LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 038 - Accidental Dragoon, Freehaven Online Bk 2, The Last Warrior of Unigaea, Damnation Robot
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 038 - Accidental Dragoon, Freehaven Online Bk 2, The Last Warrior of Unigaea, Damnation Robot
“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: 8.4 out of 10
Score: 7.9 out of 10
Score: 8.3 out of 10
WHAT ELSE HAVE THEY DONE
Accidental Dragoon: Accidental Champion, Book 3
By: Jamie Davis, C.J. Davis
Narrated by: Stacy Gonzalez
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
I’m just going to say that the Davis family knows how to pen a tale. I have to admit that I loved the first trilogy, but the ‘accidental” part was getting a little old by the third book. Honestly, I enjoyed the third book in the first trilogy, but it felt rushed and a little forced the more that I think about it just in the manner that Hal was able to acquire his powers and abilities just in time for the final showdown with the emporer. The end of this trilogy doesn’t feel like that at all. First, I enjoyed that Kari kept her class all the way through, even though she sort of became a dual class by my reckoning because she was very much a sailor and captain at the end of it all. Well, mostly a pirate, but the good kind. As in a Privateer. Kari really exceeded Hal as a hero, going through far more than her father did during his own stint as a hero. She is much more realistic and I think that this demonstrates just how much the Davis’s have developed as writers up to this point.
Again, the story does not slack on the action, the intrigue, or the emotional devastation that occurred in book two. This time around Hal and his wife do a little more than they have so far, and it was (I must admit, good to have the old man back in action). The one thing I would have preferred was more head on conflict, though, as it felt like Kari was always dashing away from the Duke’s men rather than employing her duelist abilities. I really wanted some extreme payback for everything that had happened in the previous books. The whole dueling aspect was pretty fascinating and I could have certainly used more. This did not take away from the story, but it would have improved it a bit if she had done some stinging before the end of the book. Thankfully, even though they do close out this “chapter” of the trilogy I think that there were a few things left as breadcrumbs for them to follow if they ever wanted to return to the world of Fantasma.
This is a rare kind of book, as the writers were not afraid to completely scrap the old setting and magic system and redo the whole thing for the new trilogy. The first set of novels was really more of a medieval setting, the standard swords and sorcery type of fare. The new setting included cannons and muskets and mad for a nice change of pace. One beef that I did take is that I do get a little disgruntled when I see that science somehow ousts magic. As in gunpowder overrides fireballs. Those are world mechanics that I just can’t get behind, because, hey, I like magic, but this was not a problem here. In fact, it made it feel more like a stat and skill based game rather than one of power. Like I said about the last book, seeing the skills used in new ways, such as sailing the ship out of a rocky shoal was super interesting.
Again, I’m going to praise Stacy Gonzales, who has made this a very fun series to listen too. I felt like she captured the spirit of Kari Dix very well, and embodied her vocally. She also kept a deft hand at the helm of this series and kept it interesting and emotional, as there are certainly emotional moments that get you where you pump the blood. I have truly come to appreciate her, and will happily get another book that she has narrated.
Final score 8.4 stars
Freehaven Online: Lady Thunderlord, Into Hades A LitRPG Adventure
By: Jun Prince
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Series: Freehaven Online Series, Book 2
Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
The Toxic Muffins are back in this follow up to Freehaven Online: Dragonsbane. It picks up roughly where the other left off at, with one of the team dead from sacrificing themselves. The team is still trapped in the game, and they aren’t happy about it, as before they all have reasons for getting out quickly, but obviously that aint happening any time soon for them. That doesn’t stop them from looking for a way out. However, it soon becomes clear that they might have a chance to save their lost friend, Mirae.
The team then has to find and fight their way through Hades in order to retrieve their now deceased guild mate. Along the way they add some new members to the muffins, which is both a positive and a negative. Strife and tensions come from within and without creating some tense situations and dire consequences. All good stuff, and I have to say that I think that this book is better than the first novel, it does a lot to improve what came before and really hits home. I liked the greek mythology bits, and felt that the story was properly humorous when it needed to be. Not every writer can hit those marks to lighten a story up periodically. BTW, it isn’t all Greek stuff, Prince tosses in some of his own bits of imagination and some Thailand lore as well. It doesn’t clash at all, but flows quite nicely.
