LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 007
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 007 - Accidental Mage, Warscapia, Awaken Online: Evolution, Days of High Adventure
“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:”
Score: 6.75 out of 10
Warscapia: A LitRPG Spoof (06:32)
Score: 4 out of 10
Awaken Online: Evolution (13:54)
Score: 7 out of 10
Days of High Adventure (27:14)
Score: 6 out of 10
Accidental Mage the Accidental Traveler Adventure, Book 3
By: Jamie Davis, C. J. Davis
Narrated by: Roberto Scarlato
Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
I really enjoyed the Accidental Thief when it first came out. I even enjoyed it when book two hit, and mirrored it. Now, we have book three, and I have to say that while the book is well written and well plotted it begins to become all too familiar. Essentially, Hal Dix, the MC, gets pulled back into his gameland, and has to stop some force of nastiness before he can return home. The one thing that sort of bothered me before, and really bothered me now was how the writers basically wiped away all of the skills and abilities that Hal had achieved in the books preceding this. His other classes get locked out while he trains to become a mage. That is lazy writing in my eyes, there is no reason for that other than to say because of plot points. The other bit of bother came that not only did he have to level up one mage skill, but each elemental school before he access the fifth. This led to a series of quests for him to unlock each school, and master in days what took other wizards years to accomplish. It really stretched my credulity. I would have made it a little simpler, with him realizing that each school was similar to another, and it was only the unlocking that was hard to do, but that’s me.
Here, Hal’s family is kidnapped, and he must go after the Emperor himself in order to save them. In one sense he lacks a sense of urgency, taking over two finds to find them as he progressed, and on the other hand, I would have complained if he had kept moaning and pining for them every other paragraph. I don’t want you to feel like this isn’t a worthwhile read or story, it really is, and I enjoyed it a great deal. My biggest issue came from the familiarity and the ending when Hal decides he’s going to leave and never come back. That is so the series can continue with his daughter, Carrie, instead. The action, characterizations, and pacing are all solid. As things go the book is fun, and you do root for Hal and his comrades. The series does wrap up all existing plotlines and makes a clean slate for Carrie’s return to Fantasma next series. I can completely respect that and appreciate writers who can stick to a trilogy, when they could have played this out forever with titles like the Accidental Alchemist, The Accidental Tourist, and the Accidental Peasant.
Roberto Scarlato is the cohesive factor for this series. His voice is like a finely aged whiskey for your ears, and he was the deciding factor for appreciating book one in this series. He has a strong and powerful voice that just carries the story forward. His characterization of Hal Dix is fantastic, and he corrals a whole mess of other characters as the story moves along. I honestly think that he keeps this audio going, because each book is pretty much like the one preceding it at this point.
Final Score: 6.75 stars, due only to the slightly repetitive nature of the books, and the weak explanation of why Hal would never return.
Warscapia: A LitRPG Spoof
By: Garrett Boggs
Narrated by: Matthew Broadhead
Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
A spoof is when you take a particular genre or film, imitate it, and then exaggerate the characteristics of said item for comic effect. Warscapia is not a spoof by any standards that I could think of. You want a Spoof, watch Spaceballs. That is a spoof. If you want a great literary spoof, that is on Audible, then go an check out Bored of the Rings: A Parody written by the Harvard Lampoon and narrated by Jim Meskimen. It is funny and attacks its target mercilessly. Seriously, it might not be LITRPG but it is a good listen. Warscapia does none of this. You don’t have player issues outside of the game, there is no recognizable world that is being riffed on, no races, or situations for that matter. For all intents and purposes this book should be considered a LITRPG comedy, and only barely so. You want honesty? The book is silly, but not a fun ha ha kind of silly. The MC, a mage named Sparrow summons ducks to do his fighting, the fighter, a guy named Rock Star, knows just how cool he is, and their female companion is so integral to the plot and story that I have forgotten her name. I think it was Jade. Maybe, not sure what she did either.
