ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
God of Gnomes by Demi Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: God Core (Book #1 of ?)
Genre: LitRPG, Dungeon Core
Pages: 485 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 26th September 2019 by Portal Books
Harper’s LitRPG debut combines the resource management of Real-Time Strategy Games and the moral system of The Good Place into a fun, exciting, and wholesome reading experience.
God of Gnomes, the first book in God Core series by Demi Harper isn’t my first experience reading Harper’s work. Demi Harper is a pseudonym for Laura M. Hughes; a freelance editor, and also the author behind the dark fantasy novella: Danse Macabre. I loved Danse Macabre, and also enjoyed the two short stories written by her that I’ve read so far. I have always wanted the author to write a full-length novel, and as far as I know, God of Gnomes is the author’s first take on a full-length novel and the LitRPG genre. As expected, I enjoyed it; the novel which was written in a very different style compared to the author’s past work didn’t change the quality of her work. The story follows Corey as he finds himself reborn as a God Core that must protect and guide his worshippers—gnomes—to escape extinction. The story started off very light-hearted at first, and it gets more serious as the story progressed; I’m thankful for this. Although I do like reading light-hearted stories, a few serious and tense moments are necessary for me to enjoy a book.
“What you were before doesn’t matter. What matters is who you are now.”
Have you watched The Good Place? Let’s assume that you have. Yes, you liked it because no one disliked The Good Place unless they’re in The Bad Place, or haven’t watched it yet. Lucky for you, God of Gnomes weaved one of the most important moral messages from the TV series into the narrative: the contrast between past and present lives plus the importance of your intention within your action. If you do a good deed with a selfish/corrupt intention, will your action be categorized as good or bad; the two main characters, Corey and Ket, discussed this plenty of times and I found it to be an engaging topic of discussion that enriches their characterizations. For example, Corey’s power as a God Core is sustained and increased by his minions’ faith in him; will Corey continue to help the gnomes for his own sake or because he genuinely wants to help them. What kind of god would you be? This is the kind of question asked that served as a moral compass that developed Corey’s character wonderfully.
“’Isn’t that the case with most civilizations?’ Ket pointed out. ‘Hope and blind belief can only get you so far. The sad fact is that most people tend to be pretty niggardly with their devotion unless they stand to gain some sort of reward.’”
There’s one thing, in my opinion, that LitRPG can do better—not always, but possible—as a medium compared to gaming, and that is its capability to flesh out the characters even more. When gamers play competitive video games, oftentimes we play it with one objective in mind: victory. How to achieve it? By practicing and choosing the right set of heroes/skills; this is especially true in Real-Time Strategy Games & MOBA gaming genres. Harper made sure that the heroes, minions, and the creatures in God of Gnomes aren’t just cannon fodder to simply be used and throw away. Corey sees his minions as creatures with personalities and lives; discarding them just because they lack the essential abilities/skills to win eventually becomes a difficult and emotional task the more Corey grew to care about his minions. I enjoyed reading the character development; I found the development gradual and satisfying.
“That’s how religions works, after all – the worshippers shape the deity, at least at the beginning. Gods might be powerful, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re created by those who need them.”
I’m not good at math; there’re a lot of numbers and skill levels going on in this book that would’ve been difficult for me to remember if it wasn’t because of Harper’s clean and well-polished prose that made all the scenes easy to read and visualize. I would’ve loved a skill list at the end of the book though; it will be interesting to see the number of skills Corey has unlocked in a detailed list format. The word ‘fun’ may have lost some of its intended meaning due to it being overused in book reviews, but Harper has successfully breathed life back into that word in God of Gnomes; fun to read, well-written, and crafted with a palpable passion for books and gaming. LitRPG isn’t even my favorite genre to read, and I still had a really good time reading this book. If you’re a LitRPG and Dungeon Core fans, definitely give God of Gnome a read.
Official release date: 26th September 2019
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.