Saga – by Conor Kostick
I put off reading this for a long time because I wasn’t sure it could live up to the first volume in the trilogy, but I needn’t have worried. Saga is every bit as fascinating and gripping as Epic was, despite taking place in a brand new world with a new cast of characters.
Epic told the story of Erik, a boy on New Earth thousands of years in the future, who set out to defeat the video game world that controlled the society in which he lived. Saga takes place in a new virtual world, which has evolved past its original purpose as a game. Ghost and her friends are anarcho-punks on the bottom rung of a strict class structure. It isn’t until new people start appearing and disappearing suddenly that Ghost starts to realize the true nature of her world. Erik and the people of New Earth think Saga is just a game until they become addicted to it and discover that the Dark Queen of Ghost’s world is holding them hostage. Erik joins Ghost and her friends to find a way to take down the Queen and restore justice.
The concept of a sentient computer game is interesting, as is Ghost’s predicament in discovering the true nature of her world, and both dealt with very well here. The characters are well realized and the plot is action-packed. The mystery of Ghost’s forgotten past also adds to the suspense. The characters from Epic are present and Erik/Cindella does figure heavily in the plot, but this is not their story—it’s Ghost’s and she carries it effortlessly. The chapters from the Dark Queen’s point of view were harder to get through, but I was hooked nonetheless. It probably helps to start with the first book, but I can see this one working as a stand-alone as well.