LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 008
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 008 - Ritualist: Completionist Chronicles, Outpost: Monsters, Maces and Magic Series, Respawn: Killstreak, Rapture: Apocalypse Gates Author's Cut
You can read the full reviews and shownotes if you visit us at: www.litrpgpodcast.com/litrpg-audiobook-podcast-008
“Hello everyone. Welcome to the LitRPG Audiobook Podcast. I’m Ray, your audiobook reviewer, and I’ll be reviewing some recent and classic LitRPG Audiobooks for you. I’ll begin with:”
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Score: 8 out of 10
Score: 6 out of 10
Score: 8 out of 10
Ritualist the Completionist Chronicles, Book 1
By: Dakota Krout
Narrated by: Vikas Adam
Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
Ritual is necessary for us to know anything
I really did not want to like this book. I wanted Dakota Krout to keep putting out his Divine Dungeon series until it was finished. Now, I'm torn. I still want the Divine Dungeon series, but now I also want MORE Ritualist. Krout is an incredible writer, and you get sucked into the story immediately. I appreciate how he gets the character of Joe into the game quickly and doesn't really screw around with all the usual angst or cognitive dissonance most MC's display when they are about to go into a virtual world permanently. Nope, we go straight into the game, and we are better for it.
I really appreciate that Joe gets a secret class, with special skills, and that he works for a hidden god. It's fun watching him try to keep things straight, because once the cat is out of the bag then he loses all kinds of benefits. And he has some sweet skills. The only thing that really throws me off is that the MC, Joe, enters the VR permanently because he is a quadrapalegic, and still opts to get a body that will be winded from walking to fast and can be beheaded from a paper cut. You would expect him to take a healthy vibrant body, but I will say his choice does make sense if you consider that he is in it for the long haul. He has a long distance perspective that few others have. Additionally, Krout is about the only dude I know that can make a healer not only exciting but totally a bad grass mamajamma. Most people go swordsman, rogue, or wizard. Dakota manages to make the cleric interesting. Plus the ritual stuff and the occultist proffesion suck you in.
Vikas Adams had me waaaaay back with the Divine Dungeon number one, Dungeon Born. I loved his characterizations and the humor he injects with his voice. There are few narrators who are as skilled as he is, and he really moves the story along at his pace. The man is a pleasure to listen to, and his female voices are just as good as his male ones.
I give Krout points for including a nod to my beloved Dungeon, Cal, in this book and can see the similarities in attitudes. Both are fair, easily annoyed, and ready to dole out proper punishments and rewards. Can we see a nod to everyone's favorite wisp in the next book, Dakota?
Joe is a fun character, and I really look forward to seeing more of him in the future. Now, we just need to get the Divine Dungeon series caught up and I'll be satisfied. YOU will be satisfied if you get this book. This is, without question, one of the best LitRPG/GameLit books I've ever read!
Final Score: 8.5, it is near perfection on the page and is music in your ears.
Outpost: Monsters, Maces and Magic Series, Book 1
By: Terry W Ervin II
Narrated by: Jonathan Waters
Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
If you saw the first LIT Audiobook Podcast, then you know that one of my all time favorite books is The Sleeping Dragon, book one of the Guardians of the Flame series, and that I had also enjoyed Quag Keep as well. I think that those are some of the best books written in the LITRPG genre, or at a minimum Gamelit. I really respect and admire them for their innovative stories and creativity, as well as some amazing characters. I now add Outpost onto that list. There is just something that really appeals to me about RPGer’s getting sucked into the world that they play in. It is fun and fascinating, if done right, and Terry Ervin does it right.
We start out with three students who are looking to write a class paper joining a local gaming session with a three regular players, one of whom is a kid from Jr. High. The MC, is one of the students, a necessary perspective for the listener since the world is supposed to be all new and shiny to him. He ends up becoming a gnome healer. The other two students, both female, opt for a warrior monk and an elven mage. One of the best bits and running gags is how the kid, tricks the girl playing the elven mage into having a pornstar body with goddess looks. Her boobs are good for more than a few chuckles. Each of the characters are interesting, and if I had to speculate, not all of them are neutral or good. Methinks one of them picked a dark alignment without telling the others. For me, the characters sell the story. Each is distinct and has their own voice, but the real standouts are the gnome, the half goblin, and the Elf.
One of the things I enjoyed so much about the Guardians of the Flame series was that it was not afraid to kill off characters, and Ervin has no such qualms either. PC’s are vulnerable, and do die. So the remaining troupe has to figure how to get back home and possible resurrect a comrade on the way. The answer to both might surprise you at the end. The book isn’t all crunchy and full of stats and numbers, and that is fine here. It works the way it is setup and you won’t miss those aspects at all. The only complaint was the shifting from the character’s real life names to their gaming names. For example, the big boobed elf was named Stephanie, and in game she was known as Marigold. At any given time she could be referred to by either name, and so it went for all the characters. I followed along no problem, but I can see where some might find it confusing; they should have settled on one or the other, and not both.
Waters narration is really really fun, and he does the ladies voices about as easily as he does the men’s, which is impressive, I only know a handful of narrators who can pull that off as easily as he does. His reading is rock solid, the sound quality is fantastic, and he really infuses a ton of emotion into the story. I hadn’t heard him before, but I must admit I was impressed with him
Final Score: 8 Stars for a fun run through a dangerous world, with slight points shaved off for the confusing name swapping issue.
