LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 030 - Advent: Red Mage, Anime Trope System, Guild, Unsouled
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 030 - Advent: Red Mage, Anime Trope System, Guild, Unsouled
“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: ”
Guild: A LitRPG Novella - Monsters, Maces and Magic, Book 3 (00:26)
Score: 8.1 out of 10
Advent - Red Mage, Book 1 (18:25)
Score: 8.4 out of 10
The Anime Trope System: Stone vs. Viper (36:39)
Score: 6.6 out of 10
Is it LitRPG?
Unsouled: Cradle Series (52:14)
Guild: A LitRPG Novella
Monsters, Maces and Magic, Book 3
By: Terry W. Ervin II
Narrated by: Jonathan Waters
Series: Monsters, Maces and Magic, Book 3
Length: 2 hrs and 58 mins
I’m going to be honest. When I first saw the description for this book I was a touch disappointed, I didn’t see any mention of our party from the main series, and this looked to be an internalized battle between different guilds. I knew that with Ervin it would be good, I just wanted more of my good old adventuring party. So I started this with some trepidation.
Guild is a great gamelit short story that tells the tale of our adventuring party from the Mazes, Magic, and Monsters series from the perspective of another player who has been lost in the game for some time. The MC, is a thief who has gone semi-legit, working as a barber surgeon in that wonderful city of hills, but still keeps his toe in the seamier side of the underworld. Life as a non-adventurer hasn’t been bad, but it doesn’t seem to be as fulfilling as he’d of liked. Still, Josiah (the MC) has lived a life free of monsters and mayhem so he’s satisfied.
That is until the night everyone’s favorite half goblin strolls into his barber shop looking to get a haircut. Turns out Gurk is just in time to help Josiah battle against a rival guild that has targeted his establishment to serve as an example.
I have to say that I really liked this treatment of the group from another character’s perspective, and the question I kept waiting to be answered was whether or not he would cotton onto the realization that they were players trapped just he was. I won’t say if he does or not. What I did enjoy was getting the realization that Josiah had noticed Player Characters, i.e. characters that were actually operated from the other side of the veil so to speak. Players that manipulated their characters like puppets, and that one NPC was more than likely a former PC who had been abandoned by her player. That is just smart and creative gamelit hitting the pages. Seriously, some thought has gone into this book, and I ate it up. It helps that Josiah is fun and interesting, and that his takes on the “main” party are very observant and give the listener a very different spin on things in their world.
The story is pretty short, and basically just centers around Gurk having gone to see Josiah in the hopes of learning about his cursed dagger. All the action centers on what happens between the two of them, initial meeting down to the appraisal, and I have to say that I really loved this book. Normally, I get antsy when an author sort of abandons their main team in favor of a side quest, but this works in a lot of ways. First, because it includes the main party, secondly, because it is a short story and furthers the original story line.
Waters carries the story on able shoulders, and I have come to really appreciate his ability to tell a tale. He’s really made this his series, and I love his interpretation of Gurk. Oh, and I have to admit that he really played Josiah like a weary old player.
Kudos to Ervin for centering more on the half gobbling and not rotating between him and the gnome. Gurk is far more interesting, and is more fun to listen to and I think that he and Josiah mesh pretty well together.
Final score? This is a solid 8.1 stars. It adds to the main series, and fleshes out the game world in a wonderfully sublimated way that doesn’t smack you over the head. I really enjoyed this, I think you will to.
Red Mage, Book 1
By: Xander Boyce
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
I don’t think I’ve loved a story so much right out of the gate as much as I did Advent since Dante’s Immortality. This book was incredibly fun, well thought out, had a nice MC, and fleshed out characters. I have to admit though that there were some things that kind of scared me right off the back.
