This time, there’s no escape from the realm.
The MindWar Realm is a computerized world created by a deranged terrorist named Kurodar. Built through a link between Kurodar’s mind and a network of supercomputers, The Realm is a pathway through which the madman can project himself into any computer system on the planet.
Twice before, Rick Dial has entered the Realm as a Mind Warrior and come back alive. But now, something has gone terribly wrong. A connection has formed in Rick’s brain that sends him hurtling into The Realm without his consent—and brings the Realm’s monsters into the Real World.
As Kurodar works to turn Rick’s brain to his own purposes, Rick’s waking and sleeping life is ravaged by terrors he never imagined.
Rick knows he has no choice but to face The Realm’s fi nal and most powerful protector. But can Rick destroy MindWar without destroying himself and the people he loves?
About the Author
Andrew Klavan is an award-winning writer, screenwriter, and media commentator. An internationally bestselling novelist and two-time Edgar Award-winner, Klavan is also a contributing editor to City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute, and the host of a popular political podcast on DailyWire.com. His essays and op-eds on politics, religion, movies, and literature have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, and elsewhere. He lives in Southern California.
Read an Excerpt
The Mindwar Trilogy, Book Three
By ANDREW KLAVAN
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Andrew Klavan
All rights reserved.
THE CITY WAS empty except for the dead, but the dead were everywhere. Rick saw them staring at him through darkened windows, their jaws slack, their eyes open but lifeless. He saw their bodies lying in the gutters. He saw them sitting slumped at the tables in the outdoor taverns, or lying crumpled in the shop doorways, as if death had found them going out or coming in. He saw the soldiers propped against the courtyard walls, their swords still gripped in their hands, their mouths twisted in an eerie rictus — that fixed grin of slow decay.
Where am I? he thought. His heart was pounding. His head was spinning. Am I back in the Realm ? What part? I've never seen this place before. How did I get here?
His stare moved over the lifeless forms all around him. These weren't human bodies, not entirely human, anyway. Some were the corpses of those weird half-Boar creatures he had done battle with before, gigantic, tusked pigs that stood on two legs and wielded their weapons with strangely shortened arms that were covered in bristling thick, spiky hair. Others were the dead Cobra Guards; he'd battled them, too, on Kurodar's WarCraft: enormous snakes that could drop from their stunted legs onto their bellies and slither after you with lightning speed and dagger-sharp fangs. And there were some forms, some corpses, he did not recognize. Horrible, human-size bats with the hideous gray faces of ancient crones, wild, wiry hair, and claws like razor blades. They looked like the Harpies he'd seen in books about Greek mythology.
Rick felt confusion rising up inside him, filling him like a kind of fog.
What is this place? How did I get here?
And still he stood staring, staring at the dead. Some of the cadavers had practically rotted to skeletons. Some were worse than that, more horrible, part skeleton, still part flesh. And some were nearly whole. They seemed to have stopped breathing only a moment ago. But wherever he looked, the dead were looking back at him, grinning back at him. It made Rick's stomach sour with disgust.
He began to move down the street. A city street. What city? Where? Was it a dream? He wasn't sure. It didn't feel like a dream. It felt all too real.
He stopped at an intersection of two broad highways. He slowly turned his head, passing his eyes over the scene, squinting in the bright morning light.
Quiet. The whole city was so quiet. Flies buzzing somewhere — he didn't want to know where or around what. And now and then there came a faint breath of wind that carried the foul stench of rotting meat with it. There was no sun visible in the weirdly yellow sky, and yet the sky seemed to radiate heat. It occurred to Rick that even the fresh bodies would not stay fresh for long.
He wanted to get out of here. Fast. Now. But which way? Where to? The fog of confusion filled his mind.
Now he lifted his gaze to the buildings all around him. This was — it had once been — a great city. Golden spires, skyscrapers, domes, and arches soaring into the air. As his eyes traveled over the rising walls of the buildings, his ears slowly became attuned to a different kind of sound, soft within the silence, a steady spatter suggestive of life.
Even in his confusion, his heart rose, his hopes rose. He thought, She travels by water.
With that, he lowered his eyes from the building tops — and he saw the corpse standing right in front of him.
His breath caught. It was so close, only a few feet away. One of the Boar Soldiers. And dead — dead most definitely. The pig face and part of the barrel-shaped chest and belly had started to decay. Some of its bones were visible through the ragged flesh. It wasn't breathing. Its eyes were glassy. It was staring and smiling that eerie rigid smile like the others. Definitely dead.
And it was holding a sword.
