LitRPG Podcast 051
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 51 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews.
New Releases and Reviews:
Lion's Quest: Trinity (04:57)
(Play Music 2)
William D. Arand, Author on the Super Sales on Super Heroes novel, commented recently that an audiobook edition of the novel is going to narrated by the Jeff Hayes and should be ready about late June.
Luke Chmilenko has a new cover for Ascend Online book 1 and it looks pretty nifty.
It’s with great sadness that I have to tell you that a member of the LitRGP community has passed. Tom Shutt, a great writer in his own right, also helped a number of LitRPG authors with their novels. There is a GoFundMe campaign going on right now to help his family cover the costs of his funeral.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Spellbinder: The Shadow Legacy 1 (May 30th, 2017)
The Eternal: Dragonborn - A LitRPG Saga (World of Ga'em Book 2) (May 31st, 2017)
Eden's Gate: The Sparrow: A LitRPG Adventure (May 31st, 2017)
Hero of Thera (June 1st, 2017)
Fantasy Online: Hyperborea (June 2nd, 2017)
Stay on the Wing (The Dark Herbalist Book #2) (June 2nd, 2017).
Stone Raider's Return (Emerilia Book 6) (June 6th, 2017)
Hero of Naught (July 1st, 2017)
The Curse of Rion Castle (The Neuro Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 6th, 2017)
The First Planet: The Space Masters 1 (July 14th, 2017)
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3) (Aug. 4th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Lion’s Quest - Trinity
With the first relic in his possession, Leo Lennox sets sail across the ocean toward the distant city of Tylue in the kingdom of Sanduport.
But when pirates attack the ship carrying Leo, Allurie, and Cornalic to Tylue, the champ finds himself thrust into the middle of a political struggle to determine Sanduport's next ruler. The stakes have never been higher for Leo, and failure to win could mean the death of his new friends.
My Opinion: About 420 pages, $7.49, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure. I received an early review copy of the novel but purchased the novel once it became available.
Leo Lenox is back, searching for the next relic in the land of Sanduport. His best shot at getting the relic is to help one of the royal candidates survive her assassins and serve as her champion in a series of contests to win her the throne.
This review will be broken up into two parts. One for the game world and one for the real world portion of the story.
The story in the game world portion of the novel is outstanding and is the best of the three novels that have been written so far. The novel drops you right into the action and rarely slows the pace. The new character, Bolverk, has a Conan the Barbarian personality packed into a tiny gnome body. He’s great. Even if he does fade into the background a little as the story progresses. The story takes unexpected twists and turns as the challenges for the throne turn out to be more interesting and complicated than they first appear and betrayal is around every corner.
The real life storyline in the novel is not as good as it was in book 2. Yes, there is still lots of action here and it’s well written and interesting. However, it never reached the emotional weight of book 2. Which is understandable since you can’t kill off characters every book.
For me, the real life storyline didn’t seem to advance much. All the information I was given was information I already knew from books 1 and 2. I knew people were trying to stop the game project. I knew that there was some bleed through for Leo from the game. I knew that the A.I. in the game seemed so realistic, Leo questioned if they were actually real people somewhere. It felt like the main reason the real world story line existed in book 3 was to obfuscate whether or not the game Leo is playing is actually a game or if he’s being transported to another world or something else entirely.
Overall, great story. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t read this story. The game part easily gets a 9 out of 10. The real life part gets a 7 out of 10. For the entire novel, I’ll average the two out.
Score: 8 out of 10
The Crystal Crusade: A LitRPG Adventure
In the near future, robots have wiped out jobs for ordinary humans. Dashiell, a former tech employee, is one of the many casualties.
He returns penniless to his mother’s trailer and drowns in darkness. During his struggle, he discovers the Crystal Crusade, a popular VRMMORPG played by over fifty million gamers around the planet.
In the game world, a mysterious crystal plague called the Reepo infests the lands and mutates organisms into vile creatures. To make matters worse, a powerful syndicate has found a way to harvest the Reepo and uses the crystals to fuel their airships and mechanized army.
