Sunday, April 20, 2014

Luckbane by Tony Breeden

Author: Tony Beeden
Publisher: Lonely Ogre Books
Pages: 376
Release Date: September 13, 2013
Source: Amazon Free Download

In a dystopian future, online gaming is the ultimate escape… until one corporation gives a few lucky players the chance to play their favorite sword and sorcery game live and in person on a distant planet. In the inaugural Øtherworld campaign, the winners will face monsters, magic, warriors, dragons, and betrayal as they quest to find a weapon capable of stopping the dreaded Firelord and his armies. For one lowly janitor-turned-alchemical adventurer, the stakes are much higher. Someone wants him very, very dead. And in a world where no one is who they seem to be, Jarrod Luckbane has no idea who he can trust. Everything is NOT under control.

When I think of unique novels, this is one I see as an example of a clever twist on an old subject. It is always rare to find a book that traverses genre boundaries, but I would consider Luckbane to be in that category. When I first started readingLuckbane, I'll be honest: I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. The first portion of the novel feels like a typical epic fantasy novel, complete with dragons, dwarves and goblins. When I read fantasy like that, two of my biggest deciding factors are how original the story line is, and if the author has done anything new with the races involved. The general world Lukebane spends most of his time in doesn't 'pass' in that essence, but the book ITSELF does. 

Let me explain a little.

Luckbane is what I would consider a cross between fantasy, and dystopian/sci-fi. It is a bridge between our world, and that of the traditional high fantasy. The fantasy elements are pretty traditional, but they all take place within a game. In this world, gaming has gone to a new level, where people are immersed in the virtual reality. The gaming elements have become tangible to them, something they experience in a new level. It becomes even more realistic when players are allowed to compete in the new Øtherworld campaign. Traveling to a planet created entirely for the players, they find many of the dangers around them to be real, and many of the characters turn out to be more than just NPCs.

Many of the elements aren't original, but they are intentional, in a way. Elves are graceful, dwarves are tough, but they were designed that way, much like you would expect in a MRPG. This is taking a futuristic look on things that already exist, and stretching beyond that. The overseers of this world have thrown in new monsters, new tasks, and risen to the demand the players have presented. But the core elements have still remained even in the future. 

I'm not a big fan of books that are entirely about action; I like a little variety in my stories, so sometimes the fighting in this book got a little heavy for me. But the mystery and plot elements introduced along the way kept me reading and curious to find out more. There was some minor religious talk that occurred partway through, which took me off guard. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind religion in books, but the sudden way it occurred did seem a little out of place, and I felt it could have been incorporated a bit better. I am curious what will happen in the next book; the story did cut off a little suddenly, but enough was revealed as I read that I didn't feel "cheated" of an ending like I have with some novels. Overall, it was a good read, and I would pick up the sequel. 

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