LitRPG Podcast 066
LitRPG Podcast 066
August 24, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 66 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 7 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Earth's Gambit (The Gam3 Book 2) (16:16)
(Play Music 2)
SHARDS OF REALITY: A LitRPG Adventure (Enter the Realm Book 1) was supposed to be out 8/22 but currently isn’t showing up on Amazon at all. I’ve contacted the author about it and he says he’s been delayed a few weeks and iis taking extra time to get the novel right.
Kingdom Level 1-3 (A LitRPG Series) is out as an omnibus. Won’t be reviewing it since it’s just a collection of the short stories. But if you’ve been waiting to read it, it’s on Kindle Unlimited. Not worth the $6.99
A combo pack of 4 full novels from 3 different authors is available. Its called Four Heroes of the Other Worlds. Not a bad deal. Over 1,000 pages for $3.99 or read it on Kindle Unlimited (KU). Though we gave the stories different review scores.
Tinker, Tailor, Giant, Dwarf - Gregg Horlock; Score: 6 out of 10
The Goblin's Shadow - Kyle Vauss; Score: 7 out of 10
The Scout of Artemis - Gregg Horlock; Score: 6 out of 10
The Monster Spawn - Deckhard Davis; Score: 6 out of 10
I’m sort of curios about their sharing the income and how they’re handling KU exclusivity for the collection when each novel is also on KU being sold separately.
Hey everyone. I have some great news. There’s going to be a LitRPG table at DragonCon this year. It’ll be manned by myself and some of your favorite LitRPG authors. Confirmed to man the table at some point are: Luke Chmilenko, Blaise Corvin, Jeffrey Falcon Logue, R.A. Mejia, Michael Chatfield, Dakota Krout, Travis Bagwell, and LitRPG narrator Jeff Hays.
Right now, all I know is that it’ll on Floor 1, building 2. I’ll let you know as soon as I get a specific booth number. But if you’re going to be at DragonCon then please stop by, say hello, take a picture and bug your favorite LitRPG author about their next book. Also don’t forget, there’s going to be several LitRPG meet-ups during the con at bars and eateries so keep an eye out if you’re going to be in the area.
Out Now, Will Review next week!
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Starter Zone (The Revelation Chronicles Book 1) (Sept. 25th, 2017)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Infinite Reality: Daggerland Online Novel 1 A LitRPG Adventure (Sept. 30th, 2017)
A Game With No Rules (Perimeter Defense Book #4) LitRPG Series (Oct. 11, 2017)
Shattered Lands 3 Demon Wars: A LitRPG Series (Nov. 16th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Shaman's Revenge (The Way of the Shaman Book 6)
The adventures of the Shaman continue!
Daniel Mahan, the legendary Shaman of the Barliona game-world, has served his sentence in virtual reality. Eleven months of adventures and battles in exchange for eight years in prison isn't a bad trade-off. And yet Barliona refuses to relinquish its grip on the Shaman so easily, erasing the boundary between his two realities. It turns out that it's not so simple to leave the capsule -- the Way must be completed..
My Opinion: 348 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I got an advanced copy of the novel for review. (Like a couple days in advance). I purchased the novel when it came out.
Mahan wakes up at the beginning of the novel in the real world and is forced to go to VR addiction rehab as part of his release from prison. There, he has to deal with his swirling emotions and his bouts of delusion where he thinks he’s back in the game.
Once free from rehab, Mahan plots his revenge and is recruited by a mysterious figure who also wants the downfall of the Phoenix clan.
If you were fuming after the end of book 5 because of that twist ending, then book 6 might make you feel a little better. Alot of the series’ storylines and plots are resolved.
The novel can be broken up into four themes. 1) Mahan dealing with the fallout from the events of book 5. Both the real life consequences and the in game ones. 2) The clean up of several storylines and quests from the series. 3) The shaman and the mysterious figure plotting to bring down the Phoenix Clan. 4) Mahan figuring out how he feels about Anastaria/Stacy.
While I enjoyed the intrigue and action of the themes 1-3, what I thought was most interesting was theme 4. The way that Mahan feels about Anastaria is as complex as a real relationship. Sometimes he hates her and sometimes he loves her. There are moments where things are almost reconciled and then one of them does something that reminds the other of the betrayal. The journey Mahn goes through emotionally with respect to Anastaria was interesting. No spoilers but stuff is resolved, good or bad, with her by the end of the novel.