One thing that I liked about Prince’s style is that he doesn’t believe that every problem can or should be solved via fighting. There are a ton of games out there where the whole point is crushing your enemies, but there are a goodly amount that also favor thinking and puzzle solving over smashing and slashing. In that respect, he sort of reminds me of KT Hanna and her Somnia Online series, where the protagonists often find that fighting is usually a secondary or ever tertiary option. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t fights but you also get quests like appeasing Charon, the boatman that you rarely see elsewhere. One thing I would have liked was, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe a recap or some better refamiliarization with the cast. While I know the MC fairly well, the rest of the players faded a little and I could have used a refresher just to bring me up to speed.
In the way of narration I do believe that I liked Landon’s work even better than I did before. I can definitely hear improvements. I think that before I felt that she lacked emotion during non-dialogue parts and her reading style threw me off a little. Here she has improved her pacing and isn’t just spitting out lines mechanically in-between people talking. Her readings made it difficult for me to connect to the characters, and thereby, the story itself. Now, however, she has improved in those areas and I had a much better time this go around. I hope to see her continue to improve.
I can see improvement on Princes end of writing too. He clearly put a lot of thought and work into making this book even better. So, my final score is 7.9 stars. Both the writer and the narrator made some strides in making this more fun and exciting.
The Last Warrior of Unigaea: Box Set
By: Harmon Cooper
Narrated by: Jeff Hays, Annie Ellicott
Series: The Last Warrior of Unigaea, Book 1-3
Length: 18 hrs and 7 mins
Here we go. Another Harmon Cooper book, with more coming, I still have House of Dolls to do and another something or other of his to get to in the next few review shows so keep an eye out for them. So, this is a pretty cool deal for the average audible listener, you get three amazing books for the price of one (I’ll never understand why an author would be so nice as to collect three books into one set when they can make more bread selling three different novels for the same price). That seems fairly kind, and not a good capitalistic model. Me? I’d throw in a short story and charge a little more cause I might be a coward, but I’m a greedy little coward. Some people might say that its all about the Benjamins, but for me I’m all about the Woodies. You can laugh, but Woodrow Wilson is on the $100,000 dollar bill and they are still legal tender. So I want a pile of those, not the Bennies. Bennies are for suckers, give me a woody any day. Wait. That didn’t come out right. Neither did that, dammit. Ok, I’m gonna quit while I’m ahead and get to Carmen Hooper’s awesome set of books. BTW, what really makes this special to me is the fact that the first book in this series was the first official SBT production.
You know what I love? I love an author who isn't afraid to make a trilogy. Nowadays, it seems everyone wants to create an open ended world that they can play in in perpetuity, but have no responsibility to the reader/listener. I think of George RR Martin and his it will end but never end GOT, Jim Butcher's see no end in sight Harry Dresden. Too much time passes between each project, and with no real end in sight the poor fan has to suffer and hope that a series will see some love from its creator. Cooper plays this smart. He sets up a trilogy that is self-contained, but is also set in a shared universe in which other events take place. So you keep the setting and get different events and characters. More importantly, he concludes his story. So, yay, for his consideration. Cooper takes an unlikely character (a player killer) and makes him a hero. His comrades (especially RAID) are great, and make for a fun adventuring party. The man can craft a tale in the way Da Vinci could slap some paint on a canvas. What starts out as a simple tale of revenge in the way of the PKer seeking the Drachma Killers and becomes a tale of suffering, sacrifices, betrayals, and real heroism.
As I said, Cooper smooshes three books into one, so I’ll have to just gloss over some details and provide an overview. IS book one any good? Mr. Cooper hits all of my criteria for an amazing story; great characters? Check out the goblin. Plot? How about problems in the real world and VR game? All there baby. We have struggle and strife in both RW and VR. Plausibility? This isn't one of those books that touts how great the MMO is, and is sweeping the world, while if you look at the mechanics you realize it would never work. Storytelling? Zonk! Bam! Check out the ending. It is out of left field, on fire, and moving at the speed of light. Much like my beloved Feedback loop series, which is set in the same universe (the Proxima Universe) the series is filled with fast paced action and humor. I’ve said it a thousand times, Cooper’s humor gets to me. You will love this book and crave more. Thankfully, book two comes right behind.
Our heroes are back, and plan on taking out the source code bomb, they just seem to go about doing so a bit more liesurely than you'd think. That isn't to say that the book isn't full of action, and rat bag sonnof a biz someone does die, and you will feel every stab in the heart that you think you will when they pass on. No fickin’ joke. So the story has some depth to it as well. Cooper is a really great story teller, and he knows all the buttons to push and the right time to hit them. This is not a by the numbers story by any means, and he keeps the RPG aspects alive to a point that you would think this genre has been around forever.
