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Sword Art Online (Novel)  
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From Yen Press:

In the year 2022, gamers rejoice as Sword Art Online-a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) like no other-opens its virtual doors, allowing players to take full advantage of the ultimate in gaming technology: NerveGear, a system that allows users to completely immerse themselves in the game world by manipulating their brain waves to create a wholly realistic gaming experience. But when the game goes live, the elation of the players quickly turns to horror as they discover that, for all its amazing features, SAO is missing one of the most basic functions of any MMORPG-a log-out button. Now trapped in the virtual world of Aincrad, their bodies held captive by NerveGear in the real world, users are issued a chilling ultimatum: conquer all one hundred floors of Aincrad to regain your freedom. But in the warped world of SAO, "game over" means certain death-both virtual and real...


Related Series

Associated Names
Сворд арт онлайн
刀剑神域 (小说)

Groups Scanlating

Latest Release(s)
v.12 c.8 + Author's Notes by Baka-Tsuki (989d ago)
v.12 c.7 by Baka-Tsuki (1049d ago)
v.11 c.Author's Notes by Baka-Tsuki (1165d ago)
Search for all releases of this series

Status in Country of Origin
17 Volumes (Ongoing)

Completely Scanlated?

Anime Start/End Chapter
Starts at Vol 1, Chap 2
Ends at Vol 4, Chap 9

User Reviews

8 topics, 51 posts
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User Rating
Average: 8.5 / 10.0 (522 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.39 / 10.0
 50% (260 votes)
 19% (100 votes)
 10% (54 votes)
 6% (31 votes)
 4% (21 votes)
 1% (5 votes)
 2% (10 votes)
 2% (10 votes)
 1% (6 votes)
 5% (25 votes)

Last Updated
April 20th 2016, 8:05am PST



Category Recommendations





Original Publisher
ASCII Media Works (Dengeki Bunko)

Serialized In (magazine)

Licensed (in English)

English Publisher
Yen Press (7 Volumes - Ongoing)

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #633 increased(+159)
Monthly Pos #1091 decreased(-151)
3 Month Pos #1029 decreased(-82)
6 Month Pos #894 decreased(-191)

List Stats
On 1786 reading lists
On 848 wish lists
On 65 unfinished lists
On 489 custom lists

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Forum Posts
Do you think it's actually possible? 240 days, 13 hours, 21 minutes ago
Where to read Sword Art Online (Light novel)? 608 days, 4 hours, 2 minutes ago
Sword Art Online and Accel World 798 days, 0 hours, 51 minutes ago
Swordt Art Online dropped 897 days, 18 hours, 51 minutes ago
does it get better? 1049 days, 15 hours, 50 minutes ago

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User Comments [ Order by usefulness ]

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Rating: 3.0 / 10.0
by arkS
August 25th, 2011, 11:38am
This novel deals really well with the premise of a game that forces people from real to virtual absolutely and the imagination aspect is good but I don't think this is anywhere near a novel that can incite curiosity or emotions.I picked it up given its high ratings but i was disappointed. I am not a game addict so i cannot tell if it was unique but it was pretty unrealistic. And yes the protagonist is cliched, boring and deluded and hardly develops in that aspect.
I am not spewing nonsense. I read this to the end even against my will and i do appreciate the battle and action scenes but the character and emotions seem like a total fraud and the romance is illogical. The story could have fared a lot better if it had focused on the precarious scenarios with a bit more insight and treated the players more realistically. I mean even if being trapped for two years erases the distinction between virtual and real you would still retain a human mind. The conversations are superficial but intended to be deep and emotional, that really disappoints.

Could have been a lot better.
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I recommend vol 1 for everyone. After that it depends   
Rating: N/A
by intemango
June 2nd, 2011, 5:37am
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Regarding the romance, it developed at the speed of sound for a shounen, though it is perhaps understandable since some parts have been left out, there is mutual attraction and flirting with death every day kinda does that to people (they tend to say some incredibly corny things).

