LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 021

LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 021 -  The Dead Rogue, Delvers LLC, The Bard, Fantasy Swap Online, Off to Be the Wizard

“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: ”

The Dead Rogue :Series: An NPC's Path, Book 1 (01:25)

Score: 7.9 out of 10

Delvers LLC - Welcome to Ludus (15:23)

Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Bard: A LitRPG Short Story: Book 4 of The Greenwood (22:56)

Score: 5.5 out of 10

Fantasy Swap Online, Book 1 (38:00)

Score: 2 out of 10

Off to Be the Wizard (50:34)

Score: 8.1 out of 10


The Dead Rogue :Series: An NPC's Path, Book 1

By: Pavel Kornev, Petr Burov - translator, Irene Woodhead - translator, Neil P. Woodhead - translator

Narrated by: Shawn Compton

Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins


You may not know this about me, but I love the rogue class.  Rogues, thieves, bards, these are my people. I will take a sneak thief over a noble paladin any day, and I love paladins.  Bards? How many episodes have I said I have wanted a good bard story? Probably every other one. I lament the lack of bard tales and burglars.  You have to realize that I grew up reading about Gord the rogue and the Gray Mouser. My first D&D character was Lappoy Lightfinger, who lost a couple of digits trying to pick a lock early on in his career, so this book had me at the mention of Rogue.  Also, I’m a funeral director, so it also sucked me in when it came to the Dead part of the title. One of my favorite Horror movies of all time is NOTLD, the original. I saw that when I was about three years old, and it cemented my love for zombies and the undead.

This book has a really interesting hook to it, the MC, John Doe, gets attacked by a player and when he respawns he does so as an undead.  He’s gone from being a player to an NPC. He’s locked into the game as a result of a hack that the attacker used on him. The hack makes him unable to log out, meaning that he is effectively in a coma and unable to eat or drink anything.  IN other words, not only is he trapped in the game, but he’s on a timer. If he doesn’t manage to contact the outside world he just might die in real life.

John faces a ton of obstacles including not being able to walk in the sunlight, speak to other players, or access his thief skills.  In other words, he is totally boned. Now, this book really gripped me for about three quarters of the novel. The only slow point that I found was the city siege.  It reminded me a lot of when I was listening to the dungeon village in Dakota Krout’s Regicide. It just did not fit the story, and I did think they could have completely cut that section out altogether.  On the other hand, it might be a set up for later in the series, I really don’t know. One thing I will say is that I certainly enjoy listening to these Russian Authors. I think they are pretty creative and don’t get as much recognition as they deserve sometimes.  I do believe that they were on the edge of Litrpg when it was birthed, and it is pretty cool to see the perspective of someone not in the US. I would love to see some Chinese or Japanese Litrpg translations show up.

There are a few issues with the translations in some points as the same words are used in the same sentence sometimes, for example, it felt like they said things along the line of “ It was spectacular how he swung the sword, and spectacular how the sword struck home.”  That’s little things, and it makes it feel like I’m reading a Russian novel.

Compton does a solid job narrating.  I think he worked the book well, and did use his voice to its fullest for a premium effect.  I enjoyed listening to him, an while I won’t say I was dazzled by him I think he put out a great product, and I had no issue with his speaking, sound quality, or his characterizations.  

This was a fun run, and I look forward to the next book in the series.  I’m going to say a 7.9 star because I did not enjoy the city siege and felt it was just there to fluff out the book, and I will admit that he was finding the dead man’s set of equipment far faster than you would for a man who wasn’t actively looking for it.  Either way the book was fun ,and I definitely want more.


Delvers LLC

Welcome to Ludus

By: Blaise Corvin

Narrated by: Jeff Hays

Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins


Welcome to Ludus was my introduction to Blaise Corvin, and my introduction to Gamelit stories.  The man is a writing BEAST. He is like a runaway train powered by quantum level energy drinks! He hits the ground not running, but on futuristic sky cycles that have no mufflers.  The story starts with an abduction from Earth to the planet Ludus, by the Great God, Dolos (Hail, Dolos!!). Henry and Jason, the abductees, find themselves in a deadly land they are completely unfamiliar with, must contend with magic, and discover their technology won't function because certain types of metal just can't survive on Ludus.  In order to make it past day one they have to eat a device so that they can gain powers and stay alive in their new home.

