Echoes of Rundan
His salvation comes in the form of a digital invitation...
Mild-mannered accountant Dylan McIver needs something more than takeout, spreadsheets, and the occasional PUG. Everyone around him is getting married and popping out kids, and neither of those sound like the adventure Dylan wants out of life.
His best friend, Nakala, has the answer. A beta invite to Monsoon Entertainment's latest MMO. But it isn't just an offer; it's a plea. Dylan will need to sacrifice five years of his real life to help her. The grind in the game is real, but Dylan is up for the challenge. There's monsters to kill, towns to build, mysteries to uncover, crafting to master, and fishing to enjoy.
He'll sleep eventually.
Echoes of Rundan is a Royal Road and Patreon exclusive fantasy LitRPG that starts with Landfall.
Chapters are uploaded every other day!
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Minor Spoilers below.
Edited 2/22/20 as I felt need to clarify some points and expand on others.
Second edit on 2/24/20 on review and score because of changes the author made due to review.
Overall I think this story could be a great read. Chapter 1-7 flow nicely, the main character, an accountant named Dylan lives a decent life, working by day and playing online games by night. His current one is getting stale, no longer stimulating his mind as it once was. He seemly enjoys the tactics of fighting, but due to real life issues his normal team is no longer playing.
Enter Monsoon Entertainment, a gaming company that is rumored to release the next big thing. Full Immersion Virtual Reality. Introduced, via a MMO game. Dylan, gaining a invitation from his friend Nakala (a developer of the game, more on this later) is to become a beta player of the upcoming game, or so he hopes.
After passing a written and physical test to qualify for the game, Dylan is told that, yes this is in fact a fully virtual game, but the invitation isnt anything casual. This invitation is for a 5 YEAR program. On top of the shocking news, he is told that in order to proceed, he need to give up
POA limited POA (power of attorney) during this time, so the company can keep his affairs in order.... Okay. Well, thats a big kink in this. Maybe its still worth it though. I mean, he must be getting paid something major as an incenti, nope!, just the knowledge that hes in on the ground floor of the game. A game that might (and likely will its a beta) be reset for when its in full release. The ONLY, concession they give is a guarantee that he will still have his job available when the 5 years is up (along with him continuing to be paid as if working).
Now, you might say Dylan continuing to be paid while playing could be incentive enough, I mean, I know id love to be paid to play games, but he's still not truely being paid. The money he would get is the same money he already would be getting for doing his job anyway, likely less due to pay raises or other possible lose of income, such as investments he couldn't manage. In fact his money will continue to go to bills/debts,
Meanwhile Dylan gets to play a game, all the while hoping the company doesnt do anything to him with POA while hes stuck inside. With a limited POA, they would be more inclined to actually maintain his livelyhood. Less likely now that anything will happen with new changes.
Now, remember Nakala? Or dear friend gave her invite away because something spooked her, she believes that the higher ups are willing to railroad her and other developers if they play the game due to insider knowledge. Dylan knows this, even thinks of various ways that a full immersion VR could be harmful. However, despite this he is STILL going into the game. He's not getting paid, hes going in long term (totally untested) and giving up his freedoms to do so. WHO WOULD DO THIS? Oh, and he gets 7 days to decide if he wants to go. Well, more like 7 hours (maybe not even that) if he wants to be in on the first wave into the game. Otherwise he will totally miss out on the new expansion due to missing a boat. Since ya know. Theres no way the developers could spawn characters AT the new expansion. Nope.
Now If i suspend my belief that Dylan is just mentally unstabe enough to think this is somehow a great deal hes getting (its not). What company would think any of this wouldnt blow up on them? Dylan isnt told any information prior to leaving, other than hey, were launching a VR MMO, you will spend 5 years inside, and you have 7 days to decide, but its VERY much in your interest to make the decisision by midnight tonight.
No, just no. Any company that went for a long immersion would not only screen their applicants ALOT more than a survey and a obsticle course, prior to acceptance, they would also give ample time to their applicants to get affairs in order for immersion. Not only so they dont have to pay people for that explicit reason, but so they dont have possible lawsuits waiting once people are out. Such as say one over PAYING all the applicants an equal salary. If applicant 1 works as a janitor, and Dylan works as a accountant, but both have the same deal (keep job and pay at current rate for being a beta player), both are going to get vastly different pays for the same job.
Now I could believe a company asking for Medical POA, due to the risks of this program, maybe, Full POA? No. Regardless, all of this would have been under a much longer time constrain than given AND would have been FULLY discussed well in advance.
Overall, I think this story could have alot of potential, and future chapters may be great, but, the major plothole in chapter 8 throws any future decision into question for me. Will I continue this story? Probably. I actually like Dylan, the writing is good, and I can imagine the world.