Vol 3+4 is about another game where in-game death doesn't mean death in real life, it's like every other normal MMO game (except for the 'sinister' plot of the main villain). As the author himself explained, he tried to tell a different story without the convenient 'permanent death' plot device, since such an evil game doesn't exist in real life and relying on it would mean all the emotions the author felt while playing normal MMORPGs were fake. While I certainly applaud his noble intentions and greatly enjoyed the almost surreal Jötunheimr arc in vol 4, it is evident that the main story and the MC's efforts would have amounted to nothing of note but for the unrealistic plot of the main villain. It would have been just another tale about gamers competing in an online game among thousands of online games (and truthfully people have gotten fed up with such things). So here is an author trying not to use an unrealistic trope, while still opting for another.

Tropes aren't inherently bad, that 'permanent death' plot device he avoids makes the drama and tragedies real, and arguably even more real than all the 'disney deaths' in stories with real-life settings, since dead characters in SAO never come back. The trope makes every fight the hero undertakes a heroic, selfless and perhaps reckless course of action. And I dig that. But he chose not to reuse it, to vindicate his own belief at the expense of suspense and significance of the characters' struggle, whose only meaning then was to thwart the villain's plan. There was still nothing wrong at that point. But the villain turned out to be predictable and unsympathetic, his plot was simply depicted as a gesture of madness. It could have been much more.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Researching into memories, thoughts and feelings is an absolutely grand project that we're doing even today. Understanding how the brain works has so many great applications when you have the right regulations. Without lies we can solve every crime case, put fraudsters, and many politicians (maybe they are no different from the former) in jail. We can back up our memories and recover lost ones. We can help fight depression, and so many other things... Knowledge does not commit crimes, humans do. How we use it is up to us. Turning people into research subjects without their consent is bad, but since they don't remember anything after the fact and aren't directly harmed, the villain could have at least tried to appear a sympathetic martyr, accepting all kinds of condemnation for the sake of rapid progress (he'd grow old and die before people could agree on such matters, for example). Instead all he could say was that he wanted to be god blah blah blah. Tell me another story where 'science' doesn't try to overcome 'god', whatever that is.

The villain and his plot in vol 1 were much better. He didn't try to justify himself, and while it appeared to be simply madness at first glance, the characters eventually discovered a hint of sense to what he was doing. He was a villain you couldn't hate.

... Last updated on June 2nd, 2011, 5:48am
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Brilliant volume 1.   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by Atriel
May 27th, 2011, 10:39pm
The first volume is perfect for me. Well, not quite, there are some minor things that felt unnatural for me, but overall I loved every single part of it.

However, I can't say the same for the other volumes. I only read 3 and 4, since those are the ones fully translated, and the first part of volume 2. Volume 2 in itself seems to be a nice compliment for 1, so no problems for me there (I have yet to read all of it though), but 3 and 4... I don't know.

They were okay, but just fell to some more annoying cliches than the first volume, which managed to transform what cliches it had into a good part of its story. V1 even had a hint of seinen, while V3 and 4 felt like flat-out shounen for me and had some very ridiculous moments that killed the "magic" I felt from V1. I won't go into spoilers, but V1 actually felt like something possible and reasonable (so to say), while V3 and V4 felt like an impossible scenario given the big mount of incoherent situations.

Maybe it's just me, but the story is going downhill. If it comes down to it, I'll just mentalize myself to think that V1 was all of Sword Art Online. I'l keep my rate at 10 for now, but it's hard to do so. Overall, I agree with Claudiofd. What was written in Claudiofd's comment, is very close to what I felt when reading this.

... Last updated on May 28th, 2011, 10:14am
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Keep the SAO train rolling!   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by Meatbunz
May 16th, 2011, 9:45pm
Volume 1 is truly a masterpiece in my eyes.
Like many have said before, the idea of getting stuck in a video game is not new itself. However, KAWAHARA Reki refines the idea making it truly unique. The story is focused on "gaming" but really, the "video game" aspect is only a flavor into what SAO truly stands is, a story of human interaction.

The way the story unfolds actually makes you believe "Yes this can happen", as shmigelpuf says "the story has a perfect balance of action, adventure, and romance".

