Christopher Sinclair goes out for a walk on a mild Arizona evening and never comes back. He stumbles into a freezing winter under an impossible night sky, where magic is real -- but bought at a terrible price.
A misplaced act of decency lands him in a brawl with an arrogant nobleman and puts him under a death sentence. In desperation he agrees to be drafted into an eternal war, serving as a priest of the Bright Lady, Goddess of Healing. But when Marcius, god of war, offers the only hope of a way home to his wife, Christopher pledges to him instead, plunging the church into turmoil and setting him on a path of violence and notoriety.
To win enough power to open a path home, this mild-mannered mechanical engineer must survive duelists, assassins, and the never-ending threat of monsters, with only his makeshift technology to compete with swords and magic.
But the gods and demons have other plans. Christopher's fate will save the world... or destroy it.
My Opinion: This book that inspired a whole new section, the “Almost LitRPG” section. It is a great story about a man from our world transported to a world of magic and medieval technology. The story is well edited and pretty massive at 429 pages. It has great fight scenes, character development, and the author crafts a fascinating world that feels like it could have existed. The main character does some crafting, and he even levels..sort of.
That brings me to the thing that just barely keeps this from being a LitRPG story. Realism. Within the story are all the elements of LitRPG: leveling, experience points, alignment, classes and spell points. They’re all just called different things and pushed into the background for the sake of realism in the story. Leveling is called Ranks. Experience Points are called Tael. Alignment is Affiliation. Spell Points are also Tael (it can be used as magic fuel and to gain ranks). The main character even chooses a class. In this case, a priest class that allows him to meditate and actively choose his spells for the day and kick ass on the battlefield.
It almost feels like the author created a game world with all the LitRPG mechanics you’d expect then let it evolve for a couple thousand years. Cultures and societal structures developed around these mechanics. These societies came up with their own names and accepted traditions for the gaming mechanics we’d recognize. A great story that’s Almost LitRPG.
An additional minor downside for the book is it’s price. It’s $9 for the e-book version which held me back from buying it for months. When I got a Amazon gift card though it was the first thing I bought and I’m really glad I did.