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Questland

by Carrie Vaughn

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12412221,449 (3.29)8
Fantasy. Fiction. HTML:"Questland is a thrill ride...Richly imagined, action-packed, maximum fun."
â??Charles Yu, New York Times bestselling author of Interior Chinatown
YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A MAZE FULL OF TWISTY PASSAGES...

Literature professor Dr. Addie Cox is living a happy, if sheltered, life in her ivory tower when Harris Lang, the famously eccentric billionaire tech genius, offers her an unusual job. He wants her to guide a mercenary strike team sent to infiltrate his island retreat off the northwest coast of the United States. Addie is puzzled by her role on the mission until she understands what Lang has built: Insula Mirabilis, an isolated resort where tourists will one day pay big bucks for a convincing, high-tech-powered fantasy-world experience, complete with dragons, unicorns, and, yes, magic.

Unfortunately, one of the island's employees has gone rogue and activated an invisible force shield that has cut off all outside communication. A Coast Guard cutter attempting to pass through the shield has been destroyed. Suspicion rests on Dominic Brand, the project's head designerâ?? and Addie Cox's ex-boyfriend. Lang has tasked Addie and the mercenary team with taking back control of the island at any cost.

But Addie is wrestling demons of her ownâ??and not the fantastical kind. Now, she must navigate the deadly traps of Insula Mirabilis as well as her own past trauma. And no d20, however lucky, can help Addie make this saving throw.
"Gamers rejoice! Carrie Vaughn has conjured up a fun and fast-paced story filled with elves, d20s, and Monty Python riffs."
â??Monte Cook, ENnie Award-winning creator of the Numenera roleplayi
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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

This book was absolutely everything I expected it to be and more. There’s always that worry when someone’s writing a geeky book that it is going to be horribly cringe-worthy, and I was pretty sure that this was in good hands, but having read the book and then Carrie Vaughn’s acknowledgement’s I can confirm that we’re good folks – she’s one of ours. Vaughn is a self-acclaimed geek (it’s blazed across her website header proudly) and she’s certainly screaming it from the rooftops with every single moment in Questland. From the premise of an island where fantasy has come alive and has been designed and brought to life by teams of designers and engineers who are all geeks themselves, to the quotes and random pop culture moments thrown in at perfectly timed intervals.

Then there’s the protagonist Addie Cox. Addie is a literature professor teaching a pop culture course (aka any book geeks dream) and is essentially the wizard of her party because this isn’t a military operation, it’s very much a quest to find out what’s happening and Addie is the only one who speaks the arcane language of fantasy, geeks and gamers. But like all geeks, Addie isn’t super confident, and that’s not because she’s an introvert stereotype who doesn’t go out at all. No, as a geek Vaughn is very aware of the stereotypes and Addie has a complicated backstory that is all too believable in modern-day America. The tragedy and trauma that Addie went through led her to tabletop RPGs and the concise rules of gaming ruled by the throw of a dice helped her get through the darkest times of her life.

It means she speaks a language that none of the soldiers in her party speaks, and as Addie remarks to herself throughout their time together, they may have high stats in strength and constitution like a barbarian but she has the high stats in intellect. Addie sees the world as a roleplayer, thinking of things in terms of dice rolls for perception and at one point she even tells the Captain to make sure he does a perception check. By this point, she’s proved her value to the team and he doesn’t look at her twice, he just takes it under advisement and checks for traps.

My only issue with Questland is how heavily it draws from Tolkien because as regular readers of my blog know, I’m not a fan (an admirer of his skill, but not a fan) and this book is filled with hero worship. Many of the elements of this book and the character themselves are Tolkien hero worshippers and many people forget that Tolkien didn’t actually create elves or dwarves. He just borrowed them from mythology and folklore, and while there is a moment where things are correctly credited to the legends Tolkien admired so much, it is a fleeting moment. It’s understandable; Vaughn is a huge fan herself, and it is her book, I just wish that a book about geeks and filled with geek characters didn’t essentially fall into the stereotype of “all fantasy fans are obsessed with Lord of the Rings”.

Despite my one misgiving about Questland what Vaughn has achieved in one novel is to be commended. There are so many random genuine snippets of conversation that would be at home in any group of geek friends or work colleagues. References to video games, film and book quotes and other pop culture moments are not awkward added to make it look real. It is real. These are like conversations I have on a daily basis with my fiance. Just a couple of geeks being geeks. These dialogue moments compliment Addie’s inner dialogue as a geek seeing fantasy and magic brought to life by technology which is on point at every turn. Vaughn’s rich narrative describing the wonders of the island makes you feel as if you are right there with Addie, uncovering this magical place one step at a time.

