LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 033 -  Dead Must Die, The Fabled Islands, Dragon Seed, VGO: Side Quests

LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 033 -  Dead Must Die, The Fabled Islands, Dragon Seed, VGO: Side Quests

“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: ”

Dead Must Die - A Novella of the Realms

The Realms: Master of the Dungeon, Book 1 (A Humorous GameLit Adventure) (01:42)

Score: 7.9 out of 10

The Fabled Islands (12:47)

A LitRPG Adventure, Book 1

Score: 7.4 out of 10

Dragon Seed: Archemi Online, Volume 1 (31:47)

Score: 8.3 out of 10

Viridian Gate Online: Side Quests: A litRPG Anthology (55:09)

Score: 7 out of 10


Dead Must Die - A Novella of the Realms

The Realms: Master of the Dungeon, Book 1 (A Humorous GameLit Adventure)

By: C. M. Carney

Narrated by: Reuben Corbett

Length: 1 hr and 56 mins


Full disclosure, I am huge fan of Chris Carney, and I am also a tried and true adorer of short stories.  Seeing this it became a no brainer that I would be reviewing it. So, what’s the disclaimer? The novel centers on my least favorite character of the series, the boy Simon who ended up kind of inheriting the mantle of the dungeon that the lich king had been running.  The dungeon is all his now, and it wants to merge with him and start munching on adventurers. So, even though it was about my least favorite character I still put on my unbiased earbuds and gave it a listen.

First and foremost I have to say that as much as I like Carney, his attempts at humor fell short with me.  I don’t know if it was that the jokes were easy to see coming or if Corbett didn’t translate them from the page to my ears as well as he could have I don’t know.  Either way, the humor took it down a little for me the longer the book went on.

On the upside, this almost becomes a dungeon core styled story.  Almost, it had some of the elements, but never (most wisely) tried to become that.  It stayed in its own little box with Simon mucking around with the dungeon and manipulating its inhabitants, but never became a full on core book.

I did enjoy the story when it wasn’t trying so hard to make me laugh.  I really think that a straight story would have worked a lot better; something much more in the vein of the other Realms books that have humor, but not in such a rapid fire unrelenting way, but more spaced out.  The book is a nice little gem that adds some flavor to the Realms, and will help feed your need for more stuff in the Realm settings.

The story is fairly fast paced and keeps you interested, and like I said before Simon is a character I could take or leave, and I found myself liking him more as the story went on.  I was even glad to see that he had started dating.

I know the narrator, Rueben Corbett from another series that I read a few years back, Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns.  He did a decent job there, and he does the same thing with this tale. The problem that I have is that I’m going to compare him to Armen Taylor no matter what, since Taylor narrates the other Realms books.  I have to say that he holds up surprisingly well, too. He does the necessary voices and keeps the story as fun as he can. I had no problems with what he did here and think he was a good fit for the series.  

I would happily listen to another short from this series, I just hope the humor isn’t as pervasive next time around.  Final score 7.9.


The Fabled Islands

A LitRPG Adventure, Book 1

By: Cameron Milan

Narrated by: Steve Campbell

Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins


Well, here we are, yet another Cameron Milan story.  I’ve reviewed a few of his books so far such as Desire and Zombie Slayer, but I have to say that this is probably my favorite of his series.  Now, you may realize that as I have stated before that Milan has a habit of creating extremely OP characters and sometimes his dialogue is cartoonish.  Coupling those things with weak narration and I wasn’t a big fan. The fact is I was pretty much done with his Desire series, but gave this a try because it was new.

So this is basically a YA title.  AS in for Young adults, and I actually think that he is actually geared towards YA stuff rather then full blown hard core stuff.  The over powered characters work well in this setting, as does his character’s speech patterns. I.E. “I’m gonna go beat him up and take his card.  That works better in a book for youngsters than it does an adult. I don’t know why, but for me this worked way better than anything he’s written prior to this.  His characters, the setting, and the gameplay all fit right into the YA mold pretty well. I believe that this might be a good way to break younger audiences into Gamelit/Litrpg stuff.