Dashiell has to ally with rival players and build his unique character skills to battle both the crystal plague and the deceptive syndicate.
In his epic quest, Dashiell will uncover the mysterious origin of the plague while fighting to survive in the virtual AND real world.
My Opinion: About 250 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an early copy to review but purchased it when it was released.
Dashiell is an out of work young man living with his mom in a trailer park. He lost his computer job to robots and now spends his time playing full immersion VR games. As he plays he finds the A.I. NPCs more complicated and life-like than he anticipated. If Dash decides to make a go of trying to earn a living playing the game, he’ll have to lose his a reputation as a bad player that lets NPCs die and become powerful enough to attract a sponsor.
The beginning of this novel is great. It drops you right in the game world where the main character takes his first quest, an escort mission. However, instead of saving the NPC he’s assigned to, Dash steals the NPCs axe and leaves him to be killed by monsters. When Dash returns to the academy, he finds that because of the choice he made, he’s lost reputation not just with other NPCS but the other players are starting to ostracize him. The addition of morally relevant decisions to the quest was refreshing. This gave the decisions that the characters made in the game world weight. Unfortunately, that aspect of the story disappears after the MC goes on his field mission and leaves the academy. It’s still a good story but it becomes more of a standard rising hero story.
You feel the Final Fantasy influence in the story with rideable Chocobo-like birds, Sword guns, antidotes, high potions, and X- Potions. The sci-fi action is well written, especially the last battle. The game mechanics in the story were very familiar but not as detailed as I personally would have liked. There are very few hard numbers. There is enough game mechanic information that the reader can understand how each class functions in a broad sense. The WarTech class that the MC chooses is cool and I can see several mechanics from real video games I love, in the class. The real life villain, the government agent was thoroughly annoying and got under my skin, so he did his job.
Overall, I had a good time reading the story. While I would have like to have had the ‘moral consequence’ mechanic from the beginning of the story continued through the rest of the narrative, it was still a good read.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Reincarnation:RPG (Short Story Part 1) and Reincarnation:RPG Part 2: A Short Story
Reincarnation:RPG (Short Story Part 1)
John is the savior of the world. At least that’s what his video game tells him. After sinking hours and hours into his favorite RPG he meets an unfortunate fate and is reincarnated into a world that resembles his game. Not everything is the same though, and someone doesn’t want John to live through his new life.
My Opinion: 15 pages, $0.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
John dies while playing his favorite video game and it sent to a fantasy world as his overpowered character where he’s supposed to save some woman. Turns out the woman is the god that sent him to this world and she’s trying to eat his soul. He kills her and is then walks into the forest. The End.
There’s barely enough text here to call this a short story much less a LitRPG story.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Reincarnation:RPG Part 2: A Short Story
John died and was reincarnated into the world that resembles his favorite RPG. Too bad he was only brought to this world to be food for a god. Luck and quick wit kept him alive and now he finds himself in world where stats work similar to video games. However, surviving in this world won’t be easy and there are others with their own plans for a hero from another world.
My Opinion: About 30 pages, $0.00 right now, normally $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Book 2- At the beginning of this story the author says you can get Part 1 for free but you have to sign up for the author’s newsletter.
A short story, that’s a quick 10 minute read. It has lots of references that are from book 1 that are sort of explained but as far the reader knows the main character is just an overpowered character with a seemingly infinite amount of skills that’s been transported to a fantasy world ruled by game rules. He barely starts to understand how the world work and finishes his first quests when the story ends.
The story world has promise and is definitely more LitRPG than book 1 but it’s too short to really enjoy. Plus the requirement that you sign up for the author’s reading list before you can get book 1 seems pretty fishy.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Travail Online: Broken (Short Story): A LitRPG Series
No one is happy when King Frederic of Havenstock asks the court Medium, Alua, to accompany Sir Harold on a quest. The obnoxious Knight threatens to undermine their mission left and right, abusing his companions, disrespecting the ogres in their homeland, and negotiating with the swamp witch they were sent to apprehend. When they return to Havenstock, Alua seems like a woman changed for the worse. The King may be disappointed in his choice of champion, but is it too late to reign in the power-hungry Knight?
