Varnoth: The Black Blade: Book One: (A LitRPG Story)

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What would you do if you awoke without memory, crucified, and on the brink of death? 

Varnoth, a shadow panther, must struggle to survive in the cruel world of Albattara. He must use his natural-born skills in this fantasy LitRPG to explore the land, complete quests, conquer dungeons, craft potions, destroy terrifying monsters, and find answers to his questions: 

Who is he? 

Why was he crucified?


My Opinion: 344 pages, $2.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited

Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel for review. I purchased a copy when it became available.

This is the author’s first novel and he’s undoubtedly nervous about how his story is received. I try to be super supportive of an author when first publishing and even went and bought 2 copies of the story. However, the review has to be 100% honest. There were some issues that just kept me from enjoying it fully. They’re are some things I thought were well done and liked. But the recurring issues just stopped me from fully enjoying the novel. If the issues I’ll mention don’t bother you or you can overlook them, you might enjoy this more than me. I encourage you to give the story a chance.

Liked: 1) The main character (MC) isn’t human. It was nice to see a non-human MC and get a little bit of a different experience. 2) The RPG progression is a part of the story consistently. 3) There’s a nice variety of monsters and enemies. 4) A very action focused story. 5) After the 30% mark, the story takes an interesting dark turn that some readers will enjoy.

Issues: 

1) Combat almost always goes the MCs way, with little effort, and usually with him not getting hurt. This is the biggest issue for me, not because of the easy fights themselves, but that there is no RPG system in place to justify it. The MC often one-shots enemies, even ones higher level than him, in armor, and in groups. The MC is saved by his fur or quickness, but the enemy never has the same rules. He seems to be skilled in all manner of weapons he’s never used, even though he doesn’t have the needed RPG skills in his character sheet. 

2) The RPG system isn’t explained and there’s no logical reasoning to fill in the gaps. 

-The MC gains increasing amounts of attribute points each level. 10 at level 2, 12 at level 3, 13 at level 4, 18 at 10. I’m not saying there’s no reason for this, just that it’s not explained.

-It’s established there are weapon skills, only the MC doesn’t seem to need them to be amazing with any weapon he picks up.

-The XP system feels like it’s just there to power level the MC sometimes. Ie: Inconsistent XP for the same level monster/enemies, quests that give bloated XP rewards for doing nothing (1000 XP for ‘guarding’ a caravan only the MC just sits there the whole trip). Yes, I get that the MC needs to get some big levels to face the big bad guy, but the MC should still feel like he earns those levels. 

3) The bad guys feel flat. They are certainly bad and evil. But that’s all there is to them.

Other than those issues, the story is pretty decent. It has a nice hook where the MC wakes up crucified without his memories, but that’s not really developed as much as it’s casually remembered at some point late in the story. Most of the novel is about the MC wandering from place to place taking on quests, killing monsters, helping people, advancing his class and all that is pretty decent. There is a little bit of a revenge plot line, but even that’s more of a reason to go on other adventures to level. It’s very slice of life, even if it gets a little dark mid-late story, which was a pleasant surprise.

If the issues that bothered me don’t bother you, this may be a good story for you. 

Score: 6 out of 10

Varnoth: The Black Blade: Book One: (A LitRPG Story) 

https://amzn.to/2xUgyky