What a way to end it. Revenge isn't easy, and loss is hard. Our heroes suffer, and sacrifice, but in the end we get the big BOOM we have been waiting for, and it has been worth the wait. The story is much faster paced than the previous book, and you will probably need to stop the book to catch your breath. There are times your heart will break, and then you might just find it healed. Roller coaster doesn't do this book justice as a descriptor.
Hays and Ellicott just crush the narration. I have no qualms admitting that Hays is my favorite narrator, and everything he does just slays. He totally kills it here again. Annie, his accompaniest in this duet proves she can stand side by side with a master like Hays, and not only hold her own, but push him to do better. They really work well together. Hays and Ellicot really put their all into this performance, and the emotion is real. Seriously, these folks should get a grammy for thier performances. The combination of their vocals and Cooper's writing makes for a nitrogyleric combination of words that are dangerously volatile to your mind!! So beware, they will move you.
Final score 8.3 stars
WHAT ELSE HAVE THEY DONE?????
Damnation Robot: Galactic Demon Hunters
By: Aaron Crash
Narrated by: Bob Dunsworth
Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
Well gang, here I am doing another what else have they done segment. I do plan on doing more game worlds and Izzit Lit but I really think that we need to spotlight other works that authors and narrators in our community have done more often. To that end I am going to focus on a guy that is best known for his association with James Hunter, and his collaboration with the War God Saga. You want to know the truth, before I had read War God I was annoyed by it. Why? Because it was taking precious time away from my beloved VGO series. How dare james Hunter do something else! I was pretty attached to VGO back then, still am BTW, but I have learned to be a bit more open to other ideas and bits of work that isn’t LITRPG. Plus, I do believe that I owe this to Aaron because I didn’t even mention him in my online review of the first book of the War God series. You might be wondering why I didn’t focus on his American Dragon series, and it is no reflection on it. In fact, there are a lot of books out in that series, I just want to bring some attention to this one book for the moment.
So, Damnation Robot starts off in the thick of it. There’s splosions and gunfire and a lotta battle stuff happening so you know that this isn’t going to be one of those books that takes something like ten to fifteen percent of the book to get into the meat of things. The MC, Blaze is a hardcore kinda dude, who lets his weapons do his talking. He’s kind of jaded insofar as he’s seen so much that horrifying images that would make you lose your mind barely phase him. He reminds me of the nameless gunfighter from the old Clint Eastwood movies. Blaze is a marine who travels with his sister, who just so happens to be a witch of no small skills. Together they fight a variety of MOBS, sorry LIT speak coming into play, that include the titled demons, aliens, werewolves, cyborgs, and spooks in general. There are a ton of things to kill and only do many weapons and spells to use.
This is a book that puts action first, as it should. You can’t write a book about a space marine who makes the Predator look like Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits and have the man in endless loops of dialogue and exposition. Crap needs to get blown up and killed on a regular basis, and Crash knows this. Bonus! He knows how to write a fight scene. Hell, you’d almost think that he’d been in a couple of space battles himself, or at least talked to a few people who had. Plus, he makes the whole thing plausible. At no point did I sit back and go, Wow, this dude must have been as high as a kite when he wrote this stuff. Yeah, they fight vampires, but so what, so does Harry Dresden. I kind of wish he’d hop over to help Stephanie Myers with her vampire and werewolf problems. Permanently. I’m team Crash, beyatch. This is an Urban Fantsasy set in space, but with more gore, guts, and blood than you usually get in a UF book. The only real complaint is that it felt like Crash was holding back; instead of going for a Hard R he floats around in a PG-13 setting. Which is fine, but I think he could have gone in a little darker and deeper than he did.
Dunsworth’s narration is really the only weak part, and it isn’t that he’s bad. But I did feel that his pacing was a bit faster than I prefer, and his voice just did not match up to Blaze’s. I would have expected a rougher more gravelly voice or at least something deeper. He does fine otherwise, but I didn’t feel the connection with the MC that I usually get. Over all he does a good job, and I do think he handled the story well, but in those quiet moments it still felt like he was in battle mode. So, slight pacing issues and my own disconnect with the MC’s voice. Otherwise pretty solid.
So, check it out. If you are a fan of UF or space fights then this book would appeal to you. No scores, just passing out alternative reads.
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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