Eurydice and his fellow villagers have lived their whole lives in fear of the “shadow city”, a glittering white tower that feeds on the villagers’ life force. Although the villagers await a prophesied savior, only greater disaster comes their way. After his world goes up in flames, Eurydice sets out to find revenge; yet we discover he is no more than an aberrant character in an online game, and human players are his only possible advocates.
Eurydice and his fellow villagers live in constant fear of the “shadow city” – a glittering castle that stands, barely visible in the mist, many miles away. Every once in a while, the castle drains the life force out of a villager at random. Eurydice and his community have no way to stop it, or predict its occurrence. Instead, the village waits on a prophesied savior – a traveling warrior known as “The Witch’s Spearhead” who will defeat the “shadow city” and liberate the people.
Yet when conflict comes in the figure of a Black Knight, it is the village that finds itself in flames. Only Eurydice is left alive. He runs from the village he has known all his life to find himself lost in a vast wilderness. He sets off in search of the Black Knight who destroyed his home, completely unaware that his world is, in fact, an online game environment, and he is simply a bugged non-player character. Real human players represent his only hope for vengeance, but will the troubled minds behind the avatars – the agoraphobic boy, the repressed high school girl, the paraplegic old man – really step forward to help an accidental victim like himself?
This latest work by the sci-fi/fantasy novelist Xerses tells a gripping story of humanity ex machina as the growing world of online gaming interpenetrates traditional reality. Complicated characters interact amid a fast-paced, flashing storyline that makes us reconsider the integrity of consciousness and the inherent meaning of “alive.”