LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 039 - Bunker Core, Reborn: Apprentice, Limitless Lands Bk 1, Supermage
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 039 - Bunker Core, Reborn: Apprentice, Limitless Lands Bk 1, Supermage
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“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 out of 10
Score: 2 out of 10
Limitless Lands Series, Book 1 (37:57)
Score: 6.8 out of 10
Score: 7 out of 10
Bunker Core: Core Control series, Book 1
By: Andrew Seiple
Narrated by: Mark Boyett
Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
I am going to be honest and say that I was a little disappointed with this book. Coming off the Threadbare series I really believed that there was going to be more to this tale. Honestly, it isn’t a bad novel, but it just did not grip me in the way that I hoped it would. I believe the issue was that the book felt like it was pretty thin in terms of story.
The book is about a tech core that was once human waking up due to an alert taking place. It finds that its facility is under attack and does its best to fend off the assault while figuring out who it is and what it is supposed to do. From this point it basically continues in the same manner, someone from the first siegers comes and must be fought off in a rinse, wash, repeat cycle. The only variation that we get is when the POV shifts from the leader of the tribe assaulting the core or one of the several other AI’s that also seem to have it out for the core we are rooting for.
I don’t know if some of my issues come from the fact that this feels a lot like the station core novel, or if there was nothing really innovative about what the core did when it confronted its invaders. There was a lot of set up for different things that never bore out. I was half hoping that the core would have built a lab and modified some of the bats that lived in its elevator, making some sweet soldiers to harass the enemy. Also, I needed more than fire, floor and ceiling traps, and bolt guns to see a dungeon or a core as being exciting. Those things are good for the first initial forays into defending the place, but not for an end battle scenario. No, I don’t count the outside stuff with the water or crocogator as being all that innovative either.
The story had a ton of potential, but I’ll be honest, whenever one of the other A.I.’s came on I wanted to skip that part and just get back to the core. It did not maintain my interest. I think the fact that that there were three or four Artificial intelligences besides the core made it less fun. I get that this was partially set up stuff, but pick a villain and stick with it. Another issue I had was that the bald warrior woman leader of the cult that was attacking the core started out as a hard core crush monster, but in the end sort of got shifted into being humanized. Too much of her side of the story was explained and you get to see her motivations for what she is doing and why she is doing it. You really just needed to hate her, not like her or sympathize with her, and in some ways you do. She needed to be one dimensional not multifaceted. I just wish that the ending of the story wasn’t so weak. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but a lot of what was worked for and towards is made moot by the end.
That said the story, while short, does flow and is well written. Seiple knows how to tell a story and make it interesting. He makes amazingly interesting characters and does spin a yarn that will keep you listening.
The narration is really good here, and I actually recognize Mark from a Doc Samason novel I listened to waaaay back when as well as a 30 days of night audio adaptation from the comic books. He does a fantastic job and think that LIT and he are a good fit for one another. He has a pretty big background in sci-fi so litrpg isn’t all that big of a stretch for him. Great voices, pacing, and storytelling in general.
Final score 7 stars. The story felt truncated, didn’t really have a centralized villain, and seemed to hover at the same point for quite some time. I needed someone to root against, and more time spent upgrading the dungeon rather than figuring out where to put the next pitfall trap. Lots of potential, not enough return.
Reborn: Apprentice: A LitRPG Adventure
Reclamation, Book 1
By: Luka Petrov
Narrated by: Rafe Beckley
Length: 4 hrs and 10 mins
I hated this book. Ye gods, where to start? This was probably some of the longest four hours of my life. I pretty much hated 98% of this book. It offended me on multiple levels, often simultaneously, and made me feel as if the author wanted to treat me like a child rather than a rational adult; because most of this book made zero sense.
First of all this book is not Litrpg. It is not gamelit. I don’t know what the hell it is supposed to be, other than bad. I can usually forgive a book having lighter LIT elements. I don’t feel like every story needs stats, character sheets, leveling up, and so on and so forth in vast quantities to qualify as litrpg. I do require more than four or five sentences about those things, though. You want to know what this book has in the way of LITRPG? It has two scenes in which stat sheets are substituted by vocational cards. A few discussions about attributes, and one bit where the MC is able to suss out how to casts spells because of his previous knowledge as a gamer. That’s it. I’ve stubbed my toe and received HP loss notifications more in my real life than this book did.
SO here’s a brief rundown for you. A kid in our world is hit by a car. He dies. Is given a choice to reincarnate, go to heaven, or go smash it in a RPG styled world that will place his very existence in jeopardy. He is made to be the one and only person who can stop an evil demonic overlord known as Abraxus, and I mean the only one. If he fails every soul in that dimension will be scrapped and tossed out, including him. So, naturally he picks that option because heaven will be boring.
