One chance to change your fate. All you have to do is survive.
Dax Tarnis has few rights and fewer options. A Casteless thief, he has struggled his whole life just to put food in his belly, and his dreams and goals have always been far out of reach.
It should have been like that forever, but Dax wanted more. And when fate thrusts a rare magic card into his hands, his world is upended. Now, he has the power to change everything.
All he needs is to learn how to use it. How to level up. How to fight.
How to keep that power from dangerous enemies who will kill him without hesitation.
“Casteless” is an action-packed tale of power and ascendency, where every choice Dax makes leads him to danger and adventure. Join him as he fights against men and monsters, gaining friends and allies along the way as he realizes his dreams, using his card magic powers in unpredictable ways. Perfect for lovers of Progression Fantasy, Gamelit and LitRPG.
This was one of those self-promo posts I saw on /r/LitRPG and I loved the cover so much I saved the post for when I finally worked through the top of my TBR. It took a little while, but here we are!
This was a solid entry to the very few card-based books I’ve read. Some others have had issues with the magic system getting a bit old, simply because the MC is normally very limited in the skillset due to the small number of cards (or singular one) they start out with. Dax, happily, lucks into a chaos based card that he can trigger to generate a new ability, and this keeps the action fresh by constantly forcing Dax to solve problems in new ways.
A good amount of the plot revolves around (illegal) Card Fighting, though stakes quickly climb as power consolidation comes into play. Right now there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many cards one person can have, so obvious if you’re an unscrupulous card fighter, the way to gain more power seems pretty simple, right?
But I can say no more, as this review won’t have spoilers.
Onto the setting, there were some hints as to wider politics and systems, but Dax and friends are constrained to the Fringe and it has the vibes of a normal slum setting next to a monster pit, called, naturally, the Pit. The setting allows Dax his agency, but it doesn’t have that wow factor from things like Bastion, Titan Hoppers, Godclads or similar fictions.
Characters are fun. Dax, for all his talking about trying to do things right, is not particularly patient, nor is he a min-maxer. Which is fine, because that is his character, but for the subset of people who want those analytical minmax characters, Dax does not fall into this group. The cast revolves primarily around three characters, Dax, Jynn (his childhood gambler friend), and Mira (the mentor figure), and they’re all distinct and look well on the way to forming a tight-knit squad.
So, will you enjoy this book? If you like a broad, ever-changing skillset, cards as a LitRPG system, a focus on one-on-one fights, or a city setting, I’d say “Yeah, give it a shot.”
If you hate all those things… what are you even doing looking at books in the LitRPG genre?