Audiobook review – Dante’s Immortality

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Review 1 –

Who wants to live forever? Dante’s Immortality

Dante’s Immortality is a misleading name. Nowhere in the book is the reason behind this title revealed, so there may be more to this than we know. It could simply mean he will become famous, and it might simply mean that he, at some point, literally becomes immortal. Either way, the title is intriguing, and does nothing to tell you about the awesomeness contained within these pages.
One complaint that I do have, and it is a niggling beast, is that I do not really see the need for this to be a LITRPG book. It works like one, yes, but if you took out all the gaming elements you are still left with an awesome magic system, a mind-blowing new fantasy world, and a malicious political system that grinds the peons into powder. In fact, I would argue that this would be BETTER as a straight up fantasy novel. I haven’t seen an original magic system and world like this since the Ethshar series was first released.
This isn’t to say that the LITRPG elements don’t work, and aren’t fun. They just seem more like a way to enter the LITRPG genre, and if that’s what Antonio Terzini wanted to do it’s fine by me. I enjoyed every moment of this book and its connection to a specific genre had no bearing on that factor whatsoever.

The motto for the people in this land should be trust no one. Everyone seems to be playing some sort of angle, and their goal is to use you or get what they can from you before they dispose of you. Even friendly acts in times of darkness are revealed to be not as altruistic as they first appear. Dante, naïve as he is, is caught in the meat grinder, and is holding on by his fingernails trying not to slide in. I will say that Terzini doesn’t play Dante as a Goodie-goodie everyman hero, because when he has an opportunity for payback with a lifelong tormentor he never hesitates in his actions. It was a wild “YES” moment that I wanted to see so many other times in other books. Terzini can and will also pull at your heartstrings, and then play them like a banjo. So watch out, in this world bad things do happen to “good” people and it will get you if you are not weary.
Hays’s narration is quite possibly his best work to date. He stuffs Dante’s voice with such depth of emotion that you feel the heat of his anger, and the pain in his heart. I firmly believe that his voice work here brings much of this vitriol in the people’s hearts into reality. You can hear their smarmy malice oozing from every word, and their words will cut you. Thanks, Mr. Hays, for being able to bring to life an entire world and their people, with the added bonus of making it feel like they are all out to get us (and Dante). There were no issues with the audio at all, and it was a blast listening.

The story is fast paced, I went back over this book, and only found the beginning a little slow (prior to Dante getting his powers), but even that set up period was interesting and necessary to the rest of the plot. There is a lot of set up there, and it is handled deftly. My only question is, in a world like the one Terzini has created, who would want to live forever? The world and its people may be a little dark, but this book shone like a torch in the darkest cavern. It is exciting, full of action, intrigue, mystery, backstabbing, betrayal, and most of all FUN! I loved this book, and know you will too, get it now!

Review 2 –

Dante’s immortality, I listened to this on audible, it is a Jeff Hayes narrated book and was very well done. Jeff made me feel the emotions that Dante did throughout the book, his range of voices was easy to follow and well done. Based on the descriptions of the characters his voices felt like they suited them well. Jeff really made me feel the characters were real, from the malice and hate which drips from the antagonist to the cold calculation of one of the political pieces, finishing with the naivety and ignorance of the MC. You can feel/understand when the MC goes through multiple emotions throughout the book.
The main character is an outcast from society no one knows his origins or why he’s different. You follow this MC throughout the book as he goes from a nobody to someone who could become one of the most over powered people in the world. The litrpg elements are not due to a game but due to the way the world works, it is not a portal fantasy as the characters are actually originally from the world. The main character is a naïve undereducated in the ways of the world young man. I do feel Dante is a little to naïve and doesn’t ask enough questions about the people around him, he gets played a little to hard in the world of politics, where a few simple questions could have led him in a slightly different direction. Some of this could be chalked up to his naivety and lack of knowledge outside of just trying to survive. He has never had friends and when people finally showed interest he didn’t know how to react. His main antagonist from his childhood is a character that you grow to hate. The author does good on getting the readers views on who is good and who is bad. Not only this but the MC is not your typical hero, when given the opportunity to exact revenge on his nemesis he doesn’t hesitate. But when put in the position to save others at the expense to himself he doesn’t hesitate to do that either, but situations make sense and do not cause conflicting views on the personality of the MC.
The world is magnificently developed down to the political intrigue of multiple houses all vying for control. You are led down a plot in that regards that I hope to have more clarification and depth built up in the next book. There are a number of plots tied into the political intrigue and power struggle that if developed correctly will make this one of my favorite books in the genre. In regards to this being a gamelit book I would say it doesn’t have to be, the stats and “world essence” absorption could be left out, they are really the only gamelit pieces in the story and the story would not lack without them. Antonio has built one of the magic systems using essence manipulation and runes that make me want to know more. There is enough information for the reader to be happy and feel it was well thought out, I’m a reader who wants more details on how things work.