The main character main seem like an archtype to some typical protagonist, but as you read further, you get to know the protagonist, you get to understand his thought, his actions, his feelings, and brings the story much more alive.

Read this, give it a chance, you will not regret it.

Oh and as darn2k mentioned, Volume 3 and 4 are one story, one arc and only combined do they equal the length of Volume 1. You have to read both to get a good picture and idea of the overall story.

To help the confusion for new readers

Volume 1-Arc #1
Volume 2-Before/In Between Arc #1
Volume 3- Arc #2
Volume 4-Arc #2
And so on

... Last updated on May 16th, 2011, 9:50pm
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DO NOT stop after volume 1, it just gets better as the series goes on   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by darn2k
May 7th, 2011, 3:53pm
I really love this series, I'm even helping edit. But I've just got to know how much of volume 3 claudiofd actually read, because no matter how much it was, it wouldn't be enough. Volume 3/4 are all one big story so if you only read a couple chapters or even the full volume 3 you wouldn't be able to get the same feeling, but once you read all of volume 4 with it you won't be disappointed.

That is not even mentioning volumes 5/6 where you get more of what is going on outside the game and Kirito is using a light saber in a shooting-based game.
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The first volume was amazing but the story should have ended there   
Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
by claudiofd
May 2nd, 2011, 10:51am
I read through the first volume pretty quickly and was amazed by how good everything was. The pace was good. Even when the main story was sort of "on hold" while going through the romantic scenes it was so good. Those scenes end up being very important because only by reading through them do you manage to understand and value their relationship.

Another thing I loved was the philosophic questions behind their situation. I clearly remember a scene where asuna and kirito are talking and she says something like: If we are here and our hearts are here and if we are living and feeling these emotions, isn't this reality in itself? Now that was beautiful and I totally agree. They were in the game for 2 years. They laughed, cried and suffered in game. Looking at that as just an imitation of reality based in lie is wrong. That was reality.

Then the amazing unpredictable end of the 1st volume left me with my heart beating faster than normal and all I could think was "What the hell? How will this endconfused". Then I skipped the 2nd volume right to volume 3 because I honestly couldn't wait to get some closure to that cliffhanger.

And volume 3 has been a big disappointment so far. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad. It's just that after that amazing 1st volume I was expecting something equally amazing. Spoilers ahead so be careful. The new world isn't working for me and so aren't the new characters. Also the fact that it seems like it's gonna take a while to see the girl again is pissing me off. Then the whole conspiracy in the real world sounds dumb. He is going to marry a girl who is in a coma? You can do that in Japan? And her dad is all for it. Damn...

Concluding. Read it. Read the first volume and continue only if you really love it. Especially if you like MMOs or even fantasy as a whole you'll have a blast.
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Read Volume 1 - Loved It   
Rating: N/A
by Freecss
March 18th, 2011, 10:37pm
It started out real well. Protagonist is like your typical MMO grind player. Socially inept/withdrawn. Great Main Character in my book. He's neither weak or a loser. He's independent initially and able to stand by himself but later will soon have someone to depend on.

Plot was great IMO. Everything blended real well. Volume one tells the beginning and end of the whole story but the later volume will delve into Kirito and Asuna's life as well as every character they encountered in game in more detail(I've only read v01 don't quote me on this). His journey within the 2 years before the current floor 74. Where Volume had a time-skip.

Spoiler (highlight to view)
Gah! I need to know Asuna and Kazuto's relationship after clearing the game!
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Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by FrostLord
December 29th, 2010, 12:21am
I have always been a fan of VRMMORPG type manga/games/novels/etc, and when I read this I immediately enjoyed the plot and the main character. I'm especially liking the world it takes place in and the characters that surround him. More recently I'm loving volume 2 with the Scilica and Lizbeth chapters and hold high expectations for more releases. I also began looking into the manga that has been released recently and I think highly of how it will progress. Baka-Tsuki I thank your group for releasing this along with all your other projects. Keep up the good work and please continue to release more chapters of SAO.

