LitRPG Podcast 054
LitRPG Podcast 054
June 9th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 54 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 10 reviews for you this week. I think that’s a new record for the podcast.
New Releases and Reviews:
Negative Man: (Book 1) (LitRPG) (13:45)
Spellbinder: The Shadow Legacy 1 (24:28)
I was going to review, Level Zero: A LitRPG Adventure (The NextWorld Series Book 1) but it turned out it was a new edition of an older series with new cover art. I already reviewed it.
(Play Music 2)
The Fayroll translation team revealed this week the release dates for books 3 and 4.
Fayroll, Book 3: July 1, 2017
Fayroll, Book 4: August 15, 2017
Blaise Corvin has ended his contest to guess who he’s collaborating with on novel. The author he will be working with is William D. Arand. They will be working on a completely original story with a unique setting and characters.
The exact details of the project are still being kept under wraps but Blaise says that it should be ready within the next 6 months.
Travis Bagwell’s hit LitRPG novel Awaken Online: Catharsis just passed 3,000 ratings on Audible! To celebrate he’s giving away 10 audiobooks of both AO1 and AO2.
Dakota Krout, author of The Divine Dungeon series, has started his own Patreon page. Some of the rewards include shout outs, e-books, signed physical copies of the novel, access to early drafts of the story, and coffee mugs. If you're willing to be a $1,000 a month supporter, he’ll even fly out to you and take you out to dinner.
Dakota also did a very funny and special reading of his novel, go watch the video.
LitRPG community member Ihab Laachir has posted a fan reading of the Arcane Emperor on his YouTube page. Ihab can’t hear and the only way he can enjoy LitRPG is using a text to speech program or if it’s read. He said he got permission for the project from the author of the Arcane Emperor. So, go check it out.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Restoration: The Rise of Resurgence: Book II (June 15th, 2017)
The Quest (Dark Paladin Book #2) LitRPG Series (June 29th, 2017)
Fayroll, Book 3 (July 1, 2017)
Hero of Naught (July 1st, 2017)
The Curse of Rion Castle (The Neuro Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 6th, 2017)
Codename: Freedom: Survive Week One (July 12th, 2017)
The First Planet: The Space Masters 1 (July 14th, 2017)
Kingdom Level Three (LitRPG: Kingdom Series Book 3) (July 15th, 2017)
Stratus Online: Awakening (Stratus Online: a LitRPG series Book 1) (July 28th, 2017)
Rapidplay: The Gamemaster's Gambit 1 (A litRPG series) (Aug. 1st, 2017)
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3) (Aug. 4th, 2017)
Fayroll, Book 4 (August 15, 2017)
SHARDS OF REALITY: A LitRPG Adventure (Enter the Realm Book 1) (Aug. 22, 2017)
Shaman's Revenge (The Way of the Shaman Book 6) (Aug. 30th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Again from the last Synaptic: A LitRPG Adventure: Epoch of Our Beneficence (Vol. 1)
In this wry, paranoid vision of the future, prison inmates are unwittingly forced into participation within a global computer simulation. Michael Jackson is the manager of a film processing lab inside a grocery store. On the other side of town, Michael Jackson is the manager of a film processing lab inside a pharmacy. Neither Michael Jackson knows the other exists. Neither Michael Jackson knows they are players in a computer simulation controlled by an omnipresent corporation and the Federal Government. After a third Michael Jackson enters the simulation, reality begins twisting from the inside-out, and reality itself loses shape. 'Again from the last Synapse' is a mind-warping science fiction tale in which the reader is left constantly guessing what is real, who is playing the game and the nature of free will.
My Opinion: 166 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Not LitRPG. The novel is speculative fiction about the nature of reality. A ‘what if the world were a computer simulation’ kind of stuff. It’s not badly written, it’s just not LitRPG though.
Score: 4 out of 10.
The Forgotten Throne Part 1 (A LitRPG Serial)
Jack Halberd’s great uncle disappeared for 40 years. Then, as suddenly as he went, he reappeared. He couldn’t speak, and nobody had a clue where he’d been. He spent the last 12 years of his life in a care home, and Jack was the only person to visit him.
