LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 001
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Score: 2 out of 10
Score: 9 out of 10
“Hello everyone. Welcome to the LitRPG Audiobook Podcast. I’m Ray. I’ll be reviewing some recent and classic LitRPG Audiobooks for you. I’ll begin with:”
Stratus Online: Awakening A LitRPG Series, Book 1
Author: Drew Cordell
Narrator(s): William Turbett
Audiobook Length: 8 hrs and 22 mins
Stratus Online is a good break-in novel for people new to LITRPG game novels. It has the traditional set up, entry into the game, a quest to complete, and the normal catastrophic consequences that appear once you are in game. It is perfect for the noobie reader because it is not overwhelming in game stats or games speech, and when gaming terminology is used it is quickly explained. Additionally, this is not a book in which the party just travels around leveling up by grinding. I think the highest level they reach by the end of the book is level five. No, there is a long-term goal that the team is trying to reach, and so there is not a lot of time spent grinding. Another reason I think this book is ideal for newer LIT readers is that the party is feeling their way into the game, they aren't given manuals to study before entering, nor is there a wiki they can run too whenever they have a question. The party learns as they go, and so does the reader.
There are a few small flaws, but nothing major. The first for me is that it takes a long time to actually go into the game. I'm not sure, but I think it was somewhere around the two hour mark before the team makes their way in to actually play. Granted, a lot of that which came before was set up, and it does show you that the MC is not an idiot as he does things in a logical manner, such as having a lawyer look over his work contract, but I have to say that a lot of that is something that another writer would have glossed over in about two paragraphs. Still, it helped you get to know the characters, and show you that they actually use their heads. The other thing was that the narrator,Turbett, constantly pronounce the word attribute as Ah-trib-ute. As in when someone might ask, "What do you attribute to the team's failure?" Instead, for gaming stats he should have said it as At-trib-bute. As in, "Strength is his greatest attribute." It really is a minor thing, but I have to point these things out if I am going to be honest.
The story itself really pops once you get into the game, and it was nice to not see the party hunting 35 rats to gain Exp. Points. It is more like a story with LIT elements than is is a LIT story laden with burdensome stats. The team itself is fun, and Edwin is a likable character. The story itself is filled with several twists and turns, and ends up having a Matrix feel towards the end. The end game revolves around the gaming gods fighting back evil Titans. They end up backing . . . .well, I won't spoil it for you, but no matter which side they pick they are going to be on the opposite side of some other gamers. One or two just happen to be out for their blood. As beginning books go the series looks to be a worthwhile investment, considering the flippy trippy twist that came at the end. I have to admit that I have not seen that one in a LITRPG setting before, so it was fun to get a new twist and turn right at the end. It does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, so if you don't want a book that feels like it could be one and done then forget it, because this series sets up a long game, and is not even partially competed when it ends. There are a lot of loose ends that are yet to be wrapped up. So expect a lot more to come, and if the series progresses like the first book did it will get better the further it goes along.
Turbett's narration, aside from the attribute issue, is great. He provides voices for each character, and really gives the evil PC a snotty haughty tone that just oozes disdain and malevolence for everyone around him. He certainly has some fun with the nonhuman voices, I've listened to him narrate a few other books, and he has never let me or a tale down yet.
If you are looking for a new LIT series, or are new to the genre, then this is an excellent place to start. Like I said, this is not a grind away for 10 chapters kind of book, it sticks to important things, although there are a few points that the stats are run through as you might expect. The book does take some time to build, but the ending has a good turn that will make you want to come back for the next book.
The final score is a good 7.5, good sound quality, and above average writing and narration. I hope to see some improvement in the future.
Final Score: Based on a scale of 1-10. With 1 being horrible, 5 being average, and 10 being perfect.
Arcane Survivalist Apocalyptic Fantasy LitRPG
Author: Deck Davis
Narrator(s): JJ Jenness
Audiobook Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
I have to admit one thing, Deck Davis knows how to craft a title. This one really called out to me. It sounded fierce and awesome. I had high hopes for this book, and I am sad to say that those hopes were dashed on the rocks of despair by the cliffs of insanity on the sea of drowned discouragement.
The book itself seems like it was written by a 12 year old who just found out that he can swear when his parents aren't around. The never ending d*ck jokes and @ss references put me right off. Seriously, I can enjoy swearing, in fact I love to do it myself, but this was not even cursing to be funny. See Richard Pryor and cursing to understand that swearing can be used judiciously and with humor. Not here. The protagonist names the mental assistant something that rhymes with duck face, but goes by the initials FF. I could not stand it after a while, and even though I had 55 minutes left, I listened to a 10 hour audio book in its stead just to cleanse my brain. Those last 55 minutes, and I did go back and listen to them were some of the longest in my life.