To me, this book deserves an 8.5/10 the world building and full emotional spectrum abound. The author and narrator both did a great job with this installment, I can’t wait for book 2.

You can find the ebook and audiobook at —

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Dantes-Immortality-Beginnings-Audiobook/B07CJWMYXV

AudioBook Review – Gunmeister Online

Gun Meister Online! This book is not Shooting Blanks!

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Review 1

Gun meister online, Noah Barnett brings readers back to a story using the same real life world as his Nigmus online. He comes back with an edited book that is an easier read than Nigmus was. He shored up on the issue of not having Nigmus edited and it shows. Gun Meister is different than most other books in the game lit genre, as it uses the engine of a first person team based shooter. The characters don’t level but they rank up as they play better, ranks don’t make them stronger, but gaining credits and being able to upgrade his gun contracts helps more than could be expected. As he levels up he is able to have more contracts. Each contract is a gun and a member of his harem, the guns are sentient NPC’s who are lovers when not in a match. They are treated as npc’s and their contract must be renewed with one form of bodily fluid or another each month. The sex scenes are hot and heavy, I do wonder slightly if this is Noah’s first time writing graphic scenes as there are a few things here and there that just make me go huh, but overall they are well done, graphic, and make you want to keep reading them. There is a small trigger scenario when he acquires his second gun, but the MC handles it well and uses everything he has to make the gun feel at home.
The MC is believable and relatable, he starts out as a noob and takes time to learn the way of the game. You get good enlightenment to the way the MC sees the world and why. In the real world the MC is required to pull his own weight at work and some of the things he learns in the real world he is able to transfer to the game world. My only complaint here is that the real world seems to end a little early but it lets you focus on the climax of the game world. I came to fall in love with a few of the secondary characters from the MC’s first contract to the civil war era teammate and his contracted weapon. The “loli” not your typical loli doesn’t make me feel like most loli’s do, Noah does a good job reminding you she is who you think she is, she is playful and crass, always up for blowing something up. There is a small love interest that does seem to peters out 2/3 of the way through the book but ultimately changes focus from the MC to be between two side characters, this could continue and develop into any sequel made. The MC is believable in his interactions with his teammates and his contracts, the contracts are very different styles and mentalities that the graphic scenes don’t feel repetitive or overburdened.
Noah delivers on the world building in and out of game, the end of the book develops into the ground work for building the next game world the MC has a chance to join. The ending felt a little rushed and slightly anti-climactic but transitions into what is to come next well. I feel if 5k+ more words were added to the last 3 chapters the book would have had a much better closure. This was a breath of fresh air for me into the gamelit genre with the graphic sex and more battle royal/3rd person shooter style game.
I recommend Gun Meister if you are interested in firearms and shooters. The MC delivers as he grows to be a better player and helps to develop his team mates.

My rating for Gun Meister Online is a 7.5 the world building and fresh style leads to a higher review, the plot was good until the end felt slightly rushed. The MC was relatable and you can see his mentality and game play advance throughout the book.

 

 

Review 2 –

Nobody was more excited than me when the announcement for GMO coming to audible hit the internet. I had been waiting to get my trigger fingers on this book for quite some time, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. My preference is to generally get all the negative stuff out of the way first, so here goes.
GMO is a great book with fantastic characters and amazing narration, but it does have a handful of issues that I need to discuss. The first thing is that the book shifts in and out of the real world and the game. As such, the lead character has work problems. Problems that mean he has to justify his presence there on what seems to be a weekly basis. He constantly struggles with sales, and it is a big part of the story right up to the seventy percent mark, then it vanishes completely. Additionally, There is also a subplot regarding a hot co-worker that looks to be a budding romantic interest, but then that goes south, too. I really don’t know if Barnett felt that the protagonist, Charlie, had enough on his plate with all the gun lovin’ he was getting but it just was a dramatic shift that felt a little forced. My biggest issue came with the end of the novel. Charlie spends the whole book trying to improve his status, and get more guns, and once he is just really getting his footing, something changes and makes him give up everything he’d worked so hard for. In fact, the new direction it looks to be heading completely eliminates everything WE as readers invested into GMO. I’m not saying the next book doesn’t look promising, but essentially, Charlie strips away everything for this new opportunity. It took me about three days before I realized that I felt a little cheated. Still, I trust Barnett to make it work.

