Guild of Tokens by Jon Auerbach review

Guild of Tokens by Jon Auerbach

Jen reviews Guild of Tokens, the first book in Jon Auerbach‘s LitRPG/Urban Fantasy series, NYC Questing Guild.

Jen won a copy of Guild of Tokens in a Twitter contest. Thank you so much to Jon Auerbach for the paperback! And to Justine over at Whispers & Wonder @__its_justine__ for hosting the CalltoArms contest.

About the Book
Series: NYC Questing Guild #1Genre: Quest, LitRPG, Urban Fantasy
Date of Publishing: June 25, 2019Trigger Warnings: murder, memory wipe
Page count: 420Publisher: self-published
Book Blurb
Guild of Tokens by Jon Auerbach

She wants to level up her humdrum existence. But her next quest could spell life or death.All Jen Jacobs has achieved in life is loneliness. So when she stumbles across a real-life game of epic quests on the streets of New York, she jumps at the chance for some excitement and gold tokens. Little does she know that the items she strives to collect hold a darker purpose…

After a particularly harrowing quest pairs her up with Beatrice Taylor, a no-nonsense and ambitious mentor, Jen hopes she’s on the path to becoming a big-time player. But as she dives deeper into the game’s hidden agenda, she realizes Beatrice has her sights set on the Guild, the centuries-old organization that runs the Questing game. And the quests Jen loves are about to put both of them in grave danger.

Will Jen survive the game before powerful forces cut her real life short?

Quote of the Book

“I looked down at my spoils. The apples were green like regular green apples. I put the bag down and removed one of the apples. It weighed what you would expect an apple to weigh, no magic golden apples here. I brought it up to my mouth, held it there for a few seconds and then took a small bite.

Nothing happened.

I swallowed and took another bite, swirling the apple pieces around in my mouth like a sip of wine.

Still nothing.

Maybe it was one of those slow-acting apples. You know the ones where you take a bite, go to sleep, and don’t wake up for a hundred years.”

Song of the Book

Warning Call by Chvrches.

Let me tell you finding a song for this story was a huge struggle. I stumbled across this song which suits better than any of the others I had chosen but still is more a desperate choice in an attempt to get this review finished than an actual great fit. But the world could always use some Chvrches anyway, especially their song, Leave a Trace.

The irony is this song is from a game that I have never heard of being used to highlight a story about a game.

Review

What an enjoyable read! This was just what I needed to get me back in the groove.

Guild of Tokens is an easy access not-quite LitRPG, quest fantasy, which actually reminded me more of geocaching than LitRPG. The story does well at blending the fun of collecting items to level up, without the grinding away to upgrade your stats feel that you occasionally find in the genre.

Jen Jacobs, a code-writer at a small company begins playing the game as a distraction from her ho-hum life. Jen is likeable and very relatable. I enjoyed her POV a lot, and the humorous edge to some of her inner thoughts helped to keep the tone lighter, even during the surprisingly darker moments of this story. 

Beatrice, the other character, had to grow on me. She can be a bit harsh but after a while, I started to understand her bluntness, and even root for the unlikely friendship that grew up between her and Jen.

The world is a ‘here and now’ urban setting, allowing easy access to the story with only the characters, and the game/magic to learn about. Everything is so nicely paced; with each piece of the puzzle revealed we gain knowledge until we eventually see the entire picture.

Of course, the game and magic are where the story has a bit of an RPG feel, with the collecting and levelling up tokens. There are also edible power-ups made from alchemy, that give the user temporary status changes, like speed, smarts, or strength – which was a really fun touch.

The Guild was the only thing in the story that gave me pause. Everything to do with them for the bulk of the story was offscreen. Their presence and or any threats from them felt impersonal and lowered any tension or fear that I may have had towards the characters’ fate from their existence. At one point, I even wondered if they were real, or if they were all in Beatrice’s head because any information or perceived danger from them came second-hand through her, and she didn’t always come across as a ‘together in the head’ kind of person.

All in all, I had a great time with Guild of Tokens. It was easy to dive in. I loved the questing; the characters were great and the mystery kept me interested while the darker moments in the story added just a little bit of an edge to the fun.

Our Judgement
Let Their Deeds Be Noted - 4 Crowns

Jen lives in the northern part of BC, where it’s winter for more of the year than she'd like. The plus side of not liking to be out in the cold, means she gets to cuddle up under a blanket next to a fireplace and read. She and her husband has a few horses, free run some chickens, and of course there are bunnies… a lot of bunnies. When she is not reading, or doing farm and animal chores - she loves listening to music, painting, tv and movies, and walking.

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