Overview (No Spoilers):
Dravincia brought back so many fond memories of the hours I spent as a kid playing Zelda on my brother’s Game Boy. This book one of The Dimensional Wars series, is the first role playing game book I’ve ever read, and it is genuinely a lot of fun. Severson captures a lot of the minute details that make old school video games so entertaining, from leveling up and going on quests to developing new skills and acquiring treasures. The only comparable book that comes to mind is Ready Player One; however, Dravincia isn’t based in virtual reality, instead the world itself is the game. Another major difference is that Severson’s novel mainly takes place in one small village, inhabiting a remote corner of a much larger realm. Keeping a more localized setting allows a thorough development of the complex leveling up and skill building potential and general limitations of this world. With the game rules established, Severson has seemingly countless ways he could expand and evolve this world beyond the confines of this little village.
Much effort was expended in Dravincia to outline the various available skills and the tedium of leveling up such that the pacing throughout large swaths of this book seem to crawl. And yet, even though I recognized the slow development of the story, I still highly enjoyed the read. In this way, I am also reminded of a video game because often one needs to take significant time to build skills and power before advancing. If anything, my main complaint is that everything came too easily to our protagonist. Despite being new to this strange world, he manages to ace everything he tries on the first attempt, regardless of how difficult or rare the feat. It would have served to humanize him by making him sweat for at least a few victories.
The dialogue is occasionally choppy and (as someone who loves details I can’t believe I’m making this complaint) the details are selectively specific, but these issues didn’t deter from the story as a whole. Overall, any video game lover will be highly entertained by Severson’s unique literary RPG world in Dravincia, where creativity and ingenuity are significantly rewarded.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- What is Allendria’s history? Will her uncle come for her?
- What had hidden Arthur’s hair color?
- I wanted Allendria, Dalia, and Vana to play bigger roles. Allendria can wield fire but had to be saved over and over again. Dalia totally disappeared after getting her royalty paperwork.
- What did Rowan think of Arthur suddenly wielding magical abilities?
- What did the town think of the changes?
- Is there more to Daniel than meets the eye?
- What is the Godess’ endgame? We glimpsed more of her motivations in the epilogue though her past is still vague. Is she good or evil? What will happen when the city religions get word of the goddess the village is praying to?
Greaves: armor for the shin
Strafing: to rake (ground troops, an airfield, etc.) with fire at close range and especially with machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft
Vambraces: a piece of medieval armor designed to protect the forearm