LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 028 -   Underworld Book 2, The Runesmith, Ascend Online, Afterlife Online Book 3

LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 028 -   Underworld Book 2, The Runesmith, Ascend Online, Afterlife Online Book 3

“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: ”

Through the Belly of the Beast: Underworld, Book 2 (03:51)

Score: 8.3 out of 10

The Runesmith - The Greenwood, Book 2 (13:08)

Score: 6.5 out of 10

Ascend Online (26:08)

Score: 8.4 out of 10

Trojan - Afterlife Online, Book 3 (44:55)

Score: 8.2 out of 10


Through the Belly of the Beast: Underworld, Book 2

By: Apollos Thorne

Narrated by: Graham Halstead

Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins


I have read two books by Apollos Thorne and both have been utterly enjoyable, I have third book on audible to go, so I can’t wait to get to it.  The belly of the beast is one of those books that I like because it sets you up to expect one type of story and it hands you another. CM Carney is good for that with his Realms series.  Book one sets up this huge sweeping storyline, and then provides you with a dungeon crawl. Thorne sets you up to expect a dungeon crawl and gives you .. . . . . . . well, that would be telling.

Aw, what the heck.  He gives you a fun book that generally flies in the face of what I usually like.  For example, I prefer books where the player levels up slowly like in Domino Finn’s afterlife series.  Talon and the team are just hitting level 10 by the time the third book ends. In contrast, Elerion is something like level 500 and counting.  However, when one considers that the opponents that they face are thousands of levels higher than they are the player to enemy level ratio really seems to level out.

I think that my favorite aspect of the book is Elerion’s ability to steal other forms of magic.  I like the collection method that he has and the way that he employs it to level up solo. I’m sure that I’ve mentioned this before, but I love solo games, because I hate grouping with other people.  To me, Skyrim was the perfect game, and I have played it in every iteration since it came out. Elerion is a soloist, and I don’t mean he’s a fan of the movie Solo. I mean he does much better on his own and it is fun getting to picture him figuring out exciting ways to stop his foes via the various magics he has at his disposal.  That isn’t to say that there aren’t other interesting characters, there are, but the book just moves along faster without them.

The book sees the kidnapped humans get into even deeper trouble and they are forced to find a special place if they are going to survive.  This book centers around their attempt to find this place before their time runs out. All I can tell you is it was a blast seeing the characters grow and evolve.  Like I say I normally would not like it when a character would hit a silly stat like 1000 intelligence, but in this case I do. Thorne keeps me captivated. He’ll do the same to you.

Graham Halstead has narrated a goodly share of books, including another Lit series you might know, the Neuro series by Andrei Livadny; so you know the man can read a story.  I really wish he’d join the community, as I think he knows his stuff and can hold his own narrating alongside anyone. He does keep the pace going and maintains a fresh and fun atmosphere that a lot of books need, but lack.  I really thought that after book one of this series I’d be hearing more from him, but no one else has used him. Makes me sad (pout).

Final score is 8.3 stars.  This book rocked so hard I had to call a geologist to help me move on to my next book.


The Runesmith

The Greenwood, Book 2

By: Galen Wolf

Narrated by: Damon Alums

Length: 1 hr and 49 mins


You may recall that I reviewed another Greenwood Book called The Bard: A LitRPG Short Story.  I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with the tale, but given that I hadn’t read the preceding novels I thought I’d give this short book a chance as well.  I have mixed feelings on the matter.

I’ll start with Damon Alums who narrated the Bard story as well.  With the Bard I found his voice to be so enchanting that it wanted to put me to sleep.  I admit that he did one hell of an Antonio Banderas impression, but then really didn’t know if that was his actual voice or not.  Here, his voice is much more tolerable and easy to follow and it does not lull you into a stupor from its droning cadence. I still wasn’t overwhelmed by his narration skills, but they weren’t bad.  Alums seems to be a middle packer so far. I will say that he gave each character their own voice that was distinctive and made it easier to follow the tale.

