Book Review: Windwalker by Timothy C. Ward, writing as Tim Kaiver

Book Title: Windwalker – An Epic LitRPG Adventure: Ciphercraft, Book 2

Author: Timothy C. Ward, writing as Tim Kaiver

Publication Date: November 27, 2020

Available OnAmazon as an eBook, a paperback and as an Audible audiobook

Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Picking up from where we left off with Cipher’s Quest, the first book in the Ciphercraft series, we find our motley group of heroes trying to find Resurrection City. This city is vital to the efforts of the war against the oppressive Osuna empire. As part of the quest to find this mythical city, they must activate a hidden rune, which prophecy states is an important step in helping them defeat the Osuna once and for all.

Our group of heroes includes Cullen, who can harness the power of the wind, and his paladin friend Torek. There is Ehli the telepath and her husband Schaefer as well as their son Emmit, who also has telepathic powers. Together with their friends and allies, they must reach Resurrection City before Willo and her berserker army do. It’s a race against time as Cullen and company must improve their skills if they have any hope of succeeding in this quest. Will they succeed in their objective?

The adventure across the planet as they face untold dangers is an exciting one. As each person splits off into disparate groups to achieve different goals, they practice their skills and level up. As the Cipher game system unlocks for people across the universe, it helps them understand how their skills work, how to improve upon them and gain new ones. They’ll need all of this and more to help them defeat all sorts of enemies.

From telepathy to archery, from hand-to-hand combat to charming others and controlling animals, more skills are unlocked than before. The Cipher also has revealed another realm different from the physical one. Now, the Spirit Realm has been opened and each person also has a Spirit Points meter now. This is important, as Resurrection City is linked to this realm, is key to each character’s personal growth and their faith in their God, Shepka.

Each smaller splinter group faces off in their own challenges against strange, unusual, and powerful creatures in the jungle, like pancodiles, venomous snakes, and dragons. Others face off with tribes of natives, some who will become friends and some have joined the enemy side. Each twist and turn could lead to their death against unknown foes if they don’t use their newfound skills to defeat increasingly tougher enemies.

Cullen and Torek’s tale was probably the most exciting and action-packed of the three splinter groups, facing off against a Time Mage and his train full of horrors (!) as well as a valley full of dragons. They also encounter Viera Sea. That name should be familiar to you if you’ve read “Apocalypse Archer”, a novelette featuring her origin. (The Indie Athenaeum review for that novelette can be found at this link.) You’ll find that the ending of that tale leads right into her appearance here. She also plays a supporting role in this novel.

While Schaefer and Ehli must contend with trying to find their son Emmit, who was abducted and is being forced to work against his will to help his captors. Their storyline becomes crucial in unlocking the secrets of finding the rune and becomes especially crucial in this novel’s finale. Their faith in Shepka increases and is tested over the course of this story.

There’s also a clever use of role-playing games and other material that inspired this gamelit novel. This involves the use of a card and game store owned by a character named Robison. He uses dice and different types of playing cards as a part of the weapons he deploys. He also claims to have a connection to other characters trying to find Resurrection City.

Each character grows in skills, increasing levels and acquiring new abilities as they progress throughout the novel. Each battle they fight, each wily enemy they come across presents an opportunity to learn more about themselves and what the ancient Cipher game system provides them with. Just like a video game or a role-playing game, the more they fight, the more weapons and proficiency they gain.

With each struggle, they gain Experience points and Health points, each of which they must allocate to level up and attain more skills. The more skills they have, the more likely it is that they can face the increasingly difficult challenges that lay ahead of them. They also get stat cards, showing them what they gained after each fight and what their health looks like. Like a game, there are also smaller objectives that must be completed, leading to completing their larger goals and trying to find Resurrection City.

It is through the prism of these challenges that we learn more about the personalities of each character. By demonstrating their strengths and weaknesses over the course of the novel, the reader experiences the moral fiber (or lack thereof) of each character through their actions.

This is an inventive and impressive novel in the gamelit genre that moved at a rapid pace. It adds additional layers to its mythos with the introduction of the Spirit Realm as well as a plethora of new abilities for each character to utilize and learn more about. It’s also unpredictable in what will happen next, which makes for intriguing reading and tantalizing surprises. I look forward to reading the next novel in this series and seeing how the author continues to expand his Ciphercraft universe.

If you found this review to be helpful to you, please click here to go to the review on Amazon. Then navigate to the bottom of this review and click on the “helpful” button.

Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by Tim Kaiver include “Cipher’s Quest: Ciphercraft, Book 1” and “Apocalypse Archer – A Ciphercraft Origins LitRPG Novelette.”

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