This is where we enter the Harry Potter phase in which the MC goes to a school of magic and begins to learn from his wonderful mentor and several teachers whom he continuously astounds with his 25 point intelligence and photographic memory. Now, I am going to say two things about this section of the book. 1) It is like a lesser version of Hogwarts where he meets with his friends and they chat at meal times, and his best friend is the second smartest first year (Hermione) girl there, and his other friend is a half-wit incompetent wizard (Ron). 2) They say the full name of every single teacher every single time that they are mentioned. I honestly believed that this was done just in order to fulfill a word count of some sort since the novel is so short, only 4 hours. Normally I lament a run time so short, as in, “Gee Whiz, the Luck Stat Strategy was only five hours long. In this case I kept thinking, Holy Mary mother of God, this book is never going to end and I know it is only four hours long.” Repetition like that is annoying. It is similar in LITRPG when you have the words You have taken five points of fire damage repeated thirty times in a row. I don’t like that in LITRPG and I don’t like it anywhere else. Most writers try to avoid repeating the same or similar words in a paragraph just to avoid monotony. Such avoidance isn’t easy, sometime trying to avoid something can cause you stress which will make you want to avoid it even more. Get the point? Now imagine that with eight different people’s names in a constant never ending barrage. I think that the biggest let down of the book came with required confrontation with the evil overlord Voldemort, er, I mean Abraxus. Dumbledore sacrifices his life so that Harry and the others can get away, I mean The MC and his pals. Abraxus is completely overblown and is such a childish let down that it seriously soured me from straight fantasy for some time to come.
This book feels like it was written by someone who had no friggin idea of what LITRPG is, and was simply a Write to Market effort to cash in on some of the sweet LITRPG action. I hated this book the longer I listened to it, and am repulsed at the minimum effort that was put into making this a LITRPG book. The only thing saying it is LIT is the cover. Take that away and you have a crappy children’s book that pretty much barely covers the fact that it is riffing on JK Rowling. I cannot believe I am even defending the Harry Potter novels. That’s how mad this book has made me.
Before I go I suppose that I will have to mention something about the narration. To be blunt it sucked. The narrator could not figure out a way to differentiate the Male MC’s voice from his female companion’s voice. There were times that I could not tell who was speaking, the MC or one of the female students. The other voices, with the exception of the boy’s mentor, comes across like a grandpa telling his grandson a bedtime story and trying to do voices and keep pacing and emotion. I’m not talking about a Princess Bride Styled grandfather. I’m talking a grandpa with COPD suffering from bipolar disorder. He was clear, understandable, and told an intelligent story but it wasn’t fun. There were parts where the characters expoused some sort of exclamation, and instead of WOW, we got a wow. The narration didn’t help the story. Upon reflection it didn’t hurt it, since it seemed to be at the same level as the writing. Crap, crap, crap. Sorry. This book has my dander up. I would have hated it even if it had not called itself LITRPG and just portal. Not a fan.
Final score? Really? You have to ask? Well, the book did have a cohesive plot line. It did have characters who spoke and interacted. So, it gets two points just for that. I want you to understand, if this was a write to market that was good I would say so, but that battle or whatever the hell you call it with Abraxus ended me. So, I give this book 2 stars because it did tell a story, and the characters charactered throughout the story. TWO, and I still think it was too high. Not a fan. I wouldn’t even let kids listen to this as a way to start them into Portal fantasy, fantasy, or any other genre for that matter. I hated this book.
Supermage: Rise to Omniscience, Book 1
By: Aaron Oster
Narrated by: Doug Tisdale Jr.
Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
This book is a conundrum for me, as there were things I liked, things I didn’t and things I had no idea as to why they happened. For the most part I would say that the book is a nice light fare, feeling very young adult, because it traipses around subjects that an adult book would have no problem tackling. I don’t know if this is a YA book or not, but it certainly has that kind of tone.
The upside: The magic system is pretty well fleshed out, easy to understand, and fun to experience. On the other hand, I really didn’t like the names of the different power, there are Supers and there are Mages. Supers rely on physical prowess to fight with, keeping their affairs up close and personal while the mages are distance dangers. Glass cannons in other words. There is also a third class, the supermage, which is what happens when a person, in a very rare event, gets both types of powers. I hated the titles because the Super part made me think of Superheroes, and really it has nothing to do with that at all, just that they are more physical, and the mage part similarly bothered me because they do not study spells, they acquire them naturally. The names should have reflected the proximity that the powers required them to fight with, but its not my story and I’ll just have to live with it. I don’t hold any of that against the book, that is all my issue.
The tale centers on Morgan, the MC who has no powers and is in the final year that he has for them to show up. He is friends with a pretty rich girl who just happens to be the leader of the city he lives in. Her dad, Lord Simon hates the boy with a passion and wants him dead. Now, here is one of the parts that I don’t understand. How these two are connected. Morgan is a street urchin who picks through trash for food all but one night a week. She is super rich and would have no connections to him whatsoever. There is a real need for some backstory here, just to help you understand their connection, but that never comes. Now, Morgan suddenly gets his powers, and immediately thereafter ends up killing two men sent to kill him. He flees to see his gal pal, and they flee the city together heading for a university that can teach them how to use their powers. Morgan quickly learns that supermages are feared and quickly killed, so he pretends to just be a Super.
