(I am not going to give a synopsis of the story because you can look at the description and the other review and get some good ones) These days i..Show More »t takes a lot to get me to really rave about a book. I have over 400 books in my audible library and I have listened to almost all of them because I have a long commute almost every day. I bought this book on a whim, not expecting much out of the idea of real life mixing with a video game. I have read books before where a human mind gets trapped in a video game, or where people bring video games into real life, and other compounds of the two. This book, however, surpassed them all. I have some background playing video games. I am a bit of a gamer now (on steam) and played World of Warcraft as a teenager for a couple of months before I realized that it was sucking my life away. But I have never forgotten that time and the fun that I had on that MMORPG, going on raids with other players, leveling up my character, joining a clan and deciding which stats I wanted. As such, the my inner nerd had a nerdgasam about an hour into this book and I haven't looked back since. There was a time, about three hours in, that I thought that although this was a fun book, it was not going to be very deep as far as themes and character development. I couldn't have been more wrong. The book and the series that follows (I am on book three right now) deal with some very heavy themes indeed, from life and death, to government involvement in personal life, to revenge, to rape, to the concept of eternity, to slavery, to greed, to what makes things right or wrong... The list goes on and on. It has been a while since I listened to a book that did such a good job of involving deep ideas while still moving the story forward in an such an interesting way. The main character also kept my interest all of the way through while continuing to change and grow as a person and as a game character. The narrator for this book is also excellent. One other thing: I figured out part way through that this book was translated form Russian to English. The translation is flawless however, as can be seen from the fact that I didn't even realize it for quite some time.
This is really an unsung series on Audible. Totally impressed. I just devoured the second book in virtually one sitting (started it last night). Gr..Show More »anted, I listen at 3x speed, but all that does is cut the listening time in half. Totally impressed.
Rus has captured the fantasy and dreams of gamers, manifesting it in brilliant technicolor across our brains. We get to live vicariously through our protagonists, experiencing both the highs and lows of total immersion. Looming on the horizon are factors beyond the control of the permas, though perhaps not entirely.
For those who are shying away, thinking this is only for gamers, I can understand why you might feel that way. Granted, your enjoyment of this series will be heightened if you have significant gaming experience. However, it is also a book (series) full off allegory and hidden satire. Rus takes the human experience and projects it onto his mutated Warcraft/DnD/Guild Wars/etc world. This, in itself, is a commentary on the very nature of MMORPGs. Brilliant.
Gripping action, drama, and humor abound. Highest marks and well worth the credit. Can't wait to start book 3. My only concern is I am blowing through these books and Audible, as of yet, doesn't have the last three available for purchase yet. Very troubling.
So. I'm clipping through this series extremely quickly, just about a book a day- that should tell folks a lot about how engaging it is. I was rapidl..Show More »y developing into major fandom after I finished book II; this hasn't really been taken off the table, but it has been placed on the back burner pending book four. I'm going to preface the following with this: these books are translated and, as such, a *lot* can get lost in the process if it isn't done carefully. There are a few idioms and grammatical errors that are clearly translator/editor errors. The following issues may also be partially such as well.
Where the first two books were concerned with growth, building, and amazement (which isn't to say that isn't part of the current book), some very odd factors are starting to bleed into the story. Rus is starting to express some extremely xenophobic and... nationalistic feelings in his books. While we are rolling along in Alterworld, the protagonist goes on paragraphs long tirades about the glory of the Russian army in world war II, the cost of defeating the Germans, and centuries old hatred of Asians. Then we're ripped back into this world of magic and swords.
I'm not xenophobic myself, nor do I expect the world to conform to my "American Born During the Last Gasp of the Cold War" outlook on things. I fully understand that this is a Russian author writing about Russians who have melded into a virtual world. My issue isn't necessarily with the nationalism etc (not that I agree with it, obviously), but rather its bizarre juxtaposition in the book. I would take identical pause with a lot of talk about the glorious American spirit and centuries old anger at England for oppressing us, or how we liberated the concentration camps being interspersed in a piece of pure nerd fiction. It's almost like we have Monty Python sitting there saying "and now for something completely different..."
This being said, Rus has started to explore much more intense concepts as well. Slavery is discussed at length... but instead of it being a laudable denial of slavery in total, it is once more put through the nationalistic lens. For example, Russian lives are worth 10 of X race and, during one exchange, citizens from former USSR nations are left in captivity.
Religion is also tackled more intensely in this installment, which is always a touchy subject in MMORPGs. I don't think Rus does a particularly bad job of exploring it, nor is anything terribly offensive to the mind. Those more dogmatically inclined may feel differently.
Rus also exposes more of a chauvinistic side as well. In prior books it could be interpreted as a commentary on how women are treated in games (which is a very valid commentary indeed), but... it's verged a few times into the grey zone in this installment. Nothing outrightly 'bad' necessarily... just off.
I don't want to make it sound like the whole book was off-putting, it really wasn't. The vast majority was extremely entertaining and driven. The characters are developing nicely, drama is present, and we have moved into much broader topics. Overall I was less impressed, but still clipped along with the listening. Giving book four a shot, we'll see how it plays out.
Still worth a listen and your time, especially if you have been following along since book one.
I waited to listen to “The War,” and “The Battle,” after reading some of the negative reviews, I think the lag time between the fourth release and..Show More » five and six had something to do with it also, but I finally got around to them both and thought the continuing story was interesting. In fact the majority of the reviews are positive. Yes the characters of Bagirah and Tigress are flipped, but that is only a small part of the story and I think anyone that has listened this far can easily adjust; and yes there is an undertone of misogyny, not giving excuses for any type of degradation towards women, but this is from the perspective of a Russian writer. After all this series depicts the Russian cluster and the Dark One as the good guys and have right on their side while the Light Ones are evil; how’s that for a flip. For those who just want to see Max go on quest after quest and just level up this isn’t a video game; the story is progressing, and Max’s character is growing. The series has shown him start from nothing to the head of his Pantheon and each progression he’s had to overcome greater obstacles, even taking on gods, I think that’s cool; but now the story is getting even more interesting. As had been referenced in the previous books the veil between the Virtual world and Reality was ready to tear. In “The War,” the veil finally comes down and for Max and all of those around him it’s a new world. The ending of “The War,” is surprising and I can’t way to see what happens next. If you like this series I think we should support these Audio books so they will release number six, “The Ultimatum,” and listen to how this series ends. It’s already out in print but I really like the narrator, Michael Goldstrom, and want to hear the rest of the story from him.
I'm glad I got some sort of closure to the series but in my opinion this boom felt extremely rushed. I mean, previous books managed to go on for page..Show More »s just explaining loot management. this one took a gigantic amount of unresolved plot and tied it up in the messiest bow I've ever seen. worth a read but don't expect too much.