LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 018
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 018 - Desire: Book 2, The Wayward Bard, Regicide, Yesterday’s Spacemage
“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: 6.9 out of 10
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Score: 8.4 out of 10
Yesterday’s Spacemage (39:44)
Score: 7.5 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:
Desire: A LitRPG Adventure
By: Cameron Milan
Narrated by: John Downey
Series: Desire: A LitRPG Adventure, Book 2
Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
Desire is one of those books that seems, at first glance, to be fairly decent but as you go deeper it begins to have some flaws. Nothing horrible, but kinks exist. First of all, Milan’s dialogue is like something from an old Hanna Barbera Saturday morning cartoon. The villain is overly dramatic and one dimensional. He goes around challenging the heroes of the world to 1) Prove his might 2) Test his mettle and 3) Kill them so that he can take over the world.
The plot is pretty convoluted, too. One of the heroes goes rogue in his own bid for the world. The heroes are very disjointed and have no clue of how to work together, and the pacing of the story is strange. There are time jumps involved and the focus of the action moves from earth to an alien planet. It’s kind of all over the place. The characters are flat and you have a hard time connecting with them.
The story goes like this, an ancient orc super warrior from another planet comes to Earth to kick butt, write down some names, and take over the planet. Unfortunately, the planet has some defenders that he has to go through first. They aren’t so easy, and he only gets to take one name before his pen breaks. The book, which while not overwhelming stays on track up until the point that the uber orc decides to team up with one of the human heroes to take over the world. Then it just becomes a fight, beat the orc, oops the orc is actually stronger than we expected or has some weird power manifest that allows him to escape and or beat the heroes before being chased off, over and over again. It was less than exciting and so overly repetitive that it was more annoying and I just wished the heroes would die and the earth would explode so that the book could be over.
The story does have some cool ideas, for example people get their powers from these magical tattoos. Each power seems to be unique to the individual as it grows, but not everyone develops high tier abilities. For example, the Asian hero, Dragon, gains strength based on the number of his followers and the territory he owns. Another is a hemomage who controls blood. Dragon has something along the lines of a million followers, and can use their power to increase his stats for a temporary time while leaving them defenseless. The orc, on the other hand, seems to have no end to power reserves or abilities. Everytime he is almost beaten a new power pops up and he manages to turn the tide. Like I say, this is very Saturday morning cartoon stuff. It really came across like a fanfic combo of Dragonball Z and Justice League Unlimited. The orc went super saiyan more times than I could count, to a point in fact that I didn’t wonder if he was going to win or lose I just had to ask what new power was going to show up that he hadn’t used to that point. It was a flat story, and the only time that I felt connected to the characters or the tale was at the very end with the big planet fight by two of the heroes. What tried to be epic became a straight to the $5 bin at Walmart. The story did not grab me in the same way as the original did, and I think it is because of the villain. Villains make or break a story, and the minute the orc show up he took devilled eggs and made them into scrambled somehow.
The narration is a tough call. If you listen to the narrator he has a lot of crazy stuff to say, like the charred person became a charred corpse. Well, he was already charred and dead so nothing change from one second to the next other than someone stepped on the body and crunched it. It is the reading that comes off as flat. I can remember listening to this story, but I had no memory of how he sounded. I had to go back and relisten to the book just to pinpoint how he was. Downey was clear and pronounced his words just fine, but there was very little emotion. But there was no animus or emotion to the reading. This really felt like he just said, “I’m going to have to slog through this, so I might as well make the best of it. Sadly I have no other series to compare him to, because some readers rise to the level of their stories. I would like to say that it was a memorable performance, but I truly do not recall what he sounded like other than semi bored.
Final Score 6.9 The book jumps all over the place, and the one saving grace that I was happy to see is that it wasn’t afraid to kill off characters. If it had been more coherent I might have put it in the 7 range, or even if the dialogue flowed more realistically, or the characters had more depth. This combo tanked the whole story and made it a middle ground kind of tale.
The Wayward Bard
World of Chains, Book 1
By: Lars M.
Narrated by: Justin Thomas James, Jeff Hays, Laurie Catherine Winkel
Length: 12 hrs and 45 mins
OK Kiddies, gather round the fire, because here is the tale you’ve been waiting for. This is my Soundbooth Spotlight for the week, and I have been trying to get this on the show for a while now. Other books just jumped ahead for various reasons, but I am finally able to let you know about how awesome this book is.
