LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 026 - Betrayal, Seductive Seas, Dan the Barbarian, Star-Spangled Apocalypse
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 026 - Betrayal, Seductive Seas, Dan the Barbarian, Star-Spangled Apocalypse
“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: 7.9 out of 10
Score: 6.5 out of 10
Score: 8.2 out of 10
What Else Have They Done? (01:01:55)
Betrayal (Monsters, Maces and Magic, Volume 2)
By: Terry W. Ervin II
Narrated by: Jonathan Waters
Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
Terry Ervin part deux returns to his Gamelit series, (Monsters, Maces, and Magic), with his tale Betrayal. I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting on this one. I absolutely loved the first book and could not wait for this book to it the audible shelves. I have to admit, going into this I felt certain that I knew what was going to happen, just from the title, but I was very surprised to find that I was so wrong that everything I had expected never came to pass. I’ll give Terry his due, I love it when a writer sets up a story and then procedes to not follow an expected path. I don’t want to give anything away, but I really thought that it was pretty obvious where the book’s title was coming from, but nope. Nope. He got me. Kudos, master Ervin.
So, the book centers on the group trying to raise funds to get their wish spell so they can return home, and they get sucked into a lot of backstabbing and intrigue dealing with a kidnapped elf bride. The team opts to take the offer to get some serious bread in exchange for bringing the bride back, and head off to the swamplands in hopes of rescuing her before she is violated murdered, or eaten, or violated, murdered, and then eaten. She’s in a bad place with a deadline hanging over her head. The group works pretty well, and plays smart. They learn where she’d been taken and head out with their game faces on.
Now, the book has a lot of action, the battle scenes are pretty slick, and I really loved the way that they managed to take on a lance wielding rider. So, there is some pretty innovative use of magic and tactics. The half goblin pretty much steals the show, he is the most fun, and I think my biggest issue is just how weak the gnome is portrayed to be. I really wish that the gnome kicked more ass instead of always coming across as a liability even when he is fighting his heart out. He never seems to have any confidence in spite of being the one that saved the team in the last novel. I would also like to see more of the semi evil fighter of the group. We get enough Goblin, gnome, and elf. Ron and Derek seem a little under represented. I always point to Dragonlance which did an amazing job of balancing a large group and spotlighting each character.
My one true complaint was that a lot of the humor that was in the first book seemed to be lacking. Granted, most of the jibes centered on Marigold’s bosom, shrinking clothing, and so on but it was funny. This book basically flipped and made it more about leering and how she felt about it, and if a character did have a naughty thought they quickly reprimanded themselves or turned their heads. It is fine to show growth, but when the whole set up was that the elf is triple pornstar hot you can’t bring shame into the equation, because it makes the reader feel ashamed for laughing before or considering the same situations in this book to be funny. Marigold was reduced to complshaming the others or worrying about her bird, Petey.
Either way, I enjoyed the book, and look forward to the next, even though it doesn’t feature our intrepid team. My final score, 7.9 stars just because some of the elements of the first book were toned down or negated. Still, I loved how they were shown that they were levelling via dreams, since they can’t access character sheets. I also appreciated that the players instinctively knew how many hit points they had. That was new too. I must say that I have no issue with the more action oriented take, but I would have liked more humor.
Seductive Seas: Online Swashbuckling Harem
Seductive Seas LitRPG Series, Book 1
By: Calico Jack
Narrated by: Shane Morris
Length: 58 mins
This was an odd book to review. I am always on the look out for a good LITRPG short story, and pretty much jump at one whenever I get a chance. The issue that I have is that this is sort of a hard sell for me. The book is pretty short, only 58 minutes long, and honestly only feels like a first chapter more than a complete story. Yes, it sort of wraps up, but in a way that would have worked better in a bigger longer novel. In other words, the story sort of feels incomplete, like there a lot more that should have happened. Another hour’s worth of material and I think this wouldn’t have been too bad for a short, but too much was jammed in all at once to make it a complete story.
For example, the tale starts of with the MC walking the plank. It seems like his old ship has mutinied and he has been replaced and is being left to drown by his former crew. Somehow, he manages to make it to the newbie starting island, but is still a level one, so I was confused. Did the game start him out on a mutinied ship? Because he didn’t act like that was the case at all, he was very familiar with the people and the island. If not, then why was he so low a level? Was it because he died? Dunno, never states if dying resets you to level one or not, but if it did I wouldn’t play the game.