Wolf’s writing seems to follow Alums narration.  He doesn’t do much to stand out. Honestly, having listened to the two stories I can see that the only character that he really knows how to write is an Over Powered one.  The character of Harald Runestorm is perfect. He’s all powerful. He’s the best there is at whatever he does, and he treats everyone around him like the inferiors that they are.  He has the best of everything from ingredients to spells, he is the best fighter, best rune maker, you name it and he tops the list at it. It got repetitive listening to him brag about how awesome he was.  One might argue that Wolf was just character building so that he could show you how great a jerk the guy was, but it just kept going and going. Then you had to listen to him harangue npcs and players alike and it really wore thin.  I got it. He was an A-hole of th highest order, the greatest magnitude, the most expansive . . . get the picture? Couple the arrogance with a nasty personality and you’ll see just how unlikable the guy is.

Now, I will hand it to Wolf.  He plays the long game. There are reasons that he makes the character so annoying, and that is so he can hit you with not one, but two plot twists.  Neither is really all that original, but they do work in the context of the story. And therein lies the rub. The story isn’t bad, but it is much longer than it needed to be.  Some editing would have resulted in a shorter tighter story that wouldn’t have been so annoying at times. You can only hear how great someone is before you don’t care.

The one thing that I found that didn’t fit was the fact that a grade A bunghole like Runestorm, who seems to know everything, doesn’t realize that just because someone says they are a pacifist it doesn’t mean that they won’t fight or hurt you in order to defend themselves, their property, or others.  I just didn’t get what he was thinking. I will say that once more, that my issues with the story may come more from the narration than the tale itself. It may have come across much differently if it had been read by someone else.

As things go the story wasn’t overly bad.  I think some trimming could have really produced a decent story.  Alums performed professionally and it could have been a lot better.  As it stands I’m giving this a 6.5. The twists at the end didn’t make it worth the time to listen.


Ascend Online

By: Luke Chmilenko

Narrated by: Luke Daniels

Length: 17 hrs and 56 mins


This is a tale of the two unbeatable Lukes, Luke Chmilenko and Luke Daniels.  I just want to know which of them actually has Darth Vader for a father, because they pulled some Jedi mind trick stuff with this story.  In fact, someone supposedly (I have to say that, right, like allegedly so I don’t get sued or something) liked it soooo much that they sort of copied part of it for their own story.  You know what they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but There is much difference between imitating a man and counterfeiting him. So, you know the story was pretty good.  I mean it also happened to James Hunter (What up, James!).

Any who who, the entire gaming system is pretty well thought out to a point that the story easily avoids tropes such as stuck in the game or real world intrudes.  The players are given a lengthy time to play, and will rotate out for a bit so they can return to real life until play resumes later. Although it does play with the whole the NPC’s are so real that it causes some ethical considerations to arise as they play.  Another aspect that I liked was the concept of the nemesis that could strike at any time, and often did. It added an element of fun to the story that you don’t normally get. And the way the nemesis was dealt with was creative, too. If you know me, then you know I love getting the perspective of a MOB, and this played out pretty smoothly.

Another aspect that was important to me was the fact that the MC is not over powered.  He’s just your basic player, as are his team mates. I also thought that even though this group seemed to have been together for a while that they still could not coordinate things as effectively as they should have.  That was smart, because if you put me, my wife, and my brothers in a group none of us will cooperate as efficiently as we should. Well, OK, my wife would but she’s a healer and she is always on point. Point is, they felt like real people acting in real ways.  The story itself is pretty simple. It is basically defend the town. They do this a few times, but that’s it in a nutshell. The stop goblins and players alike in order to protect the NPC’s and their homes. Less is better. The story is not convoluted nor is it hectic, it plays out in a simple well-crafted manner that is organic and natural.  I will say that some of the characters come across as being less developed than they could have been, but when you are dealing with a group dynamic you don’t always need a backstory or standout personalities for every characters. Sometimes the Paladin can just be a paladin.

The fights are exciting, and even if there are just some goblins most of the time it isn’t played out like “just” goblins.  They present a serious danger and do real damage. Again, I will reiterate that I love listening to town building take place, so some of my favorite parts of the book came when they were shoring up their defenses.  There is a lot going on in this book even though no power leveling takes place.

