#SPFBO Review : Berserker (Apocosmos #1) by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris

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Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris is the first book from my Second Batch of books that I’m aiming to read and review this month.  You can find feedback from my first batch of books here and further information on SPFBO here.

Without further ado let’s get to the review (plus check out this fantastic cover):

Berserker

Berserker is the first book in the Apocosmos series that features a rather angry young man called Alex and his young dog, a Corgi known as Louie.  The book is an example of LitRPG (a genre that combines computer role playing games with science fiction and fantasy.

The story gets off to a rather dramatic start as we meet a bunch of characters who seem to be enslaved and forced to fight in violent (gladiatorial style) games.  This is where we are introduced to Alex as he starts to relate his tale to the other fighters. I confess that I’m rather fond of this style of story telling where we have a character casting back to relate his experiences so for me this got off to an interesting start.

From here we discover Alex works for a gaming company in New York.  His best (well, only) friend is called Leo and his closest companion is Louie, his dog.  Alex seems to have suffered a loss that he makes reference to on a number of occasions but this hasn’t been explored in detail other than it has left him feeling incredibly sad.  Anyhow, following a day in the office Alex and Louie leave to get takeaway and head home.  Unfortunately, they get caught up with a group of unsavoury characters that leads to something of an altercation and without warning Alex’s world is turned upside down when he’s pulled into a multiverse of possibilities known as the Apocosmos where our tiny corner of the universe is barely the tip of the iceberg.

The Apocosmos runs parallel to our world (the Cosmos) – fortunately most of us mundane muggles are happily unaware of the existence of this second world that seems to have actually been the inspiration for many stories, myths and legends that we believe to be fictional.  It appears that natives from the Apocosmos are living amongst us, disguised or hidden in plain sight and occasionally they pull an unsuspecting human into their world for one reason or another.

This is how Alex finds himself, unwittingly, begrudgingly even, a part of a much bigger universe.  Fortunately, it appears that Leo is also a part of this universe and so Alex isn’t left completely floundering around, although his natural inclinations to be anti-social don’t exactly help him as he never wants to leave his own domain.  In fact Alex has no desire to become further embroiled in this strange new world and has every intention of avoiding it until he realises that he might be able to make some money by crafting items and selling them on a platform not unsimilar to Amazon but much, much bigger in scale and possibility.  What could possibly go wrong with a ‘lets get rich quick’ idea?

I won’t elaborate further on the plot, suffice to say that this is only the first slice of Alex’s story so the ending doesn’t complete his tale.

What I liked about this.  I think it’s an interesting idea with a lot of potential storylines given the size of the Apocosmos.  The author has already come up with a number of cool notions such as gargoyles acting as postmen not to mention the idea of allowing Louie to communicate as a result of a successfully completed quest.  I confess that I’m not a gamer but to be honest I really don’t think this was a deterrent. The story feels like urban fantasy with a contemporary world with supernatural elements and the inclusion of the gaming aspects.

The characters.  I have to say that Louie was my favourite – I can’t really resist the inclusion of a cute Corgi that can communicate – particularly about his desire to eat bacon.  Also the partner that Alex takes on board – a dwarf called Rory – I did like this character especially as he started to open up.  Alex and Leo – well, Alex I find a little over aggressive.  Which I guess definitely feeds into his fighting character becoming something of a ‘berserker’ and for that reason I could relate a little more to what the author was doing.  However, I found him a bit judgemental of others, he makes quite a lot of remarks about other people that seem unnecessary  and he jumps with almost indecent haste from regular, ‘nothing to see here, just walking my dog’ calm to  ‘I want to knock everyone’s block off, mad as a box of snakes’ insanity. Like I said though – Berserker – the clue is in the title I guess.  Leo, well his inclusion feels a little contrived.  He’s a good friend (although not going to lie – I’m not always sure why), he’s indescribably rich, connected and knowledgeable about the Apocosmos – what were the odds?  Maybe there’s a further storyline about this in the pipeline though in fact it will be interesting to see how his inclusion develops.

In terms of criticisms.  I understand the need to include gaming stats in litrpg but, there is a lot of it here and to be honest I think it pulled me out of the story quite frequently.  Like I said, I do understand the need for this but I think maybe some of the lesser characters could be referred to without as much detail or maybe some of the terms could be elaborated upon in a glossary.  Anyway, it did distract from the story a little for me personally.  Also, there’s a heck of a lot of Alex ruminating about his business idea – again, maybe a bit too much information which felt a little dry and again was a bit distracting.

Overall, I enjoyed Berserker, probably more than I expected given that in terms of the RPG elements I’m not really the intended audience.  I think it had a few blips but it was a quick read and I find myself curious about just exactly how Alex comes to find himself in the slave barracks where we first make his acquaintance.  Plus, I’m worried about Louie – if anything happens to that dog – well, we’ll have another berserker on our hands.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

Books already reviewed for SPFBO :

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts