Belart Wright's "Immortal Kalika: The Speedrunner"
You know, you’d think that after three books in the Hell’s Glitch series that I’d be used to Belart just doing his thing, but with every release, he continues to one up himself. In the 1st book we’re introduced to Sam/Sarem and his time in the game. We learn just how brutal, unfurling and immersive the game can be over the course of the next two books. Then enter Kalika, the top player in this death game. This, this is her story.
Immortal Kalika: The Speedrunner
In IMMORtAL_Kalika Episode 1, we meet the titular heroine, but her introduction is one that lets you know the tone her book will have right off the bat. She’s talented, hard-working, and has a disciplined, no-nonsense attitude, but she’s also haunted. She’s haunted by an event in her past that has shaped her psyche, forged her strong will and determined spirit, but at the same time threatens to tear her apart.
Once we meet Ximana, the person behind Kalika, you understand fairly quickly what type of person she is. And by that I mean a handicapable badass. She doesn’t let her status as paraplegic amputee stop her from, well being her, and I love her for that. A handicap in other’s eyes is something else entirely in her yes; she doesn’t let it define her, and you find yourself wanting her to succeed. Not that’s there’s much doubt that she won’t succeed.
Kalika excels at the speed run she does prior to joining Project DH, and this segment definitely brought up some DW vibes for me, but it also shows off her dedication, her skills and her just all around baddassery. Plus, we get to see her strategic mind at work, her wit and sarcasm. And did I mention she’s a badass? Okay, just wanted to make sure.
Episode 1 has Kalika going through nearly the same thing Sam went through, which makes sense since they’re playing the same game and all, but Belart does this in a way that keeps things fresh. Kalika faces the same enemies Sam does for the most part, but the differences in how she deals with these enemies, as well as the advantages her class offers make for a fresh take on the game. Kalika is just as skilled as Sam, more so even given her strategical and pragmatic approach to everything. She doesn’t do things just because; if it can give her what she wants, she’ll do whatever she needs to, including making choices that Sam wouldn’t dream of.
Many things stay the same, but I loved how Kalika’s choices change the game. We meet characters we hadn’t met in the OG series, we learn about the monsters in ways we weren’t able to as well, and that only works to further cement how detailed and complex the game world Belart has created actually is. And one other thing I really enjoyed was Ximana and Maya (Ximaya)’s relationship. Their chemistry is almost palpable, and though their back and forth were usually short (and kind of one-sided), they always put a smile on my face. I’d be hard pressed to admit that I enjoyed Ximaya’s interactions more than Sam and Alex’s (ship name still undecided), and that’s saying something, considering that I adore the relationship those two develop.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is it all good? Was there anything you disliked about Episode 1? Honestly? I didn’t dislike anything about this outing. I got a deeper look at one of the more intriguing characters from the OG series, and it didn’t disappoint. I got to see another side of the game that has all but stripped Sam…ahem, Sarem, of the once positive attitude and outlook he had. Though if I had to choose one thing, it’d be that Kalika is freaking god-like. I don’t think there was one moment where I thought she was in any real trouble. I think that’ll change going forward, but it works for now, seeing as how she’s the top player in the OG series. With Episode 1, we learn why. I’m looking forward to what comes next!