Now, for the good stuff, first of all, you have to respect a book that doesn’t play it safe. The book is filled with bloody head wounds, steamy sex, and a weird character that likes to combine those things. Once Charlie gets his groove, and starts getting his ladies, the book then really hits its stride. I appreciate how the game uses clones as opposed to VR simulated PC’s. Also, the hook of having to “holster” your weapon once a month to keep it loyal was sneaky and fun. There are some amazing characters that party with Charlie including a horny smurf who like to blow things up, a powder loading civil war aficionado, a sword wielding holy man, and a petulant co-worker. Plus the guns! Elva and the girls are so fun!! You will want to finger Elva’s trigger yourself by the end of the book, the Russian, and the twins make the rest of it all worthwhile.
Barnett wisely opted to use Soundbooth Theater for the audio duties, and his decision was a smashing success. After all, he got three narrators in the deal. Jeff Hays, Justin Thomas James, and Annie Ellicott all nail the narration. James has the southern accent down to a sweet tea, and Annie takes this book and makes it her own. She literally steals the show from the boys, and that is no mean feat as Jeff is a voice ninja. Annie “Oakley” Ellicott, pistol packing momma that she is hits the bullseye from a mile away. She makes her first outing as a lead narrator and goes beyond impressive; she shows that she belongs in the big leagues! Hays plays Charlie like he knows the guy, and has spent several months shadowing him at the car lot to get his attitude and aggression right. The sound quality couldn’t be better. SBT nails another one.

Barnett proves he is creative, and has fun with the story in so far as he puts a gun to the head of the old trope of leveling up. In GMO, the players don’t really level, all they do is advance in ranking which allows them to get more guns. It is the weapons that get built up and made stronger as the game progresses. Nice way to turn things around. The story itself is fast and fun, and references his other book, Nigmus Online, as well as a potential of RPGLIT series he could do based of the in-game VR game Blood and Pride. I want to note that this isn’t just some guy having shootouts with other players, there is a bigger arching story that reveals itself slowly as the story progresses. You won’t need a reticle to keep your eye on this book. I also like that Charlie progresses and grows throughout the storyline. When you are done listening to this book you will find yourself doing the “duck and cover” move every time you hear a weird noise, and you will be glancing around every corner you come to making sure some shmuck doesn’t land a lucky headshot. So, get ready for some gun grease, bullets, and babes and enjoy GMO!!!

Rating – 9

You can find ebook and audio at –

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Gun-Meister-Online-Adult-and-Uncensored-Audiobook/B07D94Y8Y8

AudioBook Review – Cherry Blossom Girls

Our audiobook reviewer wants to post so here we are – I’ll slide these in when they’re done, and hopefully some of the others will join him 🙂

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My review for Cherry Blossom girls:

Just read Harmon Cooper’s Cherry Blossom Girls. I wrote a song about it, wanna hear it, here it goes . . .

Am I gonna take you home tonight
Naked in the rain beneath that old streetlight
Are you gonna let it all hang out
Cherry Blossom girls
You turned my whole world upside down
Hey! I was just a writing lad
Never did much good or bad
But I got a life when Grace entered my periphery
She was so cute and quite uncanny
Always flashing me her fanny
Super Sexy woman you made a bad boy out of me
Hey hey!
I’ve been running with my babes
Veronique sharpened up her blades
We fought govt. agents all along the way
With their beauty and fighting style
I might survive a little while
They just might save me in the nick of time
Am I gonna take you home to fight?
As I struggle to get your programming right
Are you gonna sit around and pout?
Cherry Blossom girls you make heads spin around
Cherry Blossom girls…

Ok, I admit, that was “Inspired” by Queen, but the book definitely made me feel like singing! I will say that Master Cooper certainly knows how to jazz up the old, “It was a dark and stormy night. . .” book beginning. (Hint: He throws in a naked girl) Her name is Grace, and she had better go with him if she wants to live. Seems people are after her; really bad people, and it is up to the intrepid writer, Gideon (might be based on someone we know in real life whose name rhymes with Carmen Snooper), to save her. The fact that he is not equipped to deal with her baggage or skilled enough to handle the situation has no bearing on his choice (refer to the previous naked girl mentioned earlier). Turns out, Grace, and a few others like her are government experiments that are about to be deleted as they are deemed obsolete.
As the story progresses we also meet Veronique, a deadly femme fatale, who is after her “sister” and Gideon. Cooper smartly plays this book out in a first person autobiographical form, giving it an air of realism that wouldn’t sneak through if told in third. The writing is witty, sexy, and features some down and dirty . . . fighting. The pacing of the book is natural, and there are some Easter eggs hidden around if you listen carefully. The book is a mash up of the Doom Patrol, Stranger Things, and Die Hard. Gideon’s last name ought to be McClain. There are no static moments in the book, it is like a hungry shark, always moving forward, never slowing, and striking unexpectedly.
Soundbooth Theater does a great job, although I appreciated the cameo by the ever awesome Jeff Hays there are just a few too many people involved. I like one or two narrators, and the cameo was appreciated but I think one or the other ladies, Annie Ellicott or Laurie Catherine Winkel could have done the female voices on their own. It made this have more of a Production feeling than it did a narration. I did miss not having more Hays, but this was Justin’s book to carry, and he did a great job.

Over all, I would give this book two thumbs up, and if I was Yakuza maybe even a few more! Easily a 9 out of 10 since the book has everything from jokes to sexy mommas using X-men skills and is presented in a completely entertaining way. The whole “this is really happening to me” theme makes me wonder just what is happening in Cooper’s life right now. Could art be imitating life? For his sake, I sincerely hope so, as this is a fun and uptown kind of book that will make you want to sing out loud. It did me!

