Fortuna: Sometimes a Game Isn’t Really a Game by Michael R. Stevens

Fortuna: Sometimes a Game Isn’t Really a Game
Michael R. Stevens
Oceanview Publishing (2010)
ISBN 9781933515779
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (04/10)


“Fortuna” introduces us to a young man who creates separate lives in two very different worlds, leading to revelations that affect both. Jason Lind is a bright college student, feeling cramped and unfulfilled at Stanford. He discovers the online world of Fortuna, where he is able to create a new persona that allows him a taste of the excitement and adventure that he’s been hungry for, but the addictive nature of the game and Jason’s own desire to pierce it’s veil of secrecy soon has him fighting for his life as the past, present, and Fortuna all converge to reveal a plot for power and wealth that affects Jason and everyone he cares for.

Mr. Stevens gets off to a slow start but the book soon picks up the pace, enticing the reader forward with each new twist. The world of online role-playing games is captured perfectly as we see Jason first enter the world of Fortuna out of sheer frustration and then gradually lose himself as RL (real life) is constantly put on hold while he immerses himself into the online persona of Father Allesandro, but the book isn’t just about a kid sitting at a computer all day. Jason learns the hard way that even computer games can have real life consequences, and these consequences can prove to be deadly if he’s not careful.

“Fortuna” delivers a fine balancing act between providing a history lesson of ancient Italy and giving us a thrilling mystery. In this situation, one doesn’t really work without the other and the history lessons are spread thin enough and spaced far enough that the reader doesn’t feel like a textbook was picked up by mistake. Jason is written as a very believable character, with the problems, worries, and ambitions that most college-age people could relate to. His relationship with his best friend, Marco, is captured in a very realistic manner but things occasionally have a “too good to be true” feeling with his new romantic interest, Paola. However, the feeling is more along the lines of ‘what a lucky guy’ than an attitude of ‘that’s so fake’ so the story doesn’t suffer.

“Fortuna” will be a great read for anyone who likes thrillers with a hint of mystery, and Mr. Stevens leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for those readers who like to get involved and see if they can piece together things before the characters in the book do.

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