Imagine you are watching a Twitch livestream; watching a game being learned/played and hearing the commentary from the gamer that goes along with it. But in this instance, you are reading/listening to it rather than watching it. That probably sounds pretty boring, right? What if, instead of someone playing a game, that person was inserted INTO the game; taken from the comfort of home, thrown into uncharted territory, and forced to survive on instincts learned from gaming? That would make things more interesting, right?
Our main character, Richter, after finishing a quest in the real world, wakes up in 'The Land'; a mythical world where leveling up, skill building, crafting, and world-building are a must to survive. Starting out at lvl 1, Richter has to quickly discover how the world works and just who his allies/enemies are. Much like in RPGs today, whenever Richter progresses levels/finds items/etc, there are pop-up notifications that guide his decision making, whether to add points to specific skills or learn a new trait that will help him on his next quest. I can understand where these notifications would become annoying while reading, but it was easy enough to fast forward in the audio when they became a little overwhelming. But in all honesty, these notifications are a requirement for the book as they are a mainstay in RPGs.
A little bit RPO/Armada, but full immersion and with swords and magic. While the book won't win Book of the Year nods, it was a truly enjoyable experience for me, as a gamer, because Nick Podehl absolutely KILLED the narration. Voice inflection, acting rather than simply reading, and pacing are key elements that make good audiobooks great, and Podehl knows how to create a great audiobook.
There are glimpses of greatness in Kong's writing, especially this being his first book. He has built a world out of video game knowledge and created, basically, another video game via text form. The world building is solid while the characters felt a bit lacking, especially as Richter acts/talks much like the kids who play online today and, for some reason, doesn't seem to care much about the world he left behind; but I guess when you are trying to survive in a new world, that is all you really care about when it comes down to it.
All in all, I would give the book itself probably 3-3.5 stars, but the narration ultimately gave it a 4-4.5 star vibe. Definitely a pick-up for any gamers out there who want an easy, fun read.