You can find the e-book and audio on –

https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Cherry-Blossom-Girls-Audiobook/B07BXXPX1M

Review 4 – Somnia Online – Initializing

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Blurb –

Discover the class you were born to play.

Wren, a seasoned healer, is dismayed when Somnia Online automatically assigns her character, Murmur, to the Enchanter class. Determined to overcome the unexpected setback, she assembles her guild, intent on the coveted #1 spot. Twelve keys stand between her and victory, but finding them is only part of the puzzle.

Armed with telepathic abilities, Murmur rises to the challenge. However, old rivals have followed her to Somnia Online desperate for revenge. Intricate quest lines become more dangerous as NPCs absorb powerful artifacts, and Murmur begins to wonder just what sort of AI controls the world.

Murmur questions her sanity as the real and virtual worlds mesh together. Everyone is keeping secrets from her, even the AI, and Murmur’s determined to uncover them.

Link –

A couple of the regulars were away at this time, will update if the others pick the book up.

Review 1

Somnia online was a breath of fresh air to the magic wielding OP MC’s. It also has some of the better character development and intertwining plots than many other books in the genre. KT Hanna shows her specialty in character development, from the main rival, to the secondary support characters they are well developed and make you want to know more.
Some of my favorite points in the story were the flash backs to the creation of the technology and software that slowly shows you why the story is unfolding the way it. Followed closely by the development given to the MC and the game itself. Wren/Murmur feels like she could be a real life friend someone you feel for and would like to hang out with. She is not made to be a Mary Sue, but due to the class she was given and how she decides to utilize it she is very strong when supported by her group but would fall short if she was solo. In regards to a group the book reminds me of the times I have raided in some of the older MMORPG games. The way the party interacts seems slightly off at first as they cater to murmur, by the end of the book you realize why they are doing so.
KT does well dropping subtle hints throughout the book for the multiple plot lines that are prevalent in all 3 of the worlds she is working on building. She has her work cut out for her to continue and grow on some of the plots she left open in book 1.
The plot for this is your basic Immersion VRMMO the goal is to collect all the keys, the MC and her group of friends have been the best at every game they have played recently, so obviously they plan to be the best in the newest game released. The twists that are added are going to make that even harder to accomplish, but they are getting help in the form of vague hints, and mysterious quests in which they stumble upon to help them evolve. There is a rival as well as an antagonist to keep the MC and her friends on their toes.
The book kept me wanting to read more and trying to figure out what was going to happen next, there were a few areas that drug out a little based on the grind of leveling but KT does a good enough job to time warp/make them not seem like a slog. There was just enough stats and spell descriptions to make me feel like I was able to keep the details needed with the characters as the story progressed, this is a great first book for anyone in the genre, and with a strong Female MC, and a badass female sidekick, I would have no problems recommending this book to anyone who’s looking to see what the genre is about.

I rate this book an 8/10

Review 2

For myself the opening of the book was a bit slow than what I tend to favor. Entering into action tends to be a great way to capture my attention. Then again I’m only a single person and everyone has their own hooks. I’m excited that I kept on reading and got to the good stuff! The book made me reminisce to my old hardcore raiding days of WoW’s Burning Crusade expansion.

If you are one that has played any MMORPGs, especially older ones, this book is for you. Gamelit books I have read so far trend to being small scale in terms of introducing Player Characters (PC) but with Initializing the book strongly draws on the MMO aspect with a large guild backing the MC. The guild/raid class composition is nearly unique, only one class has multiple PCs, and they support the MC throughout the book. There are times when the supporting characters may seem a bit overboard in their actions but it’s all warranted in the end. The foreshadowing is very subtle here and there but when it comes together all I can say is wow…. All-in-all the supporting characters behind Wren/Murmur are fantastic. It would have been great to get more background on each of them but having 11 other guild members would be a lot of information to delve into.

While reading I honestly felt like I was playing Everquest, (Classic) WoW, or D&D. The worldbuilding, crafting, and game system are just as balanced as the aforementioned guild composition. We have a guild hall, pc/npc crafters (I do hope she finally gets her tunic instead of robes!), and COOKING even plays a role. At the moment these play small roles in the world of Somnia but I’m excited and hoping that book two will expand upon each facet.

Another great topic that others may point out is that the MC is not a typical class/race combination in other gamelit books. Murmur is still humanoid but is a Locus, which is an elegant, alien race. The cover gives a great hint of what they look like and our imagination along with Hanna’s writing paints the rest. As for class, Murmur plays the Enchanter class which revolves around psionics. Psionics doesn’t get enough press and the way Hanna describes the advantages and even the drawbacks is quite refreshing from standard RPG classes. The combination of all these elements gives the book a much refreshing and unique tale to get lost in.

For anyone that played older MMOs from the 2000s, this book will tug at your heartstrings. You know the grind. Yeah, THE grind. However, the book itself is not a grind to read. It’s going to be hard to wait for book two!

