So, the frame isn't especially novel. A 14 year old guy and a 14 year old girl are sucked into an adventure computer game and have to complete quests from level to level in order to escape and return to their boring real lives. But, and this is a huge "but", the author does a lot of fresh, engaging and clever things with the plot, and delivers a ripping and oddly engaging tale.
Little things mean a lot here. The two heroes, Phoenix and Jade, play as 17 year old characters. The thrill of suddenly being "grown up" adds an exciting element for the two teens, and probably touches a nerve with readers. The two arrive in the game with "memories" and skills appropriate to their characters - a warrior and a half-elf sorcerer. Talk about wish fulfillment. And so it goes; these touches are the sorts of flourishes that distinguish a book like this.
The levels are interesting. We go from a predictable 80 A.D. Roman Britain setting to a Viking place, then Egypt, then India, then China. These are not your usual or expected locales, and allow the reader to experience new and varied worlds. (This is the first of a five book series. Each book in the series is based in one of those places, and the series wraps up in Book Five at the China level.)
It helps that we have a few other computer based characters who join the quest and add a third point to allow for a mild romantic/crush/jealousy triangle, and some some comic relief. It especially helps that the quality of the dialogue is surprisingly high, with some real wit and character. Scenes are set well; action is clear; the pot unfolds crisply. There's enough timely exposition to keep a young reader on track, but not too much and not belabored. We have a lame sort of villain, but he's just there to keep things moving along.
It seemed to me that this series would fit in very nicely after "Magic Treehouse" level books, (which follow a similar, but simpler, going-to-a-strange-place in each book structure), and would serve as a solid intro to more complex and thematically mature adventure books. The mid middle-grade crowd seems a bit underserved in the hearty adventure genre, and this might just be the series they want.
(Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
If you are reading the series in order then you are in for a real treat. This is one series of stories that will keep you stuck in a book for some days ahead. I had difficulty stopping myself from reading one page more and more ...... I found myself looking forward to a bus journey or car ride so that I had the excuse to read the book. The story draws the reader into the book and you never want to leave! A real bargain price and definite must read for all ages.
At first i was going through the kindle store looking at free books to get for holiday and read. While doing this is stumbled upon this series and thought i would try it out after reading the summary. As it turns out this book is brilliant and quite frankly deserves to be sold at a reasonable price.
The main plot of this first book is to set the scene of the series, introduce the characters and the main aim of it all. It does this superbly, with characters that are humorous in their own way and provide excellent entertainment in reading. The story itself is quite in depth and follows designed path without straying of the main aim. This is why i gave it only 4 stars instead of a full 5. I believe if it was made a little longer, some more information on whats going on at the time, and more character development in this installment, this could actually be a true great.
I recommend to anyone looking for the something new to read, and i look forward to any more books produced by the author as if he manages to progress from this series on wards, he may be very successful.
The story is set in Roman Britain AD 80 which is why I bought the book. However, the ancient Romans don’t feature very much in this action packed fantasy story. There are some interesting twists, especially that regarding The Jewel of Asgard which they have to pick up from Stonehenge. At times it’s good to work out who the real baddies are and to get an idea of how the main characters will conduct themselves in the game that is their quest. Phoenix and Jade age a little in the story which gives them some more maturity to conduct themselves in a landscape that’s unknown to them, and it’s very handy that Jade has some special and pretty impressive powers to hand. They’re both likeable characters: it’s easy to identify with their initial self-doubts. YA readers who love fantasy might like this book but if you’re looking for accurate and thorough Roman Britain detail you might be disappointed. Good for readers above 10 or so.
This was an excellent book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as one of the series of 80ad books, all five of them are enthralling and, as far as I can tell, reminding me of a lot of historical facts that I had forgotten about years ago.