One thing that I liked a lot was the way that the game system employed the use of cards.  It was, for me, different and I liked the concept a lot better than simple leveling. The way it works is that whenever you defeat an opponent they will drop a card that might boost your attributes, provide a power increase to your magic, or grant you a special ability such as water walking.  There are also secret cards that you can find, or earn, so that you are always on the hunt for more cards to power you up. Also, each island that you go to provides different things. The island that Tristan hailed from was a place that had endless food supplies, and at the end of the book they were talking about going to treasure island.  I wonder what will be there.

The story starts off with the MC, a young lad named Tristan, getting ready to defeat his last dungeon on Bountiful Island so that he can move on to bigger and better things.  He’s trained his whole life to become a Brave, but he is really a Jack of all trades kind of character. On the way he runs into a girl. They become friends and he ends up mentoring her as they go from place to place until she levels up hard and helps him fight some baddies.  The book is basically the pair wandering around and doing things, so it is a slice of life and I am not a big fan of those.

My problems were basically the same that I always seem to have with Milan, his characters are all OP and never seem to be in any danger.  There is one scene where Tristan has his arm cut off and he’s just like, “Wow, that was a cool move! How’d you do that?” At no point did he say Crap, I just lost my arm.  I’m gonna die. Stuff like that takes me right out of it, and I truly think that I would like his books a lot better if he toned his characters powers down because all you really do is follow the couple around as they kill stuff.  I also have to wonder how YA the book actually is since there are some questionable scenes like when Tristan spies on some dwarves getting it on in their bedroom. Not exactly what I want my 13 year old to be reading.

Finally, I have to say that he has, at last, found a narrator who can do his story justice. Steve Campbell is probably the reason that I enjoyed this as much as I did.  He makes wonky dialogue come off as normal and keeps the listener on the hook. Like I said with Zombie Slayer, the narration was weak and could not support the story. Here, Campbell keeps the story going when it might have petered out if he wasn’t here.  I enjoyed his voices, and I’m glad to see him finally doing more Litrpg work.

Final score, 7.4 stars.  This is a real step up from his other stories, and it is one I would happily let my younger kids listen to, so long as I got to do a little filtering.


Dragon Seed: Archemi Online, Volume 1

By: James Osiris Baldwin

Narrated by: Justin Thomas James, Jeff Hays, Laurie Catherine Winkel

Series: Archemi Online Series, Book 1

Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins


This is my much beloved and deeply missed Soundbooth Spotlight, I don’t know why it haven’t done more of these, but Never fear, there are more to come in the future.  Dragon Seed is an excellent book that I enjoyed right from the start. In some ways, it reminded me of Dave Willmarth’s Dark Elf series and James Hunter’s Viridian Gate Online, as it starts out with a world ending sort of apocalypse when something called the Hex virus.  It’s a virus that when you get it you have about 4 days to live, and it will be a nice slow and miserable kind of death. The MC, Hector Park, ends up getting Hex and leaves quarantine, as anyone who is infected should and goes looking for his brother. Turns out his bro is an important figure who just so happens to have a set up that will allow them to have their brains downloaded into a game in order to save their consciousnesses.  So you can see the similarities, but that is all it is, pretty facile, and to be blunt it is hard to come up with new and creative ways to put people into game worlds. That wasn’t a plug for my new segment, either.

So, once in the game world we get to see a lot of PC options, and Hector wants to become a Dragon Rider, and what is cool is that he doesn’t automatically start off as one.  He has to go through an entire series of events to actually EARN the class. That’s right, he has to earn the class, and if he fails there is no second chance. He can’t reapply.  I liked that aspect a lot. Plus, there are some little hints as to what’s really going on, so pay attention to comments made about the NPC’s and their dreams. Also, this is one book where I think it is safe to actually view the NPC’s as being as real as the PC’s, since everyone that is playing the game is dead.  They are just as electronically alive as the NPC’s, the only difference is that they get a respawn ability.

