"Virtually Astonishing Debut!"
Few books are able to surprise me the way this one did.
Nothing is quite the way it appears to be in this excellent
debut adventure. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.
Ocean City businesswoman Maggie O'Brien is convinced by a
friend to spend a little time in a virtual reality booth
for relaxation. Maggie is a bit familiar with the popular
Tolemic Wars game, i.e. the hero Kered is on a quest and
must face many dangerous challenges. She also knows of the
mysterious shadow woman who guards his back. Little did
she ever expect to be trust into the role when
a sudden thunderstorm propels her into the game.
The hero, Kered, is a highly respected warrior who has
tired of the constant warfare, and seeks a peaceful
solution to Tolemac's troubles. Kered wishes to become a
member of the council so that he may use his influence to
this end. In order to gain a position he must first
fulfill a quest.
Arm rings are the symbol of status in his world. He must
find a legendary sword and a stolen cup, to earn the
additional armbands that would give him the status
necessary to be considered a viable candidate for a seat on
Maggie arrives without any armbands, the mark of a slave.
She arrives at Hart Fell the home of the wizard Nilrem,
shortly before Kered, who is seeking his advice. Nilrem
convinces Kered to take Maggie on his quest. Kered assumes
that she is a runaway. The independent Maggie is dismayed
at the position she finds herself in and her perceived lack
of status, but has no choice but to follow him on his
quest. She has somehow retained the game gun and Kered
finds it to be an impressive weapon. He is even more
impressed with the way Maggie wields it. His admiration
for her skill begins to change his perception of her.
Though he continues to believe she is a slave, he finds it
difficult to fight their totally inappropriate attraction
to each other.
Things heat up as Kered's rival throws obstacles their way.
At last Kered can no longer bear to see Maggie endangered.
Against her will he sends her back. But can Maggie go back
to her old life without him? Maggie seeks a way to get back
into the game. This leads her to the graphic artist, Derek,
who created it. Upon meeting, the two have the feeling
they've met somewhere before.
The plot has many layers, making it impossible to predict
the conclusion. The virtual world is a far cry from the
political correctness of our own. Thus the tale evokes a
myriad of emotions. The reader will rejoice at Maggie and
Derek's inevitable triumph and I think they will enjoy the
little word play the puts us to mind of another great
mythical world of long ago.
Copyright © 2000
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted June 28, 2001