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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Welcome to a society governed through computer games! On New Earth, society is governed and conflicts are resolved in the arena of a fantasy computer game, Epic. If you win, you have the chance to fulfill your dreams; if you lose, your life both in and out of the game is worth nothing. When teenage Erik dares to subvert the rules of Epic, he and his friends must face the Committee. If Erik and his friends win, they may have the key to destroying the Committee’s tyranny. But if they lose . ..…


by Conor Kostick

Overall Book Review:

On fourteen-year-old Erik’s world, the virtual reality game Epic is used to settle all disputes, to decide who attends university, and who receives needed supplies.

Erik doesn’t enjoy playing Epic in the slow, conventional way—especially now that his father’s been exiled. And he thinks he’s found a way to succeed quickly in the game—slay the Red Dragon and win its treasure.

If he and his friends can do that, they have a chance of defeating the players of the all-powerful Central Allocations committee and bringing about real change on New Earth.

With his new female character, Cindella, he and his friends slay the dragon, set out on an ocean voyage to hunt for more treasure—and to find a safe place from which they can challenge Central Allocations.

But there are dark forces opposing them—both in the real world and in the game, and their initial goal will be transformed as they discover that it may be possible to destroy the game itself.

Cindella will actually encounter the soul of the game—embodied in two characters, one good and one evil; the evil character will reach from the world of the game into the real world to kill the villain there.

The story has thrilling, action-packed episodes interspersed with slower moments. Readers will likely devour the book if they become interested in the game and in Erik’s quest to free his father and change the world.

Reading Level: 5.9, range 4.2-7.4.

Of interest to boys and girls.

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:

 This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.

D*mnation, h*ll

In real world: violence not allowed; Erik throws mug against wall and breaks it; dike workers killed because job is dangerous; children play at being knights, Erik breaks tooth; as student, Erik’s father punched another student, broke his nose; Erik imagines real violence in exile, a knife cutting someone, blood, wonders how it feels; discussion of possibility that Central Allocations may try to murder Erik and friends to stay in power; bad guy in Central Allocations murders another member of committee; vampire character in game wants bad guy to kill Erik and his friends; character from game kills person in real life. In the game: mother’s character killed in game, Eric wants to avenge her death by playing against Central Allocations, his character keeps getting killed; has to “hack away” in boring battles and kill wild animals in game to get ahead; back story of Cindella that she and her father were pirates, their ship captured at sea and sunk, she’s to avenge deaths of father and crew; fights to the death (in the game) are way to settle complaints (in real life); characters fight in arena, character shot with arrows, falls in water, drowns; character killed with sword attack; werewolf character tears out throat of healer character, is attacked with swords; team calls down birds to attack other team; mage sends fire at birds, many fall to ground, but some peck mage to death—all birds finally killed; character uses staff to direct zombie to kill its creator; villain plays character of Executioner in game, kills character just for  enjoyment of it, likes killing weak characters, laughs as he kills them; wyvern bites one character, burns up another, bites and kills a third, Cindella runs rapier into wyvern’s eye, killing it, somewhat graphic; Cindella and Erik’s friends shoot arrows at dragon for seven hours, dragon dies, they behead it, somewhat graphic; Central Allocations committee member plans to go on voyage with Cindella and others, as Executioner, will kill Cindella and her friends if necessary; Erik’s father’s character kills basilisk by attacking it from behind, runs it through; pirates burn Cindella’s ship; Central Allocations committee member hated his superior, gloats over his demise; vampire kills rat, other rats immediately eat it; Cindella hit and forced to go on deck; bad guy kills all the characters of other committee members with magic swords, arrows; Executioner agrees to kill Cindella and Erik’s friends’ characters; “army of evil creatures” encamped around place where tower will materialize, have catapults, giant clubs; one of Erik’s friends uses enchanted swords to kill ogres, somewhat graphic; another uses golden ax to kill ogre, another uses crossbow; ogres, orcs kill many of Erik’s army; Erik’s father wants to assassinate some of the eyeballs; Erik’s friend kills “more monsters than any other creature in the history of the game”; one of Erik’s friends’ characters killed; sorcerer sends burst of fire against Erik and friends, kills orcs around them; they kill sorcerer; skeletons fight them; Erik’s father’s character apparently killed in battle; Executioner tries to behead Cindella, is pulled from horse, “pin pricks of damage from nonmagical weapons. . . lowered his health”; Erik’s father stabs Executioner in back with poisoned blades; orc shot in mouth by crossbow; detailed battle with medusa, including cutting off one hand, her blood steams, burns like acid, snakes bite those close to her head, bears tear at other hand, she’s stabbed in throat and her body hacked at; two characters poisoned, but keep fighting; character jumps, crushes ribs of skeleton; vampire mesmerizes bad guy’s character from Central Allocations, reaches into his chest and grabs his heart, pulling it from his body, graphic description—bad guy dies in real life also; vampire and Avatar fight each other, vampire advances on Avatar, sends evil energy toward him, the two are locked in combat, each torturing the other; ex-committee member tries to attack Cindella, can’t, hits Avatar on the head, vampire tosses his body aside.

Implication that fellow student got Erik’s mother drunk and then tried to rape her; Erik wants to “hold [friend’s] slender body against his, to kiss her.”

Mature Subject Matter:


Alcohol / Drug Use:

 As student, Erik’s mother gets drunk with friend; drinking horn of mead passed around, accepted; mention of Erik’s friend (presumably a teen) getting drunk; visitor offered mead, accepts it; adults drink mead at celebration party, accepted. 

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

On May 15, 2014 Compass Book Ratings acquired Many reviews were acquired from and these reviews were not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist. Nevertheless, the reviews contain useful content information which is included.