Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension by Dena K. Salmon

Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension by Dena K. Salmon
For Lance (level 19 zombie sorcerer), and his friend, MrsKeller (level 23 hobgoblin brigand), life's a battle, and then you die. And then you rez. And then you battle again. At least that's how it is in Discordia, the addictive online game that makes real life seem dreary in comparison. At his new school, Lance feels weird and out of place, but in beautiful and complex Discordia, his zombie sorcerer is doing great: leveling fast, learning new skills, and making friends. He's even met a level 60 toon, TheGreatOne, who has recruited him and MrsKeller into his guild: Awoken Myths. Lance wishes he could spend all his time in the game - until TheGreatOne transports Lance and MrsKeller to the real Discordia, the perilous world in the eleventh dimension which inspired the game. Before they're allowed to leave, they must complete a high-level quest that may determine Discordia's survival - and Lance's, too. If they don't get out soon, Lance could permanently mutate into the character he plays in the game: a zombie. The friends accept TheGreatOne's quest and meet Rayva, a runaway who may have been lured into Discordia against her will. The three make their way through a country on the brink of war, fighting monsters, traitors and spies - yet their greatest danger may be Lance himself.

While I am not an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) player, I still really enjoyed this novel. It can be a bit difficult to get into since it starts off with Lance playing the game and if it's not something you're used to, the plot can drag a bit, which it did for me. But once Lance has been pulled in, it becomes like a regular fantasy novel dealing with adventures and quests. The concept is really intriguing, especially in this age of WoW and other MMORPGs, and I loved how Salmon built the game world and the world that Lance gets pulled into (there are differences between the two).

The story is told in third person and it really feels that way- there's a distance between the reader and the characters and so I didn't feel like there was much depth in the characters; it's definitely more of a plot-driven novel than character-driven, which can be very good for reluctant readers, but not necessarily for avid readers (unless of course it's your preference).

I thought the ending was pretty rushed and everything came to an abrupt end in the last 15-20 pages. The story ends on a big cliffhanger, which definitely leaves me wanting more. Overall, I'd say it's an above average novel but nothing to write home about. If you're into fantasy and/or MMOs, this is the book for you. For people new to MMOs though, there is an introduction and user manual plus glossary in the front and back of the book, respectively.

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