The other stuff in the novel is good too. Even though the novel feels a little rushed in sometimes and there are a few places where the story asks you to suspend your sense of disbelief a little too much, I had a good time reading the novel. The pace is quick, the action regular, and it ends in a surprising but satisfying way.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Earth's Gambit (The Gam3 Book 2)
The Earth has changed. War is now fought in an alien virtual reality—the Game—where many of the players are anything but human.
Now part of the Black Rose guild, Alan heads to the Academy to level up and get stronger. He hopes to make allies and learn skills to win the battles to come. But with everyone pursuing their own agendas, what can one gamer do in a universe he still doesn’t fully understand?
My Opinion: 412 pages, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
There’s a nice summary at the beginning of the novel about the events of book 1. Great way to help the reader recall what’s happening.
Once the recap is finished it jumps right back into the story, picking up where the end of book 1 stopped. Alan, having joined the Black Rose Guild, is on his way to the Academy. A high end facility that trains players using a unique system of instruction.
The first 20% of the novel is Alan and his A.I. Eve at the Academy training various skills and abilities. I loved it. I’m a fan of skill training, especially for this character since he has such a neat class.
About 23-58%, things start to feel a little rushed. I think this is where the author got a little stuck while writing and the transition into the next arc of the story feels awkward. Not bad. But you can tell the author’s struggling a little to figure out how to get the MC the skills he needs and transition into the war on earth.
-There’s some really great training here and I truly enjoyed the how hacking in the game is described like a RTS game.
(Slight Spoilers ahead)
At about the 58% mark, Alan is forced to choose sides in the War on Earth between the United World Government and the Legion of Man. He then travels back to earth, in game, and uses his new hacking skills to try and help his side win.
There are some really good action scenes in this last half of the novel and it didn’t end in a predictable manner.
Overall, I had a great time reading the novel and am just glad that it finally came out. I look forward to reading book 3.
Score: 8 out of 10.
For samples of the next book, visit the author at https://thegam3.com/table-of-contents/
Fistin' the Furious (Caverns and Creatures)
You never really know another person until you've walked a mile in their shoes... or at least fondled their junk. Tim and the C&C gang find themselves elbow deep in a bad situation. Will they have what it takes to pull themselves out?
My Opinion: 50 pages, $0.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Our favorite group of inappropriate friends has been hired to help some lady deal with her brothers. And by deal with I mean murder. Or at least help dispose of the bodies.
Only when the group gets there they find an inbred family that intends to Freaky Friday the group.
Fyi, lots of potty humor and cursing in the story. This one didn’t quite hit my funny bone the way the other short stories did. Not bad, but not as funny as the other stories.
Score: 6 out 10.
Epsilon Shadow Gate: A Litrpg Novel
Thousands of alien ships take up position in low earth orbit. All eyes are now on a global mission to launch several rockets in the hope to discover their intentions.
Alan Doyle had seen the news. He couldn't get away from it. Even his fellow gamers continued to clog up bandwidth by talking about the new visitors. He didn't care about them. All Alan wanted was to level up on Battlespawn, to attain the rank to Star Captain and earn himself enough credits to ensure that he never ran out of health ever again.
During a rare trip outside, Alan noticed a small silver globe lying on the side of the road. As he picked it up, he saw hundreds more pushing up through the ground.
Alan tried to scream as the object melted like mercury and vanished into his palm. Before he blacked out, Alan saw others around him experiencing the same trauma.
The alien devices had selected their combatants and took them to the only Total Immersion Game worth playing. The humans weren't just fighting for their lives, they were fighting for the fate of their planet.
The invasion of Earth had begun -ONLINE!
My Opinion: 160 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The setup and the premise of the novel are interesting. Aliens invade earth and force everyone into a virtual game to determine earth’s future. The execution however, feels blah.
The first 3% of the novel is fine. The setup of who the main character (MC) is, a young man who lives at home. He spends his time gaming. One day in the far future, aliens show up in the sky and while everyone is concerned about their appearance they don’t seem to be doing anything. So the MC continues to play is full immersion VR game. Then one day soon after, the whole population of earth is killed and their minds are forced into a virtual game so that the aliens can take over earth.
Ok, the premise is a bit of a stretch but the core idea isn’t bad and had potential. However, aside from the first quest level in the alien game, there’s no RPG stuff. More and more actual game mechanics are lost as the story progresses and it turns into a situation where the main character is just going through weird simulations.
Additionally, the way the story progresses is sort of broken. The main character does almost nothing to advance the story. Instead, his hacker friend, who moments after being sent into their game has already figured out ways to hack the alien system, tells the MC what’s really happening with the game and pushes the MC through just about every advancement.
