Summary: Four decades ago, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family, fled to a wild and lonely mountainous corner of British Columbia to avoid the draft. Smuggling backpack loads of high-grade marijuana across the border into Northern Idaho, he quickly amassed an enormous and illegal fortune. With plenty of time and money to burn, he became addicted to an online fantasy game in which opposing factions battle for power and treasure in a vast cyber realm. Like many serious gamers, he began routinely purchasing virtual gold pieces and other desirables from Chinese gold farmers—young professional players in Asia who accumulated virtual weapons and armor to sell to busy American and European buyers.
For Richard, the game was the perfect opportunity to launder his aging hundred dollar bills and begin his own high-tech start up—a venture that has morphed into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Corporation 9592, with its own super successful online role-playing game, T’Rain. But the line between fantasy and reality becomes dangerously blurred when a young gold farmer accidently triggers a virtual war for dominance—and Richard is caught at the center.
In this edgy, 21st century tale, Neal Stephenson, one of the most ambitious and prophetic writers of our time, returns to the terrain of his cyberpunk masterpieces Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, leading readers through the looking glass and into the dark heart of imagination.
Review: Terrorists, MMORPGs, guns, Russians, and one Uncle Richard.
I was really excited for this book because I love Neal Stephenson. I must admit that I was disappointed. I still thoroughly enjoyed the book, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped. I enjoyed the video game parts of the book more than the terrorist parts. The video game of T'Rain was fascinating along with all the associated history, characters, and people. It also made me want to play World of Warcraft very badly. I did enjoy the terrorist parts of the book and I liked the characters, but I felt that it was full of coincidences and chance meetings.
Zula was my favorite character. She experienced a lot of trauma, but still managed to keep it together enough to eventually escape the terrorists. I also really liked Richard and his Furious Muses. He was a good guy even though he might not admit it. I didn't feel too much sympathy for Peter even after what happens to him for he was the one who started the whole mess. The final shoot out was a bit confusing and I wasn't able to keep track of who had lived and who had died. The ending wrapped up a bit too nicely and had a number of happy endings.
Recommendation: I would recommend this to fans of Neal Stephenson, fans of thrillers, and anyone who enjoys video games.