Respawn: Killstreak, Book One
By: Stuart Thaman
Narrated by: J. Scott Bennett
Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
This was a rather difficult book for me. It isn’t bad, but I took umbrage with a lot of things that either lack explanation or made no sense. The premise is that a man from Earth, hence the title Earth born, awakens one day in another world. He struggles for number of years to get back home, but finally gives up and decides to acclimate after an incident causes him to fend for his life. Now, in this world you seem to play, and I am only assuming this because it is never stated, on what seems to be a hardcore mode. You get one life, if you die you lose everything and have to start over from level 0. Which would suck, if it were a game, but there is literally no hint that he was uploaded into a game. None, so I don’t know. Oddly, this happens to EVERYONE in this world. You die, and you get reborn and get to pick a new life. Old crap you’ve done is forgiven or you can reestablish old ties and connections. So basically, the only thing you have to fear from death is having to restart your life over. So, I guess if you really hate your job you can just kill yourself. If this is the same for everyone, I wonder why anyone even cares if you are Earth Born. Why would it even matter? How could you even tell the difference? The weirdest thing in the whole book is the MC’s companion, who just so happened to be his pet snake on Earth. How he became a PC or NPC or whatever is never explained at all, but is referenced numerous times.
That was my big problem with this book, there was a complete lack of consequences for anything, nothing is explained, and there is no sense of danger at all. I had a hard time worrying that Cadaraacts, the MC, would have to restart his life over again. The book is just basically the MC and a couple of friends either doing some fighting, hanging around, or trying to score some XP to level. It’s slice of life meets go grind some monsters. Also, the new class that the MC takes is really vague and mysterious. I really dig new classes, check out Dakota Krout’s Ritualist to see how to handle a never before heard of class. He explains everything upfront. Thaman doesn’t do that. It almost seems like he is making it up as he goes along. It has a lovecraftian feel to it, but it is too mysterious to tell anything about it, even at the end of the book. And the ending is just an ending. There is no big pay off, climax, or battle; not even the slightest bit of resolution. The story does nothing to move ahead. Which is really sad because it could be a tour de force with some explanations, and consequences for the characters. The writing isn’t bad, it just has nowhere to go. A good editor could have given Thaman some direction and really helped this out.
Scott Bennett handles the narration, and he is one of my favorite narrators. Seriously, I know it isn’t LIT but the books he’s done like the Brother Bones series and Death Master are just great. Check them out. Here he does what he can, and does a fine job. He’s fun to listen to paces the story out well. He does everything he can to elevate it, too. I really respect what he does here, and have to say that the sound is flawlessly fantastic.
Final score: 6 out of 10. If Thaman had just fleshed out the world a bit more, and not kept everything so close to the vest this could have been a really fun book because there are things here that could be interesting if we had some idea of what the hell was going on. Never keep your readers out of the loop, give them a taste or a hint to keep them interested. I will get the next book, just to see if he reveals anything, and I sincerely hope so.
Rapture: Apocalypse Gates Author's Cut, Book 1
By: Daniel Schinhofen
Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
Daniel Schinhofen has written something I have been waiting to hit Audible for some time, Horror Survival LITRPG. Survivalist horror isn’t a huge setting in the genre, and I don’t know why. Sometimes it seems we are lucky if we get anything outside of a Western Fantasy Style book, which inevitable means that we’ll get some sort of a sci-fi version instead. I have been wanting to see some other fields get a chance at the plate. I could really go for a good Western (Red Dead Redemption) LITRPG, or something comedic, but most especially I want a horror styled LIT book on audio. I know there are some that have been written, but nothing I can find, and so when I found out this was survivalist horror I was ecstatic.
The book is really well written, and the characters are all standouts. I really adored Gothy, though, far more than any others. I like that Schinhofen slips in some jokes here and there without announcing what he is talking about. They are either you get them or you don’t, such as his wanting to rename the AI known as Scott into Betty. The book has a solid crunch to it, for you gamer fans. But there were some things I found strange, such as when the MC, Al, tells everyone that they are trapped in a video game. You just don’t see that very often.
One thing that set me off a little was the easy pathway to weapons and unlimited ammo. For the entire beginning of the book, Al does his zombie whacking with a wooden baseball bat. He has a hard time upgrading, because upgrades cost him XP, and he doesn’t get a lot of it to start out. Next thing you know he is upgrading guns so that they have unlimited fire power. Now, to me, part of what makes movies like NOTLD fun is that the people fighting the undead have limited weapons and resources. We sort of skip that problem really quickly, and focus on base building and saving survivors. On top of the zombies we also get a few other creepy creatures that show up by the end of the book, so I am really looking forward to what comes next in the series, as the escalation seems to be right on point.
Narration is performed by the excellent and adorable Andrea Parsneau, who seems to really enjoy playing Gothy. She really makes that girl shine. She does a fab job on the other voices, and maintains the pace and flow of the story effortlessly. I actually kind of got upset when she had to switch off her Scott voice for the AI’s new personality, as she really killed it with Scott. Other guy was fun, but, he was no Scott. I really can’t say how much I enjoyed her here. If we do have a rapture, and for some odd reason she isn’t taken I hope that she makes play by plays over a loud speaker.
Final score: 8 points, mostly because I felt no real sense of danger after the initial break in phase for Al was finished, and for robbing us of seeing Al struggle a little more than he could have scrounging for weapons and ammo.
This podcast is sponsored by Soundbooth Theater, makers of great audiobooks.
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