiculously attractive female character and puts all of his points into beauty, a skill that no one else ever considers because it is a useless stat from a fighter’s standpoint. What happens next is an exciting adventure through virtual worlds with magic, monsters, swords, and sorcery… who will triumph? Erik and his friends or the all-powerful Central Allocations team or the game, itself?

Erik’s creation of Cindella (his avatar): “Serious gamers, and the whole world consisted of serious gamers, never wasted a point on beauty that could be spent on more practical attributes, or combat skills, craft skills, weapons, magic items and spells. As a result, Epic’s population of players consisted entirely of dull, gray-looking humanoids. His friends were in for a shock; it would be impossible to explain his choices to them, as there was no rational argument in favor of throwing away every practical advantage in favor of beauty.” pg 15

The power of beauty: “While they made their way through the flapping canvas and rope of the market stalls, Bjorn noticed something unusual. The NPCs were not stationary; their heads were turning towards the two players. “Erik, look at the merchants.” “Hmmm. That’s odd.” Erik’s character made the actions that arose from the wave+smile command. A nearby seller of herbs smiled and waved back. “You try.” Bjorn had his big warrior wave. Nothing. “They like me!” pg 27

Librarians play a huge part in this story, which of course I LOVED: “Son, your story of Cindella and the pirate treasure is exciting. But you need to obtain more information.” “I know.” “Hope has a library. Where all the information ever learned about Epic has been stored. It is our right to be able to consult that information. So we are going to pay the librarian a visit.” pg 36

The villain in this book is just awful: “… the illicit thrill of being a player-killer was something that could not be understood with logic. Nor could logic explain the pattern of his killings. Curiously it was not the stronger looking players that attracted his attention- and if there was any justification for the deaths of players it was to eliminate possible threats to the Central Allocations team. No, it was the slightly heartrending players, with their one weapon and tiny pieces of armor, which drew his attention. There was something bewitchingly naive and tender about them, spending their spare time killing kobolds and orcs for pennies, saving assiduously and slowly. And so he rode them down, bringing their struggle up the ladder of Epic to an abrupt end.” pg 60 Haters gonna hate.

Doing the impossible… dragon slaying! : “I agree with Bjorn,” Sigrid interjected. “Farmers’ children just don’t kill dragons. Nobody kills dragons these days. But if they did, it would be the people in Mikelgard, with all their magic and expensive gear.” “But nobody even thinks about fighting dragons anymore.” Injeborg spoke up. Erik had known that he could count on her. “Only our Erik. That’s why he has seen something that they have missed.” She turned to her brother, “Come on, Bjorn. Let’s try it.” “No, it’s hopeless.” Injeborg stamped her foot in frustration. “You are always waiting for something to happen to you. But that’s not how life is.” pg 85

Big dreams: “Tell me,” said Injeborg. “Everyone, what is it that you would like from life?” She turned to look at Sigrid. “I would like to be allocated a small farm, somewhere near here.” “Bjorn?” “I would like the same.” “B.E.?” Slightly embarrassed, B.E. laughed, and then said, “I would like to be a successful Epic player, like Svein Redbeard.” “Erik?” “I would like nothing better than to be a librarian.” pg 89 šŸ™‚

A new way to play the game: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the game didn’t matter, other than to play it? We could explore snowy mountains, spectacular caverns, and remote desert civilizations. To journey just for the pleasure of the adventures would be something…” She paused. “Only now do I understand why this game was invented.” pg 192 A good metaphor for life, I think.

Thanks for reading!

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