The City is an immense metropolis of crystal spires and wondrous magic. Beneath is the Dungeon, a vast underground world, and a source of endless treasure guarded by grotesque and deadly monsters. No one knows where the Dungeon came from, or why.
Any who would dare face the dangers and riches of the Dungeon must first be transformed into a delver, a quasi-immortal creature whose every attribute is defined by numbers. Yet the "immortality" offered is but illusionary, for without consuming the crystal found only within the Dungeon, a delver will inevitably die.
One young immigrant braves the Dungeon to remit money to his family, only to find much, much more. Friends, power, and secrets of the Dungeon.
Perhaps even love.
My Opinion: 353 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited; Available as an Audiobook
Review written by Ray Johnson for the Audiobook version of the story:
I don't get to say this very often about a LITRPG book, but this one really stands out. It pretty much avoids a lot of the repetitive things that occur in other books of this genre. I like that. It tells a story, but doesn't slavishly follow conventions set forth by others in this genre. Plus, the characters, even the background ones, are all interesting and the story is compelling, which leads us into a fantastic tale that you are lucky enough to be able to read.
The main character, Alex Kenderman, decides to start out as a dungeon diver, and the whole system is sort of based on different crystals. The crystals follow the color wheel, red, orange, yellow, blue, etc. Players all have auras that grow stronger and change colors as they level up, and in order to survive they need to eat one crystal per day. Bit of a warning, the book does start just a wince slow, it does need to build up some steam, but once that boiler pops you will be going full bore down the rails without any brakes. Seriously, it picks up and never looks back. I think it helps that you aren't bogged down by the characters having to farm XP, as Schmidt smartly kinda skips that part of the storyline. A wise choice. Another issue is that the sheer number of characters can be a bit overwhelming, but unlike some books you will know the players as they start to standout. That is the crux of it, the story is more character driven than anything else. The plot is good, and the gaming stuff is there, but it is the characters that hold your attention and keep you listening.
So, what is so different? For one thing, the protagonist is not overpowered or have special abilities that no one else has or can get. He is just a regular joe; leveling as he goes along. Oh, and no Uber-powerleveling either. I also liked that you weren't over whelmed by game mechanics, stat screens, damage reports, etc. It doesn't hurt that the characters are all likable and hold your interest. Additionally, I think that the game system itself is well thought out that allows for some cool class building. This story has a feel like WOW insofar as the characters try to get gaming gear and go on raids. One benefit, and I talk about this a lots is that there are not as many stats thrown at you as the book moves on. The story rolls and you aren’t being smacked in the face by numerous reports of status changes every fifteen or so pages. So you might say that it looks less at stats than it does world building. Another thing that is usually problematic is the fact that there are huge jumps in time throughout the book, during which new classes might have suddenly been added or other things. Normally, this would bug me, and to a slight extent it did, so I have to chop off some points for that, but the fact is that it worked in the story. The story still flowed nicely and you just sort of roll along with it. Finally, one odd aspect is that there is often a lot of build up about bosses or monsters and then when the fight comes it is practically over before it starts. I’m talking a few paragraphs rather than pages.
Doug Tisdale Jr. does a great job narrating and living the story out for you. He took me a few minutes to get used to, but once I settled in I was impressed at his skill and versatility. I know him best from the Days of Future Past series by John Van Stry where he did some incredible work. Like I say he has a lot of skill and versatility and he held my interests but there were points that he seemed rushed or was upping the pace unnecessarily. Also, he does a great job with voices, but could inject a little more emotion into the tale. I think he did better in the Days of Future Past series, which is odd because that is an earlier work. I’d say he did a 7 out of 10 on his part of the book.
Final score is a 7.9. I enjoyed it, but I think the fighting scenes could have been better fleshed out and that there is a weakfish ending that isn’t as strong as the rest of the story. Coupled with the slow start and I have to consider that while the book is fun and captivating it isn’t perfect.
Score: 7.9 out of 10
The City and the Dungeon: And Those who Dwell and Delve Within