Bookish Wednesday: The Secret of the Dark Forest by Vasily Mahanenko

Hey all, I’m back with the third entry to the Way of the Shaman series for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. It’s The Secret of the Dark Forest by Vasily Mahanenko!

Plot Synopsis: The Virtual World of Barliona is a place of rest and entertainment – but not for everyone. It has become a survival arena for Daniel Mahan after he was sentenced to 8 years in its virtual jail. Mahan has been through it all: the back-breaking work in the mines, betrayal by other prisoners, and finally, the retrial which has released him into Barliona’s common world. What more could one want? Mahan could have kept a low profile and enjoy relative freedom while serving the rest of his time. But being a Shaman, he can’t help himself…

Plot: The plot of this entry is pretty good, and while there were a few annoying parts I didn’t mind it all that much. That being said if you weren’t a fan of the previous books this won’t change your mind on the series.

Characters: We get introduced to a few new characters, but really the stars of the show aside from Mahan are Anastaria and Plinto, both of whom were pretty awesome. The newcomers were good, but the character we had already met are better. That being said if I had to choose a newcomer as my favorite it would be Barsa.

Overall: If you enjoyed the previous two books, The Secret of the Dark Forest will be just as enjoyable for you. Otherwise you’ll probably not enjoy it all that much.

Bookish Wednesday: AlterWorld by D. Rus

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This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m covering a series I ran across the other day and enjoyed the hell out of. It’s AlterWorld, Book 01 of the Play to Live series, by D. Rus!

Plot Synopsis: A new pandemic – the perma effect – has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they’re the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the scorched hulls of tank simulators.

But some unfortunates – the handicapped and the terminally ill, shell-shocked army vets, wronged crime victims and other society misfits – choose to flee real life willingly, escaping to the limitless world of online sword and sorcery MMORPGs.

Plot: So this plot hook instantly caught my attention as it quickly became obvious that the author was influenced by many novels I’ve covered in my Translation Necessary Thursday columns before.  It deals with a lot of the issues that come up in a few novels, like Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, Ark, and Log Horizon, but does so in a way that many Western readers just haven’t experienced before. He’s not the first to come up with this genre, but he is the first to do so and be recognized by the Western world, which strikes me as unfair but that’s a story for another day. Also the author even included a reference to LMS which is awesome.

Characters: Max is our main character and he’s a pretty decent sort of fellow, which makes him a lovable protagonist. The rest of the cast is great, although I despise Tavor with a passion which is the author’s desired effect.

Overall: This is a great read for those who have never read a Light Novel or Web Novel before and should serve as a wonderful introduction. A must read.

For those who like: Virtual Reality, Light Novels, Web Novels, Video Games, MMORPGs, Action, Drama, Social Commentary

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

TNT: Zhan Long Chapters 1-40 by Shi Luo Ye

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This week I’m covering a series I really enjoyed reading because it’s a newer take on the VRMMO premise. It’s time to do some backstabbing with Zhan Long Arc 01 by Shi Luo Ye!

Plot Synopsis: Li Xiao Yao, Former S.W.A.T member, but was forcefully retired and became an ordinary security guard. While being sent to grab a ladder, he accidentally stumbled upon the VIP room instead of the storage room, and found a women in the middle of changing. As revenge, she brought him out in the middle of nowhere and kicked him off there. He spent hours walking back, only to find himself being kicked out due to lack of payment. As bad things pile one after another, his previous supervisor offers him a new job.

Plot: The plot is pretty good, and while it’s another VRMMO novel it focuses less on the exploits and more on the constant backstabbing that other players do. It’s more PvP focused than PvE. Which is nice as I always enjoy a change of pace. One thing I need to make a note of is that the above artwork is from the Manhua and not the actual novel as it’s a web novel and those very rarely have artwork.

Characters: The entire cast is pretty freaking awesome, with Xiao Yao being a total badass in real life, but has trouble actually becoming proficient in the game due to hardware limitations (the processor is too slow for his thoughts essentially). The rest of the cast is great as well.

Overall: This is a great read, and it’s pretty good for those VRMMO novel loving people who want a change of pace.

For those who like: Action, Drama, Badass Cast of Characters, Awesome Plot, Martial Arts.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

TNT: Overlord Volume 02 by Maruyama Kugane

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This week for Tranlsation Necessary Thursday I’m covering the second volume of a series I covered a while ago. It’s Overlord Volume 02 by Maruyama Kugane! Spoilers for Volume 01 after the jump!

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Light Novel Thursday: ELYSION virtual region by Kazuma Jouchi

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This week on Light Novel Thursday I’m going over one of those rare completed series. It’s ELYSION virtual region by Kazuma Jouchi.