The cons. There are very few of these, but I have to say that right at the beginning of the book we get hit with this huge info dump on how the magic system works, and it came off as being so complicated that I got out my slide rule, my abacus, and boned up on my physics before I continued. It was a lot to take in, and it was a very sticky wicket to get through. Admittedly, once the book started flowing and the magic was shown in action it all made since, and became infinitely more simplified. In fact, I believe this is one of the cooler systems of magic that I’ve ever read about. It made me think of a point back in the 90’s when fantasy was in full swing and publishers were looking for something new and fresh, they never cared about characters, setting, or conflict. The first thing they asked was what kind of magic system do you have? This book would have knocked their socks off back then and been snatched up in a bidding war. So the magic is really neat, and I like how it progresses.
Another con. This one I’m not going to let go of so easily. The MC is in the Coast Guard, and once things go crazy the people he meets kind of agree that with the situation the way it is, and everyone having been drafted into an intergalactic navy that they might as well forgo all the rank issues, but the minute they come across a real officer they all defer to his command. My first instinct would have been to tell him to bite my bottom and get out of my way. That doesn’t happen. They sort of circumvent his orders, but still back down when he finds out. That was a real weak point in the story, and it still bugs the hell out of me, days after I read it, that Drew Michalik would kowtow so easily still bothers me. It was out of character.
Last con; Zoe. I need resolution. That is all.
The Pros, The rest of the book. Seriously. This is one smooth spread of peanut butter over a chocolate bar. I had a ton of fun seeing new monsters in addition to new takes on the old ones. I loved how the spells were able to be combined and connected and used in new and creative ways.
Drew is a slick and smart cookie who is tough and intelligent and a blast to watch get put through his paces. In spite of the OP nature of his abilities he is fascinating to watch grow. He plays out to be exactly like what he is, a normal guy thrust into extraordinary circumstances struggling to keep himself and his people alive. Oh, and that’s another thing that I liked about this book. People die. For real, in tragic and terrible ways and I mean from the core group of individuals. There is no rescinding or voided the losses. When they are gone that’s it, death aint the beginning, it’s the end. That is good writing, and it lets you know that just about anyone can buy it at any given moment.
Dakota Krout ought to be really happy with the way this book turned out, because it is bloody fantastic and smart. This is the way to break in his new publishing house.
Final score 8.4 stars. Xander Boyce looks to be at the level of Corvin, Willmarth, Krout, and Dean just to name a few. He knows how to craft and tell an amazing story.
The Anime Trope System: Stone vs. Viper
By: Alvin Atwater
Narrated by: David Reimer
Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
You may have heard me recently say that I am a fan of Anime, but really only hit something like 3 series altogether, those being Naruto, Inuyasha, and Cowboy Beboop. I have watched a lot of others, but I am really only devoted to those three. I have seen Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, Bleach, Dragon Ball, etc. So, I may not be as knowledgeable as others I do know what anime is and the tropes it produces. So, I really thought I would love to give this a shot and see how this set in comparison to what I know about Anime tropes.
First of all, the narrator, David Reimer is going to play a huge factor in the score of this book. SO, I’m going to start with him. I want to say that he isn’t a horrible narrator, he does do some voices, and add inflections, but his normal reading of the non-dialogue bits really drops the ball. It was hard to tell if some of the bits would have worked with a different narrator, because he did not have a voice made for comedy or comedic moments. In Anime a lot of things are exaggerated including the way characters react vocally. Angry girls yell loud and talk fast, someone gets knocked for a loop and they (in the less serious anime) exaggerate their pain with moans as they speak. When they get hot and bothered they have a lovey dovey voice and none of that was done here, and it would have certainly helped. This was more of a mechanical reading, and it did not grab my attention. Again, I don’t want to bash, but if you are going to narrate an Anime styled book, do some research. Go to crunchy roll and watch a few shows and get a feel for what the tropes are like. Not having the narration fill in like it should have really hurt this book.