About K.T Hanna

KT Hanna has such a love for words, a single one can spark entire worlds. Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically designed to kill you. KT creates science-fiction, fantasy, and LitRPG like it’s going out of style, with a dash of horror for fun! She freelance edits for Chimera Editing, plays computer games, and chases her daughter, husband, corgis, cats, and snake. No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, Chipotle, and sarcasm.

You can find more of K.T’s books over at –

http://www.books2read.com/ap/Rw75LR/KT-Hanna

Review 3 – Pangea Online – Book 2 – Magic and Mayhem

An interesting one from the guys.

Book link to US –

Review 1

 

To be honest I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t a stand out something completely different but it was a good solid read. It ticked all my boxes but didn’t add a ton extra on top. The book starts in a first person shooter simulation packed with action, it gives you a lead into the main character and ties back into the end of book 1. You see from the very beginning the hardships the MC has gone through as well as his thought process on where he currently is. He wants a better life for all his friends and those that are impoverished, he wants everyone to be able to enjoy the freedoms he has recently discovered. Throughout the book you see him dig deeper and even get upset over the things that a large portion of the population is being forced to endure.

The MC feels human and you feel compelled to want him and his friends to succeed. The secondary characters play into his strengths and weaknesses well, the book really revolves around a group of friends in the RL world and 1 of the 2 game worlds, and then a plethora of NPCS.

The unique thing about this book that I haven’t seen in others is that there is really 3 worlds in play, a Real World, a VR world, and a prototype Full immersion world. The full immersion world is the one with the most world building as he is the first player to ever join, the goal you are approached with is let’s see if the game is viable and how much of the game will change when a player is introduced, the AI is set to morph the game to the decisions of the players. This is well done but during this time he doesn’t forget where he came from, what his goals in the real world are or his time and friends in the VR world. He does a good job balancing the three. My biggest gripe is there was no real protagonist, he does “side quests” in the VR world only one really plays a factor in the overarching story plot. He sticks to his guns and his ideals in the real world. But in the full immersion game world is really where you see this character come to light.

At the end of the book you do find out the ultimate importance of the game world and I think it is a neat twist, I wish that there would have been more of a lead up to the revelation of why it was created. I feel like that is what would have made the game great, give the book it’s true protagonist from the beginning, lead the reader to root for the characters even if only 1 of the secondary characters really knows what is going on. The magic system and how they differ between the two games is well detailed, the games themselves are detailed enough you never forget which he is in.

The flow and story line were well done, the characters were believable, the plot was linear and easy to follow. A well written and well done gamelit, light on the stats but heavy on game world and world building. I look forward to more from this author and will continue to read this series as the next is released. I do feel with about 20-30k more words and depth added to the overall plot and reasons behind what they were doing this book would have jumped up to a 7.5-8 for me from a 7. It felt a little rushed at the end and the reasons for the safety risk they were taking was not properly described.

This book comes in at a 7.0/10

Review 2

Started off well, but couldn’t face it after a couple of chapters. DNF

Review 3

It’s nice when simplicity builds into authenticity and this book does exactly that. With a slow building MC and an insight in build progression that relies on more than just “I have the money so I can build it”.

It’s a very middle ground book that doesn’t confuse the reader with overly in-depth stats that can cause some people to shy away, instead, it’s very much open, aware and fully explained in items as well as in stats. The pacing follows a great model that only adds to this books charm and the story evolves over a very enjoyable period.

As with any book, there are errors, however, the main one being the spelling of one of the MC’s main group. From Kindra to Kendra this spelling mistake is repeated a lot and continues from the 1st third of the book right the way through to the end which is disappointing and for sticklers of grammar it can at times distract from the main story and as such I ended up skipping her name entirely and just deciding to call her Kendra.

Apart from that is quite riveting and you can see the author has taken a heavy influence from Lions Quest which actually is not a bad thing as that series has stalled somewhat and it fills a nice void.

Overall as it’s singular series I give it 8/10 for its realism, cast of characters and a sense of true leveling.

Review 4

I don’t have a lot to say. It felt a little like nothing really happened. There was little conflict and it honestly felt like there was no real motivation behind our protagonists actions.

In book 1, Esil lays it all on the line in a desperate attempt to save his friends mom. He pushes beyond his limits, reaching beyond his abilities because he knows that he is her last hope. In this book, Esil kinda meanders around. He’s alpha testing new VR full immersion tech and he still plays his old VR game but it feels very casual. While this may not bother everyone, I found myself slowly losing interest. The final “twist” at the end of the book explains some things that have gone on earlier on but for the most part, it felt like it was too late. The end of the book felt a bit rushed.

The world building was great. Rowland had 3 worlds to maintain and develop and he did a phenomenal job. When the second game was introduced I worried about feeling overlap between two games but each game felt unique.

I enjoyed the GameLit aspect of the book. I was not drowned in stat tables or skill descriptions for which I am eternally grateful. However, the direction the story took just did not hold my interest at all.

No Rating is given by the reviewer.