Plot Synopsis: An incredibly athletic older brother, Tenryo Taiga. A programming genius girl, Tenryo Fuyuki. Siblings separated for 8 years ended up living under one roof again. After facing the problem a lack of funds for living expenses, so Fuyuki proposes a way to earn money. A core system deeply involved in people’s daily lives, a game that awards you money as a prize for defeating malicious bugs in the cyber world, the《Aries》 structure.

Plot: The plot isn’t amazing, as all the main two females are after Taiga, with one of them being his sister he’s understandably uncomfortable around her. The action scenes are interesting however, but I can’t help but think this series wasn’t doing well and got canned, as I haven’t finished the last volume yet. Though with only three volumes maybe it was just a short series nothing amazingly long like Toaru is, which is sitting at 32 volumes released so far.

Characters: Taiga is a musclebrained idiot for the most part, although he can pull out his bad ass when he’s pushed. Fuyuki is clingy and slightly annoying, in fact I actually don’t like her all that much. Rui is a much more interesting character, and probably my favorite one, although that might be because her weapon program in《Aries》are these little gems that turn into different weapons when thrown.

Art: The art is quite good however and I really wouldn’t mind seeing more of the nauribon’s work.

Overall: If you don’t mind hating one of two main characters read this series, otherwise go read Toaru instead.

For those who like: Science-Fiction, Virtual Reality stories, Gaming stories, Bad ass main characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

 

Light Novel Thursday: Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara

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This week I’m covering the very first Light Novel I ever read, Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara.

Plot Synopsis: Sword Art Online (SAO) is a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), released in 2022. With the Nerve Gear, a virtual reality helmet that stimulates the user’s five senses via their brain, players can experience and control their in-game characters with their minds.

On November 6, 2022, the players log in for the first time, and later discover that they are unable to log out. They are then informed by Akihiko Kayaba, SAO’s creator, that if they wish to be free, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss. However, if their avatars die in-game, their bodies will also die in the real world. One of these players is Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya, who was chosen as one of the 1,000 beta testers in the closed beta. Since he had previous experience and knowledge of the game, he felt that he could beat the game easily. As a result, he set out on an adventure to beat the game.

Plot: The plot is very character driven and focuses on Kirito’s struggle to deal with issues like Player-Killing, which is taken to a whole new level in the first arc, and his relationship with games after becoming trapped in a death game. I really enjoyed the plot as a whole because it shows Kirito’s thoughts and makes him a much more human character rather than who you see in the Anime adaptation. It also go much faster through the plot, because the first season of the anime took two volumes the first and the second, which was made solely of side stories that happen between Day 1 of SAO and the first chapter of SAO which is two years later.

Characters: I really enjoy the characters of SAO, because while the Anime was pretty good it made Kirito out to be too two-dimensional, and didn’t show any of his thoughts which helped make him a better character in the light novels.

Art: The art in the first few novels is okay, but could have been better and it becomes much better the third volume.

Overall: If you enjoy Virtual Reality stories, or video games in general, you’ll enjoy this series.

For those who like: Science-Fiction mixed with a bit of Fantasy, Romance, Virtual Reality, Video Games, MMORPG’s.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Light Novel Thursday:The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor by Nam-Hi-Sung

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This week on Light Novel Thursday we are going to do one from South Korea, The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor by Nam-Hi-Sung.

Plot Synopsis:  The man forsaken by the world, the man a slave to money and the man known as the legendary God of War in the highly popular MMORPG Continent of Magic. With the coming of age, he decides to say goodbye, but the feeble attempt to earn a little something for his time and effort ripples into an effect none could ever have imagined.

Through a series of coincidences, his legendary avatar is sold for 3.1 billion won, bringing great joy to him, only to plunge him into despair at losing almost all of it to vicious loan sharks. With the revelation of earning money through gaming, he rises from the abyss with new found resolve and steps forward into the new age of games led by the first ever Virtual Reality MMORPG, Royal Road.

This is the legend of Lee Hyun on his path to becoming Emperor with only his family loving heart, his boundless desire for money, his unexpected mind, his diligently forged body and the talent of hard work backing him.

 

Plot: So it’s nothing real serious, in fact it makes fun of pretty much every MMO you’ve ever played probably by making it sound super easy. Royal Road is hell on wheels compared to Modern MMO’s. Even Vanilla World of Warcraft was never as hard as Royal Road is. So poor Lee Hyun, better known as Weed, has to earn a crap ton of money to pay for his sister’s education and decides to make it playing this new game.

Characters:  I’d like to think I played WoW like Weed plays Royal Road, but honestly I didn’t spend 4 straight months whacking a freaking Target Dummy to gain stat bonuses. Anyways Weed is a hard worker and he can pull off amazing shit that noone else does, and often does so alone. He does it through sheer determination and even more often his brainpower. Other characters are a blast to read as well. I won’t spoil them however.

Overall: Read this series if you are a gamer, it’ll be fun.

For those who like: Virtual Reality, MMO’s, Gaming, Hard Working Protagonists.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, but how can you hate that?