Friday, April 5, 2013

Review:80AD level one The Jewel of Asgard by Aiki Flinthart

80AD level one The Jewel of Asgard by Aiki Flinthart

This novel reminded me of an MMORPG-oh wait-it really is an MMORPG. I think anyone hooked on those MMORPG's has often wondered what it would be like to be in the game-really in the game. If you're like me and you know that your avatars have all died at least 30 times or more then it's only a passing thought. One that you let go of really quickly.

Of course this one is a free one- in fact all five books are free- and that's all five levels. Of course we've all often thought about writing a book based on our favorite game and so here we have someone who has- well I think the game is made up- but it all works in the way expected. I'm a fan of Science Fiction but having delved into to MMORPG's I had to check these books out.

80AD is targeted to young adults but it's a pretty darn good story and its quite entertaining for all ages. There are two major characters Phoenix and Jade the to unsuspecting teens who will get trapped in the game. Phoenix builds his character out of his desire to escape from his stepfather's abrasive behavior. Phoenix needs something to take out his aggressions on so he creates a warrior. Jade doesn't fit in and has been hoping if she hides that the rest of here family her 6 older sisters will forget about her and leave her behind. When she gets that wish she finds herself with a free night and obtains permission to play the game on her father's computer. She is intelligent and knowledgeable about herbs and healing plants so of course she creates an Elvin halfbreed healer/magic Avatar.

The story starts with Long Baiyu - a prisoner below someones castle or keep- using magic as his last resort to possible escape.

The game; 80AD, is still in development so the two copies we know of are supposed to be standalone copies of a beta version. But, this story includes a bit of magic before the game starts. Phoenix's mother gives him her half of a yin yang charm necklaces that she and her late husband had. Phoenix's father died in a car accident and his half of the pair was lost. There is a reference to an old couple at the time of the accident.

Jade's family has recently moved into a house that has several places that seem almost like mystery hiding places and she's found a pouch containing a strange necklace with a charm. The house was previously owned by an old couple.

They are both playing the game the same night and although it is not set up to do the MMORPG they somehow connect to each other and lightning strikes and the find themselves trapped in the game.

Phoenix is excited that he's now this big burly warrior and inside a game that seems so real. Jade wants only to get out of the game, which is quickly becoming too frightening for her. That's not going to happen soon and they are about to find out that they need to at least finish this level and that the stakes are high.

Both characters are quite strong and they easily play off of each other since they are almost polar opposite from the start. They each have a slot in the game for one helper and that's how they acquire Brynn and Marcus, a thief and a Roman. Since in this game a Roman would be the enemy we can see where this is all going.

This unlikely quartet set out to acquire the Jewel of Asgard which is the quest of the first level. Jades hope is that when they finish this level they can return home.Phoenix is hoping for as much conflict as he can stand.

Soon the reality of not having bathrooms and showers and restaurants and refrigerators and soft comfortable beds all seem to wear on both Phoenix and Jade. Their helpers don't know of those things so they can't miss them. Add to that the conflict and the pain and trying to reconcile deaths in a game that now seems too real to ignore and things start to get old for them both.

The only thing keeping them going is that they are convinced that if they fail the quest that it will be the end- not just for the game but for the world they're trying to get back to. They don't even know if they have the requisite seven lives and are very much reluctant to give up even one.

The quartet are all very different and engaging characters and the story moves along quickly though for me that thought that this is a novel about a game keeps looming in the back of my mind. It takes an effort to keep the reading of the story on some serious level but Aiki does a fair job of keeping things real.

I loved this book and any gamer should enjoy it and its a good book for Fantasy lovers. There's five levels so there's five books and as far as I can tell they are all free, which is hard to understand considering how engaging the first one is but I'm not going to complain.

There's even a bit of history and mythology buried in the story.

Thanks, Aiki for the entertaining read with good clean fun and the requisite amount of violence; and if the other four books match the level of this one I'm sure I'll polish them all off in no time.

J.L. Dobias

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