The book itself is about as LIT as an unopened box of matches. If leveling weren’t involved I don’t think it would qualify in my eyes. Titles do not make it so. The book itself is a very weak, like a tea bag that has been used 100 times and now actually purifies the water more than flavors it. It has a story arc, and the characters do get more powerful, but there is no development or character growth per se. Sparrow does come to accept his ability to summon ducks, but that is as far as it gets.
As for the funny stuff, for a spoof there is little to be found. Boggs attempts to slightly break the 4th wall by inserting himself into the story, but that fell flat. The group fights a lot of monsters with stupid names like lizard monkeys and a Dracula Dragon. Slight spoiler, the dragon is actually an alt form of a real vampire. Count Dragula. What was the missed opportunity here? With a name like Dragula he either should have been in a race car, per the old Munster’s dragula, or in ladies clothing for the drag aspect. Nope. Dracula lite. That’s all. There are a lot of things that you might consider funny if you were reading the book, but Broadhead lacks the proper timing or inflection to sell the joke. For example, there is a lot of talk about heavy metal goblins, whose music will corrupt your soul. A party member retorts, “But I don’t have soul.” Would have been funny if read right. The only thing done right here, by Broadhead, are the various quacks that the ducks do. Zombie duck was the best, but tracker duck came in second. A shame because I have immensely enjoyed his readings of the Bathrobe Knight, a beloved series of myself and my family. My son still says Broadhead can’t do female voices well, and I will note that here they tended to sound the same to other characters he’s done, but he really nailed the Heavy Metal Goblin Guard and Chuckles voices. His Count Dragula was your standard Blah blah blah vampire Lugosi imitation.
Boggs has another LITRPG book out called Dragon Mastery: Daybreak. I will be passing that one by. I don’t want to beat him up any further, and if someone out there listens to it and likes it, let me know and I might give a try, but for now I’m just going to do what Count Olaff says and look away.
Final Score 4 out of 10. Not funny. Lame characters. No real plot.
Awaken Online: Evolution
By: Travis Bagwell
Narrated by: David Stifel
Length: 23 hrs and 2 mins
I’ve got a few things to say about this book, and I want to get right into it. There were several issues that I had. First of all, I am a fan of the series. I think that Bagwell is a writer’s writer, someone other writers respect and look up to and I give him full props for his scale of excellence that he inspires. I know there are authors out there who don’t want to release anything near one of his books. SO, I know the dude has chops. I say this, just so you know where I’m coming from. First of all, the book is in some serious need of editing. I don’t mean there are grammatical errors. I mean this book could have used some serious trimming.
I have no problem with long run times, heck I listened to Galaxy Outlaws: The Complete Black Ocean Mobius Missions for over 85 hours and was entertained the entire time. Here however, the Hippie trials seemed to take on a Twilight Zone style life of their own, trials that I found not to be very interesting nor entertaining. For me, the whole sequence was just interminably long. I honestly don’t know if Bagwell wants a certain page count or book length, but here it comes across (to me) as rambling and drawn out. Secondly, the subplots, one involving Alexion/Alex and the other involving the Dev trying to find out about Alfred were broken up and spread out to a point where I said, “I get it, Alexion is a complete D-bag and he has evil machinations. Move on, and the dev took forever trying to gather her clues. Oh, and I for the record, I am tired of Alexion. Self entitled, self centered, egomaniacal bullies can be fun. He isn’t. He bores the hell out of me. He should have been a villain that lasted for one book and then got swapped out for someone with real teeth. Not only does he get everything handed to him in real life, but even in the game, at the end he gets advanced for no real reason or effort being put in other than to keep him apace with Jason. Jason basically goes through 23 hours worth of book trying to earn an upgrade in power, Alex fails miserable for the same length of time, and still gets upgraded. It makes no sense, unless you say that this is all a part of Alfred’s plan. Otherwise, it is just because of plot necessities. Also, I have to say that this felt like one of those TV episodes where they want to start a spinoff, so they sent a star off to some new place for an episode, where they meet a really interesting group of people and then go back home and never talk about them again. The new people then get their own show. Eliza felt like that to me. Like she was just there to give the readers a taste, because she really didn’t do a lot in the battles other than just kind of back people up. Had she been more enmeshed in the group it would have felt like she was going to be a recurring character or a new group member. Also, her background is very similar to Jason, she doesn’t fit in, only friends are in-game, and she has extreme parent issues. Did I say parent issues? Can Bagwell honestly expect me to suspend my disbelief that Jason has such absentee parents that they don’t come to their kid’s aid when he has been arrested for murder? Even if, as they explain, couldn’t get there immediately, they could have made sure that the kid had legal representation to keep him from self incriminating. Three days in jail and no word, no help? I am a father of 5 and I don’t care who told me I couldn’t leave, I would have been home with my kids, consequences be damned. Too unbelievable for me. Considering that Riley, Frank, and Eliza all have parental issues of some sort I really have to wonder if this isn’t some sort of therapy for Travis.