After his uncle’s death, Jack goes to collect his belongings from the home. There, he finds something strange. A bracelet that he’s never seen before. Even stranger, one of the nurses tells him that his uncle tried to say something before he died. After 12 years of being mute, he tried to communicate. He had a cryptic message for Jack.
When Jack leaves the care home, his thoughts are preoccupied, and he gets into an accident. When he wakes up, he’s not in the city anymore. He’s in the middle of a strange countryside, surrounded by signs written in a language he can’t understand. In the distance, there is a castle.
As Jack walks toward the castle, he doesn’t realize that this is the only the beginning of his story. That he has powers, and a destiny…and an enemy. He’s about to learn where his uncle disappeared to for forty years, and that he himself has a role to play.
A kingdom awaits him. His kingdom. It’s time for Jack to reclaim the forgotten throne, and begin an adventure that will see him battle forces too dark to imagine.
My Opinion: 86 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Jack’s uncle disappeared for 40 years and when he reappeared he was in a vegetative state. Before he died, he left a weird message that Jack just doesn’t understand. Because Jack is so distracted by the mystery, he dies in an accident and is transported to a fantasy world. Now Jack finds himself lord of a castle with a game like interface.
75% of this story is portal fantasy and real world story. It’s not till the last 10% that things get LitRPGish at all. Even then, there’s a brief explanation of some mechanics, then the story teleports the main character away, and then it ends.
There’s enough here that it’s LitRPG but it’s not good LitRPG, yet. The storytelling that's done is not bad. However, too much time is spent presenting it as a fantasy story. The long real world intro almost it feel like the chopped off beginning of a novel. I hope the next episode gets better because I see potential in the serial. It just wasn't realized in this first episode.
Score: 4 out of 10.
They Fight Three Giants (Caverns and Creatures Short story)
Nothing ruins a nice morning of binge drinking quite like the threat of being cornholed by stone giants.
My Opinion: 39 pages, $2.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Dave, Cooper, and Tim are tricked through a magical portal and kidnapped by a giant who wants them to help his sons become men. Hilarious misunderstandings, innuendo, and bathroom humor follow.
Overall, a funny new short story in the Caverns and Creatures collection. However, for the page count, it’s just not worth the price of almost $3. I’d recommend waiting until the author includes the story in his next Caverns and Creatures short story collection.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Negative Man: (Book 1) (LitRPG)
Davin Pentcross has achieved his lifelong dream of being a level one hundred adventurer on his homeworld Eternity Ring, a massive ringworld in which strength and a person's level dictate how society functions. But Davin is old. When he loses everything he holds dear, Davin discovers an odd ring in an ancient dungeon. The moment he puts it on, he loses a level. In exchange for returned youth, the ring saps his powers and makes him lose a level everyday until he is killed or becomes a level one again. In a world where a person's level means everything, Davin is doomed to become weaker and must use his experience to survive the harsh world of the Eternity Ring.
My Opinion: 220 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Just a quick warning, there are regular spelling and grammar errors in this story.
While I was reading this, I could tell that this was originally a serial story on the royal road. There’s not much world building for the first 17% of the story, just a basic setup getting the main character the rare artifact that propels the remainder of the story and his search for answers about it. As the story goes on it feels more like a collection of short stories than a novel with a purposeful plot.
It goes from a vague description of the main character, Davin, as a commander leading a troop, to him teleported to a forest trying to survive, to him in a city sentenced to death and fighting in pit for his life in a series of increasingly difficult fights for the amusement of others. The action isn’t bad. The RPG elements of skills, abilities, and stats are well thought out, if occasionally used as a magic wand to solve a problem.
However, aside from the interesting stories about the main characters past, I don’t know much about where the plot of the story is going or even if there is one. It also just ends abruptly. Which happens on the royal road all the time, an author gets tired of writing a series and just drops it.
Overall, it was only ok for me.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Area Of Effect: A LitRPG Adventure (The Crucible Shard Book 5)
Liam is King of the World and things have never seemed darker. As the Crucible Shard takes on a new prominence in the larger Universe this brings new opportunities and dangers greater than any he has yet faced.
Earth too is moving into this larger world and under the control of the Artificial Intelligences it would be foolish to underestimate their ambition. When battle lines are drawn what side shall Liam choose.
