Elder Tale was a popular MMO, and on the eve of its latest expansion’s release, many players were logged on in excitement for the launch. However, suddenly all of those logged into the game were transported into the world of Elder Tales itself, unable to leave. Soon, the discovery is made that they are unable to actually die in this world (unlike another series with a similar premise, cough cough), and with a lack of consequences for their actions, pandemonium soon ensues.
Shiroe returns from his mission to Susukino to find Akiba in a dire state of affairs, as large guilds have become de facto ruling forces and many players still wander around town in despair. Lower level players and smaller guilds are taken advantage of, and the entire atmosphere feels rotten. Disgusted by these problems, Shiroe decides that a governing force needs to be implemented, and sets out to do just that.
MMO players as well as fans of the ‘people trapped in games’ sub-genre, especially those looking for world with depth, will find something on interest in this series.
Log Horizon is a series that manages to cram quite a bit into just over 200 pages per volume, and it does this by giving in-depth information about its characters and world. Interestingly enough, the narrative is not just from one perspective but fluidly flows from the perspectives of multiple characters during the story, utilizing the third person omniscient point of view to examine the thought processes of many of the key players. This is actually something that was highly important, as the establishment of government in Akiba is an arc that benefits heavily when the readers get to see how each of the guild leaders make their decisions.
The primary area of Log Horizon that sets it apart from similar stories is the depth that it carries out its world building. While present in the first volume, this is even more critical in the second novel. The world of Elder Tale is huge and complicated, and the story tends to delve into these aspects, such as the interactions between Adventurers (real players) and the People of the Land (NPCs). The politics and economics of the game and the game post-Catastrophe are also heavily involved in moving the plot and are very interestingly explained, which is a real asset to the entertainment value of the book.
Overall, what is most appealing about Log Horizon could easily be summarized as good writing. Author Mamare Touno is very good at the technical aspects of plot, and manages to take a relatively large cast of characters in a complicated world and leave readers including myself feeling like a good amount of time was devoted to explaining everything. While this could be seen to a certain degree in the first volume, it is in the second volume once Shiroe actually begins to take significant action to protect the game world in Akiba that this becomes a significant highlight.
There are two potential complaints that might crop up for readers of Log Horzion, one that I personally didn’t mind (but is still important to mention) and one that I did. The first of these is the relative slow pace and dryness of the story. Because Touno takes the time to explain everything in such great detail, while he makes the explanations as engaging as possible the reality is that for readers expecting quick action and fast-moving story, Log Horizon’s second volume would be a difficult story to get through. That said, if you are the type of reader who doesn’t mind that such as myself, this should not be a problem.
The second issue I had was the poorly written comedy which, although less potentially troublesome overall to the story, is still a problem that could be more universally applied to readers than my previous complaint. While there are amusing character interactions between cast members that utilize their defined characteristics, there is also a large amount of cheap slapstick comedy that is very much hit-or-miss. One example is Naotsugu’s interactions with Akatsuki, which are repetitive and boring (urgh, the amount of times he says ‘panties’), and are an example, I think, of something that would be more beneficial to the story if removed. That said, because the story is more dry I think it would be good to have comedy if the comedy was actually well done.
Log Horizon is a significant improvement on the first volume. Character development is handled much better, and the world building elements take on a life of their own as they are used not just as explanations but as motive forces for the explosive political development of Akiba. While the story could still be a bit dry for some readers and the comedy is pretty mediocre, I recommend giving this volume a try if the premise and style appeals to you.
Log Horizon Vol. 1 - The Knights of Camelot was published by Yen Press on July 21st, 2015. Authored by Mamare Touno and illustrated by Kazuhiro Hara, the series is currently ongoing and published by Enterbrain. The series has receive a two season anime adaption from 2013-2015 and volume 3 will be published in English on November 17th, 2015.
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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.
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