Ten seconds after arriving on the island he is met by a comely wench who had been part of his crew and followed him. She immediately begins pleasuring him orally, and that is where the first snafu of the book comes into play. The narration says something along the lines of she slid his massive member into his mouth. Not an exact quote, but pretty close. You get the point though. They’d have called him Cap’n longspear if he could do that. Words matter people. Espicially in an intimacy scene. Coming out of the scene, no pun intended he awakes at work to find that he’s played all night and his hot boss, who he has his eye on, has a meeting with him and some financiers. During the meeting he is expected to demonstrate the awesomeness of the games fighting system as well as the intercourse interplay. So, basically he has to cut off some heads and then get some he. . . well, you get the idea. That is pretty much the story, aside from what actually happens in the gameplay, and how the meeting went. Not a lot of content if you consider all the set up and time it took just to get to that point. So, it feels truncated. Like I say, good start to a bigger tale, but not so hot for a one shot.
The story did have some cool ideas that I would like to see implemented in other harem or sexiness styled books, in which the players have to unlock the Wench NPC’s chastity belts with a quest. This means that they just can’t get busy, they actually have to do a little work before they can have fun. Of course, this still didn’t stop the sexy wench from providing some oral gratification right after they met. It just meant that the honey pot was sealed in other ways. I loved this concept. I wish it was featured more in other novels.
The narration was fair to middling. I wasn’t overly underwhelmed, but I can’t say that I was amazed. Also, there was a strange ticking or bonking noise in the beginning of the story that was not part of the story, and just randomly appeared out of no where.
My score is 6.5, it might have been higher if there was more to this story, but I really can’t justify a credit for a book under an hour, or even ask you to pay 3 bucks for so short an audiobook. I have a hard time reconciling if this was a prologue, a short story, or a first chapter. When the listener can’t make so simple a distinction the book sort of sails away. Also, the lit elements were pretty light, which was a good thing, because if it was heavy and they wanted to keep it under an hour then we would have lost even more story.
Dan the Barbarian Gold Girls and Glory, Book 1
By: Hondo Jinx
Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
Holy Hannah, has Hondo heartily hit some hellaish heights with his Breakout Gamelit novel, Dan the Barbarian. This was one heck of a ride that was packed with fun, excitement, action, and saucy babes. There aren’t enough ladyfolk to qualify as a harem just yet, two ladies are a love triangle, not a harem, but I’m sure just from what Hondo has laid out as it’s an inevitability.
The story starts out with a simple schlub named Dan, who is having a really crappy day. He’s failing a class, he’s robbed, and he shatters a glass case in the school library. Fortunately, in his accident he frees a genie. The genie, in his generosity, grants Dan one wish, and after a little hedging, Dan asks to be given a life like his barbarian character. Wish granted, Dan finds himself in mirror world in which his college no teaches economics, psychology, or biology. Instead there is treasure hunting 101, Sword Play, and Dungeon delving. Of course, dan still lives across the hall from the hottest girl in school, and his nasty teacher in the old world is now his independent study instructor. Plus, she really hates him even more than before. Dan, however, gets help from his magic sword that has the personality of his old character, Wulfgar, and a group of people he gets to know as he joins his hot neighbor, Holly, in a college Quest game that has real life and death stakes. The characters are fun, and play to type. Dan, for example pulls a lot of stupid stunts, just like a real dopey barbarian, the thief is sexy and sneaky, and the wizard reminded me a little of the scattered brained Mage, Fizban, from the Dragonlance series.
The story really isn’t overly complicated, it is about a barbarian after all, but damn if it wasn’t fun. It really kept me on the hook listening until I wrapped it up. I can only say that Dan was a relatable character, even if I couldn’t place myself in his exploits, I mean, I’m not a barbarian, but I will say that I liked how Dan had memories of both worlds, so he wasn’t in over his head even though he was new to everything. This book, also features a monkey, Zuggie, who is a chess playing beer swigging fool that gets a little belligerent if he isn’t given the proper drink. What’s with all the monkeys lately? I keep saying Never trust a monkey! No one listens. The book has a solid ending that sets up the next novels and helps keep the anticipation going as we have to wait for Andrea Parsenau to record the next in the series.
