Tag Archives: LitRPG

Panga Online: Death and Axes by Rowland

I enjoyed Sentenced to Troll so I was happy to check out these two books. While I enjoyed this book the similarities to Ready Player One in plot and characters and even environments are really hard to miss. I’m showing this book came out six years later so which influenced which seems obvious.

Death and Axes

Pangea Online #1

By S.L. Rowland

Self-published

2017

But to be clear, a pastiche is a work that imitates not plagiarizes another work. So I am not saying that. And, I’m also not saying it’s a rehash. It just seems clear that this imitates RPO.

How? Both MCs grow up in the stacks/boxes. Both are super poor. Both have a best friend in the game they’ve never met. Both have a love interest met online. Both have a huge immersive MMORPG with many worlds, each having its own rules (science, magic, pirates, 3tc). Both have a huge contest with three phases and leaderboards showing standings. [SPOILERS] Both end with the MC becoming owner/part owner of the game. [END SPOILERS]

However, it was enjoyable. And unlike RPO, this is much more LitRPG with stats, spells and level ups. There also wasn’t an evil corporation trying to take over, so that was nice.

In the end, I enjoyed it like this author’s other work and will definitely read number two.

Enhancer by Kane

A loser every-guy works as a janitor and tech at a local club and has no hope for the future. Then two superpowered men fight to the death right in front of him, one of them with his dying words telling the lower to take a device from him and run. Ty does and joins the ranks of superpowered.

Enhancer
Enhancer Book 1
by Wyatt Kane
Grave Audio Productions
September 2018

The device snaps onto Ty’s arm and he is instantly transformed as nanobots enter his blood stream and analyze then enhance his DNA and capabilities. When he wakes from the initial transformation he finds his body is enhanced and he has a new skill based on his DNA – enhancing technology. Think Toby McGuire in Spider-Man. He’s an almost perfect version of himself. No longer a loser. No longer destined for cleaning toilets.

The setup is pretty standard fare, but the idea that he becomes a technology mastermind rather than an overpowered superman is interesting. His power works well in allowing him to support and enhance the other superheroes. Where this goes would have been interesting to find out. But the book has several key drawbacks, not the least of which is repetitive, low reading level writing and a completely unnecessary and gratuitous focus on sex.

As for writing, every couple of sentences it seemed that the author reworded what he just said. And the same things get repeated throughout the book. How many times did Ty think that the two female heroes were “perfect?” Apparently, every couple pages. How many times do we need to hear about how loathsome Bane is to Ty? Every time they think of each pother. We get it. A thesaurus and an editor who could help tighten this up and raise the reading level. “Some superhero you are!” and “Get them! Don’t let them get away!” and “You little insect!” (real quotes from Bane to Ty at the end of the book,) isn’t exactly The Killing Joke level banter. This isn’t a big deal though as most books that I’ve seen and read recently – especially small publishers or independents – suffer from this gap. It goes with the territory for books in genres like this.

The main reason I’ll not be finishing the series is the juvenile focus on sex. There are three sex scenes in the book. But the conversations and focus is throughout. Ty and other superheroes who have the same alignment (neutral good, Ty’s case) have an overwhelming attraction for each other. From the moment that Ty meets the two female supers all the book is about is how amazingly attractive they are. Tempest is the perfect blonde. Dina is a deer-kin (her body has been adjusted to have hooves, antlers, and mottled skin). The author obviously has some kinks that I don’t share. The first scene is pretty short and a fade to black type scene. Not so bad if they were all like that. The second is a threesome with some more details. The third comes after Dina is kidnapped and the two heroes are despondent about her capture and not sure how to survive so they take the few moments they have before the showdown to have some rough sex. The fourth and final is a full fade to black. To clarify: Ty has known Dina and Tempest for maybe 3 days and there were 4 sex scenes wrapped around a day at work for Ty and a final battle with Dina kidnapped. It’s all about sex, which doesn’t make sense if the story is the point. But since sex is the point, it makes total sense.

This should have been placed in erotica even though this is mild compared to some of that stuff. It isn’t a superhero book or a LitRPG book. As such, I have no time for a poorly written harem erotic book and don’t recommend it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

8-Bit Bastards Level 2 by Mason

I’ve never zoned out so much during a book as I did with this.

8-bit Bastards Level 2
By Joshua Mason
Spectrum Audiobooks
December 2019

The idea of a retirement in virtual reality where you can do anything you want forever that gradually gets old is fascinating. The 8-bit Easter eggs and gaming mechanics is fun. But the characters were not interesting, IMO, and I never got to the point where I cared what was happening or if they succeeded. The story is not over in this collection and it ends abruptly.

Maybe this will get better as time goes on. I’m just not that interested in finding out.

The writing itself isn’t bad. The narrator does a good job. Production value is high and I loved the occasional sound effects.

 


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

I got this title as a giveaway, but not as a review copy.

Hell to Pay by Chmilenko

Book 2 of Ascend Online was very different than book 1. Unlike most series, it seems that Chmilenko is focused on the world of the game (and perhaps the battle between in-game sister “gods” Order and Chaos) rather than the players.

Hell To Pay
Ascend Online 2
by Luke Chmilenko
Ætherworld Productions
April 2017

In book 2, the setting changes to the nearby (three days away) large city briefly discussed in book 1, and the goings-on of one of the Thieves Guilds and two players in the guild. It’s also more of a mystery as the story begins with our anonymous hero waking up in a torture room with a new magical sigil on his chest and his guild master dead. He doesn’t remember anything from the point that he took on a quest called The Heist. How a human player could actually have their memory wiped by the game is confusing and scary – both to the players in the story and to the reader.

Interestingly, the characters in this book never interact with the characters in book 1 – and that’s fine with me. This thriller was significantly more than the normal introductory story, allowing book 1’s explanation of the game and the world to suffice so we could jump right in to the new characters.

A down side to this Ascend Online, in terms of LitRPG, is that it seems to make no effort to tell any part of the story outside the game. So it’s simply a fantasy book with gaming stats and some pseudo third wall breaking. Even though it is much better written than The Dark Herbalist series, I find the real lives of the players to add to the main story and avoiding any consideration of that part of our main characters is a weakness so far in Ascend Online. Still, the third book is in my queue and I’m excited to jump in to it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Dark Herbalist series