David Stifel continues to crush on the narration, I have no issues or qualms with anything he did. Top notch across the board. He has handled this entire series about as professionally as you could ask, and made it fun to listen to. And like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
I don’t want you to think that I didn’t like this book. I was fun and action packed, but it really needed trimming, and as far as I am concerned the villain has lost his teeth. He is boring and annoying and is not intimidating at all. For me, the bad guy is more important than the hero, because he is what the hero uses to reflect his integrity and goodness. Alex is just a self-centered spoiled brat, and that does not make for a great villain. Like I say, the book was fun and exciting in a lot of spots, but there were many slow down for upcoming turn ahead spots. For this reason, I have to give this book a rating of 7 out of 10. Part of that is for the series track record, making it a little higher than I would have given a stand alone first novel.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
Days of High Adventure
By: Elliott Kay
Narrated by: Tess Irondale
Length: 4 hrs and 14 min
Full disclosure here, this is a book that you might consider to be gamelit or you might not, for me there is enough to justify calling this story a LITRPG, even though it really skates the boundaries of the genre. Days is set in the real world, and focuses on a gaming group (meets criteria #1), the group includes several people, but only two of them are really relevant to the story. During the gaming session, the MC, a young lady named, Amanda begins to joke about the main bad guy’s name, Beldinab. She calls out to him over and over, like he was Beetlejuice, and the GM warns her not to do that. Later on, she does so again, while she is with another gamer, Eric, and this time Beldinab hears her and pulls them into his world. Thus meeting criteria #2 of gamelit rules. From there, the two become slaves and have to figure out how to escape confinement, and make their way back home. Sorta sounds like Criteria #3 to me. Anyway, the story is actually interesting and is told in a very appropriate amount of time. Any longer and it would have totally failed, any shorter and it would have missed the mark. The characterizations, story, plot, and pacing really flow. The only thing that threw me was the sudden appearance of the sex. NO, I DON’T look for disclaimers, or I would have seen that it had a warning about sex. Nor did I notice that this was the very same Elliot Kay who writes the Series Good intentions which is just chalk fulla naughtiness. I like to go into things blind, without expectations. The sex doesn’t take away from the story, nor does it overwhelm, but neither can I say it adds anything. It’s just there. There is a lot of character development for Amanda and Eric, and the story hinges on their growth. There is also a pretty kick butt barbarian babe who you should thoroughly enjoy. The world they enter is dark and drab, and starkly merciless. Which matches up to the description the GM laid out.
Tess Irondale does a pretty good job here. She has a voice for each character, and you can feel the disdain the bad guys have for the rest of the people round them. She doesn’t amaze me, but the job is handled well, and there are no issues with the audio.
Like I say, this is a close call, but for me, it fits the Lit Criteria, and the deal sealer came when Amanda realized that the magic spells were laid out exactly as 4th edition spells were in her game. Personally, this is 6 out of ten stars, but I would be happen to revisit the characters, and see how they handle their return to our world, or fare in a return trip back to Beldinab’s digs. Give it a try, it won’t overwhelm you, but it is good for a getaway of a few hours.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
This podcast is sponsored by Soundbooth Theater, makers of great audiobooks.
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