Awaken Online: Ember is the eighth instalment (based on publication order) in the epic LitRPG saga written by Travis Bagwell that revolves around a fictional Virtual Reality MMORPG named Awaken Online. At the same time, it’s the first entry in the Tarot series, a new parallel story that introduces us to new characters and shows us a completely new side of Awaken Online.
After Unity, Travis Bagwell decided that Awaken Online 5 required a little bit more of a setup -a little detour, to say so-, to avoid us readers from diving into it blind and confused. And for that he thought the best way to achieve this was another side story. But not a simple side quest, no! A full new series of books were required to prepare us readers for Awaken Online 5, setup the world, characters, and story. And Travis was right.
Here comes Ember, and Finn, and a Mage Guild. End everything in between.
“Mage Guild” is the key term for this book, since the whole book takes place inside one. But the author manages to make this single setting seem huge, like a whole world. And in it, we get to see magic of all kinds and in all types and forms. We get an in-depth look into how the magic system works, how players learn the magic language and how to use it.
We also get to learn more about Finn and his family, specifically his daughter and wife, and the painful past that casts a large shadow over his life, which in turn ends up becoming a big part of why Finn decides to try and keep playing Awaken Online.
What’s it about? – Synopsis
Finn Harris should have been the one to die.
But he wasn’t – his wife took his place. What was worse, he only had himself and his company to blame. They let their passion outpace their prudence, determined to revolutionize the world. While all innovation comes with a price, he never imagined it would cost him Rachael.
Nearly a decade later, Finn is content to hole himself up and wait out the rest of his life – what little he has left. That is, until his daughter intervenes, forcing him out of his grief and into a new virtual reality game developed by his old employer. They’re calling it Awaken Online, and she believes there’s something unusual going on inside the game. And since Finn knows the company, knows their tactics – she might be right.
Finn wasn’t sure what he expected to find when he logged in. But it certainly wasn’t a manipulative fire god or a school for mages – where the students are pitted against each other in deadly duels and the faculty isn’t shy about maiming or injuring novice mages to prove a point.
Now Finn must learn to fight, for his own life and a chance at redemption. He’ll need to prove that his fire hasn’t been snuffed out.
That there’s still an ember burning…
What did I think? – Opinion
Different, but the same. I liked it, but I also disliked it somehow.
It reminded me a of Catharsis in that Finn goes through a highly customized introduction where the game’s AI picks up on his emotional state and memories to help define what class his character will be, and he gets picked out by the Goddess of Fire straight from the start.
I like that we get to see Awaken Online through the eyes of an adult this time, instead of a teenager. I love the new Characters (Finn most of all), his logical, engineer-like way of thinking and analysing everything, not only trying to acquire new knowledge, but also understand how that knowledge works within the world of Awaken Online.
Due to Finn’s real-life connection and distrust of Cerillion Entertainment, he initially does not trust the game and it’s mechanics, which offers us readers an amazing opportunity to get an in-depth view of the spell-crafting system and the language behind it. Between him and Kyyle, we also get a good introduction to the “modding” capabilities of Awaken Online.
On the other hand I hate Finn’s emotional side, his longing for something that’s gone. Something that’s been gone for a long time, and which, in my opinion, causes him to fall into a very obvious lie. On some occasions he just seems unreasonable, fails to grasp simple cause and effect when convenient for the story, and then analyses his mistakes afterwards like he’s just learning how to navigate the complexities of life, which makes him look like just another teenager or young adult.
I love the world of Awaken Online. It’s big, diverse and unique. But I hate the “world”, or let’s say location, this books occurs in. The whole book in one location, one prison like location. That got me bored after a while, and only the story and the evolution of the characters kept me reading.
Overall Ember is another great addition to the saga that further develops the world of Awaken Online and I can only recommend it! If you’ve read the previous entries you’ll most likely love this one too, and if not, what are you waiting for?
Awaken Online: Ember (Tarot 1)
Book Title: Awaken Online: Ember
Book Description: Awaken Online: Ember is the eighth instalment (based on publication order) in the epic LitRPG saga written by Travis Bagwell that revolves around a fictional Virtual Reality MMORPG named Awaken Online.