Stunned, so confused, Rick could only stand there, staring at the thing. It stared back at him.
Then, before he could recover from his shock, it lifted the sword and swung the blade in a vicious arc toward his throat.
It was a killing blow, meant to sweep his head clean off. The dead Boar Soldier sent up a ghostly echoing squeal as it swung, and Rick screamed, too, in surprise and fear. At the same time, he reacted, moving on pure instinct. Despite the injuries that had ended his football career, he still had the reflexes of a star athlete. He squatted — fast — and the deadly blade swept over him, so close he could feel the breeze of its passing stir his hair.
The instant the sword was past, Rick sprang up straight and — still acting on instinct — stepped in to block the Boar's return stroke. He shoved the beast, both hands hitting its shoulder hard. Being dead, the Boar Soldier did not have much strength or substance — none at all really. The moment Rick touched it, the beast staggered back and fell to the pavement.
Rick turned to run and the second corpse grabbed him, its dead fingers wrapping around his wrist as its grinning, skeletal face leaned in close to him, its mouth wide as if to rip Rick's throat out with its teeth.
Rick let out another cry, a high-pitched cry of animal terror. He tore his wrist free of the dead thing's grip, feeling the claws scrape painfully over his skin.
Then he was running, running fast, his breath coming in panting sobs of panic.
Where was he? What was happening? Was this MindWar? Was it a dream?
Confused, terrified, he could form only one clear thought in his mind, the last thought he'd had before the creatures attacked him:
She travels by water.
He kept thinking the same thing over and over again. He had to find that fountain.
But now all the city's dead were waking. Rising from the seats in the taverns. Grabbing hold of the doorframes for support and slithering to their feet. The Boar Soldiers were picking up their swords. The Cobra Guards — now mostly skeletal snake remains like something you might see in a natural history museum — were slithering toward him over the ground, sluggishly at first, then with increasing speed. Those flying bat-things with the faces of women — the dead, rotten faces of screaming women — lifted into the air and began circling toward him. In whatever direction Rick looked, they were there, coming to life, coming to get him.
He ran to the corner. Dared to stop there for a second. He couldn't hear the fountain over the sound of his own desperate breathing, but the noise had not been far off. It had to be somewhere around here.
He turned to the left — and sure enough he saw it. In an open plaza at the end of the next street, there was a large round basin of rose marble full of silver water. A circle of small geysers flared up out of the water, dancing around a central geyser that shot high into the air. On the far side of the fountain there stood a fanciful building, something out of a fairy tale: half a dozen red spires capped with onion-shaped domes of various designs, some striped red and white, others with diamond ridges of yellow and green, others pure gold.
The plaza was swarming with dead things, walking, slithering, flying. They all seemed to spot Rick at the same moment. And they all came after him.
Rick thought to turn and run, but the dead were behind him, too, slithering over the ground and running toward him and flying at him through the air with hoarse, echoic shrieks of rage. In another moment they would be all over him — their swords, their bared fangs, their sweeping claws. They would tear him to pieces.
He had only one hope. Mariel. And she traveled by water.
He charged toward the fountain. He was sick with fear. He could feel it coursing all through him like a sort of liquid electricity: lightning flashes in the fog of his confusion. But as fearful as he was, he knew he was somehow beyond fear too. Something had happened to him in these months since he had first entered the MindWar Realm. Something had returned to him, in slow stages at first, and then all at once. He wasn't sure what it was exactly, but it felt like a sort of pulsing power at the core of him, a pulsing light that radiated out from his center. Whenever the fear threatened to overwhelm him with its darkness, that power, that light, beat it back and he pushed on.
It was not a new thing. He had always had that power and light inside him when he had stepped onto the football field in the old days. He lost them for a while after the truck had crashed into his car and shattered his legs. He had retreated to his room, locked the door, drawn the curtains, and played video games hour after hour. But the power and light had returned to him almost fully now; he could feel it. His mother, he knew, would have called it faith. Well, faith was as good a word as any. Whatever it was, it pushed the fear back, beat by beat, and kept it from taking him over. It gave him strength even as the dead surrounded him.
Using that strength, conquering his fear with it, he ran right into the thick of the attack.
In a few steps the dead were all around him. The ground was alive with them. The sky was dark with them. They besieged him on every side.
Rick plunged through them like a quarterback with the ball, hitting one hard with his shoulder, straight-arming another in the face. Whenever he touched them, they collapsed to the ground. Wherever they fell, a passage of daylight opened before him.
Dodging the flashing swords, the lunging Cobras, the swiping claws of the flying Harpies, he faked left, and charged right, and ran down the corridor of daylight as fast as he could.