But im already unsure of the future decisions I'm bound to read, and hoping there isnt another as s claring as this. The fact the author has changed somethings due to my review already, has given me much more hope for the future of the world they are building.
Generally well written and fun to read except for one aspect that I will explain below. While it's not an original story idea it's not completely following in other stories' footsteps.
None of these complaints are bad enough for me to stop reading. The first one will be if it continues, the last one isn’t that big a deal.
The weakest part of this story is the world building and character development. Interestingly, they suffer from the opposite problem than the one that most stories have. Rather than too little information, this story has too much. Or, maybe more correctly, the author isn't presenting the large amounts of information in the right way.
I can't provide from text examples without spoiling parts of the story but it's just a general lack of Chekhov's Gun.
It's grating to read exposition about a test that can be shown rather than told. The reader is stuck with dialogue from characters that are unimportant, extraneous details about this side character's body language when trying to remember another unimportant character's name. To make it worse, this specific piece of exposition is coming directly after another facet of the test where people were having trouble writing without a table. Is that important? No. Do I care about the main character's embarrassment when using the floor to write? No. Perhaps I could, perhaps it develops the character, but too much time, effort, and emphasis is put on a minor detail that is, at best, a supporting aspect of much more effective moments of character development.
This is also how the game mechanics are explained to the reader and the main character. There has to have been a more elegant and more interesting way to teach the reader the rules of the setting. The tutorial is skipped like the author knows that it would be boring for the reader to read but then what might as well have been a tutorial is written in immediately afterwards.
Overall, the author is relying on character dialogue too heavily as a strategy for dumping information on the reader, which is a lack of showing and not telling, and they're also putting too much detail into unimportant things. "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired." The numerous pistols hung on the wall in this story are put there as decor because the author seems worried that the room will be empty without them. Scars on the backs of hands, favorite dishes, lacks of pens, and the oddity of a hole in the wall restaurant being empty in Seattle.
Lastly, I don’t like the races. Replacing the ubiquitous elves, orcs, etcetera would be an interesting thing but they’ve been replaced with copies filling the same role in a worse way. Orcs but weird, why not just have orcs? Dark elves but weird, why not just have dark elves? Halflings but weird, why not have halflings? Succubuses/tieflings but weird, why not just have succubuses/tieflings? They're not really original but they’ve been changed just enough to not have what people like about those original races.
I'll keep reading it and I think it's pretty good so far but there are definite problems. The author's profile says they have published six novels before, if this is going to be published then at the very least I believe the dialogue being used as an info dump should be reworked before then. If you like slow burning GameLit stories then you'll probably like this.
Hey, if a friend walked up to you and asked for your help, in a dubious thing that might be detrimental to you, without disclosing any information claiming 'NDA', would you agree to help them? Especially if they acted shifty?
Now, imagine a company wanting to put you into a SAO ripoff for five years, for a BETA TESTING, while also having power of attorney over your holdings and not paying you a freaking dime, would you accept?
If your answer to the above two paragraphs is 'No', then congrats; you are better than the protagonist is.
An interesting premise does not make up for bad writing.
Okay... it's not quite that bad. But there is a lot of information shoved into the readers face for no apparent reason. Yes, it's a game, we get that point by around the third chapter. Even if it is essentially isekai into a game world, the point that it is a game is hammered into the readers head for a good few chapters (I'm up to chapter nineteen and am still getting smacked on the head with it).
One of the really big issues I have with this story is that it takes just so long for things to get started (Again, I'm up to chapter nineteen, which if we take the number of pages and divide it by the total number of chapters (which is 43 at the moment) and then multiply it by nineteen we get 125.9302-blahblahblah pages (which is likely an inacurate number of how many pages are contained within those first nineteen chapters, but a good way of giving a sense of perspective on the issue) of exposition and start up). I'm not even going to comment on the power of atterney stuff and how rediculous that is, or any of the stuff with how Monsoon selected and screened their beta testers, or the whole thing with the protagonist's 'friend' essentially using the friend card to throw them under the bus. Nor am I going to mention any number of other things or issues that I might have with the things that occure in this story.
What's really important is that there is no hook, there is nothing that hooks the reader in and makes them want to continue reading. I'm nineteen chapters in and I just don't want to read anymore. Not just because I'm bored, but also because I'm not invested in finding out what happens next.
The initial interaction with the protagonist and their friend that eventually leads to them participating was a hook in a way. However it was a hook that lacked any barbs and the reader eventually slips off as things continue to not happen. Even getting to that point took far too long, the story should have started with the hook and then lead into the character building, which then led into the main event (which is whatever is supposed to kick off your story and make things happen). All in all it took far too long for the story to get started, and if I'm reading these other reviews correctly still won't get started until around chapter 24; which for the record, is something that took far, far, far, too long to happen.
