Series: Emerilia - A Science fiction fantasy LitRPG Series. Written by: Michael Chatfield.
It was 13:00 on the 1st of June (today a time of writing) that I finally finished reading the Emerilia series. It was 11 books and I was a hair away from not only stopping reading it but putting the whole series in the bin.
This is a LitRPG series. LitRPG’s are the best kind of trash! I love them. I enjoy the genre very much even though I am under no disillusions. I know that they are usually crap and often not terribly written. The Genre is a pallet cleanser that I tend to fall back to after a heavy sci-fi epic. Its my kind of trash. But this series is just… astonishing (not in a good way.)
The briefest outline I can give you is – Man plays game. Man finds out that game is actually reality and earth is a simulations (Its a staple of LitRPGs.) Things happen, gods are fought and space ships arrive!
Here are the books in the series:
1 The Trapped Mind Project 1 Benvari Mountains 1 For the Guild 1 New Horizons 1 This Is Our Land 1 Stone Raiders’ Return 1 Time of Change 1 Beyond All Expectations 1 Of Myths and Legends 1 The Pantheon Moves 1 Empire Burning
I went through the first one as an audio book, then switched to print for one (because someone gave me a copy – thanks Mom!) then a few on kindle. Then back to audio books. I think I was trying to find the least annoying way of getting through them.
Assuming I read at least as fast as the Audio book plays, then I have spent around 114 hours of my life (a little under 5 days, I suppose) slogging though this series.
The progression was thus:
“First book was okay but writing was weak, fantasy books are always a bit shit, maybe it will get going when the science fiction kicks in. I do like some of the characters.” Second book – “That was pretty good. Not enough sci-fi yet.” Then I started the downward spiral of “Good overall story, but trash writing” and “I’m sure it will get really good soon.”
Spoiler: It did not get better, the science fiction did not save the series, actually given how familiar I am with the science fiction genre all the sci-fi elements did was serve to highlight how bad the writing was.
I had a rant not too long ago on this very internet hole about how I was getting more than a little pissed off with the series.
What was wrong with it, in the end?
The story was actually alight. Genuinely it was a solid enough story and while the pacing was very off at times it was nothing a good editor couldn’t have fixed.
The problems lay deep within the writing. The author reached for very obvious lines and childish character moments.
We have one character (Steve) who was comic relief, the same way Clap-Trap is in Borderlands. Endless nonsense with no substance. Just because you know your character is annoying and you are doing it on purpose, it doesn’t negate the fact that its annoying!
Over the cause of the series there are romances developed and they actually develop pretty well except that any intimate scenes read like the fan-fic of a 14 year old boy. All the female characters behave in the same male-fantasy-pandering overly flirty way and everyone seems to go “IT’S SEX TIME NOW” before, well sex time, I guess.
The writer also over uses words to the point that I found myself counting them. I moaned about this in my last “rant” about the series but it only grated on me more and more as I went on.
Towards the end of the series everyone and their mom (literally) was described as “looking like a war-god” or “like a god-of-war.” It was like the writer had stumbled across the line once and was like “YEAH! SO CREATIVE! I’LL KEEP DOING THAT”
It was only slightly less annoying than the time he discovered the word “snort” and everyone went around snorting at everything for three books.
The there is the thing that’s hard to actually put into words; The general lack of artistic structure to sentences. A word will appear too frequently in a paragraph or the same thing will be said in a slightly different way within a few lines. It hard to put into words without just seeming like I’m just being mean. I literally threw my physical print of book two, out of rage. I was reading book six… but I was so annoyed that I went to my bookshelf, picked up volume two and threw it at the wall. I did this because I wanted to throw book six and Kindles are expensive. Proper launched that book I did. Felt good.
Why in the name of the gods-of-war did you keep reading?
Literally, honestly, 100% I have no idea. It was like torture by the end. I usually read a book every week but towards the end it was taking me three times that long to get though because I hated it so much.
I took a few breaks but for some stupid reason, kept going back to it.
I think the reason I kept reaching for it was a stupid one. At book six (where I should have just stopped) I was convinced it MUST have gotten better because there were 11 of the damned things. How do you get 11 books published when book six makes at least this reader throw things? I assumed it was the “bad bit” that a lot of longer series suffer from. By the time I realised that there was not going to be any end to the bad-bit I was only a couple of book away form the end.
Was it all bad?
No. not at all. It would have been far worse if it went on for another volume!
Seriously though the overall story arch was pretty good. The use of magic was interesting as it slowly made the transition to science-fiction, eventually missing its mark but the idea was solid.
A few things should have saved the series, for me at least:
Dont every try and explain the magic: this Nanite shit didn’t do anything except highlight how dumb it all was. Should have just said “magic wasn’t in the earth simulation but it is 100% totally real” and left it at that.
Pre-plan: sometimes I was like wait… was that a ret-con or shameless power-creep? A bit of “limit” planning and structure planning would have sorted all that out. Made our main characters progression from “dude” to “war-god” less of an “okay, I guess” and more of a “oh, I see how we got here”
Stat sheets: One of the things that make a LitRPG ‘an RPG’ (sort of) is the character sheets. I don’t pay much mind to them as long as number keep getting bigger but a few times I am pretty sure they didn’t add up how they should. I didn’t care enough to actually check and just started skipping the pages. A shame really as in most Lit-RPGs I love to get nerdy and think about what the points allow the character to actually do. In Emerilia they were just, here and they were there, a LOT.
Edit: Edit edit edit edit edit. HIRE A DAMNED EDITOR and edit the book to make it all flow nicer! A good editor would have said “HEY! Mr writer! Mike, can I call you Mike? We need to talk about your bad habits and structure issues!”
Volume: 11 fucking books? really? We could have done this in about 7 and missed out a lot of pointless shit. Part of the problem was that instead of being written like movies or episodes the series feels like one single MASSIVE book and one carried on from the last exactly. I think in part this is why I kept going, there wasn’t a good jumping off point.
The Sci-Fi: The problems with the sci-fi portions were that this world didn’t lend its self to science fiction. It felt out of place talking about magic barriers and spells when we should have been raising shields and firing phasers. I think if we had have been asked to accept magic as a science in of its self in this world then it would have been smoother but trying to mesh nanite-powered magic with star-wars was like telling me that Harry potter was really a secret scientist when you should have called him a Jedi and moved on with your day.
Female characters: I get that our series has strong female characters but fucking hell. They are all the same damned person!
Everyone is over powered: There are no weak people in this world. Not one person who isn’t a “war-god.” Not everyone can be a power house, it makes no sense. some people must be a bit shit!
Character purpose: There’s a few characters that don’t seem to mean anything or matter to anything. The most annoying being a man named Frank who comes into it in the last few books and basically never overlaps with our main characters. Like… I get you want a narrative device to talk about all the cool space shit, but use that to make the story stronger not an unrelated narrative. Idiot.
Do I recommend this series.
NO I DO FUCKING NOT! I wish I would unread it!