LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 019
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 019 - Accidental Raider, The Merchant of Tiqpa, Goblin King, Tech Mage
“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: 8.2 out of 10
The Merchant of Tiqpa (14:18)
Score: 8.7 out of 10
Goblin King (34:05)
Score: 8.3 out of 10
Score: 7.6 out of 10
Accidental Raider: A LitRPG Swashbuckler
By: Jamie Davis, C.J. Davis
Narrated by: Stacy Gonzalez
Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins
I have to say that I am loving the direction this series is taking more and more. If I’m honest with you I would say that there is no way in hades that I would have ever thought that I would enjoy a story set aboard a ship. Hell, when I was a kid I loved Captains Courageous, the voyages of Sinbad, and any Eroll Flynn flick in which he buckled a swash or hoisted a mainsail. Reading about them is an entirely different matter. For example, Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch in the Gentleman Bastards series was a snorefest at its best, and the reader was forced to endure them learning how to man a ship from the ground up.
Here we get Kari Dix already performing as a captain well-seasoned, with a crew willing to go to hell and back just to bring her a comfy chair to sit on if she so desired. The gameplay works really well, especially when Kari has to do some serious sailing through some impossible waters. The gaming elements come in pretty strong and work. I loved her aiming a cannon as much as sailing the ship. It all worked. One thing I wanted to bring up in the last book was the way in which Davis weaves in his tributes to the Princess Bride. One of my favorite movies. I actually forgot to mention it in my last review, but with William Goldman dying as of the time of this recording I don’t see how I can’t not mention it double negative and all. So, he references a lot of princess bride stuff.
Kidding, I completely respect that he runs close to it, but doesn’t beat you over the head with it stuff, such as Kari being known as the Dread Raider Kari. It really meant a lot to me as a fan of Goldman and the Bride. SO thank you, Jamie for sharing your love for something without clubbing us over the head with it. Another thing that I was happy to see was the return of Hal and Mona, however I almost with the upgrade would have forced them to have to take on new classes (Mona would make a great Paladin), but it was nice to see Hal reunite with his old friend and he and his wife start searching for their daughter. The book is really fun, and I am going to give some credit to Davis once again; he has no issue killing people in this book. A boatload of people literally die at some point, no pun intended. It is good to see that not everyone survives deadly encounters.
Last time around I was carping about how I was upset Scarlato hadn’t been brought back to continue the series, but felt that Stacy Gonzalez had done a decent enough job. I stand by that assessment. She does ok, but I did have some issues with the way she read some sentences, and her overall level of emotional range seemed to remain level. I don’t get a lot of emotional heat or sadness from her, and there were certainly times that there should have been more emotionally charged dialogue or a faster pace employed as the story carried on. Again, decent job, just not overwhelming.
Final score 8.2 stars. This was a very fun romp and I am excited to see where the story leads.
The Merchant of Tiqpa
By: Charles Dean
Narrated by: Matthew Broadhead
Length: 13 hrs and 48 mins
Well true believers, I have to say that there has been few things that have been able to lift my spirits in a week where not only Stan Lee has died, but also William Goldman. The best thing I could ask for? Another Charles Dean book you say? You’d be right! How about a continuation of his Bathrobe knight series you ask? Well now you are just getting scary as it was just exactly the thing I needed to sooth the pain in my soul.
You may recall that I kind of lamented that after BKIII ended there weren’t going to be any more audiobooks made in the series, because The Bearded Bacon God had said, “No more.” However, something happened and we magically got book 4, and I am not complaining. I had hoped to save this for a listen during the drive back home over Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t wait, and jumped on it as soon as I got it.
Now a little background for you before we go any further. I started off as an English major years ago, and one of my favorite classes was my Shakespeare class. I have loved the great bard for a number of years, hell, the only episode of Moonlighting that I ever watched was their Taming of the Shrew adaptation, so you can see I love old Willie. Shylocke would appear to be Charles Dean’s favorite character, as he has based the entire book off the Merchant of Venice.
