Author: M.C. Plank
Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books
Unique Elements: A Kendo-trained engineer from Earth finds himself transported to a magical world where he must represent a god of War to get home.
Series: World of Prime #1
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Number of Page: 429 pages
MSRP: $18 Trade Paperback/$9.99 ebook
Discount Link: Click Here
Website: Click Here
Purchase Site: Click Here
Reviewed by: J.T. Hanke
Final Score: 5 Moons (out of 5)
When Christopher Sinclair—a mechanical engineer from Arizona—wakes up in a medieval society in another plane of existence, he at first believes he’s going mad. However, the more he tries to fight the realization, the more the reality of his straits sink in.
Unable to speak the native language, despite being surrounded by other humans, he quickly errs by enraging a mystic nobleman, who, it turns out, has the right to claim his head. When the mysterious Church of the Bright Lady intervene on a technicality, Christopher’s given the choice between ignominious death or going on a spirit quest and taking sacred vows to become a healer. He opts for the spirit quest and the sacred vows.
However, when he emerges from the spirit quest not solely as a healer for the Bright Lady, but also as a fierce paladin for her consort, Marcius, the god of War, no one knows what to expect.
Christopher, on the other hand, now knows what he can expect—or at least, what he can plan for. If he can just survive the nobleman who still wants his head and raise a King’s ransom, he’ll bring science, the industrial revolution, and modern warfare to a world that’s never had access to it.
And, if he can change things enough to suit his divine master, he might be able to finally find his way home to his wife.
It’s been a long time since a fantasy book so quickly pulled me in and compelled me to read it so convulsively. Planck has a way of streamlining things so you don’t get bogged down in minutiae, but are always being pulled along to the next exciting set piece or reveal.
The exploration of a modern man in a medieval AND mystical culture is intriguing on its own merits, but having him become an avatar for a mystic warrior who intends him to disrupt everything is really fascinating—especially after Christopher starts using his knowledge to develop guns.
The interpersonal dynamics of Christopher and the folks of the land are quite enjoyable, as he gets to be a somewhat revered, yet totally foreign, presence that behaves almost like Loki in this world. (His desires are pure, but his means to go about them cause everyone to distrust him and doubt him, especially since he leaves a wave of chaos in his wake.)
Equally fascinating is the exploration of the dynamics of magic, which is measured in a bio-manna system called Tael. Somewhat reminiscent of a cross between Highlander and iZombie, Tael is magic energy stored in the brain of sentient beings. When they die or are killed, that Tael can be harvested to help level up magic users (known as “ranked”) further into the mystic ranks of nobility. Not only can it be permanently used to increase someone’s power, but it can also be utilized by the highest ranks for incredible feats like healing the newly dead or even restoring someone to fully renewed life from a single bone.
Additionally, there is an added set of dynamics through a color-based affiliation system that reminds me somewhat of the Manna System from Magic the Gathering. Although there are six color groups (vs. five in MTG), they generally deal with similar philosophical concepts, with the absolutes of black being about darkest and most manipulative behavior and white being about selfless and communal behavior, while actual hue shades go between these extremes. From closest to white to closest to black, blue is about order and law, Green is about fame and glory, Red is about passion and violence, and yellow is about selfish and capitalistic motives.
A story about an Outsider caught in a corrupt world that has a chance to use his knowledge to change things for the better? Check.
A romantic tale about a person willing to do anything to get home to the woman he loves? Check.
A cutting political commentary hidden within a fantasy cloak? Check.
Yep, this is definitely a great fantasy novel that’s also a great Gothic fit!
This book is a joy to read and explore. Not only is it a great novel, but I hope to God that Pyr signs a deal with a video game company because the Tael, Affiliation, and Race mechanics Planck put in this series would make it one that could convert to an amazingly good Action RPG video game. (The guns and blades element to this scream Square-Enix Final Fantasy-style game, although I’d love to see EA take a swipe at it with their Unreal-powered engine they use on their Lord of the Rings games.)
Story: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Dynamics: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Gothic Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Final Score (not an average): 5.0 Moons (out of 5)