I’m a fan of action-adventure fantasy, but nothing I’ve recently checked out was as awesome to me as Travis Bagwell’s Awaken Online series. It’s a series about a neglected boy who finds escape in video games. However, he soon realizes that his new VR game, Awaken Online, hides something weird within.
Bagwell managed to create a new, epic world, just like in a video game, with “side quest” books and a lot more to unravel. So, without further ado, here’s a complete guide through all Awaken Online books in order.
Awaken Online Books Reading Order (At A Glance)
Travis Bagwell was a very prolific author, having written thirteen Awaken Online novels from 2016 to 2022. There are six primary works in the Awaken Online main series, with our additional “side quest” books, and three spin-off books, known as the Tarot Series. It takes place in Awaken Online but can be viewed as separate work.
The best way to read Awaken Online books is in publication order, which is as follows:
- Catharsis (2016)
- Precipice (2017)
- Retribution (Side Quest) (2017)
- Evolution (2018)
- Apathy (Side Quest) (2018)
- Dominion (2019)
- Unity (Side Quest) (2019)
- Ember (Tarot Series Book 1) (2019)
- Flame (Tarot Series Book 2) (2020)
- Inferno (Tarot Series Book 3) (2020)
- Hellion (2021)
- Happy (Side Quest (2021)
- Armageddon (October 2022)
Although you can read the Tarot Series separately, as well as only the primary books, I recommend reading the series in the order listed above.
Awaken Online Books Reading Order (In Detail)
1. Awaken Online: Catharsis (2016)
Description: Awaken Online: Catharsis is the first book of the series, described as “a spellbinding adventure perfect for fans of Ready Player One.” It follows a boy named Jason who escapes his somber reality with video games, namely a new VR game called Awaken Online. It was first published in 2016 and has since been made available in six editions.
This novel contains graphic violence and language. Books don’t have ratings, but if they did, this book would be rated “M” for Mature.
Synopsis: “On paper, Jason has a great life. He attends a prestigious private school on scholarship and his parents are reasonably well off.
Yet life hasn’t been easy for Jason. He has spent most of high school being tormented by both the students and faculty and his parents are never home.
Frustrated and alone, his one escape has always been video games. In-game, he can feel the type of power and freedom he lacks in his day-to-day life. Fortunately, a new virtual reality game (the first of its kind) has just been released, which promises the opportunity for an even greater escape.
Once he begins playing, Jason quickly finds himself on the path to becoming the game’s villain. In the process, he also starts to suspect that there is something unusual going on within the game.”
2. Awaken Online: Precipice (2017)
Description: Book 2 of the Awaken Online series was first published in 2017. It has since been made available in five editions. The book is a part of the primary work in the series.
Synopsis: “A few days have passed since Jason’s confrontation with Alfred, and he’s debating whether to reenter Awaken Online. Alfred has made a proposition that Jason isn’t certain he should accept.
After the battle with Alexion, Jason has also been appointed the Regent of the Twilight Throne. He must assume the mantle of ruling an undead city – with everything that entails. His first task is to investigate the dark keep that looms over the city’s marketplace. This act will lead to a chain of events that might ensure his city’s survival or create new enemies.
Meanwhile, Alex re-enters the game listless and angry after his loss against Jason. With his reputation in the gutter and no prospects, he will face a choice regarding how he intends to blaze his path through the game.”
3. Awaken Online: Retribution (Side Quest) (2017)
Description: A side quest adventure in the same world as the best-selling Awaken Online series. This story takes place after the end of Awaken Online: Precipice. It was first published in 2017 and has since been made available in 5 editions.
Synopsis: “Riley’s real-life took a nosedive after her confrontation with Alex. The girls at school torment her, and she feels powerless to do anything about it. At the same time, Jason has mysteriously disappeared, sending only a terse cryptic message to Riley and Frank.
With some time on her hands and with her frustration with her real-life reaching a breaking point, Riley decides to strike off on her own in-game. Her goal is to investigate the quest related to the strange bow she discovered in the dungeon north of Peccavi.
Yet events quickly spiral out of control as she discovers that the bow’s former owner has set her along a path of vengeance – with an entire city hanging in the balance.”
4. Awaken Online: Evolution (2018)
Description: Evolution is a part of the primary work in the Awaken Online series. It was first published in 2018 and has since been made available in three editions.
Synopsis: “After exiting Awaken Online to find himself holding a knife and standing over two dead bodies, Jason is now being investigated for murder. To make matters worse, Claire has stumbled upon evidence of Alfred’s involvement in the incident and the CPSC is circling – just waiting for Cerillion Entertainment to make a mistake.
With his real life in shambles and his enemies in-game growing in strength, Jason re-enters Awaken Online truly desperate – the game now his only lifeline. He will need to move quickly to complete the Old Man’s quest and to obtain the power he was promised.”
