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 #4
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Number of Page: 351 pages
MSRP: $18 Trade Paperback/$9.99 ebook
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Reviewed by: J.T. Hanke
Final Score: 4.5 Moons (out of 5)
After realizing the portal to earth can’t be achieved at the level he’s achieved unless he has no interest in returning to Prime, Christopher elects to stay behind so that he can raise himself to the highest level of tael user–where he can open a portal that goes two ways to the realm of Man.
But to do that he’ll have to prove to the current king–who now sees Christopher as a major threat–that he’s not a traitor due to the alliances he made with the Ulven Men and Elves in the last part. To show his honor and steadfastness, he and his army journey to defeat a dragon that’s devoured an old military rival of his and which is terrorizing the country side.
Things get further complicated when Christopher runs in to a liaison of the elven people—the second contact that Prime has had with the elves. As he’s put to the test to deal with a collation of dragons and goblins, he’ll have to make friends where he can.
However his new allies will push him closer and closer to the brink of all out war against the feudal establishment that currently exist; far sooner than Christopher had planned his coup.
As with all of Planck‘s books in the series, the story is fast and furious moving you through days and months of warfare in pages. In general, this allows a lot more focus on interactions and action scenes without too much time being wasted on minutia (like walking and the logistics of moving lots of people anywhere).
The story arc is compelling as we now deal with many more saboteurs and enemies of Christopher’s crusade within the kingdom.
With that said, despite the good that a terse arc does for a novel, the story pacing is starting to get a little too compressed, such that some key points feel either rushed through or can be missed entirely. (For example of the latter, I completely missed exactly when it was revealed to Christopher that although he could journey one way to earth at the level of Prophet, if he got to level 19, he could open a two way doorway. Although there were hints that this might be possible when he dealt with the Bardic college in the second book, it was never clearly spelled out enough that I noticed prior to an aside part way through this, the fourth book.)
This particular story felt like it probably should have been books four and five in a seven part series, rather than just book four in a clearly intended five part series.
With that said, the conclusion of this book is satisfying and makes me hungrier for the next part of the story.
Interpersonal dynamics in this book continue to grow as Christopher has to really explore his feelings for his bard, Lalania, as there relationship continues to get more complicated. There isn’t as much dynamic growth between he and his lieutenants in this book as there have been in the past, but we do continue to get some growth and insight from his personal assistant, the redeemed Cannan, which is nice.
The majority of the dynamics in this book are in political dynamics, as alliances and enemies shift with every choice Christopher makes. As he grows more powerful, unlocking new abilities at a staggering rate, he also is faced with ethical dynamics of how to use his power for the greatest good, which is a nice touch.
A cross between House of Cards and Game of Thrones, the political intrigue will keep you on the edge of your seat. Continued emphasis on not judging a book by its cover, while also exploring the limits of ethics in the face of power, is one that feels very Gothic to me. It doesn’t have a lot of easy answers, which is also quite Gothic, and I find myself more curious about what the final ending of the series will be.
While I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I did the last book due to less focus on the supporting cast and a little too rushed narrative, I really did have a good time with it. The World of Prime series continues to be one I recommend to the friends and family who love good fantasy, especially ones that mix in martial arts and Machiavellian politics.
Story: 4.0 Moons (out of 5)
Dynamics: 4.0 Moons (out of 5)
Gothic Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Final Score (not an average): 4.5 Moons (out of 5)