Warlords of Llantatis by Dominic Green [Book Review]
The author emailed to ask me to review this, unusually I bought the book rather than accepting a freebie. There were two reason for this, one was that the reviews were really good, and the other was that it was only 99p for the kindle version. I’m pleased to report that it lived up to the promise in the reviews.
Warlords of Llantatis
At first sight this looks like a fantasy, but it’s definitely science fiction. Set a couple of decades in the future most of the action takes place in a virtual game world. There are very brief interludes of real world that contrast the player life with that of their characters.
The story is a combination of a detective mystery and also a heroic quest. Inside the game world a mysterious newbie has appeared, he doesn’t have a name but he does have an awesomely powerful magic sword. There’s also the appearance of a mysterious red moon that is on a collision course with the main game world. Outside the game we get flashes of the hero’s players, and then the wider search for the player of the mysterious newbie. There’s also a thread on how the game company is dealing with the threat to the game server.
Game worlds & realities
Both the game world and the near future world mesh really well. The game playing technology is completely believable, I’ve seen the conceptual work on it for real. The people use that in ways that are also completely believable, all the more so for the recent Pokemon Go craze. Game playing can be recognised as an addiction, and certainly there are people spending more time in the virtual world than in the real world. There are also gold farmers, professional players, and a familiar mix of deep roleplayers, munchkins, newbies and everything else you might find in a current online game.
Outside the game world there’s a sense of a realistic slightly futuristic universe. Things have progressed a bit from now, noticeably so. However there still aren’t hoverboards or flying cars. People in offices can still be awful about inconsequential things. North Korea is still the same. It’s mundane rather than dystopian, which makes it more realistic for me. You can see why people retreat into the game world.
There is a strong thread of the Warlords of Llantatis having a strong sense of humour (and Dominic Green is, I am sure, deliberately writing comedy references in for those that get them). The development team picked a contintent each and worked it up themself. Each of the game races develops from that. We have the carrot shaped Llareggubians who are muscle-bound warriors of little brain. Amazonions female warriors with dominant X chromosomes (nearly all played by men). Wizard Sparklebeard’s enchanted fairy kingdom (which is a dictatorship out of a fair tale that punishes by turning people into talking woodland animals). There also dwarfs and elvenoids as well as a central human state.
There are loads of references that made me chuckle as I worked them out. These provided a sense of light relief from some of the more intense plot threads in the book.
Warlords of Llantatis is a big tome. It has multiple points of view (there are at least half a dozen main plot threads through the story, some of which split and merge at points). These all come to a joined up and satsifactory conclusion, and there’s a sort of epilogue too. I really enjoyed Warlords of Llantatis, and I can see why Dominic Green has been Hugo nominated in the past, it’s a shame that he hasn’t yet won a Hugo, because this book is fantastic (in both senses).
Go buy it and read it!