Book Review: Overlord, Vol 1 by Kugane Maruyama

Overlord, Vol 1   

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  May 24, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yggdrasil  has been a very popular multi-player online game for a dozen years. But nothing lasts forever, players’ tastes change, and all good things must come to an end. So it is with this particular MMORPG. One of the game’s  guilds in particular, Ainz Ooal Gown, is composed of very dedicated players, led by the Overlord Momonga. But the time has come for the game to end, and out of the 41 members of the guild, only a handful  remain. Of these, only two show up to the Tomb of Nazarick to witness the end of their beloved game—the Momonga player and his friend. But his friend is very tired from working hard and even he doesn’t stay the course, so Momonga finds himself alone, waiting for the countdown that will signal the end of Yggdrasil.

As Momonga waits for the end, he remembers the other guild members, and the accomplishments of the guild, with justifiable pride. Each of them has created the various NPCs that populate the tomb and designed their personalities. Momonga isn’t happy with what the creator of the NPC Albedo did, though, making her into a veritable bitch. So he does something he normally wouldn’t do, and goes into the program and changes her. Just for fun, he adds the line that will come back to haunt him… he says she is in love with Momonga. What the heck, the game is going out in a few minutes anyway.

Just before the game is scheduled to wink out of existence, though,something happens, something inexplicable.  Momonga first realizes it when he notices his senses actually working in this place, for example he can smell things around him, something he could never do before. And the NPCs… are actually responding with lines that are certainly not pre-programmed, and moving in ways they previously had not been able to. And why is Albedo looking at him so oddly? Almost as if she’s in love with him or something. What has happened here?

Before I read this, I started watching the anime, unaware that the books existed. But then the first volume showed up on my daughter’s wish list, so I bought it for her and borrowed a copy from the library for myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised at what I read. Reading the novel helps me make sense out of what is happening in the anime. In fact, I think I’ll start the anime again after reading a couple more books.

As a gamer myself, this is a very fun read, one that I am greatly enjoying. Momonga finds himself living inside the game, except it’s not a game, it’s a real world. Good thing he worked so hard on his character all this time, because Momonga is a force to be reckoned with! Kugane Maruyama is taking us on a fascinating ride into an MMORPG, but the difference is everything is real, magic exists, and the sorts of things players do in a game are the same things these people do here. I love how devoted and unabashedly lovesick Albedo is over Momonga, despite the fact that he is literally a skeleton, albeit a very powerful one.

The book contains some fabulous color drawings as well, done by the illustrator so-bin. I loved them! I also love how Momonga is quickly adapting to this new life in which he neither eats nor drinks nor breathes… nor anything else associated with his prior human life. His first order of business is to have someone scout outside and find out if they are still in the area in which the guild was located… or somewhere else. Also, he decides to meet with his staff, ie his NPCs, and see what’s up with them as well as give them their orders.

A new world has just begun and Momonga has to figure out how to live in it, since he has no idea if he can even get back to the real world… assuming he wants to.


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