My Opinion: 192 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Yvera and Liam have split into two forms, changing not only the past but the present by creating a new pantheon and making Liam king of the world. Yvera is now both a mortal and new goddess on the side of the A.I. from Liam’s home world.
He now has to seek the help of Queen Ashera, a being from another dimension and Cobalt’s mother. Liam’s only hope to get this powerful being on his side? Fall in love with her.
Will Liam end up saving the Earth or destroying it?
There’s a lot of weird stuff that happens in this novel. Dimension hopping, split beings, dissected gods, new gods, self-aware A.I. , ninja dinosaurs, and so much more. Not to mention twists in the narrative in almost every other chapter.
However, despite all that stuff, this story is about Liam decided who he wants to be and what he wants for his future. There are a lot of events and powers here that try to force him in one direction or another but that’s what this is about. By the end of the story, Liam has some personal growth and seems to have figured out who is a little.
Overall, a good read if you’re already a fan of the series. If you’re not then, or you haven’t read all the earlier parts, then you probably won’t like this. Even though I have read the other stories in the series, I feel like it jumped the shark in book 4 and I’m just along for the ride at this point. However, there is one thing about the story that I really liked, the ninja dinosaurs. You can’t go wrong with ninja dinosaurs.
Score: 6 out of 10.
The Eternal: Dragonborn - A LitRPG Saga (World of Ga'em Book 2)
It has begun; conflict between factions, war between friends. Death and darkness will spread terror across the lands.
And here I am, trapped in the middle of it all.
My name is Zoran Diablo, and misfortune is toying with my life yet again. Three months have passed since I discovered who I really was, and in that time, weird things have happened. The monsters of the dark have grown stronger, more daring, and more organized. Towns have gone up in flames and cities have been razed to the ground. People are scared. They're confused, clueless about why this is happening. I know exactly what's going on, and yet it does me no good.
There is no stopping it anymore. It's too late. The moon will rise high, and darkness will flood the skies. Evil will rule the night, and death will seize its prize.
My Opinion: 379 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Our hero, Zoran Diablo, now level 521 struggles to travel through the world as the Phantom Lord. After rescuing a village and becoming its master, Zoran rescues a kobold and suddenly finds that everyone and their mother seems to be trying to kidnap him for some reason. Will Zoran figure out what’s caused the Dark Alliance, the Luminous Knights, and the Light Alliance to attack his new village and why they keep taking his new kobold friend?
The action in the story is well written. There’s a lot of fighting in this novel. Which I’m a fan of. I’m also happy to see that there’s a bit more consistency in the game mechanics of the story. Limitations imposed on powers are followed. Even though Zoran is now level 521 his enemies have found ways to make trouble for him.
Zoran gains a village, Ikarius, which I would have liked to have seen more development of. There’s some town building game mechanics, which was a nice change of pace. However, the village that the MC gets is more of a place for things to occur in the story and not a community that Zoran is building.
Again, the biggest flaw in the story is the sheer amount of convenience that gets the main character out of trouble. Zorn finds himself in a fight against overwhelming odds? Don’t worry, Freya will save him. Up against any enemy more powerful than him? Oh, look he discovers a new power/gets a level boost that conveniently allows him to defeat the guy. How do the bad guys keep finding the kobold? The spirit of the dark lord tells them or they just happen to have a magic artifact. While the convenience is not nearly as bad as it was in book 1, it’s still an issue.
Overall, I liked the action-oriented nature of the novel. It starts off with a fight and there’s almost an unending series of them after. If you can ignore the many conveniences of the story, then you’ll probably enjoy reading about this overpowered hero who just gets more overpowered by the end of the story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Spellbinder: The Shadow Legacy 1
Rex has never really fit into this world. He always felt like the odd man out except when it came to video games, more specifically, he related to the back stories and literature he encountered while playing the games. While attending college, a computer science instructor named Professor Stone introduced Rex to a hidden pocket deep in the internet that contained a tantalizing opening sequence to a new game called Shadows Online. Not much is known about the game except to access it requires massive power and cutting edge computer hardware.
