An extinction-level asteroid is cannonballing toward Earth. In humanity’s final hours, a lucky few earn a one-way ticket to the brand-new, ultra-immersive, fantasy-based VRMMORPG, Viridian Gate Online. Making that leap of faith might mean survival, but it comes with a steep price tag: “Travelers” will forever be stranded as digital avatars inside a fantastical world filled with vicious monsters, all-powerful AIs, and cutthroat players. Let the games begin …
This being my first introduction to this particular world, I had no idea what the bigger picture was going in (except for a beta read I did for Viridian Gate Online: Firebrand, review coming soon), but I got into the book extremely quickly and it offered enough tantalising glimmers to keep me intrigued, for this and further adventure in the universe.
Each story brings forth a mixture of pacy action, humour, and plenty of variety. My favourites included, VGO creator James A. Hunter’s heist story in A Gentlemen’s Work, blog favourite Jess Harpley (AKA J.D. Astra) offers her trademark action set pieces in The Raiding of Rowanheath, and Nicholas Reid’s Buried Alive is an ancient Egypt fan’s delight.
As you would expect there are plenty of gaming and fantasy references but with a fun feel. You don’t have to be particularly knowledgeable about either to enjoy the stories. The mentioning of real world, and historical references show the cross over and remind the reader of the original premise whilst not taking them out of the VGO digital world.
Although this mix of real world references and fantasy elements could be jarring in other circumstances, it helps remind the reader exactly what this world is and gives rise to some good humour, its fun and makes this reader want to read more of this intriguing blend of sci-fi and fantasy
In a neat twist, as with video games, there is the capability that allows for the changing of abilities, these are earned as characters complete tasks, and is another way we can appreciate a their growth. This further opens up the world’s possibilities, and in the shorter term allows the characters to weigh options when in perilous times and manipulate their situation, though each decision can have unforeseen consequences.
For fans of the series this will undoubtedly add a lot of detail and growth to an already well written about world, and it’s clear the authors featured here love the project, and many are in the process of writing their own side series, making this an all the more impressive project.
I myself was clueless at the beginning but enjoyed my time here, I had some questions and did have to hunt out some online resources just to satisfy my curiosity but I quite like research and it serves me right for starting in an awkward place (for newcomers) in the chronology.