Review: Awaken Online #5: Hellion by Travis Bagwell


Rating: 9/10

Synopsis:

Jason’s back! And he’s ready for some revenge!

Roughly a month has passed in-game since Thorn’s attack on the Twilight Throne. In that time, the dark city has managed to recover and rebuild – growing the ranks of Original Sin at the same time.

Which is good, because that brief respite is over. The Avatar of Flame has risen within the depths of the northern desert and has thrown down a digital gauntlet to Jason – with a gate piece hanging in the balance. Even worse? His opponent is none other than Finn Harris, the ‘father of modern AI.’ The same man that may have been behind Thorn’s attack on the Twilight Throne.

And in the wake of recent events – the committee hearing back in the real world and the attack on his people – Jason is no longer content to just react; to wallow in the safety of his kingdom. If he’s to be painted the villain… well, then it’s long past time he fully embraced that role.

Because now it’s personal.

And there’ll be no holding back…

Review:

Note: This book ties in events of all previous main books and side quests (esp, Tarot and Unity though has minor references to all previous books and side quests) and events in earlier books are referenced in initial 25-30% of the book. It certainly would help if you have read them all and knew the backstories….but it’s not really mandatory. Just take some references at face value and push through and soon we’ll get to current narrative and leave history behind.

First of all, what a cover! Finding Alfred took me a moment. The series has probably my all time favorite covers!

Damn good book. Starts off a bit slow but then we get to the main event sometime quick and after that, it’s just a breakneck race against time to the finish. Absolute blitzkrieg of a read! Epic’est of the epic battles till now and takes to plot to another level of murkiness leaving you with anticipation (and probably screaming for more!)

The initial foreword by the author was incredibly helpful and summarizes key events and timelines and refreshed my memory greatly. Should be mandatory for all sequels!

The book starts off where events in Dominion/Unity/Inferno ended. We get a slight recap of events to help those who might not have read all/some of the earlier books. The book initially takes a bit of time to set the scene as our favorite gang of sinners embark of a impossible quest. they realize things could start off as impossible and still get bleaker. And we all know next…time for Jason to come up with a nutcase of a plan. And this one is probably a dooze, king of nutcases. One thing lead to another and we are treated to high octane, action packed game of chess as the avatars Jason, Finn, Eliza, Alexion and their lieutenants strategize and counter-strategize against each other.

After about 30% in, the pace picks up and stays frenetic all the way to the end. Sure was a page turner and hard to put down.

The writing structure was different too as we get to see Jason in a new situation and near half the book is told as a flashback. What is interesting is that Travis has meshed the out-game current events with in-game flashbacks so deftly that the time shift is zero making this into a seamless story.

I was hooked as the plot twists and turns come across as Jason and Finn counter-move against each other. If Travis had a habit of pulling rabbit out of his hat, he’s likely to have enough for a rabbit farm now. The events are tied in with a grand finale…that will likely make the out-game events as highly anticipated as in-game events going into next book (not that it wasn’t the case now, but even more!)

The book is all Jason and Finn. Now I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan of Finn in Tarot, but here he comes into his own as a strategist equal to Jason. their to-and-fro makes for a big chunk of the book. Eliza, Frank and Riley all mature as characters as they level up. I hope Julia gets her own side quest, as her perspective was one I really wanted more.

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