I'm going to continue reading, but I'm stuborn like that and I don't give up on a story until I'm completely and utterly disgusted with it. Luckily this story isn't at that point, but all the information being thrown at the reader is making my tiny and fragile brain hurt; so please, spare me.
Now I'm gonna go and take some painkillers, lie down for a bit, and then come back to this. Because there is a good story here, I can feel it. It's just hidden underneath all the dry skin, scales, and exposition.
In conclusion, you've gotta dig deep to get to the meat of this one.
So I found the start to be okay but the further u go on the blander it becomes, you can in fact have a story go too slow.
But after all, it's still pretty decent, what really gets to me is how we are have this talk about some gender that makes no sense forced down our throat when it has no meaningful impact on the story itself.
Also, why is the MC trying so hard to never offend anyone and always be this overly good person that can't curse or take anything serious. For me, that makes this story super unrealistic, how can a person never get mad or think bad about others?
As far as I can tell this is not an isekai novel just a very upbeat and naive litrpg. The MC is in no danger of dying inside or outside the game. Everyone is happy go lucky so much they can go fishing instead of preparing for a battle in just under 2 weeks. With no danger and no progression it's just some dude playing a casual game.
Well, the editing is good.
I just couldn't care less about the main character. First of all he's an accountant, which is dull-ville to the extreme. Then he plays a tank but chooses a tiefling basically. I just didn't get it. The classes and races seemed to be really bland.
Then we spent 20 minutes describing a melee spar and that was the deal breaker. There is nothing more boring than swinging metal; you can do that on Earth. Might as well make it non-fiction and describe a dojo or something.
Perhaps there is a story eventually, but I won't ever find out.
If gender and sex talk is all you really care about but you're looking to distract yourself with some fantasy stuff on the side this story is for you. If you're not into that, move on.
The team of RileySKeene is writing a pretty darned good world building adventure. It really captivates me and leaves me wanting more. The characters are pretty well thought out and have good depth to them. It is not your typical game mechanics either, it is fresh and interesting. The style and grammar are very well done. It is definitely worth my time and mebbe yours too.
:D CHEERS (c)
This is a story for those with the patience to wait for a good story to unfold. It starts slow, and this pace has continued to the time I am writing this review (Chapter Thirty). By no means does this mean that this story is bad, however. Untypical for the LitRPG-Genre, there is a heavy focus on the characters and conversations rather than the underlying mechanics of the game. This makes this not a read for everyone, especially on Royalroad, but no story ever is.
The conclusion is at the bottom, so skip ahead if you wish to skip my blabbering.
The style gets the job done. It flows well and I noticed no discernible hitches in my reading experience. The author obviously knows what they are doing, and I particularly liked the way they manage to convey the protagonist's feelings without having to resort to massive monologues.
Furthermore, the world-building is done with taste. A wider world is always in the back of the story, but it is slowly unveiled without overwhelming the reader.
You know the grammar is good when you hardly ever have to stop and think about it. 'Nuff said.
The story is, in my opinion, the weakest part. The way the protagonist gets into the game requires a significant amount of suspension of disbelief. It ripped me out of my immersion for a while as I questioned the actions of the main character.
Putting that aside, however, the in-game plot seems to have only really started picking up at this point, which is why I am tentatively giving the story 3,5 stars. I like the way the author interweaves game mechanics with realism without having to resort to blue screens.
The characters are strongly fleshed out here. There may not be a massive cast, but every character seems to have established motivations. Whilst they may be a bit flimsy for people willing to immerse themselves in the game world to such an extent, I wouldn't doubt that there are many such people in reality as well.
The only thing grating on my mind is Nakala. I can't stand her.
(Spoilers and rant ahead!)
She asks the MC to confine himself to a virtual world for five years to make her following in-game life easier. She does this in spite of knowing there is no safe way to extract him at the moment.
What for? Because she fears the game could make her life harder due to her intimately knowing the underlying economic mechanics governing the game.
Instead of blowing her off or doing anything remotely sensible or realistic, the MC simply...accepts, albeit with lots of hesitation. I could have accepted it if he wanted to use her offer to get out of the trot of his daily life, but even in-game he is focused on becoming better in order to make her life easier.
I have lots of problems with that. More than I could care to articulate, but my take here is simply that Nakala is an absolutely horrible friend.
I would have loved to give the characters a score of 3,0 simply due to her existence, but in the end most characters seem to have been crafted much better than her. They deserve a 4,5 score, little as I know about them yet.
While is still far too soon to make any sweeping conclusions, I believe it is on the way to becoming a good read. My seething hate for one particular character aside, this story has certainly captured my interest. If it manages to maintain its current quality, Echoes of Rundan will cement itself as a regular read I can look forward to.