Ready? Imma going to start off chatting about the way the Soundbooth theater handled this book. You know, one thing I respect about Jeff hays is his vision. He does not want to just crank out readings of books. He wants you to have an experience. That’s why if you listen to Harmon Cooper’s amazing Cherry Blossom Girls series you practically get the entire cast plus effects. I sort of griped about there being so many readers, because I really prefer one voice to tell me a tale, but SBT has slowly made me into a convert to that way of thinking. Now, they’ve upped their game all the way around. The Wayward Bard was less an experience as it was a full on EVENT. This had multiple narrators, sound effects, and music.
Justin Thomas James carries this book like he is Atlas holding up the world. He shrugs his shoulders and the world moves. The man has smooth mellow voice that just draws you in. You can’t help listening to him. His is the voice I want on loudspeakers during the Apocalypse saying, “Please remain calm. There is nothing you can do to stop the end of the world, but you don’t have to go out in a panic. Please enjoy the remaining time that you have left.” After hearing him say that I think I’d just opt to chill out and watch the world burn. Seriously, James is one of my faves, and has been since I first listened to After Life Reboot by Domino Finn. JTJ has a range of voices that you don’t expect from a fellow with such a sonorous vocal style. Jeff Hay rolls in to play a punny little character or two, and the Bonnie to James’s Clyde, Laurie Catherine Winkle stops by to steal a scene or two as a matronly tinkerer/shopkeeper. Did I mention James sings as well. Yep yep yep. You really don’t want to miss this book. Now, I have to admit, when the music first rolled in I had a little trouble hearing Justin speaking, but that is my crappy ears, not a production issue, and I did not have a problem like that again for the rest of the book. SBT really turned things up to 11 here, and I seriously think the only contender that will be able to take my honorary award of Most Audacious Auditory Attempt in 2018 might just be that Monster Hunters book I keep hearing about, but that is a questionable release for this year. Either way, no one loses this was an Event.
So let me tell you about Lars M. Here’s a guy, as John Madden would say, who knows how to write. Not only does he craft a great story that starts off with one hell of a good reason to go into a game long term, but he makes the game interesting enough that you are glad it is a two year game plan. He not only scripts perfect prose, but he also cranks out some decent songs for JTJ to sing.
The story is about a guy who rips off the Russian mob, and opts to go underground for about two years by hiding in a virtual game called World of Chains. He hopes to do two things. Let the heat die down while he is in game, and sit back play some music, drink some brew, and dally with the ladies. Of course something goes wrong and all of his plans go out the window moments after arriving in the game. He reluctantly becomes a hero, and sets off to become a real bard. From there a mystery intertwines with the adventure, and the story takes off. I like the reluctant hero, and am so glad to finally get what I have been wanting for a while now. A GOOD bad novel. My only complaint? I wanted to see a little seduction getting pulled off, and I don’t count charm monster spells. I will admit that this is not an action packed go kill kill kill type of book. This is a bard tale after all, and bards are not tanks, they are more like boomboxes (do you youngsters even know what a boombox is?) that fire arrows or spells. I did miss seeing the bard placed into a group dynamic, and by that I mean an actual party rather than partner. I would have loved to see the bard enhance, bolster, and empower his group with his music. Either way, the story was fun, and it wasn’t a I saw who it was the whole time type of mystery.
From start to finish Master M., I only now wonder if that stands for Moriarty? Weaves a nice slow build mystery with some puzzles and monsters to overcome. The work by SBT will just blow your ears as well as your mind. I have to pass out 8.5 stars for the combination of the production and writing. Congrats to Lars Machmüller and Soundbooth Theater for an amazing experience.
The Completionist Chronicles Series, Book 2
By: Dakota Krout
Narrated by: Vikas Adam
Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
The great bald chronicler of all things occult has returned, and the world is better for it. Again, I curse Dakota Krout for putting out such excellence instead of the Divine Dungeon. It irks me that he has created another series so addictive that I had to create a ritual that signaled that it was time to start reading this book.
Honestly, I always hear if you had to pick one gameworld to play in, which one would it be, and I would choose Krout’s setting for the completionist chronicles. There are ton of options, and everything is boosted by your real life skills so a chiropractor becomes a fearsome warrior based on his knowledge of anatomy, pressure points, and nerve clusters.
Joe, the main character, decides to start up his own little group and to do so he dirty dozens the hell out of potential guild members who were turned down because of their od proclivities. Each person that he hand picks for his personal squad is an oddball in some way, but they are all interesting and unique characters and for a ragtag squad of weirdos they work really well as a team. I think that my favorite way that Krout worked the attribute of charm in the game was amazing. It made total sense and was a hilarious consequence of having such a low score. For me that was the best part of the story. It was a small almost throwaway bit, but it worked and had such an impact on our favorite Crackyerbackter that it just stood out like a firework in a coal mine.