Luke Daniels is just a narration green beret.  He’s a vocal warrior from the sky, and like always he does one hell of a job.  I have to say that the hardest part of my reviews are the portions that deal with narration.  If the narrator sucks or are mediocre it is easy for me to say here’s where the problem lay. My real issue comes when I have to say how GOOD somebody is.  It is really difficult to say how amazing they were that doesn’t sound like hyperbole. All I can say is that if you know Luke Daniels then you know by this point that he always delivers a solid performance, complete with character voices, emotion, and a pace that keeps you listening.  So, um, he kicked butt!

Final score 8.4 stars.  I really liked this book and I don’t know why it took me so long to do something by Mr. Chmlienko.



Afterlife Online, Book 3

By: Domino Finn

Narrated by: Justin Thomas James

Series: Afterlife Online, Book 3

Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins


So bongo, bongo, bongo I don’t want to leave the city without my mountain Bongo

Oh no no no no no

Bingle, bangle, bungle I’m so happy with my Bandit I refuse to go

Yeah, this book made me want to sing.  It was fun, but then every trip I’ve made to Haven in Domino Finn’s After Life series has been a blast. That song was an old Danny Kaye reference to civilization, which is what this book is all about.  It is about teamwork, trust, and faith.

A ton of stuff happens in this installment, and at first I actually thought that it might be an end point, as I think there were several points the story could have concluded, with a lot of unresolved plotlines, that would still have worked.  Thankfully, that isn’t the case but it could have been.

By the title of the book, and the dragon on the cover you might have thought that this book was all about protection and prevention, but no.  Finn hits you with a lot right off the bat and never lets up. Talon is the victim of an assassination attempt, and soon finds himself on the look for the person or persons who hired the killer.  The quest soon spirals into a variety of events that serve to provide us with a high seas adventure, some Oakenguard intrigue, and an epic battle with yet another Titan. I have to add that there are some huge reveals in regards to Talon, Lucifer, and even Tad (talon’s living self).  

The only real downside to this story is the complete and utter lack of VArnu Johnson, the greatest tech support that ever hit the pages of a book.  He has just one brief cameo, and it just wasn’t enough. I need my Varnu. The only thing comparable is the Tech support scenes in Everybody loves large chests.  I wait for my Varnu moments, Domino. I wait for them.

Anyhow, the book is packed so full of action that he has to write another book to keep up.  It is a very fun wild ride and this is a world that I deeply love to visit. I am always glad to see another installment of the series pop up.

So, Justin Thomas James racks up points doing his pirate imitation and pretty much has a complete blast rolling through the various voices of the cast.  Honestly, I laughed so hard at the party chat at the end of the book, I just envisioned it to have been done in one long amazing take as he literally does every character of any significance in the story, and it would just break my heart to think that he didn’t do it in one long uncut perfect tape of hilarity.  I laughed throughout the chat, but the highlight was when he did the voice of the Kraken. I was driving when he did that and I laughed so hard that I almost crashed. My speeding had nothing to do with the peril that Justin put in through his comedic endeavors, either. What I’m trying to say is that he made this book utterly fun every second of it’s run time.  I think of all the characters that he does in Afterlife my favorite is Kyle. He has the frat boy partier banter down cold, and the voice fits the brewmaster to utter perfection. I really enjoy listening to Justin whenever he returns to this world, since the first time I’d heard him was on book one of this series, and just listening to him takes me back to those first moments that I stepped into LITRPG.  He nails the narration. Plain and simple, and he owns this series. No one else could ever do it now because it would lose a special spark.

MY final score is 8.2 stars.  Finn and James are an unbeatable duo.  If you haven’t started the series, go back and give it a listen, it is amazing.


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.

I did ask Ramon if it would be ok, and he said that I could let you all know that I do have a couple of books on Royal Road, and I would ask that you drop over there and check them out.  They are:

The Nightmare Game  

Apocalypse On Endless Earths: Apocalypse How?    

The first is straight up horror litrpg, and the other is a sci-fi/humor Litpg book.  Please give them a look.

Remember, please leave a review for any book that you’ve listened to or read.  Authors really depend on reviews.

For LitRPG Audiobook Podcast, I’m Ray. Keep listening!!!

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