Most helpful positive review
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
An intruiging read, definite appeal.
on December 3, 2003
Caveats first: This would rightfully be 3 1/2 stars in my estimation, but that's not an option here. Oh well...
Also, I'm a gamer too, so this book had some extra appeal to me, putting it at 4 stars solid.
That being out of the way, on with the review. I only found out about the Guardians of the Flame series within the past few years, so I'm a little late getting to the table on this.
Story summary: Group of gamers is transported to the world in which their game is set, and it's not just for fun anymore.
Doesn't sound too involving at first glance. But the way the story is told, that's what hit me. The people have a hard time separating themselves from their characters. There are mixed reactions about being in this new world among the main cast, and their reactions are acceptably realistic, bearing in mind that all theater requires the willing suspension of disbelief. There is the realization that things like dental care, emergency rooms and law enforcement aren't what we've come to take for granted, and that makes for an elevated sense of tension in many places.
Joel Rosenberg makes the suspension of disbelief easy for me. From James Finnegan, newly escaped from a life crippled by Muscalar Dystrophy, to Karl Cullinane, always lost and afraid of settling himself on any one thing, Joel gives a solid characterization for each person. There is no "Get Out Of Jail Free" effect, but rather a plausible progression and growth for the characters, requiring sacrifice and effort. Experience leads to good decisions, but experience can only be gained by bad decisions, and not every battle is won.
For non-gamers but fantasy fans, this story offers insight into the gamer mindset, and does a good job of explaining some of the whys and what fors.
For gamers, it can raise the question of why we create the people we portray.
In addition, I found it pretty entertaining, if more than a little dark. That suits me, but I wouldn't suggest this for anyone under the age of 14 (giving a PG-13 rating, am I? Interesting) or with a sensitive nature.
If you liked Glory Road (lot of Heinlein influence with Rosenberg), The Stand or role playing games, you will enjoy The Sleeping Dragon.