The plot is decent, otherworldly beings want to merge worlds, and implant their souls into human bodies. Red balls carry alien souls that will over ride human ones, and blue balls (ha ha) were sent in to give humans the ability to fight the invaders. The protagonist becomes a bloodmage, meaning he sacrifices his own blood to cast spells. I know this is supposed to be gamelit, but this book was about as crunchy as a bowl of mush. The MC kept "topping himself of with HP after a fight by draining his foes. There was never a moment where you felt as if he were in danger, there was no tension, and there was no life in this story. Oh, and for some reason Davis made the MC a con man. I think he felt that would make him more of a b-hole than normal. Funny thing is, he is not all that smart, and his con is about as smooth and original as burned pancakes. I just could not stomach the crappy humor or the MC's attitude at all.
Oh, and lord save me, I did not look to see that it was JJ Jeness who narrated. I listened to him before, and was underwhelmed by his capabilities. Had I seen his mane on this book I would have instapassed. The man can speak clearly, and properly pronounce and enunciate words, but his voice is weak and his reading is wooden. The only time he shows any signs of emotion or life is when he is reading as the monsters, and I think he just automatically makes them aggressive sounding instinctively. He drug this book down a lot. Had it had a different narrator it might have been a three star book, but this is audible, and hear your narrator makes or breaks you and JJJ shattered this book before it began.
This review has been a real struggle for me. I always try to focus on positive aspects, and make suggestions for the author to take into consideration if there were any problems. I can't do that here. Sorry. I hate being negative, but I really do not think you want to listen to this book. Maybe read it, but listen? Nope. Skip this and make another choice, cool title aside this book will kill your soul.
Final Score 2 out of 10, only because there is a story and it had a decent plotline.
“Last is Ray’s Retro Review where I highlight a slightly older LitRPG title that could use some love.”
The Sleeping Dragon Guardians of the Flame, Book 1
Author: Joel Rosenberg
Narrator(s): Keith Silverstein
Audiobook Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Ok kids, gather round the campfire. I’m kind tell you an old story now, from way back before we even knew what LITRPG was. You want to talk about groundbreaking? The Land? Ready Player One? They are the descendants of this book. In fact, The Sleeping Dragon is the Grandfather to modern LITRPG books.
No, it wasn’t the first. Arguably, that distinction most likely goes to Andre Norton who wrote Quag Keep after playing a gaming session with the father of Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax. She wrote about a group of role players who were drawn into the World of Greyhawk, with the best character being a bard who sang Billy Joel songs. Unfortunately, neither book one nor two of this series is on Audio, so by default I will be talking about the Sleeping Dragon; which is a far better story anyway.
This book is so brilliant that it actually blazed a new genre that is really only taking a hold today. This is one of the books that literally cast the mold that Gamelit books operate out of today. You have to understand that this book came out in 1983, just before the whole Dungeons and Dragons is turning your children into satanic slaves and warping them into cultists. It hit right at the popularity, and came outright about the time that the iconic D&D cartoon came out. Guardians is about some college students who get together to do some role-playing with a professor once a week. On the night we join them the Prof. has a new setting, and they've added a new player. The only problem is that they aren't playing a game, and the Prof. Isn't what he seems. They find themselves in the game world as their characters. They soon find out that they are playing for keeps with their lives, and need to find a way back home before they all end up dead.
The writing is slick, sharp, and dramatic. The only flaws that I see is, that looking back with 2018 lens over my eyes the book can come across as a little chauvinistic. One girl is a love interest for the MC, and another is the game “slut”, who has really suffered a lot of sexual abuse in her life, and ends up having more tossed on her once they hit the game world. The realism is fantastic, characters die because they do stupid things, and the party, who only wants to go home, begins to suffer attrition as they move forward. The fight scenes are incredible, and the characterizations are so spot on they feel like real people.
This book really was ahead of its time. The writing is powerful, and the characters fully fleshed out. You empathize with them, and really feel like you know them. The plot the pacing, and the cast of characters feel organic. Not forced. Silverstein embodies the characters too. He drives home every blade swing, every burn, and every bite. His portrayal of Karl, Walter, and the dwarf, Ahrmin are outstanding, and his female voices are intense and believable.
You will not want to miss this book, not if you love Gamelit or litrpg. It sets off a fantastic series that goes for quite a while and only peters out after Karl’s son takes over, and unfortunately, Silverberg does die before he ends the series, but that is ok, and you know how things are going to work out. Honestly, I suggest the first 5 books and then cutting free. You’ll have fun, and get a lot out of the series.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
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