... Last updated on December 29th, 2010, 12:23am
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[Holodeck Malfunction + Win To Exit] done right.   
Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
by Yousuke
June 14th, 2010, 8:00pm
VOLUME 1 "(8/10)":
I'm serious. I was quite surprised with the first volume.
The concept itself isn't new (see .hack//, Detective Conan Movie, Yu Gi Oh, Digimon just to name a few). But compared to those I'm very pleased with the scientific approach behind S.A.O.. It's way more probable than the likes of .hack and co. It's one of the best and more importantly BELIEVABLE 'stuck in a virtual reality' kind of stories I've read or seen so far. That alone is reason enough to give this a try.
Add a very interesting Virtual Reality MMORPG, a not so transparent plot, and a quite balanced cast. The result is known as Sword Art Online.

I have to disagree with Astral100 on this one.
IMHO Kirito is a great fit. He has alot of insecurities, etc etc. TRUE. But that also has a reason. While I'm usually not a fan of this type of protagonist in this case the plot depicted a very withdrawn and unsociable kind of teenager who finds refuge in gaming. That's what makes him a hardcore gamer, it's also ironically the source of his strength (being a hardcore gamer/betatester has allowed him to reach a very high level).
Another thing that makes him interesting is that he's one step ahead of the reader at all times. Mainly by withholding information from the reader, but also because the plot is driven by conclusions he draws. Making the plot less predictable.

I won't go into detail. A great read.
If there's one thing I didn't like it's the intermission. You'll know when you get there.
All the suspense was gone, and while you might argue this was a good break - literally 'the calm before the storm' - I would've preferred another approach.

I haven't finished Volume 2 yet, but so far it was a bittersweet disapointment. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it plenty. But it's basically fanservice. Sidestories of Kirito meeting girls who end up falling for him. The characters were lovely, and I do realize that the events of volume 2 are important for the following arcs. However all things considered the events are superfluous and don't advance the story. It's merely there to satisfy the readers with fanservice and it lives out the glory created by the prequel. It's certainly nice in a way, but I have mixed feelings about it. "(5/10)"

ALfheimOnline (ALO) the successor of VMMORPG SAO and the second arc of the story (Vol 3-4). I'll give it to you straight. It's nowhere near as good or interesting as the first volume. At times it was somewhat irritating even. Damsel in Distress is bad enough as it is (I hate those..) now add a very unpleasant and boring villain and a protagonist who apparently turned into a moron. The previous calmness and intelligence he showed at times that made the plot less predictable is now replaced by impulsiveness. The story is no longer unpredictable. In the end this arc turned into a mediocre .hack// clone. "(5/10)"

So far GunGaleOnline (GGO) has been the best arc since volume 1. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the thrill of anticipation you get from reading the beginning of a potentially interesting story. I can't wait to read more. (Currently @ v.5 ch.5) "(7/10)"

... Last updated on October 19th, 2011, 9:40am
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Rating: N/A
by Astral100
May 24th, 2010, 2:32am
Having seen a bunch of good reviews I started reading it, but now I regret it

I am so tired of those stories in anime and manga.
The main character is once again a weak loser (character-wise), has no confidence, has tons of insecurities, makes stupid mistakes that a 3 year old would not do, always is led by others and agrees with whatever decisions other people make and is a total and complete looser.
In other words, your typical harem hero. Thankfully there is only one girl so far, but she also feels attracted to the wimpy main character for no reason at all.

By the way, the real world girls would be be turned off by such behaviour faster than you can say snap.

It started off well, but the further I got, the worse it became. I had to stop reading halfway through the first volume, because it has become simply disgusting to me.

I mean you would expect a person who has been fighting every single day with his life at stake for 2 years would be more mature than this... this... looser.

If you are still a male virgin teen that has no experience with girls you might like it, but me, I afraid I am too old for this kind of bullshit anymore.

What are the japanese authors that make such novels are thinking?
Ugh...I now have a very bad aftertaste in my mouth after reading this.

... Last updated on May 24th, 2010, 2:44am
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