     From this point the story takes off like it was written in gasoline ink, and someone struck a match.  Jeff Hays is that match. This man does voices better than Mel Blanc; that cartoony wuss Blanc couldn't do women's voices.  Shoot, Hays makes you believe he has chicks dubbing their voices and letting him get the credit. Each character is distinctive, both male and female, and his emotional inflection is top of the line Dolby THX quality stuff.  Honestly, since I’ve diverged from the story for a moment I have to say that Hays does a killer job on this book. I think he is half the reason I love Delvers so much. His portrayal of Henry and Jason doesn’t kick butt, it shoots it in the rear with a cannon filled with grapeshot.  In other words you won’t be sitting down while listening. Which really made my listening in the car problematic. While this technically isn’t a Soundbooth book, I’m making it my SBT spotlight for the show since it is Jeff’s and he does his company proud.

    The world of Ludus is rife with beast men, elves . . . er, sorry Areva, orcs, goblins, etc. Basically, Corvin takes old fantasy tropes runs them through a paper shredder, slaps that with some paste, and paper maches it into something modern, fun, and original.  I loved watching Henry and Jason level up and meeting their party members. The girls are just as interesting as Jason and Henry, and the world dynamics with men and women makes you really think. Multiple wives? I can barely handle the one I have, I don’t know how I’d fare with more than her.  Still, Blaise makes it something you might want to explore if you end up on Ludus. The pair work well together, and get along like old friends, and it is their machinations, scheming, and circumvention of the world’s rules that will make you love them. Dolos, however, is the best. Gotta love the Great God.  His shiny pate brings warmth and glory to the world. Just don't let him notice you. That is trouble. Seriously, you have to love a guy who is so full of himself that he doesn’t care what effect he has on your life because he is involved in higher issues.

You might have found your way to Ludus via Nora hazard, which is fine, but this is the book that started it all, and is the one that will make you crave more.  Anywho. This book is fantastic. It's like they shot it into outerspace, and it got belted with cosmic rays, and when it returned it had gotten super powers. It's that FANTASTIC, and soon there will be 4 of them in this series!  Give your brain some candy, go listen to this audible book now before you die and miss out on all the greatness that is Ludus!!!

I have thought long and hard about this book, and what score I felt it deserved.  I know that I have a deep and abiding love for the world, the characters, and Dolos so I admit that I am still bedazzled by what goes on here, but I cannot deny the way this book makes me feel.  So, I am going with my gut, and saying 8.5 stars. I loved this. I cannot deny that fact. This is gamelit gold. No apologies, no excuses. A rock solid story with bulletproof characters.


The Bard: A LitRPG Short Story: Book 4 of The Greenwood

By: Galen Wolf

Narrated by: Damon Alums

Length: 1 hr and 47 mins


Ok, gang, here we go another Bard book to review.  Now, I have to admit when I first sat down to review this I was going to be harsh.  Like Uber harsh, because I literally started listening to this in the area of five times.  I know I listened to the first hour at least five times. I fell asleep once, and started it and stopped it four other times, and waited a while in between each listen to a point that I had to relisten because I had forgotten everything that had happened up to that point.  I stuck it out, and made it through. Considering that the book isn’t even two hours long I was shocked at just how much time I had put in trying to make it from start to finish. Well, I had to drive to Columbus, which is an hour run each way and this gave me the opportunity to put my ears on and run it from start to finish.  I had to, because I will always finish a book I start. If I didn’t I wouldn’t review it.

So, here’s the deal this book is part of a larger series, and I wasn’t sure if I had issues with it because I hadn’t read any of the other books, but as I listened for the last time the book was coherent and made sense and I had no problem following along with the action.