Overall, a really unsatisfying read.
Score: 4 out of 10
The Kingdom Stone: A LitRPG Series (Royaume Cycle Book 1)
Yesterday he worked in a coffee shop, today he is the lord of an empire.
Jack Halberd's great uncle disappeared for forty years, and when he suddenly reappeared, he couldn’t move or speak. Jack spent years visiting him, but never learned what had happened. Soon after his uncle's death, Jack gets hit by a car and he wakes up in Royaume, a fantasy land that reminds him of the new virtual reality RPG games that are all the rage.
It seems that the Halberd family has a curious curse, and Jack begins to understand why his uncle was missing for decades. He discovers that he is the lord of a castle, just as his uncle was before him. He’s never ruled anything before, but with the help of his allies he will have to make himself, and his new empire, as powerful as possible.
If Jack can battle an ancient enemy that threatens Royaume, he may be able to get back home.
My Opinion: 547 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a longer version of a previously published short story on Amazon, The Forgotten Throne. It was supposed to be a serial but the Author might have thought a serial series was not the way to go so turned it into a full novel.
The first 18% is the short story. The main character (MC), Jack Halberd, has a dying uncle that disappeared for 40 years. The MC puts on this bracelet while visiting his uncle and is transported to a medieval world where he’s Lord Halberd and has magical game powers that he’s supposed to use to build a kingdom and defeat the evil bad guy.
The original short story only introduced a few RPG mechanics at the very end of the story and then just ended. Thankfully, this full novel does better.
After that 18% the new material in the story expands on the game mechanics. There are health bars, experience points, levels, skills, and RTS kingdom building mechanics. So, plenty that makes it LitRPG.
The story presents the MC with an abundance of problems and challenges that he has to face including a super evil and powerful bad guy, a class of peasants he has to win over, the need to find resources to build up his castle, other lords that want to take over his lands, a massive inherited debt, mysteries about the companions he’s forced to trust and rely on, and how to raise an army to fight the big bad guy.
There are even smaller obstacles set in the main character's path but on the whole, most of those problems are never resolved. That’s probably one of the biggest issues I had with the story. By the end, only a few of those problems were resolved. Which made a lot of the novel felt like filler or setup.
The other big issue I have is that even though the first half of the novel does a really good job introducing and describing good RPG game mechanics. However, after the 50% mark, they mostly disappear. There are still occasional level ups and notifications about population stuff but it’s rare. It feels like the author got tired of writing about the game stuff after the midpoint of the novel.
Overall, the novel improves over the short story by including and expanding on the game mechanics of the world. This novel is LitRPG, but as it progresses past the midpoint, it feels more and more like general portal fiction. That plus the let down of so little resolution by the end of the story left me feeling ambivalent about the novel.
Score: 5 out of 10
Unlikely Heroes: A LitRPG Science-Fiction Adventure
What if Humanity’s Last Hope Was a Group of RPG Nerds?
For Jason, all that matters is his teammates and the world of Azur, an MMORPG where he spends most of his waking hours. Contrary to the real world, in that game, he has found meaning. As leader of the top guild, he’s respected. He’s someone. Unfortunately, people around him don’t see it that way. They keep telling him that he should grow up, that he’s wasting his life away. He should just go back to College or find a job. Otherwise, he’s in for a rude awakening.
But when Jason wakes up from one long gaming session and finds out the entire world has been trapped alongside with him in his favorite game, the responsibility falls on his shoulders and that of his guildmates to find a way out. Those countless hours he’s put in will finally serve a purpose… that is, if they can survive that long!
With no respawn or res available this time around, he has no room for errors. Jason will have to start again from level 01 while dealing with inevitable rival guild, Warmongers, that is set on killing them all.
My Opinion: 289 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Set some time in the far future, the novel drops you into a VR RPG shooter where the main character (MC) Jason and his friends are killing mobs.
There’s a little backstory setup for the MC. In real life, he’s an 18-year-old college dropout that is so good at this VR game he plans to go pro. But of course his mom and family don’t understand and think he’s wasting his life and that the game is stealing him from them.
The next day, everyone wakes up trapped in this game and the group of friends are supposed to save the world with their amazing video game skills.
This is an action oriented story with lots of battles. Additionally, the highlight of the novel is the relationships between the group of gaming friends that make up the guild Insane N Deranged. Good, funny banter.
Unfortunately, there are also some big holes in the story and other problems that stop it from being as good as it could be.