My Opinion: About 30 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There’s almost no context given for this story. No explanation that this story takes place in a VR fantasy RPG world, no explanation to the reader about who the characters in the story are or their relation to the main storyline.
There are only a few references to any type of game mechanic and it feels more like a fantasy story about a selfish, bad man doing bad things. There’s no redemption and no negative consequences. It’s a very unsatisfying and unpleasant story.
Score: 4 out of 10.
The Crucible of Immortality: Book One: Synthesis
Jax Stone is stranded on an alien planet, a planet that changes him. He now sees pop up windows and receives quests and is being attacked by creatures. Together with his strange companion Kala, they set forth to explore this mysterious new world. They must learn how to play this very real game, or die.
My Opinion: About 160 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
In a far flung future, humanity has taken to the stars. On a colony ship, Jax is awoken from cryosleep to investigate a strange signal coming from another planet. The ships he takes to investigate is destroyed and he wakes up to find himself stranded on an alien world that is ruled by RPG mechanics. Thankfully he has a smart alec ball of light named Kala to help figure things him out.
For 160 pages, it’s a bit overpriced at $4.99.
The first 8%, is just the setup to explain why the Jax is trapped on an alien world where future alien tech has created a world ruled by RPG mechanics. Besides introducing Jax’s sister Jill, there’s not much that you get out of this section.
Once Jax wakes up on the planet he finds he has a glowing ball of energy that he names Kala, who explains the fundamentals of living in this game world. After assigning attribute points, the story gets kind of boring until he gets to the first mini dungeon at about the 30% mark. Then the pacing of the story picks up quite a bit and there’s more action and the cast of characters in the story expands.
The story tries to combine science fiction and fantasy. Anything related to the game mechanics of the world, the status screen, magic, skills, gets a ‘science so advanced you can think of it as magic’, explanation. It’s an interesting choice with good storytelling opportunities.
While there are a few spelling, and grammar errors, of more concern are the paragraph formatting issues. Thoughts aren't separated, nor are damage notifications. I found the organization of the paragraphs to be slightly distracting.
There were also some table formatting issues in the edition I read on my phone. It’s a small technical issue I’m sure the author will fix.
Some of the dialogue feels forced. The action is ok. The big reveal at the end was pretty obvious. Overall, it’s a decent read.
Score: 6 out 10
War in the Greenwood: A LitRPG Novel
You can level yourself, but can you level a village?
The game world is at war, the forest burns, and rookie ranger Barcud is the only one with the total war skills to rescue everything he loves.
Allies are few. Foes are many. And time is short.
In their moment of crisis, his guildmaster tasks him to found a village and level it fast to halt the enemy horde in its tracks.
Barcud must make all his logged-in hours count to snatch victory from defeat and save the world for himself and his friends.
War in the Greenwood is the third book in the LitRPG saga The Greenwood.
My Opinion: 289 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
When the evil Attila becomes the leader of the city of Horrabia, a plan is hatched by the forces of good to found a new Ranger city as a bait to show the good cities of the danger from Attila. Barcud the ranger, has been chosen to found and build up the new city in a real time strategy type build system. He used his skills to manage resources, hire NPCs, and build up his new city in preparation for the war coming to the Greenwood.
If you’ve read the other stories in the series, you’ll recognize characters from all the other novels and short stories.
The first part of this story is a fun Real Time Strategy (RTS) description of building the new ranger city, managing resources, hiring NPCs, managing population, assigning jobs, and increasing NPC fighter levels.
There’s a little questing at the 27-42% mark meant to raise a few important characters levels with a ‘who done it’ mystery quest. While interesting, it feels out of place in the context of the novel. This actually feels like a short story that was inserted into this story.
