by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach
It’s dangerous to go alone…
Tina will protect her brother James, his brother, and her Roughnecks to the bitter end. And the end is surely coming. As the players enter Bastion, their hope of salvation, they are crushed to find there is no sanctuary. The King’s Knights are slaughtering players, the undead are on the move, and the Once King is marshalling his forces as the players desperately join with any like-minded players they can find and they’re not above saving some NPCs on the way. Each faction must recognize the humanity of the other if they are to survive. But will it be enough? Can Tina overcome the fear that she has instilled in her guild members in the hard drive to reach Bastion? Can her brother prove to her that he’s not the slacker he used to be? Can they find any NPCs in Bastion who don’t want to slaughter them? Can any of them live long enough to reach the portals home before they are all betrayed to the Once King’s forces?
Last Bastion is even more enjoyable than the first book in the series. While the FFO books are much darker than Rachel Aaron’s/Rachel Bach’s other books, they’re well-written with her signature depth and characterization. I can’t decide if my recognizing so many fights and bosses from different games I have played is a good or a bad thing, LOL. In the first book, part of that hindered my read, since I’ve been that guild leader trying to get a raid together after everyone who claims they just HAD to raid squirreled and didn’t show at raid time. Same for dealing with haters, griefers, GIRLs (GuysInRealLife) masquerading in bikini armor, and all the negativity that can be in the game.
Shoutouts to iconic quests, bosses, and NPCs add a bit of levity, from the Headless Horseman to Hogger. And, yes, I recognize that tank-as-you-walk-backward-blindly-in-circles technique from my very first try at tanking when someone conned me into helping them with a raid because they were short a tank. It was going to be easy. (Gosh, that was an embarrassing nightmare I will never forget. Thank you very much, but I’ll stick to healing from now on.)
But even as there are so many good folks in the gaming world if you look beneath the stereotypes, there are many doing good in Aaron and Bach’s FFO, and in Last Bastion, that goodness moves to the forefront. Siblings with fractured relationships, friends with secrets, top-tier raiders, kick-butt PVPers, lowbie players, and auction house moguls all join together to be the army that they need to survive the coming holocaust. Many of them were the best in the world when they played, now they have to be the best when it’s back-to-the-wall hell in this world where death is permanent. If they’re all alone in this world, at least they have each other. Well, and a few well-planned gathering and crafting quests won’t hurt.
Aaron and Bach never let you forget the peril whether it’s in details of the thick of battle or quiet reminders of NPCs with their own struggles and trials. The world-building continues as the mythology behind The Nightmare and the world’s current nightmare threads around the stories of players doing their best to survive while regaining their humanity and honor. Highly recommended to fans of Rachel Aaron fans, gaming, fantastical worlds, and great storytelling.
Bastion was supposed to mean safety. It was supposed to mean a break from fighting for their lives and a chance to talk to someone who might actually know what’s going on. Access to their gold and some beer would have been nice, too.
They got none of those things. When Tina and James arrive in the capital, they find a city on fire in more ways than one. Players and non-players hunt each other in the streets, while the king who controls the city’s all-powerful artifact cowers from the chaos in his castle. Desperate to warn somebody about the Once King’s coming invasion, James wants to try to talk to the king anyway, while Tina just wants to meet the royal portal keepers who might be able to send them home.
It shouldn’t be hard to get an army of the world’s best-geared players through one city, but when they discover that the captain of the Royal Knights has been massacring low-level players in revenge disguised as justice, James and Tina will have to decide what is more important: the lives of their fellow gamers, or the stability of this world’s last great city. Both choices deserve a champion, but with the Once King’s armies closing in, taking the wrong side may doom everyone to an eternity as slaves to the Ghostfire.