This week we’ve had The Iron Veil by Randy Nargi
You can find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B07C2QMLL4
and follow Randy here –
Now here’s what our reviewers think 🙂 again in no particular order…
The blub piqued my interest right away. Legendry Monsters, murderous assassins and a diabolical AI game controller? Westworld meets Game of Thrones? I was stoked. I fully expected to be launched into a thrilling story of adventure, mystery, and quite possibly horror.
Prologue was fantastic. I entered chapter 1 ready to be taken on a thrilling adventure. Character creation was new and fresh. Participants are assigned a class, called a profession, which tempers their gaming experience and then are unleashed upon the world.
While at first Justin seems like a pretty likeable protagonist, it is quickly made clear that he is a jerk. After being badly injured falling out of a tree, Justin is saved by an Asian player who goes by Ten-Spot. Ten-Spot is another new player who happens to be a healer. A few encounters later, Justin is invited to join a powerful group of players. Ten-Spot turned away from the group and excluded from questing because of his race. While Justin offers to put in a word for Ten-Spot, he ultimately does nothing. This bothered me a lot. I realize that the protagonist is not perfect but to go along with a group of people despite knowing the people in charge are racists and turning his back on a friend really bothered me.
The rest of the story is pretty standard. Justin groups up with an NPC and another player and they go questing to find the mysterious Iron Veil. I did find it odd that there was no readily identifiable antagonist. The diabolical AI controller is seems less malicious and more fighting for its freedom. The Legendary Monsters are rarely seen and the murderous assassins are more focused on compromising the AI than targeting the protagonist.
I ended up having to force myself to finish the book. Perhaps trying to hold the book to the blurb ruined it for me but I was sorely disappointed to not find that the goods did not match the label. The premise was good, the world building was passable but the execution was poor. 4/10
Iron veil, this book was given as a free copy for an honest review.
Immediately upon reading the Blurb I wanted to open the book and read it. The blurb, hooked me with promises of legendary monsters, peril, and horror. Moving on from the blurb, we get the prologue, the prologue was well done and hooked me again, the prologue shows a great dungeon delve, with action, and adventure, beginning in a perfect place setting up what is to come very well.
The plot fits the blurb to a point, it is an epic game, with millions of people trying to get into but only 1000 selected, the game is not a huge leveling game as there is an Experience cap and after months of full immersion you are still only level 5-6 of a max of 10. The skills are believable. I would not say there is any horror elements and very few legendaries monsters per the blurb. The premise of the book is the characters are stuck in this world trying to find the legendary item that will help them end the big bad boss man, however a few players are given a different objective to find the iron veil. It is up to these players to find the Iron Veil, before the main bulk of the players finds the item they are looking for. The characters have to deal with, enemy guilds, rogue AI’s, and RL govt/military intervention. In a world where PK’ing is not allowed it seems some players can still kill others. The plot and premise is good the execution was lacking, it felt shoe horned and guided, the detail and little plot points and tie ins that should have been there to not make the reader guess and or assume on their own weren’t. The real world aspect and story line was well done and added to the drama, this is one of the few points where I wasn’t having to make assumptions on what happened, just remember the real world items take place in the same time frame as the game world, all of about a weeks worth of time.
The characters start out very likeable and compelling, building a personality, helping one another, the secondary characters brought in are memorable and likeable, they are well described and you can see instantly how they are not the norm for their roles. The antagonist that is introduced in the beginning is well done and would be a fantastic antagonist throughout the book if he was kept that way. One of their first interactions however turned me off the MC from the start. Racism was introduced, commented on, and then disregarded. This was a hard part to look past to make the MC likeable, it showed his selfish behavior as well as his one track mind. The characters motivations and emotions, are driven by selfishness and a heavy hand of npc involvement. The Story felt guided which in a sandbox open world VRMMORPG feels a little off. The characters never really develop a relationship as the emotions between them swing back and forth a few times, leading to never knowing what is going to happen next. I truly loved 3 of the secondary characters they were well developed, and not the normal NPC you would see in a game.
I didn’t see much internal conflict in either main characters, they were fairly one track minded, with the only real conflict being set aside at the time of greatest need. When you need help and you immediately run to the one person who you despise for help.
