Review: GUILD OF TOKENS by Jon Auerbach

Publisher: Self-Published
Page Count: 410
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Series: GUILD OF TOKENS, Book 1
Rating: 3.5/5 – Liked It!

Note: I received a free copy of the book from the author in return for my fair and honest review.

45571503._sx318_Jen Jacobs’ life is going nowhere fast, so when she receives an email inviting her to partake in real live questing, she decides to give it a try.  At first, things are simple enough.  Log onto the Quest Board and choose a quest.  Complete the test, get wooden tokens.  Do enough of those, and you can start earning iron tokens, etc.  It’s harmless fun, with quests ranging from leaving a subway ticket at a certain mailbox to killing a rat and delivering it to an address within an hour.  But eventually, Jen finds herself bored of the quests and more curious about the mysterious, anonymous group that actually assigns them.  She begins to dig and soon discovers that the quests are actually a front, that the runners of the “game” actually are using it to gather resources for their own secret agenda – and some members will kill to keep their secrets.

GUILD OF TOKENS is a fun mystery adventure that suffers at times from a too-nebulous villain. The early half of the book was my favorite, as Jen enters the mysterious world of questing and begins what are known to the video game community as “fetch quests.”  Go pick up an item and bring it back.  Watching Jen grow from accepting these quests as just a silly way to pass the time, to delving into who is organizing these quests to begin with was intriguing, especially as she discovers the truth behind the Guild.  This being a LitRPG, other video game tropes made their way into the plot, from alchemical buffs that heighten strength and speed, to a clever trick that made digital avatars a real world mechanism.  Once Jen meets up with a woman named Beatrice, the stakes become increasingly dangerous, but it was also where the story got a little murky for me.

The moment-to-moment adventures of GUILD OF TOKENS were engaging throughout the book, and I enjoyed the puzzle aspects as Jen and Beatrice race to find a relic before the Guild does.  My issue was that the Guild largely remains an offscreen presence for most of the book; everything we know about who is potentially interfering with Jen and Beatrice we learn second-hand from Beatrice, who has been navigating the world of the Guild for years. It’s Beatrice who has a history with certain Guild members, so it’s not a threat that feels personal to Jen and that blunted the threat level a bit for me.

I also felt that there was some missing tension when it came to Jen balancing this new life of questing with her work/social life.  What roadblocks there are are easily overcome.  On top of that, her friends and boyfriend aren’t great people to begin with, and because they weren’t great, it never felt like an agonizing choice when Jen had to choose between them and whatever new problem had arisen in her questing life, despite Jen’s words to the contrary.

GUILD OF TOKENS is an enjoyable romp, especially for those who like LitRPG style books that play on classic video game tropes in the “real world.”  It’s a fun puzzle adventure, a race to decipher clues from history to find a final legendary object. Although some tension was missing in the latter half of the book, I still enjoyed the read overall and would recommend to fans to the genre!

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