Now, before you freak out and Nope your way out of here for fear of getting Literated or something I have to say that I was most impressed with the deft way that he managed to flawlessly interweave the Literature portion of the story with the LITRPG portion of the tale. He sneaks in characters and plot details without being obvious about it, and still keeps the story moving ahead effortlessly. Truth be told I was rather skeptical of this tale when I first heard about it. Not for the Shakespearean elements, but because it didn’t continue the tales of Darwin and his crew. I love that Bathrobe wearing demon, and really wanted to see how things developed after the events of the last book. And I am still bummed out that we only get to see hints and snippets of characters from the original books, but I was happy to get what I had.
This book could have been set in any gameworld and still worked. It didn’t have to be Tiqpa. It is that original and strong. It really did not need the BK bones to hold it up, but I also get the concept of why work harder when you don’t need to, Dean didn’t need to reinvent a whole new gaming system in order to create this book. IN fact the only thing that really ties this down to the first trilogy was the “bonus chapters” at the end that told Eliza’s story, and let us see Darwin in a different light. In fact, I would not have minded if Dean hadn’t put in the extra chapters at all, the way he left things with Shy/Locke was perfect.
Matthew Broadhead has taken some hits from me recently, and I have repeatedly said that he is a narrator who either sinks or swims based on the material he is given, and Dean’s writing still meshes well with his vocal quirkilizations. Broadhead does an excellent job here and carries the story right along. I am happy to have him back in the driver’s seat, because he has taken a backseat in too many stories lately.
My score is really dependant on a few things. One, I love the entire reimagining of Merchant of Venice in LITRPG form. Secondly, I am glad to get back into Tiqpa after I was certain that we weren’t going to be going there anymore. Third, Dean proves just has agile his mind is that he is able to create a story like this without giving anything away. I have to say this was an 8.7 for me just because of how well everything flowed, how we got Shakespeare in a game world, we were given a glimpse at how an alchemist could work as a game class, and we did get a hint of what Darwin was up to. I’m still going to let my kids listen to this as we travel back to see the in-laws and parents this week, and I don’t mind at all. Oh, and Charles gets this cookie!
By: R.R. Virdi
Narrated by: Jeff Hays
Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
You may know Mr. Virdi from his Urban fantasy novel: Grave Beginnings. I had been hoping for some time that he would get around to making them into audiobooks, so I flipped out when I saw that not only had he done a LITRPG story, but it was also being done by SBT that I nearly had a nerdgasm. I thought it was a fantastic pairing, and I was right.
Now, there are a lot of things going on. The book starts out in a dystopian society that cannot afford to keep everyone fed, so certain types of people get put on the chopping block when they turn 21. Think of Logan’s Run in outer space. The MC, a fine fellow named Devrim Bains, is offered a choice. He can die, or he can have his consciousness uploaded into a virtual reality game where he can play until he dies there. Not a lot of choice, but hey what’s a protagonist gonna do? He signs up for the VR of course and gets dropped into a world of crap. When I was telling my wife about the story she told me it had some things in common with the 100. I don’t know, because I’ve never seen that show, but she was fairly certain that it had a lot of commonalities. That’s cool, because she watches it, and that means she’ll listen to the book in the car while I drive.
Luckily for him his knowledge of mythology saves his butt and he earns a class called the Slayer that is actually a pretty sweet deal, as he gets clued into a ton of things about the monsters he faces that other players don’t. The bulk of the book is him battling monsters and trying to figure if the Goblin King is real and if he is, how to stop him. I loved the whole title aspect like Slayer of men, and the implications that it had in the game. Lots of neat thinking. One thing I was not in love with was the toad companion.
For me, a mini-companion either flies or fails. Lately, the whole snarky or braggadocios companion has been a fail. I prefer more helpful aides over companions who don’t do anything but try to take the credit, I just don’t find that stuff funny. I guess I see that stuff too often in real life. They can be funny but the toad here did not ring that bell for me, I was actually hoping he would get killed. The odd thing is that Devrim feels the same way, and if he had continued to feel that way I don’t think it would have put me off, because then the character would have been meant to be unbearable. However, he makes a complete turnaround on that fact, and begins to like the little bugger, which is where I, the reader, am supposed to like him too but that didn’t happen. I could not stand him from start to finish, and the only saving grace was that he was not super prominent in the book.
