Review by Curtis Cole
Returning to the universe of The Dragon’s Wrath, I was unsure of what to expect. Although the first volume was enjoyable enough, it suffered from some less than bearable moments of sexual introspection and existential Angst, not to mention a lagging pace on par with the worst LAN sessions imaginable. But still, the premise of author Brent Roth’s first volume—A virtual Dream—that of a virtual reality massively multiplayer online game set a fantasy world roughly modeled off of a fascination with Viking history, was compelling. I was interested in how the story developed and to what ends protagonist Brent would go to build his Northern kingdom. So I jumped back into Roth’s world and prepared myself for both the best, as well as the worst.
After finishing the second volume of The Dragon’s Wrath, I am pleased to report that, for the most part, the issues associated with the first volume have been fixed. No more is the reader subjected to tedious reports on the protagonist’s girl troubles; real world sections have largely been forgotten in favor of an acute focus on the in-game activities of the protagonist. This approach both speeds up the remaining world building that sets up the plot, as well as removes the iffy moments of the protagonist’s real life identity, thus, the meat of the volume—the in-game plot—is accelerated and the reader becomes interested in something which resembles an actual plot; this is a step up from the first installment where the narrative moved seemingly at random from one event to the next. Though the beginning reads in much the same fashion as the first volume, this is largely done to finish the narrative scaffolding and to form the basis for the conflict which will drive the remainder of the text.
The volume picks up immediately after volume one. And when I say ‘immediately,’ I mean immediately, for there is no summery of the prior events or neat narrative shuffling hinting at self-contained plot matter: in order to understand this second volume one must read the first volume, otherwise, the content will make no sense whatsoever. No in-text re-cap is provided; just pure plot. To me, this works. For as large an undertaking as Roth appears to be engaged in, and as plodding as the first volume needed to be, I would have been fairly ‘ticked,’ so to speak, had he spent additional time going over details he already covered previously. Though some may find this off-putting, or even a cheap gimmick aimed to force people and buy his previous volume, my opinion of it is very high-minded and would advise the author to continue with the tactic. It saves time and urges the reader forward.