War Aeternus 1: The Beginning -Charles Dean
Narration – Jeff Hays and SoundBooth Theatre
Miller: Don’t worry, the herald never hogs the blood and glory. If bad guys show up he’ll be sure to let us kill a few of them too.”
Ling: I don’t think that’s what he meant…
Miller: ARE YOU TRYING TO STEAL ALL THE HERALD’S GLORY?!”
Some of you may already know the works of Charles Dean via his first foray into the world of writing as “The Bathrobe Knight”. This however, was the first for me. Honestly, I really enjoyed it.
Having a story telling rhythm akin to my own, Charles Dean fills his pages with a total menagerie of: puns, slapstick comedy, famous references, several Easter Eggs, as well as many references to old MMORPGs that no one knows of except the people who spent years playing them; Dark Age of Camelot anyone?
This is one of those “a God came from on high into the real world, kidnapped a poor sap, and made him that god’s plaything.” Our benevolent religious icon of worship in these pages is none other than “Augustus: God of Drinks and Crafts”. This entire first book is basically world building and character development. There are a lot of things covered in the story from: introducing the main character to his plight, rounding up and understanding the group’s characters and their abilities, as well as a bit of love sprinkled here and there.
Thankfully he stays away from the trap of “Harem Building” a lot of LITRPG books delve into. Instead he focuses on more “realistic fantasy” in a world of sword and sorcery. The plot for the book is an interesting one, in that the kidnapped human is brought to this world and becomes an “NPC” or non-player character. This sets off a slew of questions from “Lee” (our main character) about just exactly what he is and what he is supposed to be doing in this new world.
Augustus first introduces himself to Lee as a mouse in his office building. He then kidnaps Lee and takes him to an open air arena to face off against a zombie swordsman. Lee fends off the zombie, all the while Augustus is mocking, and doing his best to distract Lee during his first battle. Lee eventually beats the zombie and is set loose into the world to find “more people/NPCs to worship Augustus as their deity of choice”.
This is where we meet Miller. A tall, muscled but still lanky Firbolg, who dreams of nothing but becoming “A great Paladin Warrior!” Miller is a total boisterous, and battle ready badass who wields a spear and tremendous power to verbally assault his victims. Often he foretells how they are to die in some horrific fashion, proceeding to follow that death out to the letter. Let me tell you, some of them are….imaginative to say the least.
Charles Dean himself, does an amazing job of weaving a wonderful story balanced between: might and magic, pain and pleasure, righteous and sinful. Often putting Lee in just enough of an uncomfortable position to really make the reader squirm under their own moral compass. His ability to astound and amaze all adjuncts adventuring around this audacious and awesome array of alliteration, makes me smile. If you listen closely you can pick up some real wonders indeed.
Nothing of this story is spoon fed to the reader. Luckily Dean managed to get none other than Jeff Hays himself to narrate this soon to be “LITRPG classic”. Using close to the same southern-style voice we would hear in other works; in this one, it fits. Hays’ ability to cast such a wide array of voices for each character is still surprising to someone who has listened to the large majority of his works so far.
As usual the production is crisp and clean, with no dropped words or poor mixing/mastering. Hays really has a great team behind him who can spot and equalize any problem before it comes to the customer. I for one, have never had a problem listening to any of his work to date.
It took me a while to get around to this book, and, I’m sad for that. I had no problem wanting to sit through this entire book in one go. Coming in at just under 14 hours; that is hard to do. However I have definitely found another book to go on my “few times a year” re-listen list. Check this one out, you will NOT be sorry!
Buy this book if you enjoy:
Gratuitous violence, famous cameos, abundant alliteration, Jeff Hays being “Jeff Hays”, spear wielding maniacs, drunken shapeshifting gods, laughing out loud at 3 am, making believers out of fried chicken, using mice as scouts, and especially if you like: Drunk-Fu!
Overall rating: 8/10
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Book one can be found on audible at: