***Review Written by Ray Johnson for the audiobook version of this story***
Oathbreaker: An Epic Fantasy LitRPG
Realm Online, Book 1
By: Stuart Thaman
Narrated by: J. Scott Bennett
Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
I’ve really thought about this one for a while, and debated back and forth on my thoughts with this book. There were several things that I liked, some that I didn’t, and others that really didn’t thrill me one way or the other.
The first thing I’m getting out of the way is that in spite of what you see on the cover, this is not in any way a harem book. I didn’t think that it was, but I know how people are, you see two women and your mind automatically goes into harem mode. This is not remotely the case, so if you were wondering, now you know.
Secondly, I like the whole sucked into the game via a summoning spell aspect. That was fun, and happens right away so no spoilers, but it set me up for some expectations, and I found the book slowed down right after the big entrance. I mean it slowed down a lot. I think a lot of it was the whole no class not lit stuff for a while, hell just leveling takes like 2/3rds of the book I think. That said I think there are reasons that necessitate the lack of lit elements for awhile so it’s a tough call.
Thirdly, I do like how the MC, Steve, isn’t perfect morally or physically. He’s not a gung ho hero nor is he built like Charles Atlas. He’s more like Charles Alas. So, Steve is not readily likable, although I must say that my son found the cats funny. Of course, he’s just a few bad grades from identifying as a cat lady.
One thing I thought was funny was that even though it isn’t a harem Steve spoke incessantly about how sweetly hot and sassy his ladies were. Still there was no action. I think the biggest issues were that there were times that Steve was a D-bag, and the lit elements didn’t pop up until too late in the story.
J. Scott Bennett narrates, and I have said for the longest time that I think he is one of the bestest narrators out there. He is a fave of mine. He can have real fun with the right story. He does his utmost to keep this tale going but even he couldn’t get it to pick up the pace of the story. He does individualize each character, but again, he can’t make you like a character if their actions put you off. Bennett does a great job and doesn’t let the story spiral like a lesser narrator could have.
Final Score? 7 stars, its pacing was too slow and it lacked some much needed litrpg aspects earlier in the story. Still, there is world building that does go on and will probably make the next book run a little smoother.