There were a few things that Atwater did as a writer that bothered me. One, I could tell when there was a typo because Reimer would say a wrong word, and while I always say that the narrator is the last line of defense against typos they ultimately are not to blame. Secondly, I really think that Atwater missed the mark with this book. At first it felt like it was going to be a kid friendly novel, but then POW sex scenes started popping up, and in every anime I’ve ever seen sex is hinted at, there might be some groping, but that is it. It really did not fit the spirit of the story, honestly if he was going to go Hentai I wouldn’t have had an issue, but it should have said so and I would have been fine with it, but this was the anime trope book. On the hentai topic I was a little surprised that he would so casually drop the F-bomb, but then would refer to a certain part of the male anatomy as his “horn”. He did this not once, but multiple times and I would have preferred any other euphemism than horn. It just felt very out of place. Again, I think that this book would have benefitted from one cohesive vision. If you are doing Anime then keep to the style of how they talk. I have never heard Inuyasha or Kagome utter the F-word. Additionally, the book is called Stone vs Viper and we never got to even see the viper until the end of the book. So, that was a bit of a disappointment. From what I could tell, Atwater did have some tropes down and he played them out well, but it was difficult to enjoy it like I should due to narration. Overall, the book has some real potential, but it didn’t make me not want to put it down or listen to it nonstop. Thankfully, it had a shorter run time.
Final score 6.6 stars, again I think a better narrator would have ratcheted up the score.
In this episode for the Izzit Lit segment I will be looking at:
Unsouled: Cradle Series
By: Will Wight
Narrated by: Travis Baldree
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
So, I’m back to is it lit? Izzit, I dunno, we’ll see. Anyway, I have been hearing a lot of stuff about wuxia, and since I have been looking for Asian written LITRPG (translated of course) the wuxia, actually pronounced ooh-sha, stuff falls right in line with that sort of exotic flavor. I do enjoy our Russian compatriots, and their writings, so I don’t think it is too much to ask for a Lit book from China, Japan, or South Korea. I was going to preview this book last week, what with Cultivating Chaos being ut and all, but I set that aside because I have done a lot more IZZIT LIT than I have what else have they done, and sometimes people need spotlighted. This fits, though since I did the Anime Trope novel, so there is a slight theme going on.
The novel starts of in a pretty standard way, kids lined up to learn what their powers are, where they’ll fit into society, and so on. The MC, Lindon, comes from a powerful family who are pretty famous in their parts and so when it is discovered that he is Unsouled, that is lacking in powers, it is a huge disappointment, but he is still loved and accepted by his family. Lindon then goes on a journey just like you would expect. He learns a technique that will jank up other people chi, so to speak, and allow him to whup their butts good. So he starts to advance through the ranks. Now here is the thing. The book does not follow the paths of expectation that you will have. It sets up one thing, and then skews off in a surprising direction that you just do not see coming. That is a huge boon for a book, to take your expectations and throw them away. Another plus, for me, anyway is that Lindon is my kind of character. He relies on is wits and uses trickery to succeed. The entire climb the stairs bit was brilliant and quite telling of what he was willing to do to get stronger.
Travis Baldtree narrates the tale, and he kills it. I would love to see him get into some LITRPG stuff because he does an amazing job, and let me tell you if you ever want to hear one mind-blowing audio book of his, aside from this one, check out Dog Walker. It is not what you would expect and is brilliant. So, Unsouled is a place for Baldtree to shine, I’ve heard him in several other audiobooks, but he really stands out here. Great voices, and really pulls you in with the emotions of the MC.
The only real issue I had with the book was that most secondary characters were not fleshed out all that well, but truthfully, for a book of this length you can’t get a lot of background or personality shoved in.
So, is this Lit? No. Maybe there are other Wuxia books out there that are, but really the only thing that it had in common was Lindon’s need to level up. I would even be hard pressed to call this gamelit, even though I have had several people suggest this for a look. But this really has less of a lit feel than most of the other books that I reviewed that weren’t litrpg. I will still be on the look out for other wuxia styled books.
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:
Apocalypse On Endless Earths: Apocalypse How? https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/22054/apocalypse-on-endless-earths-apocalypse-how-a
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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