There are several things that I like about this book, but the primary ones are that we do not really get a definitive answer on what happened to Hector’s brother, nor do we get to find out if he makes it as a Dragon Knight until the end of the book.  Also, there is the mystery of the NPC’s dreams that needs addressed, so while the book does a good job wrapping up its first act it unquestioningly has plenty of things to focus on in the following books. The only downside that I found was that it was predictable as to who was going to be the baddie that sticks it to Hector.  I really saw the “twist” coming from a mile away, but then I never trust anybody so I’d never be surprised. Still lots of crunch and excellent game mechanics and a wonderfully built world.

Without a doubt one of the best things about this story was how it was handled by Soundbooth.  The team really pulls out all the stops, and while they don’t hit the sound effects button on this book what they do is to add a wonderfully cinematic score to a lot of parts of the novel.  In fact it was most notable during an epic battle scene, when the score kicked in it added so much that it made a good battle scene feel pretty epic. I really appreciated how it didn’t overwhelm the spoken words and only added to the drama and excitement of the scene.  I really felt like I was watching a scene out of Braveheart. The score itself was well done, and I applaud the subtle way it was used. It could have dominated everything rather than enhancing. I feel that the score in various parts of the narration was more of a benefit than I would have expected.  Justin Thomas James and Laurie Catherine Winkel, the Bonnie and Clyde of SBT are amazing here. I call them that because the only people that get three names are people like John Hinkley Jr., John Wilkes Booth, and Lee Harvey Oswald. So, if you hafta use all three names you must be up to sumpin! Or it might just be that they’ll steal your breath as they steal the story away from James Osiris Baldwin.  Hmmm, another one with three names. I’d say watch out for this guy, because so far he’s blown me away with his writing. Jeff Hays, also lends his vociferous skills to the track, and as he is my favorite narrator anything else I say will sound biased. Because it is. But he rocks. Party on, Jeff. Party on.

So the long and the short of it is that this is an impressive debut Litrpg novel.  Baldwin has a few books under his belt already, but this is his first foray into the genre and he hit it pretty well.  My final score 8.3 just because I did see a few of the twists way before they happened.


Viridian Gate Online: Side Quests: A litRPG Anthology

By: James Hunter, J.D. Astra, D.J. Bodden, N.H. Paxton, Raymond Johnson, Nicholas Reid

Narrated by: Jeff Hays, Justin Thomas James, Laurie Catherine Winkel, Annie Ellicott

Series: The Viridian Gate Archives

Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins

Unabridged Audiobook

Release date: 02-27-19

Language: English

Publisher: Shadow Alley Press In

In an anthology like this each story is written by a different person and some will appeal to a reader, while others won’t. I try to judge each separately.


“A Gentleman’s Work” by James A. Hunter

Narrated by Jeff Hays


When an Imperial Inquisitor captures a Thieves Guild Operative, Cutter must undertake a deadly rescue mission while using every grift in the book to stay one step ahead of a Headsman’s Blade. And the prize for this extraordinary quest? Nothing short of the keys to the Rowanheath Thieves Guild. Deception, subterfuge, and heavy drinking—all in a day’s work for a Gentleman …


Story: The longest of the short stories in the collection, it comes in at about 33% of the total page count. This one is written by the author of the Viridian Gate Online series and is unsurprisingly the one most fans came for. It focuses on Cutter, the NPC companion of main character in VGO, and if you like that character or just like a good break in story, you’ll enjoy this. While it was nice to get some background on Cutter, he is not my favorite character and it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Good writing, good action-heist thing, but couldn’t get into the ebook version.


Narration: Jeff Hays pulls out his english accent (Cockney??) with this one as the voice of Cutter. It adds a nice bit of added flavor to the story that just pushes it up past a 7 out of 10.


Ebook Score: 6.9 out of 10 ; Audiobook score: 7.2 out of 10


“The Funeral Parlor” by Raymond Johnson

Narrated by Jeff Hays


A young spiderling is stranded in an alien land, surrounded by hostile creatures. Forced to fight for her life in a bid to find her way home, she must transform into the predator she is destined to become or die alone and forgotten, trapped in a dark world know as the Shadowverse.


Story: Really nice, simple, and short story. It comes in at about 8% of the total word count. The story is told from the monsters point of view, and while I would have liked to have seen more RPG evolutions, it was a good story with action and accurate arachnid anatomy.