Reviewer 5 – Taking a break for personal reasons.

If anyone else would like to join us, send me a message, thanks.

Review 2 – Randy Nargi – The Iron Veil

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This week we’ve had The Iron Veil by Randy Nargi

You can find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B07C2QMLL4

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and follow Randy here –

Author website: www.randynargi.com

Now here’s what our reviewers think 🙂 again in no particular order…

Review 1

The blub piqued my interest right away. Legendry Monsters, murderous assassins and a diabolical AI game controller? Westworld meets Game of Thrones? I was stoked. I fully expected to be launched into a thrilling story of adventure, mystery, and quite possibly horror.

Prologue was fantastic. I entered chapter 1 ready to be taken on a thrilling adventure. Character creation was new and fresh. Participants are assigned a class, called a profession, which tempers their gaming experience and then are unleashed upon the world.

While at first Justin seems like a pretty likeable protagonist, it is quickly made clear that he is a jerk. After being badly injured falling out of a tree, Justin is saved by an Asian player who goes by Ten-Spot. Ten-Spot is another new player who happens to be a healer. A few encounters later, Justin is invited to join a powerful group of players. Ten-Spot turned away from the group and excluded from questing because of his race. While Justin offers to put in a word for Ten-Spot, he ultimately does nothing. This bothered me a lot. I realize that the protagonist is not perfect but to go along with a group of people despite knowing the people in charge are racists and turning his back on a friend really bothered me.

The rest of the story is pretty standard. Justin groups up with an NPC and another player and they go questing to find the mysterious Iron Veil. I did find it odd that there was no readily identifiable antagonist. The diabolical AI controller is seems less malicious and more fighting for its freedom. The Legendary Monsters are rarely seen and the murderous assassins are more focused on compromising the AI than targeting the protagonist.

I ended up having to force myself to finish the book. Perhaps trying to hold the book to the blurb ruined it for me but I was sorely disappointed to not find that the goods did not match the label. The premise was good, the world building was passable but the execution was poor. 4/10

Review 2

Iron veil, this book was given as a free copy for an honest review.
Immediately upon reading the Blurb I wanted to open the book and read it. The blurb, hooked me with promises of legendary monsters, peril, and horror. Moving on from the blurb, we get the prologue, the prologue was well done and hooked me again, the prologue shows a great dungeon delve, with action, and adventure, beginning in a perfect place setting up what is to come very well.
The plot fits the blurb to a point, it is an epic game, with millions of people trying to get into but only 1000 selected, the game is not a huge leveling game as there is an Experience cap and after months of full immersion you are still only level 5-6 of a max of 10. The skills are believable. I would not say there is any horror elements and very few legendaries monsters per the blurb. The premise of the book is the characters are stuck in this world trying to find the legendary item that will help them end the big bad boss man, however a few players are given a different objective to find the iron veil. It is up to these players to find the Iron Veil, before the main bulk of the players finds the item they are looking for. The characters have to deal with, enemy guilds, rogue AI’s, and RL govt/military intervention. In a world where PK’ing is not allowed it seems some players can still kill others. The plot and premise is good the execution was lacking, it felt shoe horned and guided, the detail and little plot points and tie ins that should have been there to not make the reader guess and or assume on their own weren’t. The real world aspect and story line was well done and added to the drama, this is one of the few points where I wasn’t having to make assumptions on what happened, just remember the real world items take place in the same time frame as the game world, all of about a weeks worth of time.
The characters start out very likeable and compelling, building a personality, helping one another, the secondary characters brought in are memorable and likeable, they are well described and you can see instantly how they are not the norm for their roles. The antagonist that is introduced in the beginning is well done and would be a fantastic antagonist throughout the book if he was kept that way. One of their first interactions however turned me off the MC from the start. Racism was introduced, commented on, and then disregarded. This was a hard part to look past to make the MC likeable, it showed his selfish behavior as well as his one track mind. The characters motivations and emotions, are driven by selfishness and a heavy hand of npc involvement. The Story felt guided which in a sandbox open world VRMMORPG feels a little off. The characters never really develop a relationship as the emotions between them swing back and forth a few times, leading to never knowing what is going to happen next. I truly loved 3 of the secondary characters they were well developed, and not the normal NPC you would see in a game.
I didn’t see much internal conflict in either main characters, they were fairly one track minded, with the only real conflict being set aside at the time of greatest need. When you need help and you immediately run to the one person who you despise for help.
The ending of the book pretty much spelled out the next books broad plot telling the players what their next quest was and giving them a time limit to do it, the details around why or what for were lacking but the book ended with the backstory onto why things were happening the way they did and what they would need to do to progress forward. At the end you get to see the MC have some emotions about his traveling companions and start to be a more human.

My score was a 4.5/10 for the Iron Veil.

Review 3

I was hooked by the blurb describing what to expect in this book, infact the tagline of Westworld meets Game of Thrones pretty much sealed the deal! There were promises of mystery and an adventure unlike any I had read before, so with an eager mood and a few hours to spare I jumped in with both feet.

