The Russian cluster. The ground shakes as the enemy approaches. The angered gods frown as they look down from the sky.
Intelligence agencies are locked in a brutal fight. Hundreds of thousands of sentient beings happily slaughter each other. This is no longer a game quest nor a petty fight between clans over some land rich in resources. This is war! A war of civilizations, religions, and all the dimensions of the world.
The Earth weeps in pain. The astral beings turn away in horror. Burning castle towers collapse to the ground. Stones melt in the heat. The enemy is coming. Refugees flood the Valley. Alliance members are joining forces.
Max is not just a clan leader anymore. He is the Chief, the head of the resistance. And you have no choice but to fight; you are the hope of the children and the thousands of innocents. They have entrusted you with their lives.
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I freaking LOVED the first 4 books of this series, and then I just couldn't wait for more, so it actually prompted me to purchase a few other series from this specific unique genre (which ended up being quite good for the majority of them) but this was the one that set the bar, and set it HIGH... That said... This continuation of the series was awful... It was literally HARD to listen to the whole audiobook... If it were any other book/series I would NEVER have finished it, and asked for a refund!! I had to finish it to see if the old style came back, or all of the awesome story-line and gaming mechanics came back into play, mostly to just save face and allow me to consider picking up the next book in the series and chalk this particular one up to a fluke of editing and chopping up the story incorrectly to try and span the tale/story over more individual books (this being the one that got the "odd-cut" or something), but this was just bad... All of the fun quests, game-mechanics, epic-story of outside world vs. Alterworld, and even the banter and comraderie amongst the Other Gamers/Main Character/Faction Acolytes/etc, it is just bad... Uninteresting, and lack of cohesiveness is the only way that I can describe it... It just doesn't fit with the way the story has been created thus far up to this installment... WHAT HAPPENED??? It makes me sad, and I really don't know if I want to even give any of the remaining titles in the series a shot, because it would take some SERIOUS "Writing Firepower" to come back from what "The Battle" was, in my honest opinion - as a gamer of RPGs, MMORPGs, and almost anything halfway decent in the sci-fi/Fantasy realm of writing... This should have been just as awesome as all of the series thus far - I mean coming into it, this is what I was thinking... I imagine there will be MANY others as well... Good luck D. Rus... The last 4 were outstanding, and I hope you find a way to bring your readers back to that type of emersion and enjoyment again soon... I REALLY do!!!
As my gateway LITRPG "Play to Live" was the chosen one and went full jarjarbinks... This book is just "okay". Most people say stop after book III maybe IV. I would agree; however, if you've already plowed this far I think you should power through V for the finality of the battle and then make a decision to continue on with VI or VII. Prepare for heavy Russian propaganda, cussing/sexism, and the author's thoughts on social issues.
I was wondering why this book received such low reviews on audible compared to VI and VII, but now that I have completed the series (book 8 still pending) it makes sense. The people rating VI and VII are the only ones left and they seem to actually like the new direction D. Rus is going in. Personally, If I was recommending this series I would tell people to read books I-V and then decide. VI is easily the weakest book in the series and VII was better but just ok. I feel invested at this point so I'll probably get 8 when it comes out just because I can't look away from the train wreck this series has become. D. Rus has cleary decided to move this series into some kind of cyberpunk/Russian nationalism platform with a light sprinkling of high fantasy and occasionally he remembers he should put a RPG element in the story somewhere. Sadly the series is drifting further and further away from the elements that made it one of the gold standard LITRPG series. Having completed book 7, I guess I understand why he brought all the "real world" elements into a virtual reality based book/world, but it ruined this series for me.
Hopefully, "The Way of the Shaman", "The Land", "Patch 17" and "Awaken Online" continue to deliver. I also found "The Gam3" surprisingly entertaining. If you found Max's recent angsty dialogue annoying and frustrating definitely skip "The Otherlife" series.
- alton Styron