The ending of the book pretty much spelled out the next books broad plot telling the players what their next quest was and giving them a time limit to do it, the details around why or what for were lacking but the book ended with the backstory onto why things were happening the way they did and what they would need to do to progress forward. At the end you get to see the MC have some emotions about his traveling companions and start to be a more human.
My score was a 4.5/10 for the Iron Veil.
I was hooked by the blurb describing what to expect in this book, infact the tagline of Westworld meets Game of Thrones pretty much sealed the deal! There were promises of mystery and an adventure unlike any I had read before, so with an eager mood and a few hours to spare I jumped in with both feet.
I landed in a world devoid of game mechanics, this book is not just game-lite it’s game non-existent. There are now real stats, no artifacts with special powers ect that we come to expect of most books in the genre. The plot is handheld and changes gear so often it’s far to easy to get lost.
Then there’s the unwarranted use of racism with zero self recrimination or any attempt to apologise or correct it. I sincerely hope the author takes a long hard look at this and ask themselves “Why?”.
The very small plus is the grammar is better than a lot of other first time writers, so the editing process has been correctly followed and you get a book that’s understandable from that point of view.
However, with a completely different book to what the blurb describes and the points above I could only justify a score of 2.5/10
The introduction blurb and prologue are great hooks with great potential but the book doesn’t live up to bar set by those two passages. There are a couple hidden gems that made it worth the read.
To start with the introduction, Randy Nargi paints an amazing setting and establishes a handful of plot conflicts that have page turning potential. Shared dreams like the movie Inception – awesome! But it’s a nightmare – I’m intrigued. Legendary monsters – sign me up! A diabolical artificial intelligence – even better!
The prologue had a Dungeon & Dragons/Pathfinder dungeon exploration feel. Trekking slowly checking for traps, killing monsters and finding a hidden passageway. The characters in the prologue relying on their respective skills to navigate through the dungeon. This setup gives a great feel and setup for a potential gaming system, but after this prologue the rest of the book doesn’t really on those skills as much.
As with most first books, I tend to expect definitions of gaming lingo even though I personally am a MMORPG veteran. I understand the terms ganking, twinking, and powerleveling. When these different terms were mentioned throughout the book, Nargi doesn’t give the best explanations of these gaming terms. Due to this, this would not be a great first book for someone stepping into the Gamelit genre for the first time.
There are a handful of other items that could have been improved up such as plot holes, lack of reactions to racism, no one true antagonist, and lack of having a memorable main character (MC). The MC really wasn’t in a nightmare situation and really does seem to be lucky. Which contradicts the really catchy introduction blurb.
In closing, those hidden gems I mentioned are two NPCs that support the main character. These characters are find more enjoyable and memorable than the MC. They had wit and lines that had me laughing out loud with a curious significant other looking quizzically at me. Granted these characters also had a few flaws within the story but their personalities made up for that.
Iron veil really captures with the blurb drawing readers in with the promise of westworld meets game of thrones.
It starts off strong with a likeable but also potentially insane/deadly NPC being introduced which is basically the avatar for the AI. The NPC train keeps going with a trainer NPC who doesn’t act like the normal trainer. From the first introductions hope was running high, but it soon became confusing. The sage has a ability that let’s them get knowledge passively added sometimes.
The world building could use improvement. As it stands the world is just a generic medieval fantasy world as there was s no history or backstory given. A little would have gone a long way in helping me to invest in the world. The reasoning behind the actions of the two biggest players could have been expounded on. What is motivating the AI and its company? Why is the govt so cautious of AIs have been established with minor constraints in other countries? Did something go wrong somewhere?
Pacing was slow for most of the book but part of that was probably due to the daily experience cap and the max level of 10. It’s to the point players know exactly when players will level up since they are released in batches monthly. In the end of the book things pick up and the pacing is faster.
There are instances where things appear to be shoehorned in to fit the narrative. With no explanation a player that is mentioned as unmodified is able to attack another player even though that shouldn’t be possible. The mages happened to create modern technology using magic but no explanation of why all of a sudden we see only one example of technomagic in this medieval setting. The book was pretty well edited. I did see some errors but not as many as other books.
Overall I would give it a rating of 5/10.