5. Awaken Online: Apathy (Side Quest) (2018)
Description: A side quest adventure in the best-selling world of Awaken Online, first published in 2018 and has since been made available in four editions. This story is intended to be “Book 5” in the Awaken Online series. It should be read after Awaken Online: Evolution.
Synopsis: “Eliza’s parents are relentless – forcing her to constantly take extra courses to prepare for college and medical school. Sometimes, it feels like her entire life has already been planned out.
This is why she leaps at the chance to escape into a new virtual reality game, Awaken Online. What she wasn’t expecting was to encounter a capricious god and his loyal “pet.” Or to be chosen as this god’s “avatar” within the game and forced to tackle a series of asinine quests.
Yet, she just can’t shake the feeling that there is more to the irritating god than first meets the eye.”
6. Awaken Online: Dominion (2019)
Description: The fourth installment in the primary work from the best-selling Awaken Online series. It was first published in 2019 and has since been made available in four editions.
Synopsis: “Following Jason’s evolution into a Keeper, he finds his fledgling city once again in turmoil. A new and deadly enemy threatens the Twilight Throne — one that has no difficulty contending with Jason and the members of Original Sin.
Jason must work quickly to consolidate his city’s power. That means securing the villages within the Twilight Throne’s influence, finding a steady stream of income, and growing the city’s military strength. Even as the group grapples with these changes, they notice that something is stirring up the native undead around the city, although the source of this strange influence is uncertain.
One thing is clear, however. Jason might have evolved, but his enemies have adapted with him. If the Twilight Throne is to survive, the group must grow stronger and Jason must learn to control his newfound abilities.
Otherwise, the darkness may very well claim them all.”
7. Awaken Online: Unity (Side Quest) (2019)
Description: A side quest adventure in the best-selling world of Awaken Online, first published in 2019 and has since been made available in four editions. This book is intended as “Book 7” in the series and should be read after Awaken Online: Dominion.
Synopsis: “In the aftermath of Thorn’s attack on the Twilight Throne, Frank is in an awkward position. Jason and Riley have outpaced him and everyone is hard at work rebuilding the Twilight Throne, establishing new towns, and trying to get their fledgling manufacturing operation off the ground. Everyone except Frank – who finds himself with no immediate task or goal.
So Frank decides to strike off on his own. He sets his eyes on the north, heading toward the snow-capped mountains that loom over the undead kingdom’s border in the hope of improving his shapeshifting abilities.
He soon stumbles into an unexpected adventure. A journey that may unearth the secrets behind his class and finally force him to reach his true potential.”
8. Awaken Online: Ember (Tarot Series) (2019)
Description: Book 1 of the Tarot Series, which takes part in Awaken Online. It was first published in 2019 and has since been made available in four editions. The Tarot Series can be read separately but is provided with a better context if read as a part of the Awaken Online main series.
Synopsis: “Desert sands. Arcane magic. A love lost. Finn Harris should have been the one to die.
But he wasn’t – his wife took his place. What was worse, he only had himself and his company to blame. They let their passion outpace their prudence, determined to revolutionize the world. While all innovation comes with a price, he never imagined it would cost him Rachael.
Nearly a decade later, Finn is content to hole himself up and wait out the rest of his life – what little he has left. That is, until his daughter intervenes, forcing him out of his grief and into a new virtual reality game developed by his old employer. They’re calling it Awaken Online, and she believes there’s something unusual going on inside the game. And since Finn knows the company, knows their tactics – she might be right.
Finn wasn’t sure what he expected to find when he logged in. But it certainly wasn’t a manipulative fire god or a school for mages – where the students are pitted against each other in deadly duels and the faculty isn’t shy about maiming or injuring novice mages to prove a point.
Now Finn must learn to fight, for his own life and a chance at redemption. He’ll need to prove that his fire hasn’t been snuffed out.
That there’s still an ember burning…”
9. Awaken Online: Flame (Tarot Series) (2020)
Description: Book 2 of the Tarot Series, which takes part in Awaken Online. It was first published in 2020 and has since been made available in four editions. The Tarot Series can be read separately but is provided with a better context if read as a part of the Awaken Online main series.
Synopsis: “Deadly competition. Deep desert. A dying tyrant. Finn Harris was declared the Mage Guild’s champion.
However, that was only the beginning of the Emir’s competition. The next stage will send Finn and his companions deep into the desert north of Lahab in search of a long-lost relic. The magical artifact is said to be held within the Abyss.
Except, this time, he’s not just facing novice mages. Everyone in the region seems to be arrayed against him, god and man alike. Racing against the other two champions, swept into the middle of a conflict between the Emir and those he’s wronged, and at the mercy of a manipulative fire goddess, Finn must battle his way through the Abyss and claim his prize.