Large scale combat from here on. Back and forth of combat. Seeking of NPC allies. Sieges, and tactical combat. All good stuff.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Rules-Free VRMMO Life: Book 1 - Tutorial
The year is 2076, and mankind has perfected VR technology, using the Chip, an implant that interfaces directly with the human brain, using it like an organic computer. Age of Anarchy Online (AAO) is the newest game released by Icestorm, makers of the legendary World of Destiny (WoD).
Unlike VR games before it, AAO promises a 110% 'Better Than Life' realism experience, and to showcase this, Icestorm announces that AAO will have no 'Out of Character' rules, save for actions like hacking or exploiting system errors. Players can do anything to NPCs and even other players, and there will be no consequences save what one may suffer in game. "Do what thou wilt, but it may be done to you in turn."
Mike Greene, better known in WoD as Torgan, a max level Paladin and leader of the Lords of Light, one of the top 'light side' guilds in WoD, now sets off on a new adventure in AAO.
My Opinion: 191 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The author warns the reader up front that it is a villain story. Not a hero, not an anti-hero, but a villain. The series is based on the idea of the Evil Campaign, where players get to do all the evil stuff they wouldn’t in their normal campaign. oy is he right.
First off, the game mechanics in the story are really good. They are well described and interesting. There’s plenty of information available to create your own character in this new game world. A game where there are no game imposed restrictions to player actions.
The beginning is just informational. Race, Class, Attribute descriptions, a bunch of character creation stuff. Starting at the 39% mark, the rest of the novel is the tutorial level for the main character. Here the MC gets into his first fights and gets his first quests. The action is well described and the game world feels really well thought out.
However, the story lost me at the rape and spitting of a human then roasting her alive to eat later. The story just went a little too far in the evil direction for me.
That part ruined the story for me and I don’t intend to read the next book in the series. However, I thought it would be a disservice to you not to let you know about it so you could decide for yourself if the series is for you.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Conquest: A LitRPG Story (The SciFan™ Universe Book 1)
A primeval darkness threatens to destroy mankind...
The world's largest gaming platform in the entire industry is led by a man with many secrets. The popular game DarkForce features the World of Zion which has been plagued by the destructive will of the Leviathan for centuries. What gamers don't know is that the World of Zion actually exists, and the Leviathan has fed off of the souls of men and his fodder has become scarce. He now turns to Earth with an insatiable hunger. Only a woman from Earth who levels up to discover a divine inner power can challenge Earth's Apocalyptic Fate.
My Opinion: 476 pages, $4.95, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure- received early review copy
The story is not LitRPG! By the 50% mark there’s one tiny bland undetailed VR game scene but that’s it. Instead, a spy thriller/end of the world/portal fiction story with religious undertones and magic.
This feels like a recycled story that had a portal fiction aspect that was modified for the LitRPG genre. Only it wasn't even done well. Besides a few small VR game chapters inserted awkwardly into the story, it has no relationship to LitRPG.
After a bare minimum of research, it turns out it is recycled. The story was originally published in July 2016 under the title, Conquest: Rise of the Fifth Horseman: A Cohesive SciFan™ Adventure. You can find the story listed on Goodreads.
The author who uses the pen name Aleric Elos warns his readers in the forward, “There are many authors and readers who are adamantly trying to force LitRPG into their own narrow definitions, but in my opinion what all LitRPG novels have in common is the euphoric feeling gamers experience when playing and leveling up in a MMORPG.”
Well, sir, before you start to criticize others for trying to define a genre they love, try to write an actual LitRPG story and not just recycle something you’d already written.
Whether it’s intentional or not, I feel deceived that the story uses LitRPG in the title. Especially considering that the novel comes from SciFan magazine, who’s put out several LitRPG issues.
Score: 2 out of 10.
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Thanks for hanging out with me today. Until we can hangout again, remember to go read some LitRPG!
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