Immersion. That’s the first idea that comes to mind when writing about Edward Brody’s brilliant novel, Eden’s Gate: The Reborn.
Released in 2017, Eden’s Gate: The Reborn features a new type of VR World: Eden’s Gate. It’s comparable to Ready Player One‘s OASIS, but the creator of this new world doesn’t tell the users about its dark secret… not until it’s too late, at least.
Over five million people bought the exclusive VR headsets for Eden’s Gate and logged in day one. However, an hour after it went live, the president of the company did a livestream where he announced that all people who logged in are now dead in real life as their subconscious has been transferred to Eden’s Gate. To prove his point, he then logs on himself in front of a shocked audience. The lead character Wade sees this message from inside Eden’s Gate, so it’s too late for him. He’s immersed, without a choice.
Turns out, however, that the gaming community doesn’t actually view this as a negative. In fact, people are actually logging in after this announcement too – to the point the President of America has to call a national emergency. Eden’s Gate: The Reborn expertly switches between real life and Eden’s Gate, and provides a thrilling back and forth between the two worlds.
Eden’s Gate is a virtual world structured a bit like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Set in a medieval-like time, Gunnar gets to explore a small portion of what this world has to offer within the opening novel to Edward Brody’s series. Gunnar dabbles in magic, upgrades his stats, and even befriends some high elves and other NPCs. For the most part, the dialogue is written really well, and Gunnar’s inner turmoil with being trapped in Eden’s Gate transforms realistically into acceptance for his new home. Some of the best writing comes from how Gunnar chooses to level up, and the novel clearly displays how each of his stats improve. Eden’s Gate: The Reborn is true LitRPG.
Sadly, some cliches are too present within the novel. Gunnar in real life is a bit of a recluse, but of course he has a fantastic girlfriend (Rachel) who is willing to buy him these expensive VR headsets. Plus, there’s some fairly cringey ‘sex-talk’ which just cries of young teenage angst. Gladly these parts are few and far between, and don’t taint the overall story too much.
Gunnar does come across one other actual player around halfway through the novel: a worker from the Eden Gate company who wants to try and save the game from the people in the real world who want to shut it down. Strangely, the only other real person who Gunnar meets in the game is, at times, as poorly written as a bad NPC. But his inclusion serves the purpose of adding extra spice to the story, and that is at least done very well.
At first Gunnar is set on finding Rachel, who could be anywhere within Eden’s Gate. But as the story develops, Gunnar’s ambition also grows, and new motives come into play.
Eden’s Gate: The Reborn is a highly immersive novel that’s as impossible to put down as Gunnar’s VR headset. It’s a must-read for all gamers looking for a fantasy novel in the style of a great RPG.