[1 3] Pangea Online꞉ The Complete Trilogy꞉ Collected Editions

Pangea Online

The Complete Trilogy

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Pangea Online, the entire trilogy collected into a single volume for a credit, sounded good in theory. I’d also read a lot of people gushing about how good the story is. I respectfully must disagree. Okay, so the first book of the three wasn’t too bad. It was fun and engaging, and with a few tweaks to tie up parts of the end, the book could have worked really well as a one-shot… unfortunately, it didn’t stop there and got progressively worse and meaningless as the books went on.

The world of the future is the typical haves and have-nots. Our hero, Esil, is firmly in the have-nots, as can be expected. The behemoth behind the online fantasy immersion game, Pangea Online, sponsors those unfortunate souls stuck in the nuclear wastelands by putting them to work in the “data mines”, chipping away at the rock to unleash bits of code. This gives them enough to live on and not die, but not much else.

Esil works with a couple of friends he has made while working there. One lucky strike later, and Esil is on the fast track to a better life. But one of his friends in the mine has a sick mother and needs 100,000 in-game gold to pay for her treatment to save her life. Luckily, there’s a competition starting with that as a grand prize.

What follows is the typical three-act challenge where contestants from all over the world battle it out to win the prize.

Where it all fell over for me started in book two. The second book pivots away from the world of adventuring through Pangea that we know to an entirely different world. Separate from the normal Pangea Online, Esil spends most of book two here without any particular direction or reason or even over-arching subplot to tie the books together.

Then once we get onto book three, it’s like everything that mattered so deeply to Esil in book two is forgotten about while we get back to Pangea, and Esil reluctantly mentors another have-not from the same orphanage where he grew up.

The side characters that help Esil along the way vary somewhat. Buzz, his best friend, actually sounds more interesting the Esil, and I’d probably like a book that explores the shenanigans he gets up to after he sets up a farm on Asgard. Aleesia and the other female characters feel more like side-notes to the story. Aleesia, of course, falls for our hero. There are others, but they mainly just play supporting roles for Esil.

I get that it’s a fantasy system with access to countless different worlds, but there didn’t feel like there was any unifying idea behind the series. We moved from fantasy adventure, steampunk, space fights, and Norse gods… which all makes sense in the game, but so much important stuff just gets left behind. Kind of like the author had a bunch of ideas but couldn’t choose which one to focus on, so we get them all.

The narration by Justin Thomas James was a miss for me as well. His voice didn’t suit the main character. He’s supposed to be just eighteen or so because he had to leave the orphanage, but no eighteen-year-old sounds like this guy. The narration makes Esil sound like a C-Suite executive of some important company rather than the meek kid he is. The normally polished production from Soundbooth Theatre suffered in the first book as well. A repeated line or two and a mispronunciation of an important side character… which was weird because SBT is normally rock solid.

In the end, I’m glad I only dropped a single credit on the series. I don’t think I’ll return to this book in the future. Once was enough. As it was, I ended up doubling the playback speed of the final book just to drill through it and get it done. Begrudgingly giving this 2.5 stars because the first story was okay. The rest of the books pulled this down hard.


Epic Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult
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