He neared the fountain. And, yes, she rose up before him! A thrilling sight. She always was. Beautiful and majestic, queenly and yet warmly kind, Mariel's figure took shape in the silver water and sprang up from the heart of the geyser itself. Instantly, she stretched out her hand to him, and the hand burbled out like mercury until a gleaming sword grew from her fingertips. It was the same sword she had given him before, its graceful hilt ending in a model of her own lovely face.
Rick shouldered another Boar Soldier aside. He cried out and kicked back the head of a Cobra. He straight-armed a Harpy as she screamed down at him. He reached out and grabbed the sword.
The moment his fingers closed around the hilt, he felt a new surge of strength and courage blossoming inside him. It was as if Mariel, in handing him the weapon, had somehow added her unshakable faith to his own.
"Rick! Over here!"
A new voice. He looked up — and there was the sparkling blue form of Favian, his other MindWar friend. The flashing blue sprite was standing in the doorway of the fanciful building. The door was open behind him, and as so often in the past, Favian was beckoning him with a glittery hand: "This way! Come on! "
A Harpy shrieked down at Rick out of the sky, its face half rotten. Rick swung Mariel's blade with all his might, and the face was gone — the head was gone — and the body of the beast came crashing down. A huge skeletal Cobra rose up off the earth, baring its fangs, ready to strike. Rick didn't even pause from the last blow but continued the motion, sweeping the blade back at the Cobra. The sword struck hard, scattering the Cobra's bones in a dozen different directions.
And still the dead came on. Rick had to jump up onto the edge of the fountain's basin to get away from their reaching claws and fangs. Balancing on the slippery marble, he ran around the basin's arc, then leapt off it and onto the building's steps. Another moment and he raced up to where Favian was standing — Favian with his features twisted in anxiety as he stared fearfully at the charging dead. Favian was more of a worrier than a warrior. He had never had much courage. He said so himself. And yet he had somehow always been able to come through when Rick needed him most. He stood his ground now until Rick was beside him.
Then Favian moved like a flash. He always moved like that: like a flash of sparkling blue light, barely substantial. He flashed away through the building's half-open door. And Rick, as he so often did, as he so often had to do to keep from getting himself killed, followed after him.
He was inside. The blue streak of Favian shut the building's door behind him. The cries of the dead outside instantly grew dim. The bright-yellow light of the sky was extinguished. For a few seconds, before his eyes adjusted, Rick couldn't see. The shadows of the interior obscured everything.
Then his vision cleared.
He was in a church, a strange and beautiful church with colorful mosaics covering every inch of the walls. A dark, sad-eyed Virgin Mary gazed at him from a framed painting on one side of him. A sternly frowning Christ peered down at him from the ceiling above.
The main portion of the church — the nave — was open. There were no pews, no statues, only a large floor, which, like the walls, was covered with richly complex and colorful mosaic tiles.
There was nothing else there. Except the sarcophagus.
More dead, thought Rick.
Indeed, the sarcophagus could have held half a dozen corpses. It was a huge coffin, its sides covered with elaborate mosaics like the ceiling, walls, and floor. It was surrounded by four stout and towering columns, also covered with mosaics. And it was open — the coffin had no lid.
Rick glanced at Favian — Favian, whose face was always pinched with worry and fear. "What is this place?" he asked him. "This city? How did we get here? I can't remember ..."
Favian's figure of fluctuating blue light shimmered. "Mariel and I had to sneak in when the darkness spread."
"It spread over everything everywhere," Favian told him. "The Scarlet Plain. The Blue Wood. The Ruins. Everything. This is all that's left: the Golden City. It's all that's left of MindWar."
"The Golden City," Rick murmured. The heart of MindWar, the battery that fed the place with energy. But why was it full of dead creatures? And what was this darkness Favian was talking about?
He did not really understand, but he turned away from Favian, back to the sarcophagus. He had the powerful sense that he should look inside, that he had to look inside — and at the same time, he knew that he very much did not want to look inside, not ever. He felt as if he were in one of those dreams where you have to do what you know you shouldn't do.
He took a long breath. He could still hear dead things outside the church. They were pounding on the great wooden door, crying for his blood. He ignored them. He stepped deeper into the building, deeper into the shadow, closer to the sarcophagus.
Favian flashed along by his side.
"I don't think you should do that," he said. "Really. Don't look in there."
Rick ignored him. He kept moving toward the enormous coffin.
"This place, this church. It's so strange," said Favian, worried. "Like a ghost church or something ..."
