I first picked up the first book in the Divine Dungeon series, Dungeon Born, by Dakota Krout over a year ago. After struggling through it I gave up on the series and returned it. I never expected to go back.
Divine Dungeon, 1-4
By Dakota Krout
The problem I had was in understanding a cultivation story. I had misunderstood and mischaracterized this series and assumed it was LitRPG. It’s not, which lead to my frustration.
Dungeon Born, the first book, is about a dungeon. The soul of some poor retch was captured by a necromancer within a gem that became the dungeon. A wisp shows up and for most of the rest of the book, the story is about “Cal” learning to gather in magical resources and cultivate to level up. Why? To build more and more dangerous traps and creatures for the dungeon. Just describing it sounds dull. And even after four books, the truth is that a lot is dull.
I dont get the point of all the detail in the cultivation techniques used or even why the leveling system is so comlicated (it gets more and more as you progress from F to SS, and all the steps in between.) It’s clear that the author spent an incredible amount of time working through everything though.
After hearing so many positive reviews about subsequent books I picked up the rest of the series deciding to give this one more chance. After four book, I’m glad I did.
In the second book, Dungeon Madness, the second book, Cal’s wisp has been stolen by the necromancers. A dungeon that loses its wisp goes mad and Cal is on the verge throughout the book. New characters are introduced and the burgeoning town that has sprung up around the dungeon, Mountaindale, is growing. During this book, I thought the story with the dungeon may take a step back as we focuse on the cuty.
By the end of the third book, the relationship between Cal and Dale, the human “owner” of the dungeon, finally makes sense. And the story could have probably wrapped at the end of Dungeon Calamity and I would have been fine.
Instead, it continues in Dungeon Desolation, the first book where it’s clear that the author has bigger plans for where the story goes. No spoilers, but the ending is great!
The problem I have is that all of the really fun parts are interspersed between long tedious sections of cultivating. There is a war at one point where Dale decided to cultivate for real, I guess, and for most of the war all we hear about it seems is Dale cultivating. In my opinion, probably a third of each book could be condensed and tightened to keep the attention of the reader. It would have worked for me.
However I may have had some complaints, there are some parts that the author should get credit for. I wrote of the complexity, which is well developed, and the master plan in the series. I also appreciated that this book was clean, both in language and content. This means I can listen with my kids and I’m all about finding ways to encourage them and get them hooked on reading.
There is a fifth book, Dungeon Eternium, which I already bought and will read. I’d recommend this to readers who want intensely complex cultivating and an overarching development story included.