The story is pretty simple.  A bard is hired by a Goddess (i.e. a dev) to steal a magic mirror from a lich.  He has to do it without revealing why he is taking it and who it is going to. That’s all fairly straightforward, but then there was another side story that took place about NPC’s becoming sapient, the bard hiring them to be actors in his troupe, and so one.  I’m hoping that that part of the story somehow tied into the rest of the series, because otherwise it was rather distracting and did nothing to enhance the tale. In fact, that was half the reason I couldn’t focus on the book it was all over the place in terms of what was going on.  Here’s the thing, I don’t like giving away spoilers, but the mirror reveals the true self of the person. And the reason that the goddess wanted it made no sense unless she had no access to a mirror in her real life, and what it showed the bard was only minimally interesting. I was bored pretty much the whole way through the book.

I think my biggest disappointment was in the way the bard was portrayed using his powers.  It was pretty much along the lines of I played a sonata and put them to sleep, and then I played turkey in the straw and scrambled everyone around me until they were running in every direction.  I was really hoping for descriptions of strumming the instruments, or how the music was special, but it was more like I used Poker face by Lady Gaga to increase my fortitude. Not very exciting and the battle with the lich was predictable as Old Faithful.  This was not an awesome bard tale.

Damon Alums sounds like Antonio Banderas on Qualudes as he reads through this.  Great accent for the bard, but so low key with his whole delivery that I know it put me to sleep.  He would be great at reading children’s bed time books. For the battle scenes or times of High emotion, I’m gonna Meh my way around and give this book my best McKayla Maroney I am not impressed look.  This could have been good if it had focused on the entire purpose for the story and laid off the NPC stuff, but that just drug in down like a lead balloon falling from the sky. A streamlined story would have moved faster and the better pace might have made it more enjoyable.  Also, there were some issues with the sound quality. In between takes it sounded, to me, like the sound a tape recorder makes after the audio portion cuts out. Also, there were longer breaks in between the chapters. It took too long from the end of one chapter to the start of the next one.  Nothing big, but it was annoying.

Final score 5.5 stars.  It isn’t horrible, but it wasn’t for me.  Tell me what you think if you’ve read it.


Fantasy Swap Online, Book 1

By: Alyson Belle

Narrated by: J. J. Jenness

Series: Fantasy Swapped Online, Book 1

Length: 3 hrs and 1 min

I really wanted to play nice with this one, but this book is like a land mine that mated with a depth charge, no matter where you go you are going to get blown up.  My only advice is to stay out of the yard or pool altogether because this is one time you don’t want to become a casualty.This is a short Audiobook, under four hours, and it is something that you can listen to in just one run all the way through. To be fair, I have no issue with the subject matter, I’m a fairly open-minded dude, but I had more than just a few issues with the book.

First, and this is a HUGE sticking point for me, it seemed like Belle has no concept of what LitRPG or Gamelit is about. It comes across as if she saw it was a genre that was blowing up, and wanted in on the action. Nothing wrong with that, but if you do go into a new field, do some research and get a feel for how the characters act, what they use, and how they fit into the RPG game world. Just as an example, there was nothing crunchy about this. No stats, no leveling alerts, etc. The MC's best weapon was a level 60 sword, not how a gamer would describe it. The story, otherwise, would have fit in with a fantasy world.

Let me read you a section of the blurb so that you understand what happens in the book, because it is simply too convoluted to explain on my own:  But when the Lich-Lord releases a powerful spell that traps most of the players in the game permanently, Kromgorn accidentally winds up stuck in the avatar of his friend, Lacey - a stupid, low-level female character that was designed exclusively to get down and dirty with the in-game pleasure system. Even worse, he gets captured by the orcs and thrown into their harem dungeon, where he finds he's powerless to resist his captors! The developers really modeled female bodies correctly in this game, and it's humiliating to have to go from being a high-level barbarian to a simpering little harem girl.

With his guild drawing closer to an epic encounter with the Lich-Lord, they need all the high-level players they can get! Will Krom figure out a way to get himself out of this useless body and get back in time to help his friends, or will he be stuck forever working on his back in a dirty harem dungeon? The only way out of this mess might be to give in to his situation and embrace his new body in order to outmaneuver his foes.  Who knows? He might even end up enjoying himself....