Speaking of Andi P., man oh man, does she do an incredible job telling Dan’s story. Now, I am going to make a confession. I have passed up many audiobooks in the past because of female narrators. I listened to several early audiobooks, notable Cathy Bates reading Silence of the Lambs, to be specific, and I was underwhelmed, and I carried that bias for many years. I actively avoided any books narrated by a lady, and didn’t care if the MC was female of not. Then, I listened to Andrea Parsenau, and changed my mind. To be fair, I am pretty oblivious to most things as a consumer, and tend to not look at what I buy, and so did not see that a woman had narrated the book. Problem for me was that I had started it, and I always finish a book that I have started, no matter how bad. Sometimes I put them away for a while, I mean I did shelve the Sword of Shannara for five years before I returned to it and completed the book, but I soldiered on and soon I had forgotten that it was a woman narrating. Soon, I found myself actually enjoying the book, and from that point on, I have been a fan of Andrea’s. She proves that a woman can narrate a story no matter the gender of the MC. So, kudos for Andrea for expanding my horizons. Now, as for her work on Dan the B. Well, what can I say? She hasn’t slowed down any, and only continues to improve on her craft. She makes Holly seductive, Dan manly, and Zuggie monkier than normal. She really runs with this book and I enjoyed listening to every second of her performance. She really has a flair for action.
So, final score is an 8.2 stars. I did catch some plot holes, and thought that there might have been a few options that would have been better handled. For me the one point that seemed like it was just extra writing was the will the play the chess match? We all knew the answer, it had been set up throughout the book, and the decision came as no surprise. Still, this was really fun, and I love Gamelit novels a lot. Give this a try. You’ll find yourself in another world.
By: Harmon Cooper
Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
I'm glad that the cover on this novel has a mushroom cloud on it, because it literally blew me away. There are so many things that go on here that I didn't expect and had no idea that Cooper had all of this in him. Granted, he has said that this was one of his earliest novels (by the way, none of that freshman smell is on theses pages, it comes across as if crafted by a vet) but this is far afield of the writing style that the Cooper I know uses, and the commentary is so. . .so . . .yeah. I just can't find the words. He calls this a satire, but the fact it that it is something I could see playing out between two friends who are on opposite sides of the political fence. One is a stoner and the other a drunk, throw in a few aside trips and other apocalyptic pieces and you end up with this witty, biting, unrelenting tale that threatens to make you think if you aren't too careful.
Cooper is funny. I mean, fick'n funny as all get out, but the humor here is different than his other books. He isn't just being humorous, he makes observations and throw them at you with punchlines/situations. That works well, too. I hate being preached at, whether by a priest or a politician, but his commentaries don't feel like you are being talked down to, it's more like here are my thoughts and I'm happy to share it through the lens of this drunken fellow.
Another thing he does is pull Andrea Parsneau in to narrate. That's surprising, since the story basically revolves around two dudes, but, being Parsneau she manages to make you not notice that little bit at all. I didn't until it was all over. Then, all I could think of was what an amazing job she did, and her voice work just elevated the story. Who knew she could do drunk and stoned so well? Heh.
Oh, and I love the retro blast of a cover. It tells you that the book isn't serious, all the while it is, in fact, serious. The fact that the top of the cloud looks like a brain says it all. This book will blow your mind! That, is brilliant. I love it, and want a copy for my office. Now. Maybe autographed!
Anyway, I really think that Cooper was searching for something deeper when he wrote this book. I don't know if he was looking inward or at the world outside, but the vision he produces, and the thoughts he puts forth really fuel this book. I might think this was an esoteric roadtrip in his own mind as he thought about things sociological and political, or I could just see it as a running train of thought on what is happening to this country today. See, the book has layers. The deeper you dig the more that you find, and no matter where you stand on the political spectrum you will find something to laugh at and think about.
Cooper went out of his way to differentiate this book from his other sci-fi fare. Even though it is about an apocalypse it feels more real world than anything else of his I've ever read. I could stand to see him do a bit more of this type of a book every now and again. I can't let him get out of fantasy/sci-fi permanently but he could take us on the occasional hallucinatory road trip once in a while.
Thanks oh so very much for watching everyone, I do appreciate you taking to the time to watch or listen to the show. If you want to support us, you can like the LitRPG Podcast facebook page or the YouTube Page, or just share and like the video. I’m going to ask for more suggestions for the Is it LIT segment, I’ve got a good one for next time, but will always need ideas. Please leave comments or suggestions in the comments below, and feel free to tell me whatever you like. I enjoy the feedback.
For LitRPG Audiobook Podcast, I’m Ray. Keep listening!!!
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