While watching the opening sequence on Professor Stone’s experimental computing system, Rex finds himself oddly drawn to the character of Thulen. Not only does the character look like a younger version of himself but he also begins to have flashes of memories from the young boy’s perspective. Professor Stone explains that in the real world Rex is safe while playing his video games, but there is nothing safe in the shadows! Rex is drawn into the simulation as the fantasy world beckons to him. A step, a surge of power, and Rex awakens as Thulen playing for his life in the game of Shadows Online.
Do you think you are safe?
My Opinions: 141 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Oddly, this story starts out in 2011.
A sucked into a game story where Rex is told he’s really from this game dimension. The game master tells him this dimension will work like a tabletop RPG, with dice rolls and everything. As he plays, he’ll get to decide his own powers and he’ll eventually come across the other player, who will seek to destroy him.
The story has two narratives that it switches between.
Thulen - Rex’s character in the game. He’s told he’s playing the evil side of the game but not tied to the storyline. He has the power to create spells and lots of flexibility in his playstyle.
Pymberly - The other player. A young woman that starts out playing on the good side storyline. A more powerful and easily leveled build but locked into a rogue class. Trains in the good people tower as a rogue but also that she is some kind of chosen one.
At times, the story feels like it’s trying to be earnest portal fiction, then the immersion of the story is broken when both players and NPCs start to do out of character speech. For example, near the beginning of novel Pym is supposed to follow a stuck up blonde girl to her room because they’re supposed to share it, but then the character suddenly starts to talk to Pym about doing the quest right and how they’ll both get new skills, then she goes right back into her stuck up princess routine.
This has been done before in stories like NPC and Critical Failure but it’s made very clear in those stories that out of character speak is rare and usually takes place in the real world with the players or the GM takes over the NPC temporarily.
The game mechanics are also not very well defined or fleshed out. There’s the standard character sheet with stats but there’s no detail what all that means in this world. There are a few spell or item descriptions. However, there’s also a lot of level skipping. With the characters going from levels 1 to 3 to 9 without much explanation about how they gained that much XP.
Overall, this wasn’t a terrible read, but it wasn’t that good either. This is a fine attempt at infusing a LitRPG story with that tabletop feel. However, the story feels like a tabletop game where the game master is heavy handed in trying to force his players down the story path he wants them to take. It just isn’t fun or immersive. It was pretty meh.
Score: 5 out of 10
Stay on the Wing (The Dark Herbalist Book #2)
When Timothy finally found work as a tester for a popular online MMORPG, his lifelong dream was fulfilled. And now, he earns money (and pretty good money, at that) just for doing what he loves – playing a beautiful and realistic computer game. But he isn't some typical run-of-the-mill player, like the millions of others. Timothy is truly capable and talented, and stands out from the crowd. In fact, the faceless masses consider him far too lucky and successful. Many players dislike him for his achievements and hunt him down ruthlessly just because they feel envious or because he looks different. So, what is he to do now when the whole world is against him, and his only allies are his beloved sister and a few trusted friends? Make peace? Sink down to their level? Or just fly ever higher on the wings of success? It's all up to Timothy!
My Opinion: 545 pages, $5.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel for review, but purchased it once it became available.
After losing the warg shapeshifters, Timothy /Amra posts videos of him getting his rare flying mount, not realizing the can of worms he’s unleashing. All manner of players start to complain that a newb like Arma got such a rare mount and they start to call for a boycott of the game. To pacify online mob, the game company arranges for a hunt of Arma in which an item may drop allowing the killer a chance at gaining control of the rare flying mount. However, if Arma can stay alive and keep the mount until the hunt is done, then he’ll get a permanent job and he can sell the mount for millions of credits. Let the great hunt begin!
Overall, this was a good read. The great hunt is a nice mechanic that forces Arma to explore the virtual world, including the high seas. The various changes of scenery added some variety to the story.
The novel introduced some really neat ways that the players try to hunt Arama down, including an innovative use of the mail system. I also liked how Arma/Timothy just didn’t accept the hunt but made the best use of it for his own benefit.
One of the few complaints I have with the story is the IRL twist with Jane. I thought she had great potential as a character and was built up as the secretary who secretly controls everything. Then her story ends with that dumb twist at the end. I won’t spoil it but it seemed like a waste to me.
