Herobrine’s Message (The Elementia Chronicles #3), by Sean Fay Wolfe
In life it is often true that all good things must come to an end, and that is certainly true of fantasy trilogies like this one. Like the preceding novels in this series, the author shows a good job at mastering genre and presenting compelling characters that one identifies with. Like many authors in the genre, the author racks up a high body count both of characters that are given a great deal of attention and made compelling parts of the plot as well as a wide variety of characters about whom little is known. Like the best fantasy novels, this one too speaks of what is required of those who would wield godlike powers and the loneliness that comes from possessing great power while simultaneously desiring to be just in a world of pain and loss. The novel, in short, is not only an accessible and enjoyable piece of fan fiction but also has a great deal of surprising emotional depth, coming from someone who has both read and felt deeply and someone who has wrestled with serious issues and created a world in which those issues can be dealt with in a playful and yet also serious and respectful manner.
The plot of this particular book takes place over thirty one chapters and an epilogue in four parts that are deserved of the overused term epic. The first part of the book shows the hitherto successful leaders of the Noctem Alliance assigning various missions, showing a group of elite assassins hunting after the fleeing President Stan as well as a mysterious black hooded figure dealing with an unfriendly voice in the sky while trying to restore balance to the planet. After this there are a few chapters in the second part of book that deal with the myth of Herobrine, the return of President Stan, and the struggle against destructive monsters that have been created and summoned against the beleaguered forces of Element City. The third part of the book looks at the attempts of various groups of republican leaders to free some of the zombie NPC villagers as well as various allied players that have been imprisoned, as well as hide out underground and retake Adorian Village and destroy the capital of Nocturia and battle for Element City. The fourth and final part of the book brings the story to a bittersweet conclusion with an unsuccessful first fight against Lord Tenebris, who happens to be the resurrected operator King Kevin, the successful defeat of that king by Stan as a new operator thanks to the work of Sally, and a new period where Stan promises to be fair and allows people to choose between two different mentalities regarding how players should be treated that will live in peace on a server shattered by extreme PvP combat.
It is difficult to point out exactly how this book succeeds best. The author shows a great deal of attention not only to major characters but also to minor ones and the need to provide emotional payoffs to a variety of character arcs. He also shows a great deal of attention to the sense of loss that results from games having behavior that is particularly close to the real world. In Stan’s apotheosis, we see not only his gaining and using of operator powers to great effect, but we also see the repercussions of having that power, including the great loneliness that comes from having one’s friends die and from having a great deal of power but no one who one feels really close to and no one who can share that burden of trying to provide justice to a group of squabbling and divisive people. The author’s working out of what it means to be the ruler of a planet can help readers struggle with their own views of divine providence and justice, and that sort of issue is one that is always very enjoyable to find in what might be viewed as lighthearted and silly literature. Also poignant is the fate of the black hood as he confronts his legacy and engages in self-sacrifice in order to try to undo some of the wrong of his own past.