One, it’s not clear until the very end of the story what exactly is going on and who’s trapped the world in this game. For most of the story, the team of gamers is just given quest objectives that they blindly follow to gain levels, get new gear, and new powers.
Additionally, the permadeath aspect of the story seems weird. Why does the team still kill other players understanding that they’re actually going to die permanently? It seems out of character for a bunch of teens.
Also, a significant portion of the dialogue in the novel is in gamer speak.
An example of the gamer speak:
“CC a DPS. Pick a guild. Inde then PT, then me. Damage mitigation, people!” Junkee ordered.
Inde CC’d the hired gun in Warmongers. Pain Train grabbed the scientist DPS in Crits and Giggles, and Junkee CC’d the TH DPS in Bruh.
Understandable to anyone that’s spent time playing with other people in an MMO. But the dialogue, while accurate for gaming, also makes me feel like I’m watching a YouTube video of some group play an MMO.
This is also true of the game mechanics and fights in the story. While accurate to MMO gaming, it feels dated in the context of this story because it's supposed to be set in a future world where full immersion VR MMO gaming has been perfected.
There’s some crafting and a little character building but the story is mostly action scene after action scene strung together by a vague goal of saving the world.
Overall, good action and banter between the group members. But that lack of much else going on in the story coupled with the dated feel I got from the game stuff made this only slightly better than meh, for me.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Accidental Thief: A LitRPG Accidental Traveler Adventure
A Nowhere Job, A Bootleg Game, and Luck Turned Upside Down
Hal Dix was stuck in an unlucky life. His wife's a successful engineering executive while his IT help desk job led nowhere. Even his daughter's daycare teacher thought he was a loser. He couldn't catch a break.
Then a strange woman at a flea market sells Hal a bootleg early release of the highly anticipated Fantasma game. It is just what he wished for and he can't wait to play it during his long weekend home alone. His luck has finally turned around, right?
Hal should be careful what he wishes for.
Whisked away into the game he only wanted to play for a weekend, Hal enters a world desperate for a hero.
Is Hal Dix that hero?
My Opinion: 332 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning of the novel starts with a ‘we must summon the chosen one’ scene and then it shifts into the ‘woe is me’ section where Hal, the main character (MC), laments about his dead end job, the bully at work, the wife that’s too good for him, and more self esteem stuff. The author does a good job walking the line between the MC reading like a whiner and just someone that would be happy if he could shift his view a little and grow a pair.
By the 10% mark, the MC has been transported to a fantasy world. He stumbles around like drunken tourist trying to understand where he is and getting into trouble because he doesn’t understand local customs and eventually discovers a game like interface that tells him that he’s a level 1 thief with high luck.
Game Mechanics: The game mechanics in the story are thoroughly described. The MC has a character sheet that he looks at fairly regularly. He gains experience points from killing and completing quests. He has stats that he can improve as he levels. He can learn skills either through use or by applying skill points to thief class oriented choices. Notification screens appear that force the MC into quests and give him experience when he completes them.
The majority of the explanations about game mechanics in the story come in the first 20% of the novel. After the midpoint, you start to see the game stuff a little less. They don’t disappear, but only show up during combat and when accepting and completing quests. I would have liked to see the game stuff apply to more than just combat.
Additionally, there is never a clear explanation as to where these ‘game powers’ come from. Are they a part of this world and apply to everyone? Are they some special aspect of the MC? If so, where did he get them?
I also have a tiny issue with the XP requirements of leveling and some of the XP given out for kills. Killing a human guard early in the story gets him 100 XP, killing a large spider gets him 300 XP, killing a guard later in the story gets him 1,200 XP, killing an assassin gets him 2,500 XP. It’s clear the XP is being adjusted to keep the MC leveling and while not a huge deal, does ruin some of the logic of the game stuff since none of the monsters or opponents have any indicators showing differences. No elite guard of badassness or level 10 guard. Just guard.
Other than that, really solid game stuff.
Storywise, the first half of the novel has the MC being led around on various tasks of increasing difficulty that reveal the game mechanics the MC uses to become more powerful. It’s not until the midpoint of the novel that the MC stops being led and starts to lead. From there on he gradually becomes more assertive as he gets used to new strength, speed, and skills he receives as he levels. The rest of the novel, without getting spoilery, follows an action packed path where the MC and his ally try to take back the kingdom from the corrupt bad guys.
The epilogue bookends the story nicely. Showing how Hal’s adventures have changed him and that ultimately we make our own luck in life.
Overall, a good read. The story is constantly moving and well written. Good action. Aside from the few small things I mentioned, good game mechanics.
Score: 7 out of 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