Battle of the Linguist Mages

Tor.com. Jan. 2022. 448p. ISBN 9781250767721. $28.99. FANTASY
Moore’s first full-length novel (after the novella Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You) is a fantasy set in modern-day Los Angeles, focusing on a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that’s has the potential to overpower and possibly destroy the physical world. Protagonist Isobel Bailie is the Queen of the Sparkle Dungeon, a role honed over years of play. She jumps at the chance to do user-testing for the game’s next upgrade—until it turns out that it’s Isobel who’s being tested, to determine whether she can use her virtual powers to change the real world. It’s a nightmare come true once she learns that others have already figured out how to use these powers for evil. Moore’s novel ports the immersiveness of MMORPGs into reality through the power of language, while taking potshots at manipulative advertising, politicians who do very little while promising everything, and the titans of Silicon Valley who have more control over most people’s lives than anyone likes to think.
VERDICT The inventiveness and intensity of Moore’s storytelling perfectly blends Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Readers who enjoy gaming will find the novel accessible and appealing.
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