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Sword Art Online Progressive 2 - light novel…
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Sword Art Online Progressive 2 - light novel

by Reki Kawahara

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Title: Sword Art Online Progressive #002 novel (on Librarything, Goodreads)
Original title: ソードアート・オンライン プログレッシブ 2
Author: Reki Kawahara
Translator: Stephen Paul
Illustrator: abec
Language: English, original Japanese
Series: Sword Art Online Progressive novels
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now):
- Sword Art Online Progressive #001 novel
Reviews for other books by this author (up till now):
- Sword Art Online #1: Aincrad (manga)
- Sword Art Online #10 (Japanese)/#7 (English) - Mother's Rosario #1 (manga, Japanese book, English review)
- Sword Art Online Progressive #1 (manga)
- Sword Art Online #6: Phantom Bullet (light novel)
Format of publication: paperback
Number of pages: 251
Publisher: Yen Press
Year published: original Japanese 2013, first English publication 2015, my edition 2015 (1st)
ISBN number: 9780316342179
Topics: being trapped in a virtual game world, quests, creation of guilds
Reason for reading: I really liked volume 1!
Recommended: Yes, but read #001 first!

Short summary:
The third floor of Aincrad has been opened. As Kirito already knows which quests are good to start at the beginning (because he played the beta version of the game), he and Asuna go off to find the elf quest and start it. However, it doesn't go exactly as it did in the beta! They meet Kizmel, a dark elf NPC who seems to be smarter than the average NPC (non-playable character). The game system still indicates she's a normal quest NPC...
While Kirito and Asuna are busy with the elf quest, the other strong players are doing the quests to be able to start forming guilds. Meanwhile, there's also an unknown former beta tester who seems to have the intention to kill other players...

Back cover text:
Having cleared the first and second floors of Aincrad at great cost, Kirito, Asuna, and the rest of the players ascend to the third floor. Tenuous new allies await them - most crucially, Kizmel, the elven knight. Kizmel is supposed to be a minor NPC with low-level AI, but she soon reveals herself to be much more. With new allies come new complications, though, and the elves of the vast third-floor forest are no more united than the players who have just arrived there. The intrigue deepens when a mysterious figure challenges Kirito, and what begins as a simple contest of skill may actually be something far deadlier!

Sword Art Online: Progressive is a new version of the Sword Art Online tale that chronicles the entirety of Kirito and Asuna's epic adventure through Aincrad - from the first level all the way up!

First paragraph:
The first floor of Aincrad was an "anything goes" floor, with no unifying design theme. The terrain was rich and varied, with fields, forests, wastelands, and canyons, not to mention numerous smaller towns and villages outside the main city. It added up to a welcoming atmosphere for new players, but now that the game was deadly, few people were in the mood to soak in the surroundings.
The second floor, however, had a very clear, unified design. The land was covered with green grazing fields and multilayered flat-topped mountains, and the monsters within were all animal types. As a nod to the effort of beating the first floor, the wilderness of the second was not very difficult, which combined with the visual style, gave it a laid-back, "pastoral" theme. Most players called it the "cow floor," for obvious reasons.

Review:
Story:
The story in this book is called "Concerto of black and white" (Third floor of Aincrad, November 2022).
On this floor, people can do a quest so they can start their own guild. The two large groups (of which Kibaou and Lind are the leaders) both do the guild-creation quest on this floor.
I had already seen Kizmel in the Playstation-game "Hollow Realization", but her quest there is different from the one in this book (and the following books, as the elf quest is a storyline spanning from floor 3 through 9). At first I thought, another smarter AI? But it turned out quite interesting and I'm curious about the rest of the Kizmel storyline.

Because this book focused on quests, we get a lot of explanation about how quests work in SAO. The problem of many people being able to do the same quests is solved very nicely! Kirito and Asuna aren't the only ones doing the elf quest, of course (though they started it first). The other large quest on this floor is the guild-creation quest, so we get more explanation on the benefits of being in a guild as well (and the pros and cons of being a solo player).
Asuna is clearly getting more experienced in the game and Kirito doesn't have to explain basic things as often anymore.

This book covers the entire third floor, but the boss battle isn't really described much detail. Most of ths story goes to the quests and Kirito's fight with the mysterious player mentioned in the back cover text. I thought that was a good choice, because the boss battles in the first book were described in so much detail already.

There were a few hints to the future of the SAO story, for example Asuna becoming vice-president in a guild (see the first book of the main story, where she already is the vice-commander of the Knights of the Blood Oath guild (really, I'm waiting for Heathcliff to appear somewhere :P)) and different time speed in a virtual world (see the Alicization arc of the main story, book 9-18).

Writing style:
The story is told by Kirito, from Kirito's viewpoint. Still, as Asuna mentions, he thinks too much: "I've noticed recently that you're the type of person who gets depressed on his own because you overthink everything. Just speak up before you get any stupid ideas." (page 145/146). We also get to read his thoughts, but I do think they really add to the story.

Spelling errors/typos:
None :D I think that's a first in the English-translated SAO novels I've read XD
Though on page 3 there's "cow floor,", which is a bit weird. Shouldn't it be "cow floor", with the comma following the apostrophes?

Art:
Many of the images in this book have a horizontal or diagonal line in the middle, to show different characters who're not standing next to each other. Because of this, the images by themselves are less clear, but because they're next to the scenes in the story, it's clear what has been drawn.
Another thing I noticed is that Asuna's cape is described as grey-ish and in the colour images it's dark red (like in the anime). I like red better though :) And her new cape is described as more purple, but on the book 3 cover image it's still red. Ah well, Asuna's hair in the books is also described as "chestnut brown" while on the colour images it's very light brown.

Conclusion:
A very enjoyable continuation of the SAO Progressive story! I'm going to start reading book 3 today :D

Rereadability:
Yes!

Related links:
- This review on my weblog.
- This review on Goodreads.
  mene | Apr 22, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316342173, Paperback)

"There's no way to beat this game. The only difference is when and where you die..."

Having cleared the first and second floors of Aincrad at great cost, Kirito, Asuna, and the rest of the players ascend to the third floor. Tenuous new allies await them--most crucially, Kizmel, the elven knight. Kizmel is supposed to be a minor NPC with low-level AI, but she soon reveals herself to be much more. With new allies come new complications, though, and the elves of the vast third-floor forest are no more united than the players who have just arrived there. The intrigue deepens when a mysterious figure challenges Kirito, and what begins as a simple contest of skill may actually be something far deadlier!

Sword Art Online: Progressive is a new version of the Sword Art Online tale that chronicles the entirety of Kirito and Asuna's epic adventure through Aincrad--from the first level all the way up!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 06 Aug 2015 05:23:18 -0400)

Having cleared the first and second floors of Aincrad at great cost, Kirito, Asuna, and the rest of the players ascend to the third floor. Tenuous new allies await them--most crucially, Kizmel, the elven knight. Kizmel is supposed to be a minor NPC with low-level AI, but she soon reveals herself to be much more. With new allies come new complications, though, and the elves of the vast third-floor forest are no more united than the players who have just arrived there. The intrigue deepens when a mysterious figures challenges Kirito, and what begins as a simple contest of skill may actually be something far deadlier.… (more)

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