Like I said this book has no concept of gaming at all, and it feels like it is just a slick way to add erotica to LITRPG minus all the knowledge of what makes LITRPG actually work.  Crunch aside, this book as was just B-a-n-a-n-a-s. So, weak story and no crunch. . . hell, did I say crunch? Their isn’t even a chewing gum smoosh involved. This book pays a lot of lip service to LITRPG, but it feels more like someone researched a board game that had been made into a movie than they did about video games being put into books.

Secondly, the narrator for this was all wrong.  I think you know my feelings about JJ Jenness. He says every sentence individually dnd I firmly believe that a far manlier and masculine voice was needed to add to the realism. Not that J.J. isn't a man, but he does not have a deep timbor or low growl that would have added some much needed gravitas to the story. He sounds more like Mario Cantone minus the manic energy.  What would have really helped this book would have been a Clancy Brown type voice, it would have made it funnier and more meaningful. Tim Curry, not so much.

The concept for this had a ton of opportunity for humor, and I think that Belle might have tried to find the funny, but if so she missed it on me, and I have been into comedy since I could talk. Again, a more masculine voice would have helped as the MC said "I just got kissed by a guy!"

My final score?  2 Stars. One because she deserves a star for writing a book, and a second because there was a semi-coherent story in there somewhere I’m sure; I mean the book did have a beginning a middle and an end.  You know, I could talk about a dumpster fire, but this book felt more like I had visited Centralia, Pennsylvania. That is a fire that is never going to go out. Avoid this book unless you are really really curious.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!


Off to Be the Wizard

By: Scott Meyer

Narrated by: Luke Daniels

Series: Magic 2.0, Book 1

Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins


This series fell into my lap as a suggestion in the Podcast’s Youtube page.  I really appreciate that, as it keeps me from having to seek out books blindly.

Let me say, I hadn’t heard of Scott Meyer before this book, but this cat is on my radar now.  The man knows how to set up a story, and make it funny. The tale revolves around a guy who discovers a small piece of code that makes him realize that he is living in a computer program, and that he can manipulate the system.  In other words, there is no spoon. He can rewrite some of his code and provide all kinds of benefits to himself such as making himself taller, teleport, or wealthier by inflating his bank account, etc. Naturally, this leads him into getting himself into trouble with the law, and before you know it he flees to the past where he plans on setting himself up as a wizard.  Now, we all know that nothing good comes from thinking like this, and that things are not going to go as planned. Still, the book really takes off and there is a ton of magic, time travel, thugs, FBI types, and wizards to keep you entranced before you know what hit you.

Meyer never misses a beat, and has a built in rim shot that appears every couple of beats to make you laugh.  It is a good mix of funny, ironic, satire, and seriousness that all blends together in one hell of a sweet literary smoothie.  I looked and there are quite a few books in this series, and I look forward to getting my grubby mitts on each one, just as much as I do other big names in the Litrpg genre.

One huge benefit for this series is that the book is narrated by Luke Daniels, and like Jeff Hays, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a book that he narrated that I didn’t love.  Daniels proves to be as professional and silly as a person can be simultaneously. I think my favorite part was where he imitated sounding like someone speaking into a fan. That was pure narration brilliance.  And his portrayal of Jimmy was soooo funny that I squirted milk out of my nose, and I wasn’t even drinking anything.

So, the question is is this book LITRPG or not?  There are a lot of things to consider, but I’m going to go with two things.  First, the wizards are all self aware NPC’s if nothing else. They know that they are algorithms, and it doesn’t bother them at all.  Secondly, they are in a computer game. Of that there is no question. They literally rewrite code in order to achieve things that they want.  Just on those two things alone I will say this is LITRPG, it doesn’t matter if it was a “real” human who entered the world or if the NPC’s suddenly became sentient.  The end result is that the MC is trapped in a Sims like game and regardless of whether he is “alive” he is a player, and that too qualifies. So for this I’m calling it Lit!  Final score for this Litrpg book is 8.1 stars. I can’t wait to listen to more of this wonderful series..


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