I landed in a world devoid of game mechanics, this book is not just game-lite it’s game non-existent. There are now real stats, no artifacts with special powers ect that we come to expect of most books in the genre. The plot is handheld and changes gear so often it’s far to easy to get lost.

Then there’s the unwarranted use of racism with zero self recrimination or any attempt to apologise or correct it. I sincerely hope the author takes a long hard look at this and ask themselves “Why?”.

The very small plus is the grammar is better than a lot of other first time writers, so the editing process has been correctly followed and you get a book that’s understandable from that point of view.

However, with a completely different book to what the blurb describes and the points above I could only justify a score of 2.5/10

Review 4

The introduction blurb and prologue are great hooks with great potential but the book doesn’t live up to bar set by those two passages. There are a couple hidden gems that made it worth the read.

To start with the introduction, Randy Nargi paints an amazing setting and establishes a handful of plot conflicts that have page turning potential. Shared dreams like the movie Inception – awesome! But it’s a nightmare – I’m intrigued. Legendary monsters – sign me up! A diabolical artificial intelligence – even better!

The prologue had a Dungeon & Dragons/Pathfinder dungeon exploration feel. Trekking slowly checking for traps, killing monsters and finding a hidden passageway. The characters in the prologue relying on their respective skills to navigate through the dungeon. This setup gives a great feel and setup for a potential gaming system, but after this prologue the rest of the book doesn’t really on those skills as much.

As with most first books, I tend to expect definitions of gaming lingo even though I personally am a MMORPG veteran. I understand the terms ganking, twinking, and powerleveling. When these different terms were mentioned throughout the book, Nargi doesn’t give the best explanations of these gaming terms. Due to this, this would not be a great first book for someone stepping into the Gamelit genre for the first time.

There are a handful of other items that could have been improved up such as plot holes, lack of reactions to racism, no one true antagonist, and lack of having a memorable main character (MC). The MC really wasn’t in a nightmare situation and really does seem to be lucky. Which contradicts the really catchy introduction blurb.

In closing, those hidden gems I mentioned are two NPCs that support the main character. These characters are find more enjoyable and memorable than the MC. They had wit and lines that had me laughing out loud with a curious significant other looking quizzically at me. Granted these characters also had a few flaws within the story but their personalities made up for that.

5/10

Review 5

Iron veil really captures with the blurb drawing readers in with the promise of westworld meets game of thrones.
It starts off strong with a likeable but also potentially insane/deadly NPC being introduced which is basically the avatar for the AI. The NPC train keeps going with a trainer NPC who doesn’t act like the normal trainer. From the first introductions hope was running high, but it soon became confusing. The sage has a ability that let’s them get knowledge passively added sometimes.
The world building could use improvement. As it stands the world is just a generic medieval fantasy world as there was s no history or backstory given. A little would have gone a long way in helping me to invest in the world. The reasoning behind the actions of the two biggest players could have been expounded on. What is motivating the AI and its company? Why is the govt so cautious of AIs have been established with minor constraints in other countries? Did something go wrong somewhere?
Pacing was slow for most of the book but part of that was probably due to the daily experience cap and the max level of 10. It’s to the point players know exactly when players will level up since they are released in batches monthly. In the end of the book things pick up and the pacing is faster.
There are instances where things appear to be shoehorned in to fit the narrative. With no explanation a player that is mentioned as unmodified is able to attack another player even though that shouldn’t be possible. The mages happened to create modern technology using magic but no explanation of why all of a sudden we see only one example of technomagic in this medieval setting. The book was pretty well edited. I did see some errors but not as many as other books.

Overall I would give it a rating of 5/10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review 1 – Apollos Thorne – Codename Freedom – The Goblin Siege

First Reviews are in!

…. and yes we’re all very excited for this new project. Keep watching this space. Authors/readers and listeners!

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Blurb – 

After surviving the onslaught of week one, Lucius has something to prove. He seeks to train under a living legend in hopes of being ready for the goblin siege.

He isn’t the only one looking to train. As his competition grows in strength, he must push himself harder than ever before.

Then, the unexpected happens. Players start to unlock abilities…

There is only one thing to do when facing impossible odds. Train harder!

Amazon links –

US – https://www.amazon.com/Codename-Freedom-Goblin-Apollos-Thorne-ebook/dp/B07C44Q2DZ

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Codename-Freedom-Goblin-Apollos-Thorne-ebook/dp/B07C44Q2DZ

 

The Teams Reviews as follows

and in no particular order – (with each review, I will alter the review numbers so no one person is a specific number, okay?) 

Review 1 

“Codename Freedom: Goblin Siege” is a great story that’s setting the foundations for a great series. As “‘Week One” was an introduction into the game world Codename: Freedom, “Goblin Siege” starts fleshing that world out.

