Monday, March 29, 2021

The First Human Rider

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This novella, which combines elements of reality, fantasy, and science fiction, opens with the old wizard Myrddin seeing the forces of light gather via a cauldron, with a meteor heading for Earth. There exists an order of Dragonriders, with a female among their ranks largely unheard of, although a blind girl named Alex is a prospective candidate for the group whom he intends to get to the world of Middang3ard, initially thought of as a mere MMORPG that she enjoys. Despite being blind, she is somehow able to see in the game’s virtual world, and encounters the Hindu deity Shiva, being one of the only players to survive a special trial, finding the Jewel of Qa.

Myrddin is the CEO and creator of Middang3ard, lauding Alex for her skill in being one of the few humans to pass the trials. She eventually wakes up back in her home, with her parents appreciating her gaming hobby, although there is concern about Middang3ard being a real place. Manny, an odd creator called a Beholder, visits the family, initially shocking them, and gives Alex the gift of sight in real life. Myrddin himself visits, with the family taken to the real Middang3ard, her parents initially reluctant to allow her to go to war at her age. Alex too has mixed feelings about this, although she is glad to show her parents her virtual world, with the story ending around this point.

All in all, this was a short but sweet novella that’s definitely easy to follow and a nice break from the more convoluted stories in the fantasy and science-fiction literary genres, very well combining elements from both with a hint of reality, with occasional cultural references such as to the Star Wars franchise. Both authors also end with notes written a few days before Christmas back in 2019, with one of Vance’s children having a troubled birth, and Anderle hinting he might be on the autism spectrum like I am. There is admittedly a bit of confusion such as the nature of Alex’s blindness, and some odd names such as Middang3ard itself, but I’m definitely not hesitant to recommend this book.

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