I love the cover to Dominion of Blades by Matt Dinniman! It’s awesome and unusual and makes me want to immediately snatch open the book to find out what it’s about. If you’ve read a blurb for it at all, then you know what the book is about—basically, the characters are trapped in a video game.
LitRPG is a popular theme in fantasy novels and I’ve read several where characters step through a door or get sucked into a program, or somehow magically appear in another world, but this is the first time I’ve read one where the characters believe themselves to be the characters, and it comes as a horrifying shock to them when they learn they are not sword-wielding barbarian warriors, but instead are virtual subjects in a game while their real bodies exist elsewhere.
The plot line in this book is amazing! The author is an incredible world-builder and the world he crafts in Dominion of Blades is astounding, full of magical and non-magical creatures, believable and intelligent magic, and frequently the unexpected. His characters are interesting and often hilarious, including a beer-drinking, foul-mouthed middle-aged man trapped in the body of a ten-year-old girl, a delightful street urchin named Raj, and a talking seagull creature with a monocle and a spiked helmet. The main characters grow into a fascinating dynamic based on their in-game abilities and I kept turning pages just to see which attributes they would unlock next. Their primary quest also starts out relatively simple, but soon consequences pile on top of consequences until success becomes white-knuckle critical.
Luckily, I read this on a Kindle or the pages would have been crinkled from the force of my grip on the book during some of the scenes. I also really loved the in-game notifications. Some of them were laugh-out-loud funny.
Hardcore gamers might nitpick this story to pieces, but someone with just enough of a gaming background to appreciate the references, the spells, and the general “game play”, should find it to be pure entertainment. Some of the curses were horrifying, the spells were brilliant, and the solutions to most of their problems were fascinating and unforeseen. I really love being surprised when I’m reading, and Dominion of Blades delivers that many times over.
Characters: 5/5 – Story: 5/5 – Magic: 5/5 – Setting: 5/5 – Action: 5/5 – Pacing: 5/5 – Worldbuilding: 5/5
My corpse pulsed green in the wreckage of what was once Ursula’s stall.
Thankfully, they had made it easy to find. I wondered what I would’ve had to do if it had landed on a high roof or some other inaccessible place.
When Gretchen had said it was just my torso, she wasn’t kidding. A naked, scorched set of ribs and spine still steamed. Tied around the non-existent shoulders of my former body was my pack, looking like it was still brand new. I touched it, chose transfer all, and the timer went away.
My remains faded away, leaving a red spot on the ground.
Achievement unlocked! Retrieve your pack from your corpse.