Still, good story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Stone Raider's Return (Emerilia Book 6)
As the Stone Raiders have grown in power they have started to attract the eyes of established powers. Gudalo has become a vipers nest of schemers as the Gudalo Kingdom’s situation turns dire
They might have fled the Selhi Capitol, but as Selhi is learning, one doesn’t simply get away with acting out against the Stone Raiders.
Dave and Party Zero continue to grow in power, finally free from the battles helping the Aleph, Demons and Beast Kin they are now free to work on their own skills and their new guild hall.
As the Stone Raider’s Return, their choices and actions will either lead them to become the most powerful guild Emerilia has seen, or be wiped out by those that oppose them.
My Opinion: 333 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an advanced copy of the novel for review, but purchased it once it became available.
After the Battle of Devil’s Crater, the Stone Raider's Guild continues to make connections with new allies and build up their guild, and people. However, all their plans for advancement have made them new enemies. Lord Esamael’s trade monopoly was hurt when the Stone Raiders built a new teleport pad near his. Not only does this ambitious lord want on overthrowing his king, he’s also planning on taking revenge on the Stone Raiders on his way to the throne.
The first 20% of the novel is almost entirely updates. There are so many people and groups in this story that it takes that long to update the reader on what everyone is doing.
At the 40% mark the novel shifts into about two months worth of preparation and training. Everyone in the guild gets training galore. Dave learns new skills, gets loads of stats, and crafts some pretty nifty stuff. The Stone Raider’s Guild also builds a hub that they plan to make the center of Emerilla and there’s lots of construction stuff. There are personal developments for characters you’ve come to like, including some that just made me go ‘Awwwww’.
At the 60% mark, Lord Esamael finally makes his grab for power and not only attacks his own king but the Stone Raiders too. Lots and lots of fighting. If you were looking forward to seeing Lord Esamael get his due, you won’t be disappointed.
Overall, a good story if you enjoy crafting, kingdom building, and action.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Eden's Gate: The Sparrow: A LitRPG Adventure
After accepting the fact that he will never know his old reality again, Gunnar looks forward to building a new life inside Eden's Gate.
It's time to form a guild, gather resources, and earn the acceptance of the Edgewood inhabitants.
If only things were that easy...
The dark elves aren't thrilled about having humans in Edgewood, the mine isn't vacant, and you can't form a guild without at least a few guild mates.
Will Gunnar pursue Adeelee? Is Rachel still out there somewhere? And who is Jax exactly? Could he really be a Sparrow?
My Opinion: 351 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Gunnar Long was once human, now his body on earth is dead and his mind is trapped in a full immersion VR game called Eden’s Gate. He’s what the fully sentient A.I. NPCs in the game call, a reborn. Having accepted his fate as a full time resident in this world, Gunnar has found a few friends and a place to build a home.
Now, he’s expanding his ambitions by forming a guild and working out plans to expand his new home into a place people will come to for trade and crafting. However, questions remain about his old friend Jax and his connection to the band of killers and thieves, The Sparrows.
This was such a joy to read. Even though it’s listed as being over 300 pages long, it went by in a flash. From the first pages of the story, it felt like I was meeting up with old friends that I hadn’t seen in months and we went on some adventures.
This is not an epic story about saving the world, it’s just the story of one ambitious player, Gunnar, and his adventures in Eden’s Gate. There are lots of great fights, crafting, a little flirting with an elf princess, community building, and some follow up with storylines from the last novel. There’s also the introduction of a new player, who may or may not have slightly skewed morals.
There’s a tiny bit of story from the real world but most of the story is set in the game, which I really liked.
Overall, this was a really great read. The world building done makes the characters feel real and I want great things to happen for my buddy Gunnar. For me, it was like relaxing with some friends and I really can’t wait to hangout with them again in the next book.
Score: 8 out 10
That’s it everyone!
You can follow us on
If you enjoy the podcast and want to support us you can also find all the other ways to support the podcast at www.litrpgpodcast.com/support
Thanks for hanging out with me today. Until we can hangout again, remember to go read some LitRPG!
"Blip Stream" "Mighty Like Us" "Big Shift" "Vivacity"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License