Again, one more issue I have with Morgan and Lord Simon’s daughter is that Morgan plays the innocent farmboy bit too well. His misses hints and suggestions that his companion like likes him, even though she does everything but pass him a note saying I like you do you like me yes or no. He also is completely clueless about sex, and the many implications that goes along with the act, and I could believe it if he had been sheltered his entire life, but the dude comes from the cold hard streets of a major city. He’d have known about sex by the time he was able to talk. Not Morgan, he is completely and utterly clueless. And that bothered me. I just couldn’t see it or believe it. One thing I do want to say is that I have read this book before. In some capacity it is reminiscent of Reborn Apprentice, and in another Dante’s Immortality. Reborn and Supermage both feature OP characters who just know how to stomp on opponents bigger and better than them rank-wise. I tried really hard not to compare apples to apples here, but there are beats that all have a similar rhythm. Sometimes OP characters bother me, and I guess it depends on the writing, because I really hated Reborn Apprentice but enjoyed Supermage.
Otherwise, the story is a fun little romp and it had some great moments, and had characters that you really hated and wanted to see beaten, maimed, or killed. I know I sounded like I was berating it, but I was only pointing out some inconsistencies or things that bugged me.
Doug Tisdale did the narration, and I can’t say that he didn’t help this book move along. I just did a segment on him with the City and the Dungeon, and I talked him up pretty well there, I think that you know he does a good job. It makes me want to listen to the scout of artemis soon.
Final score is a 7. Pretty solid first venture. I just hope that book two drops the MC’s naiveté and proffers him some real challenges.
Limitless Lands: The Commander's Tale, a LitRPG adventure
Limitless Lands Series, Book 1
By: Dean Henegar
Narrated by: Jack Voraces
Series: Limitless Lands, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
OK, so here is an example of what is a good book but mediocre narration. LL doesn’t blow you mind away with new concepts or avoiding tropes. This is a pretty standard novel, insofar as it centers on James Raytak, the MC, a vet who is coming to the end of his days. Fortunately for him, his son is employed by one of the best VR gaming companies in the biz and he sets his old man up with a special dive tank that provides both life support and medical care in addition to being a VR immersion portal. So, yeah, he sets his pappy up to be a test subject like all loving and caring kids should. Now, I know that I said this book doesn’t really break the standard tropes, but in this case the company the kid works for actually has a heart. It cares about its employees and their families, as opposed to the standard “there are hidden or shadowy motives behind their help” stuff we usually see in LITRPG. So that was refreshing. What I sort of found to be interesting was that this is basically just the company shoving some old dude who is 90+ years old into a RPG for some weird version of rehab. Like the tank was going to fix his mind and body. Either way they shove his butt right into a coma. The plan is to fix up his failing memory and his old man bod with nanites while he’s comafied.
That’s where the fun begins. The book is primarily a battle oriented tale. So, if you are into military sci-fi or just very authentic feeling ancient warfare then this is the book for you because that is exactly what you get. Loads of action, with some other gaming stuff on the side. One aspect I found interesting is that the MC only gains XP for full scale battles. That’s it. So, in order to advance he’s got to be on the battle field, and I have to say this feels very genuine in the way the battles are run and described. If you are more of a one on one sword fighting person then this book might not be for you. Military books are not for everyone. This is a fantasy world so you do get lots of monsters and humanoids to see in battle.
I think the biggest flaw in the book is the OP but not OP “ness” of the MC. He starts out the story with a very specialized class that will allow him to command different troops and so one, and it can come across as being handed to him. I’ve thought about it, and the whole point of the story was to rebuild his brain, and to do so he needed to be in a place of comfort for that to happen. If he had started off as say a private it wouldn’t have felt natural for him, he had been in command for a long time and was used to being in charge. He would have needed to start from a position of power and authority for him to feel like he belonged and it was a natural fit. Other than that he primarily uses his skills and knowledge from his lifetime as a soldier in order to win battles. Also, the show don’t tell rule does apply here as a fail, because there were times that the squads would do maneuvers and the reader would be told that they had drilled and drilled until the squads had it down pat.
The real issue with this book is the narration. This was all over the place. It was in fact one of those books I just wanted to read instead of listen too. There are audio issues throughout the story, and it is distracting. In today’s age there is no reason that there isn’t a nice clean sound coming forth. This was like listening to a book on a vinyl record in spots. Secondly, I found the narrator himself dry and boring. His feminine voices were his biggest weakness, but he also seemed to struggle to differentiate male voices as well. There were points that I had a hard time following who was talking, and I hate it when I am forced to suss out who is doing what. I should never have to guess who is speaking. The sound effects were utterly annoying and distracting. I generally like SFX when done right, such as by SBT, but here it is heavy handed and improperly used.
My final score? 6.8. I would have gone more if not for the narration and the fact that there’s no ending. It’s not a cliffhanger ending, but none of themes, goals, or concerns of the story have been at all addressed by the end of the book. Also, as a fan of military writing I do think that as fun as the battles were I would have liked to have seen some research done on how the legions really fought. Banners, flags, etc. Flags were used a great deal to cover distance and instances in which a soldier could not hear a commander yelling.
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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