Narration: Oddly I think I like Jeff Hays regular voice more than his ones with an accent, except maybe his Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. This one is just Jeff’s regular voice, but it still adds extra oomph and increases the tension some places.


Ebook Score: 7.3 out of 10 ; Audiobook score: 7.4 out of 10


“The Raiding of Rowanheath” by J.D. Astra

Narrated by Laurie Catherine Winkel


The Crimson Alliance has breached the walls of Rowanheath, inciting Aleixo Carrera’s rage. Now Abby and her rag-tag invasion crew must reach the keep’s Command Center before the defending troops mobilize and shut down the takeover, else they’ll lose the battle and the war for Eldgard’s freedom.


Even though it makes up 11% of the total word count, it felt longer. This is one of those stories that tells the events of something you’ve already read about, only from some other point of view. The writing isn’t bad, I just got bored with it since it takes place during an event I’ve read about before.


Narration: Laurie does a good narration job but there are a couple places gamer terms were said incorrectly. While her narration improves the story for me, it’s not enough to push it past a 6 out of 10.


Ebook Score: 5 out of 10 ; Audiobook Score: 6 out of 10


“The Ballad of Jaro Edgewalker” by N.H. Paxton

Narrated by  Justin Thomas James


Jaro is an assassin, and he’s good at it. But when he finds a foe that is insurmountable by normal means and uncovers a plot to destroy everything he loves, Jaro has to balance his morality with his love for his friends and make an incredibly difficult decision.


Story: One of my favorite short stories in the anthology, it comes in at 14% of the total page count. This one is definitely one of the best planned of these short stories. It has good original characters with a solid well told ending that still ties to VGO universe.


Narration: Justin does several accents during the narration and I’ll be honest, I never expected the Spanish Dos Equis voice as the narrator voice. Between him and Annie Ellicott, the narration is just a joy to listen to and makes a good story great.


Ebook Score: 7.6 out of 10 ; Audiobook Score: 8.0 out of 10


“Buried Alive” by Nicholas Reid

Narrated by Laurie Catherine Winkel


Carlos Vega thinks he’s escaping certain death by entering the virtual world of V.G.O., but instead he’s swallowed alive by the deadly Barren Sands. He’ll have to overcome the riddles and horrors of a long-forgotten temple in order to escape, but can he do it before the evil sealed there centuries ago finds him?


Story: This is an ok short story, that feels distanced from the VGO universe. It sort of feels like VGO - Ancient Egyptian edition. It’s 15% of the total page count.


Narration: The narration doesn’t add anything here. Doesn’t take away either. The story comes across much the same as the ebook version. Just a bit less than good.


Ebook Score: 6 out of 10 ; Audiobook Score: 6 out of 10


“A Final Kindness” by D.J. Bodden

Narrated by Justin Thomas James


Alan Campbell was a talker, not a fighter, until someone murdered his girl. He’d almost given up on finding the killers; now he’s got a fresh lead, a trio of mercenaries who outclass him in every way but his wits. He’ll cheat, bluff, and steal to get his revenge, and as one of V.G.O.’s immortal travelers, he’s willing to die trying.


Story: This is without a doubt, my favorite short story in the anthology. It’s the 2nd longest at 19% of the total page count, but it goes by quickly because of the great pacing, mysteriously unraveled plot, and well done character development. The story is the most removed from the VGO universe and has the least game mechanics of any of the short stories. But, it has the most heart and the cut always gave great backstory for the characters.


Narration: Now a full fledged novel with the same main character, this short story is set much later but has the same good action-adventure and illusionist powers. Justin does a good job of bringing the descriptions to life and the rest of the Soundbooth Theatre cast adds some good flavor to the story bumping it up from good to great.


Ebook Score: 7.8 out of 10; Audiobook score: 8 out of 10



Overall, I think the anthology does a good job of highlighting all the different types of stories that can be created within the same universe. While I didn’t love every story, I had a good time reading/listening to most.


Score: 7 out of 10


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!!!

This podcast is sponsored by Soundbooth Theater, makers of great audiobooks.

You can follow us on





Our Webpage:  

Some other LitRPG facebook pages:

If you enjoy the podcast and want to support us you can also find all the other ways to support the podcast at