4.8 216
by Conor Kostick

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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

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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 . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The action is nonstop, and the story flows seamlessly...A surefire winner. —Booklist, starred review

A captivating page-turner. —School Library Journal, starred review

Publishers Weekly

Irish author Kostick's powerful debut imagines an agrarian world where violence is illegal, except within a massive computer game that provides the economic and governmental structure for society. When they're not working in the salt mines of New Earth, everyone spends their time in the online game, Epic, accumulating resources and completing quests. Erik is frustrated both with the game and with his father, Harald, who refuses to play. Harald does eventually appear in the arena to demand more solar panels for his community, but his appearance unearths a secret in his past, and he is sent into exile. Erik finds a loophole that allows him to defeat a red dragon, making him one of the wealthiest players in the game; suddenly he is a threat to Central Allocations, a team of powerful players that are the world's de facto rulers, even though they do not fully understand the system they are manipulating. As the game becomes self-aware, there are whispers of a revolution among those who would use the game's technology for conversations and elections rather than endless fighting. Kostick manages to aim his allegory at two separate targets: the pointless wastefulness of a government too big to correct its course or even know its true nature, and, on a slightly more trivial note, the waste of time gamers spend in their online "second lives." The elegant conclusion will linger with readers. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Heidi Dolomore
Eric and his friends live in a farming village and are studying for university entrance exams. Studying consists of hours spent in a massive virtual reality game called Epic. The game acts as a political system and is dominated by a small council whose powers within the game are superhuman, allowing them to control the economy in the real world. Within Epic, Eric's friends gather coins and purchase meager weapons in anticipation of the contest that will determine whether they are accepted at the university. Eric, however, repeatedly kills his character in an attempt to learn how the game works. After yet another defeat, Eric starts the game anew, recklessly defying all assumptions concerning how the game should be played. Shockingly Eric accumulates more wealth in a few minutes than his friends have gathered in years of diligent and methodical gaming. Eric convinces his friends to join him in attacking a dragon, and against all odds, they defeat the creature and are suddenly in possession of immense wealth. Eric wants only to rescue his father, who was unjustly exiled by the council. To accomplish this, Eric undertakes a quest that could ultimately destroy Epic and forever alter society. The world of Epic blends past and future, pairing a feudal society with sophisticated technology. Gameplay is described in vivid language that immerses the reader in the adventure. With each battle the stakes are higher, and Erik must balance the risks to his friends and family against the rewards that accompany victory.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
On New Earth, violence is forbidden. All conflicts are resolved through a fantasy role-playing computer game called Epic, which is controlled by the autocratic Central Allocations Committee. When 14-year-old Erik's parents are threatened with exile—"reallocation"—he and his friends come up with a desperate, daring scheme to battle the Committee in the virtual arena and win. They must fight not only a powerful dragon in the game, but, unknown to them, the members of the Committee, who are vying for power with each other behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Epic is evolving on its own and revealing unsuspected depths, and the real battle turns out to be for control of New Earth's society. Fantasy fans, especially fans of role-playing games, will appreciate all the detail Kostick (a teacher of medieval history at Trinity College, Ireland, who also designs fantasy role-playing games) supplies in both the worlds he creates in this first novel. There's lots of swashbuckling action in the game—even a vampire and a pirate ship—which is of course the most fun, but there's suspense in the characters' hardscrabble, vaguely Scandinavian farmer-like lives on New Earth, too. Readers will be eager to continue the adventure in the sequel, Saga.
School Library Journal

Gr 8 & Up - Where fantasy and video games meet, there is Epic. In a society where violence is banned, people must settle their disputes in Epic, at the same time that they are trying to stay alive in order to accumulate wealth and status in both the game world and in reality. Impulsively, Erik creates his new Epic character to be female, and spends all his allocated start-up funds on beauty and attitude for Cindella rather than weapons, but something tells him that this is the way to go. She and his friends' characters use a succession of unusual methods to save Erik's father from exile and to challenge Central Allocations, the representatives who run the game, and thus, the society. Believable and realistic characters take readers through a thought-provoking story that juxtaposes a simple life working the land with the technology of a society simultaneously operating in a virtual world. Frequent turns of events that teens will know are coming, but not exactly when and how they will play out, keep the story moving along at a steady pace. There is intrigue and mystery throughout this captivating page-turner. Veins of moral and ethical social situations and decisions provide some great opportunities for discussion. Well written and engaging, Epicwill easily draw in avid readers and video-game players. Appealing to fans of both fantasy and science fiction, it is destined to see limited shelf time.-Dylan Thomarie, Johnstown High School, NY

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Kostick offers an engaging examination of an agrarian society whose economy and legal system operate inside a planet-wide computer game. New Earth has little technology-people ride in donkey-pulled carts and drink from clay mugs-except the vast, sophisticated computer game brought to their planet centuries ago. Physical violence is banned between real people, and all forms of commerce and justice take place between characters inside Epic. Fourteen-year-old Erik is spurred into action when Central Allocations, the ruling power, exiles his father for an old crime (a single moment of justified violence). Erik creates a new Epic character, Cindella, and takes her along nontraditional paths inside the game: Rather than drudge for years accruing tiny bits of money like his friends, spirited Cindella attempts world-changing adventures. Kostick's clunky phrasing and tendency to explain what he's already demonstrated are outweighed by the genuinely ambivalent relationship between humans and Epic. How far can this game go, and who will be served? The thought-provoking ending is oddly beautiful. (Science fiction. YA)

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Penguin Young Readers Group
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4.36(w) x 7.36(h) x 1.15(d)

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