It’s Book Review Wednesday. Today, we get a book that’s just the right mixture of video games and urban fantasy.
Renaria: Into the Adyton
A small memento, a universal power…
It’s the year 2126, post-World War V. Leda, age seventeen, bounds through the lush forested region of the Desintor Foothills as a regal, bow-wielding, High-Elf Scout. That is, when she’s logged into her favorite MMO game: Renaria.
One crisp fall afternoon, an unseasonal storm fractures the sky of Trinton, New Texas with splinters of emerald lightning and otherworldly songs. Oddly, no one sees the storm except her brother and their guild mate Travis.
She brushes off the event as a fluke, but she can’t seem to get the song out of her mind. Suddenly, a new quest appears in her game directing her to the blue sand dunes of the Sinare Desert to meet Caleb, a legendary Elf Diviner.
Now she has a choice: Ignore the quest and turn off the game, or dive in and risk everything for a shot at an adventure.
My Review–3.5 Stars
I was excited about reading this book, as the concept seemed interesting. While the premise (youths from this world being sucked into another) could be a bit clichéd, it’s always interesting to see how the author pulls it off.
There were a number of things that the author introduced that made the story intriguing. There was a very real sense of the real world (Texas), and a lot of the story set in our world was easy to follow.
That being said, I found the writing a bit choppy. The sentences tended to be a bit erratic and jerky, without any real flow. There were some pretty jarring transitions that were hard to follow simply because of lack of narrative and description. There was no real sense of the world of Renaria. Considering that it was a whole brand new world, you’d think that there would be a bit more explanation of the world around them than just their immediate surroundings.
Another thing I found difficult was the fact that the teenagers never really seemed to feel emotions. I understand that teenage emotions are different than those of adults, but there seemed to be little genuine fear, anger, or anything. The only thing was the kids felt loss at not having parents, and it was hard to connect with the characters. (My recommendation to the author: read Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist to find a good way of writing YA fantasy).
There was also very little character development. The main character learned her skills FAR too quickly for my tastes, and they all became kind of bad-ass without any real development or growth.
Lack of description was also challenging for me. I still don’t know what the “elf” character Caleb looks like. Perhaps it was described once, but never again. I vaguely recall the descriptions of the main characters, but I don’t remember them being clearly described.
The climax was a bit anticlimactic for me. I never worried that the characters would lose, or that there would be anything bad happening if they did. The sense of urgency just wasn’t there, and I was disappointed by the climax. With the ending the way it is, I felt no desire to read more.
Aside from these things, the rest of the writing was solid. Grammatically correct and with good punctuation and formatting, it was a decent read.
Here’s a Taste:
A fireplace blazed with blue flame on the opposing wall next to the bard.
“Where’d he go?” Menaia asked.
“Not sure,” Leda answered as her eyes jumped from the round tables to each of the walls. “Look, there’s a couple of stairs there.” She pointed to a sunken area of the tavern next to the fireplace.
Strumming from the bard’s lute filled the air.
They snuck forwards, trying to avoid the burly, tan-skinned, Sorien barkeep. Leda watched him out the corner of her right eye. Bending over, his head nearly grazed the glass mugs that hung low while he scrubbed the bar top with a brown stained cloth. A board creaked below her foot.
She stopped breathing.
His brown eyes traveled from the bar top to the girls and met her gaze. He smirked and kept scrubbing. His deep voice resumed humming the bard’s song.
Leda peeked down the two steps. They led to a cozy, rectangular room holding a single long table, with four chairs on both sides. Shadows danced on the brown, clay wall from two heavy torches that rested in unassuming iron sconces.
An empty glass sat on the table before the figure in the far corner. His face was turned towards his intertwined hands. Yellow light from the candle reflected on the part of his face Leda could see: the scruff of his reddish brown and gray beard.
“Let’s sit at this far end here,” Menaia whispered as she descended the two steps.
As they pulled the wooden chairs back from the table, they heard a voice issue from the man’s direction. “Leda, Menaia, please join me here.”
Leda watched as he unfolded his hands.
He held them out, palms up, beckoning the girls to the chairs across from him.
Menaia looked at Leda who nodded and rolled her eyes to say, well we’ve come this far.
Leda placed her hand on the hilt of one of her daggers. Prepared to bolt at a moment’s notice, the girls sat down across from him.
“Who are you?” she asked.
He pulled his hood down.
About the Author:
J.L. Wilson’s interests in Sci-Fi, Fantasy and video games grew from years of watching Star Trek and anything related to magic, wizards, or space travel. During her graduate studies in anthropology she focused primarily on humans and their interaction with technology. All kinds! Language, tools, cyborgs, etc. In her debut fantasy novel, Renaria: Into the Adyton, she sought out to weave these interests together.
When not writing or reading you can find her in World of Warcraft, FFXIV or the latest MMORPG creating new characters or exploring new quests. She’s on Facebook and Twitter and currently lives in Texas with her husband, four kids (cats) and a dog.
J.L. Wilson hangs out on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorJLWilson
As well as Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorJLWilson
You can find the book on both Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22884606-renaria—into-the-adyton