|Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 15, 2020 at 6:25 PM|
Tusk and Blade by Lavelle Jackson
At first glance, Tusk and Blade is the story of Logan Sharpe, a man who attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge but ended up being rescued only to face the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. What the story really is, however, is the tale of Necro Redhammer, an orc chaos butcher in the game, Exodus Online. Necro’s tale is a pretty standard LitRPG adventure story wherein he learns the rules of the game, gains a bunch of levels, and kicks NPC butt. There are a few interesting twists. The orc society is an incredibly cruel one with very little by way of acts of compassion. That means that Logan is actually playing an “evil” character whose powers are enhanced by him personally feeling pain. He doesn’t come off nearly as evil as the actual bad guys, but Necro is by no means nice and the player seems to thrive on killing NPCs in the most brutal ways possible.
The more interesting storyline revolves around how Logan got into the game, but unfortunately it is dropped completely early on and never resurfaces. Facing a life as a quadriplegic, Logan becomes more suicidal than ever, but is totally unable to act on his despair. Enter a corporation with U.S. government military sponsorship that has secretly developed a totally realistic virtual reality system. They approach Logan and offer him a new life in their fantasy VR world. The catch? Logan will be uploaded into the system permanently and can’t return to his physical body. Naturally, this doesn’t seem like any kind of drawback to Logan considering his paralysis, so he consents without any understanding of why this arrangement might benefit the corporation and the U.S. government—and much to my disappointment, we never get even the slightest hint as to what those benefits would be. Once Logan enters the game there is no connection whatsoever to this initial, utterly fascinating, storyline.
This raises a tough question—why take the time to develop these extreme circumstances if they were to have no impact on the story? I didn’t have to have the complete answer in this first novel of the series, but it was a major disappointment that the “real world storyline” was completely dropped once Logan entered the game. It makes me wonder if the author even plans to continue it in the sequels—and if he doesn’t, Exodus Online will prove to be a very ordinary LitRPG.
I received this book free from Audiobook Boom in exchange for an honest review.