Usually I will say that a book flew by or dragged, but this one just felt like it was paced out pretty well. There were some excellent fights and a lot of realization moments and a mystery about the Goblin King that worked nicely. The best part of the book was the characterizations of the players, they were pretty real in their depiction, although I did find a little bit of the dialogue to be stilted. The ending does play out like a David vs Goliath, but it was a fun fight.
Jeff Hays handles this one in all his solo glory, and I was quite happy to get it. With all the tag teaming that goes on over at SBT we don’t get a chance to see to single narrators shine much any more. Jeff handles this tale masterfully. I think his best characterizations are the females, although he does do a badassed battle toad impression that caused me cognitive dissonance because I hated the character, but enjoyed the portrayal. I really enjoy hearing Jeff do things on his own, as I can see just how much he’s refined himself since his last recording. Getting bits of him in snippets, as in the punny dwarf in the Wayward Bard, is nice, but that is a supporting role. That’s like putting Brad Pitt in the role of a stoner who just sits on a couch an entire series of scenes like in True Romance, rather than making him into a killer character like Aldo Rains in Inglorious Basterds. More is better. I think that is why I like him so much here, he gets to do a few ladies, mind out of the gutter people! A job that seems to go more and more to Annie or Laurie. Anyways, Jeff throws out all the stops and clearly has some fun with this book.
Overall the book is fun, filled with frantic action, and some nice LITRPG moments. Again the title stuff was the best gaming part for me. I enjoyed the book a lot and look forward to, but with 60% less toad. Final Score 8.3 Stars.
Is it LitRPG or Not?
Tech Mage: Magitech Chronicles, Volume 1
By: Chris Fox
Narrated by: Ryan Kennard Burke
Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
This is my second book in the is it Gamelit/Litrpg segment, and it was the book with the second most suggestions.
This book starts off by throwing its MC off the deep end. The protagonist, Aran, awakens of no memory of who he was, where he is, or what the hell is going on around him. He quickly learns that he has been captured by slavers who have erased his mind. Best of all, they are forcing him along with a shipload of other memory challenged people to go and engage some enemies who are fairly nasty, vile, and deadly. Naturally, things don’t work out so well, and Aran barely survives the encounter.
Turns out that he is fairly powerful, and when the slavers get busted by the local military he gets drafted, against his will, to go out and fight Void Wyrms, better known to you and me as Space Dragons. The dragons want to subjugate/destroy all non-dragon life, and the military are all hard pressed to stop them, let alone hold out against them.
The book is fairly action packed, and has a cool concept in which magic is used to power weapons, and spells do most of the heavy combat stuff. The dragons are right evil bastiches and the situation is dire enough that you care what is happening. As things go the writing is nicely paced and has some good character development. There are three main characters, Aran, Nara, and Viora the local military leader. My biggest problem with the book was the magic beer segment, in which a character is brought back to life.
It took a little while for the narrator to grow on me, but once I’d settled into his voice it became a nice enjoyable ride into an intergalactic space dragon fight. Sometimes it really felt like Burke was as into the story as the reader was, because he really had some fun with it. He was excellent in his characterizations, the pacing, and the battle scenes resounded with a fervor of fraught tension.
So, is this in the realm of LITRPG? Again, I’m going to say no. The reasoning is that while it does have that sort of feel to it there still isn’t much in the way of defining the powers that Aran has to see if he is actually levelling or simply getting back into the power levels he was at before he was mindwiped, and it surely feels like that is the case. He starts off doing things a wiped individual would never be able to do, and just goes upwards, but each bit of apparent growth feels familiar to him, as if he has already been in that area. The only time it sort of gets LIT is when he accidentally steals a new power from a god when he is with the slavers. It really isn’t close otherwise, and while it was fun I’m still going to say not even close. 7.6 stars.
This podcast is sponsored by Soundbooth Theater, makers of great audiobooks.
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