Welcome to Questland; are you ready for your quest? ( )
  justgeekingby | Jun 6, 2023 |
This is a weird mash-up of Jurassic Park and D&D. A super-rich guy creates a fantasy-themed park on an island and then loses control of it. He sends in a para-military group and a literature professor with PTSD to return control of the park to him.
The plot of this story does not bear close examination- there are lots of holes. But the action is fun, it is absolutely loaded with a wide variety of geeky references and the high-tech part does not seem so unlikely in this day and age.

library book read 5/29/2023 ( )
  catseyegreen | May 29, 2023 |
An English professor gets recruited by a computer company billionaire to go on a mission to take back his private island that he has been converting into a hue high tech D&D theme park. The reason Addie Cox has been recruited is she once had a long-term relationship with the head software designer before he went to work for this company. Addie provides excellent intel for the small band of private soldiers that have been hired to take back the park. The reason for the team to take over the park is new tech was developed on the island that has sunk a large boat and caused deaths and the island has been incommunicado for several months. The story is entertaining and by the end you have to wonder just what will happen next with the corporation and all the stuff they developed on the theme park island. If you like lots of quick references to other SF/F books and movies without explaining them all to the reader then this is a bonus to the story as well. ( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jan 4, 2023 |
Questland by Carrie Vaughn is... not good. It starts out with a fun premise and some interesting character context -- a PTSD-suffering protagonist visits a living fantasy-RPG island and tries to solve the mystery of what's going wrong there -- and then wastes both the context and all the goodwill it built in the first half with some shoddy writing and flawed characterization in the second half, to such a degree that I was thinking of ways to rewrite the book as I read. I have enjoyed many of Carrie Vaughn's other books, but this one feels like it went to press half-edited. A shame. ( )
  beserene | Dec 3, 2022 |
Allie is a professor and a PTSD sufferer courtesy of having survived a school shooting incident where a friend died in her arms. She’s recruited to investigate an island owned by a billionaire that was supposed to be a fantasy playground, but whose forcefield has gone up, isolating those inside. With a small team of mercenaries, she’s supposed to use her knowledge of fantasy tropes—and of her ex-boyfriend, one of the leaders of the team that was working on the island—to restore outside control. It’s an interesting book, no actual fantasy in it but trope-aware and interested in the difference between the appearance of fantasy and its reality/the things that are attractive about fantasy and the things that are not. ( )
  rivkat | Jul 5, 2022 |
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Okay, Professor Cox, so yeah, what I want to do is show that Moby Dick and Pokemon are both symbolic of rampant capitalism by portraying the inherently destructive nature of the relentless pursuit of abstract consumerism."
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Fantasy. Fiction. HTML:"Questland is a thrill ride...Richly imagined, action-packed, maximum fun."
â??Charles Yu, New York Times bestselling author of Interior Chinatown
YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A MAZE FULL OF TWISTY PASSAGES...

Literature professor Dr. Addie Cox is living a happy, if sheltered, life in her ivory tower when Harris Lang, the famously eccentric billionaire tech genius, offers her an unusual job. He wants her to guide a mercenary strike team sent to infiltrate his island retreat off the northwest coast of the United States. Addie is puzzled by her role on the mission until she understands what Lang has built: Insula Mirabilis, an isolated resort where tourists will one day pay big bucks for a convincing, high-tech-powered fantasy-world experience, complete with dragons, unicorns, and, yes, magic.

Unfortunately, one of the island's employees has gone rogue and activated an invisible force shield that has cut off all outside communication. A Coast Guard cutter attempting to pass through the shield has been destroyed. Suspicion rests on Dominic Brand, the project's head designerâ?? and Addie Cox's ex-boyfriend. Lang has tasked Addie and the mercenary team with taking back control of the island at any cost.

But Addie is wrestling demons of her ownâ??and not the fantastical kind. Now, she must navigate the deadly traps of Insula Mirabilis as well as her own past trauma. And no d20, however lucky, can help Addie make this saving throw.
"Gamers rejoice! Carrie Vaughn has conjured up a fun and fast-paced story filled with elves, d20s, and Monty Python riffs."
â??Monte Cook, ENnie Award-winning creator of the Numenera roleplayi

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