Cody Milbourne works security for the Vortax Corporation Headquarters. When she discovers her friend and colleague Joseph Salter has been murdered on company property, she is aghast when the Corporate Crimes Unit falsely accuses her of theft, criminal damage, abduction and Joseph’s murder. As a result she faces up to 40 years in prison.
Cody’s new home is actually a virtual world known as Fortress Forty-seven, not just your regular prison. Her only choice is to complete the virtual reality game known as Prison Quest, if she wants to stay alive and have any hope of escaping this nightmare.
Having been a fan of some of Michael Campling’s earlier work, I didn’t hesitate when offered the chance to check out his new book, Prison Quest, which he has co-written with fellow fantasy and science fiction author Saffron Bryant. I received a free advanced readers copy in exchange for my unbiased opinion.
Prison Quest – originally titled ‘Fortress 47’ – is a LitRPG novel, a genre which I am not very familiar with. LitRPG is the literary equivalent to role-playing games in which characters must complete quests in order to ‘level up’ or advance throughout the game or story, by acquiring experience points.
In this case, Cody must forge alliances, learn skills and complete various quests within the virtual game world called Fortress Forty-seven, a dangerous and unforgiving place. All while seeking the allusive Prison Quest, which may hold the key to her escape from both the game and her prison sentence.
While prior knowledge of RPGs would be beneficial, it is unnecessary as Campling and Bryant have put together a very well-written story, complete with easy to comprehend explanations that do not distract the reader from the graceful flow of the narrative.
Beginning in the Wild West themed town of Firebrand, there is an air of relative safety as characters who are unlucky enough to die, simply regenerate in the town jailhouse. However, for those who dare to really push the game to its limits and leave town, venturing into the wild desert wastelands, they must be willing to pay the ultimate price. For beyond the walls of Firebrand, when you die, you die for real, and not just within the confines of the game, but in real life too.
The book contains a wide-array of interesting characters and creatures including: bit roaches, grit worms, venomous cavelings and androids. With its combination of science fiction, fantasy and Westerns, this book is perfect for gamers, sci-fi fans, fantasy fanatics and also fans of Firefly. At 5 out of 5 stars this is a fast-paced, action packed novel that you won’t want to miss. I’ll definitely be checking out more books in the LitRPG genre after this one.
In Jan 2019, Michael Campling and Saffron Bryant re-released an updated and improved version of this book called The Prison Quest.