Land of the Undying – Dark Elf Chronicles

I’ve been reading a lot of LitRPG over the past couple of months if not longer and while quite a bit of it is on Scribd, I found this one on Kindle Unlimited. I’ve found that Scribd has lots of audiobooks to keep me entertained and while I don’t get to keep them like you can with Audible, the price is much lower. I’m currently listening to a book by Drew Hayes called Going Rogue which is the third part of a really interesting story which I shall get into in a future post! This book by Dave Willmarth is different to the many other LitRPG’s I’ve listened to or read so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you all on it.

You see generally with a LitRPG the hero of the story needs to transfer his consciousness into the game to:

  • Atone for a crime (he did or did not commit) like you can find in the Way of the Shaman by Vasily Mahanenko.
  • Use the game as a source of income to save his family like Project Daily Grind by Alexey Osadchuk.
  • Escape from the end of the world like Rapture: Apocalpyse Gates by Daniel Schinhofen. Alternatively, escape from a personal doom as you see in Alterworld: Play to Live by D. Russ

Also talking about end of world LitRPG stories, we absolutely must mention the exceptional System Apocalpyse series by Tao Wong.

There are other variations but in general terms they do tend to follow one of these formulae in their creation. Now that’s not really a problem by itself, but it does get a bit frustrating when they are all so much alike. Perhaps that is why this book struck me as something different.

Escape from Earth

You see the common factor with the apocalypse type series is that escaping into the game is the only recourse. This is due to a global cataclysm and the game just happens to be there and extremely popular so humans figure out how to get their minds uploaded into their virtual avatars.

Now Land of the Undying isn’t different in this respect. There is a global cataclysm which is actually really well explained. And the impact of that cataclysm causes humans and basically all other lifeforms on the planet to go insane. The death of all life happens almost overnight and only a relative handful manages to survive.

What is different though is that the two main characters have a life outside of the game also. While their characters continue to grow and evolve in-game, their relationship and romance in the real world also blossoms. There is no easy button push transfer from the real world into the game – rather it has taken months of development simply to bring an AI online to set the stage for possible eventual integration.

Zombie Tramp Statue – Gray Bikini

from: Things From Another World

The Land

Not to make a mistake between the Undying Land from Tolkien or even just “The Land” popularized in Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, the land here is nothing more than a very complex computer simulation. The land itself is vibrant and has its own character and personality. Perhaps unsurprisingly the NPCs are self-aware and know the difference between themselves and their undying visitors. In the book Mace plays a Drow Elf called … Mace (that was easy, right?) while Shari is a light elf. The two races are at constant war in-game, but with any luck Mace will survive his journey to meet up with Shari on the surface of the land.

As the story progresses many other interesting characters are untroduced and both Shari and Mace take on companions to help them grow. The gradual growth in the abilities of the characters is nice and realistic and they do not get too many windfalls of divine providence which is good.

However, one point to note is that both of the characters in real life do seem a bit too competent. Similar to Terry Mixon’s book The Scorched Earth that I talked about earlier they seem to be able to have exactly the right skills needed. While Terry Mixon’s protagonist was a gun nut with a 4×4 that could go anywhere he needed, Mace is a computer whiz & Shari a doctor.

Fast Zombies, Slow Zombies or Undying Zombies

There are many different types of zombies out there. The Slow Zombies of Max Brooks (World War Z) – that’s the book, not the atrocious movie by the way & George A Romero’s Living Dead are one type. Basically nothing more than walking corpses, they are fairly easy to avoid as long as you do not get caught in a swarm of them.

Contrast this with a more recent trend of Fast Zombies like those from the movie 28 Days Later directed by Danny Boyle. Now, say what you will about the fact that these shambling corpses can all suddenly move faster than the fastest sprinter – the fact that you cannot simply walk a little bit faster to escape makes Fast Zombies a true threat.

The zombies portrayed in this book however take this one step further. In addition to their speed, they also grow. Basically the more they eat, the bigger they get. When you think about the fact Zombies can be 8 to 10 feet tall with a proportionate amount of strength, understanding why escaping into a video game is something to look forward to, starts to make a lot more sense.

Zombie Survival Guide Recorded Attacks GN

from: Things From Another World

Getting from A to Uploaded

See if you consider the skills you’d need to configure a game to allow someone to upload themselves into it, you really could not ask for more in terms of characters could you? I mean, a computer whiz that can reprogram and build an AI capable of running a building seems like a perfect start. Added to that, a doctor that can analyze the virus infecting humanity and the world, and also understand how to sync humans and computers together … well that would be a perfect fit wouldn’t it?

Now don’t get me wrong … while I’m complaining about the coincidence, it’s not really that big a deal. They both are more than just these two facets and are a lot more fleshed out than many other characters I’ve read in the past.

Some elements that struck me as really interesting were the fact that this process is taking time and this time is impacting the inhabitants of the game also. With the global pandemic impacting everyone almost simultaneously, the inhabitants of the land are similarly impacted. Like we’ve seen in real life with shopping establishments and businesses going under due to Covid-19, the land has also been impacted by a lack of adventurers.

Now I won’t spoil the surprise and let you know whether or not our intrepid adventurers make it. I’ll let you read that secret for yourself. Suffice it to say that this is one that I would recommend considering all of the other books and more specifically LitRPG I’ve read over the past little while. The characters are interesting and I actually want to know what happens to them and their world. I think you’ll enjoy finding out also!

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1 Response

  1. November 27, 2020

    […] I’ve read lots of LitRPG books since this one – check out my review of Land of the Undying for example – it was one of the first and one that I’ve actually read several […]

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