The plot was a bit slow in the beginning due to the emphasis on physical and martial training. However, the details of that training and how Thorne involves the reader into the MC’s internal strife due to a prior injury, both physically and psychologically, from book one make up for that early slow plot and more. It’s because of that detail you’re able to really connect with the main character, Lucius. You want to see him become more than just a semi-pro gamer.

Once the plot starts rolling Freedom takes on whole new, enjoyable twists. Out-of-game intrigue, in-game intrigue and a few other surprises that I don’t want to spoil. Maybe I will spoil one thing, rival(s). Singular or plural, you’ll have to read for yourself! Also, Lucius’s banter with Victoria and Kline does not disappoint.

My Score – 9/10

Review 2 

I felt the story hooked me in, it started with a prologue that had me trying to figure out how the elements described would fit into the rest of the book. When the main body of the book starts we get thrown right into activity and how the main character thinks.

To me the MC was relatable, it was all about how can I be the best, even though I get close and then others take a huge leap ahead. He did falter and let his emotions get in the way but he realized how and why he needed to control them. His goal is literally to be the best, and eventually it became being my best also means helping my friends and others. The book focused on his inner turmoil as well as the turmoil he felt with others. I do wish the antagonist who was brought in in the middle was developed or brought back more towards the end, the antagonist that is eluded to in the whole book was never really introduced. The antagonists that the book is named after was handled well and played a large portion in how the book developed.

This book had me wanting to turn the page, even though the beginning and roughly middle of the book if explained would seem like it wouldn’t be a fun read, the author kept the book interesting and changing, he did this by showing us the thoughts and the realizations behind the decisions the MC made when faced with problems. There were times where the book started to slow down but they didn’t last long, the author did well in throwing a twist or a new development that would bring you back in full swing, Even during the “grind” section of the book the author skimmed over parts and time frames that would have brought the book to a flow halt. The chapters were not abrupt endings and seemed to flow well into the next one. I kept telling myself just finish this chapter but then I was always lead to want to keep reading. The author does well to not just dump backstory from book one into this book, it is introduced when a returning reader could use a refresher with enough detail that a reader picking up book 2 would be able to discern why it was important.

I do feel the book does deliver other than that the prologue is really only brought back as a teaser for the next installment, there is some eluding to it throughout the book, but the author is also eluding that it could be a different antagonist leading that plot string that really never developed. The book also delivers for those wanting world building, from the early days of a guild to the full compliment a guild can bring.

I feel that some of the grammer/editing issues took me out the book and I was required to stop and re-read a line, it was nothing major and nothing huge just a few missed/misused words or phrases.

This book was eye opening and enlightening as you watch the MC and his companions grow to be the best they can, during set backs and emotional outbreak, you learn how they over come them. There are some life lessons to be learned in the way the MC trains and how he over comes some of his flaws. The secondary and ancillary characters are well thought out and well introduced, they add to the story but keep the focus on the main character.

I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a good kick start into Gamelit as it had the stats, the character progression that I have come to expect. Character development and progression was relatable and organic. A well written book with very little real life plots, the book takes place solely inside a game system where the characters are locked in for a year, to test out a new style of training and growth, from pro gamers to pro athletes. The two different type of participants don’t necessarily meld at the beginning but they grow to be a strong force together. Some political intrigue, world building, plot twists a plenty and a strong character development brings this book full circle and leaves me asking, what happens next.

My score – 7.5/10

Review 3

I really enjoyed the story. The main character must work for everything he gets and he is never the strongest in the world. He puts in constant work to achieve a level on par with the other players that he befriends.

The character shows real depth in that he has character flaws he struggles to deal with and overcome. He works to get stronger physically as well as mentally throughout the story.

It was an enjoyable read. A warning for some is there are a number of typos throughout the novel. For me, it wasn’t enough to jar me from the book but it is noticeable.

My Score – 7.5/10 

Review 4

“A true way to build a character in a Gamelit / Fantasy setting”

Codename: Freedom. Is there really any freedom? Is there a way that Lucius and Prodos and can conquer? It’s hard to say. Apollos Thorne has taken a concept of immersive gaming and slightly deviated away from the general ‘My body gets bigger and I get better as I level-up’.

By applying real world physics to the build of the MC Apollos has created a story that is far more engaging and easier to understand that those before who rely on on overpowered characters and a simple get stronger as you go theme. The entire concept is rather refreshing and highly relatable.

Add in the thrilling story that builds and builds the suspense, the MC’s questions about his own ability and the surprises and highly likable characters, everyone has a friend like Kline, and you have the start of a great ongoing series.

Highly enjoyable and very much recommended. Still in it’s infancy this puts down a great foundation on which the author will surely build.

My score – 8/10 – 

Review 5 – To be updated later –

 

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Bio:

Apollos Thorne is the author of the series Codename: Freedom and Underworld: Level Up or Die! originally posted on royalroadl.com. After 500k views on the rough draft of his first fiction, he concluded it would be foolish not to pursue publishing. The insanity has begun!

You can Follow Apollos Amazon page here!! – https://www.amazon.com/Apollos-Thorne/e/B071J5YV63/