I also appreciated how nothing in the game is just given over, Joe has to work just to be able to learn how to, for example, create a scroll. Additionally, I also felt that the way he stole temples was a nifty idea and was glad to see him actually employ such tactics. There were a few things that I was not a fan of, for example, the town that became a dungeon sequence did not fly well with me. I don’t know if it was because of the constant failures that the group encountered or just the format of the story itself. It just seemed very clunky with beary a pun that was fun, that made me have to grit my teeth and bear it though most of the bear bones of the battles. Truthfully, this was the only real part of the book that I had a hard time getting through. It just sort of stalled there. One of my favorite sequences involved Joe creating an artifact level building. It was fun even if there was no “fighting” involved. I would have enjoyed more research or meeting up with the fellow who sold him his brains in the first book, that looked like an interesting path, but alas Dakota did not follow it this time around. Several developments that were also enjoyable were that we got to see a bit more of Joe’s mother, and that not everything in the guild is all apples and rainbows, it’s more like A-holes and raisins. This strife led to a great confrontation, and Joe doing some things you didn’t expect. Oh, and the title of the book juuuuuuuuust might be a little misleading. You’ll get the title at the end of the book.
Vikas Adams continues to please, amaze, and astound. I think that he works so very well with Krout that they are an unbeatable team. Truly, Adam’s voice is versatile and is able to run a range of emotions, and carries such depth that he elevates the book to a whole new level. I enjoy listening to him a great deal.
I’m going to give this an 8.4 rating. I enjoyed it, but felt that Krout’s dungeon sequence did not fit in well with the rest of the book. It just felt like he needed something to let the team fight together, but it just didn’t click like it did in other areas of the book. Overall another fantastic job.
By: Timothy Ellis
Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
Alright, this was a tough one for me. First of all, I had this suggested as one of my this feels like LitRPG, so is it close enough to be LIT? I’ll get to that at the end, but the truth is this is a book that was broken into sections. I had a lot of trouble with how it ended, and several other things.
First, the odd stuff. The book’s premise is that there is a young man, Thorn, who is raised in a society in which you can detail what job you want during a coming of age ceremony. This is your life job. I’m guessing that once you take it you are stuck. No take backsies or something along those lines. Anyway, it turns out he wants to be a battlemage, the toughest job to get, and the high lord emperor decides that the young mage will either work under him, where he will be stymied because his power is a threat to the Emp, or he will die. The boy decides that he is going to Nope out of the situation by teleporting away as he is attacked, and he wakes up in the far future with no magic. After a bit of time he manages to regain his abilities, and is then kidnapped by an alien race. After he kills his abductors he goes on a spree of attacking slavers with a few people he rescues.
What’s so odd you ask? Well, you are literally given no information about who his people were, where they were from, where he ends up in the future, who the aliens are that kidnap him, or even who the military is that he fights against. There is really no reason for this, nothing is kept from the reader for any reason, there is just no information given. It is bizarre.
Secondly, each part of the book feels like a story unto itself, with the beginning being the most interesting. Each deals with the MC sort of finding his way and where he belongs. The third section is about him coming to grips with being a spacemage with him making a final decision that is beyond strange. I don’t want to give anything away, but everything that he decides to do at the end was very out of character and did not fit the rest of the story. He’s a guy who wanted to be a battle mage, and when that opportunity is transformed in to becoming a Space mage he turns away. It felt forced and was not organic at all.
Kevin T. Collins narration is a standout. He is probably not someone that you would know since he is not a part of the LIT community, but he handles the story well, and peppers it with emotion and really hands out defined personalities to each character. He does do voices for each character as well, and I liked listening to him. He has a unique cadence to his story telling, sort of like listening to someone speak in iambic pentameter. He stands out and I appreciated all the fine work that he did.
So, now the question becomes is this close to LITRPG? I have to say no. There are certain criteria that must be met to qualify, and in no way does it come close. The main character doesn't level up, he is pretty much as powerful at the end as he is in the beginning, he just streamlines how he uses his powers. There are no stats, no correlation to stats or attributes, nothing along those lines. I think the closest we come is with him using a portal. When he time jumps he does enter into a new world, technically. Still, it is his old world and he never gets near a game or game type world.
The story is good, and the character interesting. I enjoyed the book, but the ending really let me down. I wanted a lot more. So, I am going to give this 7.5 stars. A decent read, but in no way does it come close to being LITRPG.
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