Yet he will not stop, and he cannot afford to fail – not with Rachael’s life hanging in the balance. He will need to embrace his gifts and overcome his past.
Finn will need to become a true prophet of the flame.”
10. Awaken Online: Inferno (Tarot Series)
Description: Book 3 of the Tarot Series, which takes part in Awaken Online. It was first published in 2020 and has since been made available in four editions. The Tarot Series can be read separately but is provided with a better context if read as a part of the Awaken Online main series.
Synopsis: “The epic conclusion of the Tarot series! A crippling wound. A war looming on the horizon. A demon king to kill.
Finn and his companions barely escaped their encounter with Bilel. But not without a cost – including the loss of Finn’s left arm and the magical corruption that now plagues his body.
Despite those handicaps, Finn must keep pressing forward if he is to have any hope of bringing Rachael back. As the Seer predicted, the guilds and Khamsin have formed a fragile alliance. But before they can lay siege to Lahab, Finn and his companions must first find a way to defend themselves and their fledgling army from the effects of the god relic that Bilel now wields…
Which will send them deep into the heart of an ancient workshop. Along the way, they’ll encounter advanced magical technology, new friends and foes, and will be pushed well beyond their limits. They will be reforged in the fires of adversity – forced to prove their mettle, even with the odds stacked against them.
Hopefully, it will be enough. Because soon they will face a demon king and his armies.”
11. Awaken Online: Hellion (2021)
Description: Jason’s back, and he’s ready for revenge. Book 5 among the primary works from the Awaken Online Series. It was first published in 2021 and has since been made available in three editions.
Synopsis: “Roughly a month has passed in-game since Thorn’s attack on the Twilight Throne. In that time, the dark city has managed to recover and rebuild – growing the ranks of Original Sin at the same time.
Which is good, because that brief respite is over. The Avatar of Flame has risen within the depths of the northern desert and has thrown down a digital gauntlet to Jason – with a gate piece hanging in the balance. Even worse? His opponent is none other than Finn Harris, the ‘father of modern AI.’ The same man that may have been behind Thorn’s attack on the Twilight Throne.
And in the wake of recent events – the committee hearing back in the real world and the attack on his people – Jason is no longer content to just react; to wallow in the safety of his kingdom. If he’s to be painted the villain… well, then it’s long past time he fully embraced that role.
Because now it’s personal.
And there’ll be no holding back…”
12. Awaken Online: Happy (Side Quest) (2021)
Description: The last side quest book in the Awaken online series. It was first published in 2021 and has since been made available in three editions.
Synopsis: “Pain. Chaos. Happiness? Dominic Hart was screwed.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, no money for treatment, and an athletic scholarship hanging by a thread… he didn’t have many options. But the university clinic had offered him a free videogame. Some sort of “therapy,” they said. A way to while away the hours until he kicked the bucket. Yay.
What Dom wasn’t expecting was to get swindled by a surly casino owner right out of the gate. Or get dropped in a backwater hellhole voted the “#1 worst starting location in Awaken Online.” That might have been because a videogame mafia controlled the city. Or maybe it was because even the plant life could kill you. Regardless, his shit luck had obviously tagged along for the ride.
But that’s life. The odds are stacked in the house’s favor, you’re running out of chips, and you have to decide to hit or fold. For Dom, he decided to go all in. What did he really have to lose?
It’s just his life and happiness hanging in the balance.”
13. Awaken Online: Armageddon (October 1st, 2022)
Description: The final book of the Awaken Online series not yet published. It will be made available on Kindle on October 1st, 2022.
Synopsis: “New Enemies. Reluctant Allies. A World on Fire.
Jason has barely had a chance to catch his breath since Westley’s interview and the break-in at Cerillion Entertainment headquarters. And yet the world keeps spinning…
A new threat has emerged, but this one is coming from inside Awaken Online. An unknown guild has somehow managed to threaten the game world. Yet, unlike Jason’s former battles, his enemies are unclear — hidden in the shadows and hiring others to do their dirty work, including the infamous Death and Taxes. Without a clear enemy or way to stop this threat, Jason is forced to do something he never thought he would… ask for help.
Perhaps the united might of the avatars may be enough to subdue this new threat. Assuming they can overcome their issues and learn to fight together, they may be able to save AO.
And if not… they’ll have front row seats to the end of the world.”
Do I Need To Read Awaken Online Books In Order?
I highly recommend you to read the Awaken Online books in the order listed above, which is also the release order of the books. You can read only the six primary works and the Tarot Series separately, but I believe you’ll get the best experience if you read all the books (including Side quests and Tarot Series) in release order.