Rick still didn't answer. All his attention was focused on the sarcophagus. It was drawing him, pulling him to it.
He reached it now. Holding his sword in one hand, he put his other hand on the edge and leaned over the side to take a look.
He gasped at what he saw. He could barely comprehend.
The sarcophagus was full ... of nothingness. An impenetrable, incomprehensible darkness. A darkness that went down and down forever, deeper than death itself.
Rick stood staring into it as if hypnotized. He felt something inside him drop open like a trapdoor, all his courage falling through it into that eternal nothingness.
And suddenly, like a great wave, the dark swarmed up out of the coffin and seized him.
Excerpted from Game Over by ANDREW KLAVAN. Copyright © 2016 Andrew Klavan. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ex-high school QB, Rick Dial, must enter the Mind War realm yet again. The evil genius Kurodar, although defeated, has not been destroyed. The virtual realm he has created using supercomputers linked to his mind has obtained access into the very minds of his enemies. Now, using this toehold and his web of spies, the madman has gained control of a super laser and prepares to fry most of North America. Only Rick and the girl he has come to find might be more than he realized can battle the terrorist in the Mind War Realm and save the country in the real world. But can he accomplish his quest without destroying himself and In his conclusion to The MindWar Trilogy, Andrew Klavan does not disappoint. With another high action sci-fi thriller, he delves into the inner minds of both the hero and the antagonist with insight and imagination as these two minds, one flawed, one totally corrupt do battle. The highly creative setting, plot twists and nice romantic element, make Game Over a fun and satisfying read.
Enjoyed it from the beginning. So glad I waited until all three were published. I would have hated the cliff hanger at the end of the second book.
Andrew Klavan in his new book, “Game Over” Book Three in The Mindwar Trilogy series published by Thomas Nelson gives us another adventure with Rick Dial. From the back cover: This time, there’s no escape from The Realm. The MindWar Realm is a computerized world created by a deranged terrorist named Kurodar. Built through a link between Kurodar’s mind and a network of supercomputers, The Realm is a pathway through which the madman can project himself into any computer system on the planet. Twice before, Rick Dial has entered the Realm as a Mind Warrior and come back alive. But now, something has gone terribly wrong. A connection has formed in Rick’s brain that sends him hurtling into The Realm without his consent—and brings the Realm’s monsters into the Real World. As Kurodar works to turn Rick’s brain to his own purposes, Rick’s waking and sleeping life is ravaged by terrors he never imagined. Rick knows he has no choice but to face The Realm’s final and most powerful protector. But can Rick destroy MindWar without destroying himself and the people he loves? Mr. Klavan has written this series with the world’s fascination of computer games at its heart. I don’t know a whole lot about how it works, as I don’t really play, however I do understand that you can play from any computer with any person, whether you know them or not, anywhere in the world. And that they keep upgrading and adding levels to the game all the time. Kurodar is a terrorist who is exploiting this fascination and the heights that can be reached. “Game Over” grabs you with the story-line and keeps you flipping pages as fast as possible. Mr. Klavan has given us a very interesting character in Rick and he makes us care for him all throughout the book. Don’t start this book late at night because you are going to want to finish it before you go to bed. A high-octane suspenseful thriller. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Cyber-terrorism, monsters of The Realm and minds of people being inserted into a super-computer network that is needed to save a planet! This book is science fiction, fantasy and adventure action, all rolled up into one trilogy. Sadly, I didn't get the first two books so I am entering this adventure at the end, but it doesn't take from the great story that is Game Over by Andrew Klavan! I never like coming in at the end- I know there's a great deal I've missed on this story, like Rick's maturity throughout the storyline or friends lost along the way, but it's the one sent to me, so here goes... The story is about The Realm and keeping computerized peace. The Realm is a place linked to the mind of Kurador, a network terrorist. It's the oddest thing, but the world is like a subway system, allowing Kurador to transport himself anyplace he wishes to be. He's looking to bring down everything on the planet. Using this computer system, he tries to use Rick's brain against him, popping the young man in and out of The Realm uncontrollably. Now, I'm going to be honest, this was an interesting story, but because it was so weird, I wasn't as thrilled with it. So much must have happened in the earlier books- I felt cheated in the victory of it all. He was drawn to a gal named Molly but I don't know what happened to them prior to this book. He's a Mind Warrior, fighting against the MindWar... it just didn't do it for me. What I think I will do is go back to the book one and read the series in it's entirety. I can't just have a book that finishes things up without knowing what started it all off! I rated it right in the middle, with three specs. I felt it was a good story but not on its own.