I haven’t posted a book review on my blog for a while, but I thoroughly enjoyed Luckbane and want to let others know about this fun read.
Meet Jarrod Seventhborn, or Luckbane, as most people know him. Jarrod is a lowly janitor in a futuristic dystopian world that feels like a mix between Total Recall (updated version), The Running Man, and Minority Report. He’s also one of the world’s best players of Impworld, a role-playing game that has captured the attention of viewers everywhere. It’s the ultimate reality show, and billions have tuned in to watch Luckbane, who is a thief in the game, conquer every quest and beat seemingly impossible odds.
The world is run by mega-corporations, and Jarrod is too popular for his own good. Those in power apparently don’t like it when the common man gives hope to so many. While Jarrod must play with his head on the proverbial swivel to avoid being taken out by a fame-seeking player, he doesn’t realize that he’s made powerful enemies in the real world.
Through a series of events, Jarrod is invited to take part in a real-world version of Impworld called Otherworld. He is whisked away to another planet that has been constructed to look just like the game he knows so well. Thanks to futuristic technology, the world is complete with all of the monsters, dragons, characters, spells, weapons, armor, and intrigue from the game, as well as several other surprises. If you’re having trouble picturing it, think Middle Earth from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings on steroids.
The action leading up to the game was more than sufficient, but from the moment Luckbane steps into Otherworld, the action amps up to hyper-speed. Most participants in the game choose to play as an avatar, so the person can safely play via remote control. However, Jarrod joins a team of champions who, for the most part, are content to play in person, meaning if they die in the game, they actually die.
The first book in the Otherworld series introduces us to Jarrod and his ragtag team of adventurers who set out on a quest to stop the Firelord from obtaining the most powerful weapon in the universe. It won’t be easy. Dodging assassins is the least of Jarrod’s concerns. The corporation, GameComm, is bent on earning high viewer ratings so they toss Luckbane and his troop into one dangerous battle after another. Whatever the corporation can dream up, they can implement into the game. But there’s an even greater threat. Someone outside GameComm wants Jarrod dead in the worst way, and they’ve hacked into the game to accomplish their goal. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.
Luckbane was written by a friend of mine named Tony Breeden, and it’s his second novel (the first is called Johnny Came Home). Tony is a preacher too, although the book isn’t “preachy,” in the sense of trying to convince you to believe the same things as the author, nor are there any long expositions on the Christian faith. Jarrod professes to be a Christian, but there are only a few places where this seems to come into play, such as a very brief prayer for help. There are a few hints that there may be some more Christian elements coming later in the series. Perhaps the author is giving us a chance to see Jarrod grow in his faith (or walk away from it) as the series progresses.
I picked up Luckbane a few days ago and rarely put it down. It is well written, action-packed (that’s an understatement), very original (to my knowledge), and really fun. If you enjoy fantasy, sci-fi, or action/adventure novels, or if you ever played role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons or Final Fantasy, Luckbane should be a great experience for you. Even if you aren’t into those genres and just want an original and fun read, pick up your copy of Luckbane today (currently only $3.99 for Kindle).
Five stars. I can’t wait to read the sequel.
[Added on 11/30/2013] Mr. Breeden has put together a short story that consists of a few scenes that were pulled from the final version of Luckbane. I just read Dreadknights: For the Love of the Guild earlier today and thoroughly enjoyed that too. It follows a group of ogres and goblins that fight against Luckbane and the other champions on a couple of occasions in the book. So you get to see some of these battles through the eyes of the bad guys (although they become likable bad guys when you read this), and you also get to find out more about the characters in Luckbane. For anyone who enjoys Luckbane, this short story will be well worth the $.99 investment. I hope that the author will do this with some of the other groups in the story.