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Since Mark Twain did A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, there's always been a desire by some people to be the guy who goes to a fantasy world in order to make use of their knowledge to take over. Err, I mean be a big hero. My favorite of this subgenre is probably Army of Darkness followed by Eric Flint's Ring of Fire series. Still, Blaise Corvin's Delvers LLC has probably supplanted the latter as my second favorite of all time. The only reason it's not at the top is because, well, Bruce Campbell.
The premise is Jason and Henry are a pair of martial arts enthusiasts who get kidnapped by the Great God Dolos (bolded for emphasis). Dolos is effectively a being akin to Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation only obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft (depending on what decade you grew up in). He's omnipotent or close to it and has populated a planet with elves, humans, goblins, beast people, and orks.
Even more so, he's created a bunch of dungeons spread across the planet full of treasure as well as magical items designed to simulate leveling up. Dolos outfits the pair with a couple of orbs and tells them to go onward, Christian soldier, and kill some monsters for loot. The rest of the book follows them in their confused attempt to deal with the fact they're now trapped in a Gygaxian death world.
As the writer of the Supervillainy Saga series, I'm aware of a rule which Blaise Corvin seems to be, which is that any premise can be sold to the reader as long as its implication are well thought out as well as presented sincerely. The idea of a god playing hack and slash rpging with real people is absolutely insane but it works wonderfully because the characters take it seriously. They discuss things ranging from: "is it right to kill people", "are the monsters we're killing actual people", "how do we survive in a world based on violence", and "can we get home?"
If I have any real complaint about the book, it's that Jason and Henry are a little too well-adjusted to the insanity around them. I'd have thrown in a bit more, "Is that a ****ing elf? That is a ****ing elf!" Then again, Jason has the ambition of nailing a cat girl before he discovers they're not the anime kind so I can't complain too much. Jason and Henry may be both straight men but they each have specialties with the former being a trained soldier while the latter having a science-fiction/fantasy background.
Really, I'm pleased to say the supporting cast from Ludus is even more interesting than the protagonists. Mareen and Uluula are more than mere love interests for the character with the former being a fairly well developed fantasy archetype (farm girl turned adventuress) while the latter is a Space Elf stuck on a planet full of primitive screwheads. I'm also pleased Corvin tackled the issues of romance, courtship, and sexual taboos are different on Ludus than Earth. It may sound a bit peculiar but I'm actually interested in seeing if Corvin will tackle polyamory in the setting. The rest of their adventuring company is also entertaining with their own arcs and story beats.
Dolos, himself, is a great character and a fine fantasy villain that comes close to being Handsome Jack levels of hateable. For example, one thing I loved is how he misleads the various races into killing one another while making it seem it's all in good vs. evil fun. That's some dark and disgusting stuff from a man who is just doing this as a giant experiment. The cover of my copy really captures what a smug jackass he is, complete with little crown.
A fair warning for more sensitive souls, part of how the book sells its premise is the fact violence is unsanitized. People die horribly in the setting and Ludus is kind of a hellhole where the strong prey on the weak. There's allusions to rape and sexual slavery as well as one scene where a female character has to fight off a sexual predator. The dissonance with the colorful premise gives the book a distinct flavor, though.
In conclusion, I recommend Delvers quite strongly. It's entertaining and has an original premise with characters I actually care about. The women are arguably more interesting than the men but I wanted them to hook up with their love interests--which is rarely something I care about in books. I also like the set up for a full-length series as a lot of seeds are planted for the eventual fall of Dolos (or not).
66 of 68 people found this review helpful
Great story! The only reason for rating 4 of 5 stars is from the recording. Throughout the book there is an occasional echo from the reading. Usually when the narrator has to raise his voice. At first I thought it was on purpose when the narrator was expressing the characters inner thoughts, but it was happening too often.
Has a good amount of coarse language and a few adult situations which could require a parent's discretion.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
When you like a narrator you do tend to find books and genre's you've never listened to before, so this was a first for me. I did used to game a lot when I was younger but I'm a bit out of touch now.
The story had a great sense of humour from the get go. Our two Mc's are transported to another world and meet the God - Dolos. Who through his intentions brings out the sarcastic unbelievability of our human nature. He doesn't appear much, but he has a good role. There were some POV shifts that didn't gel with me at first, but once I got used to it, it was much easier to follow, it could well be that this is an audiobook and not me reading it where the confusion lies...
I hadn't known what to expect from the plot, and I hoped that it would entertain, yes it did. There were some really great points and then some low ones. I did find that although the Mc's were almost 30 and older, that their mindsets were that of much younger guys, for me in their 20's either that or their teenage male hormones just kick in at stupid times and especially around the women of the planet. I would like to think guys a little more mature didn't act like these two in some situations. Their reactions in most situations are quite normal, even if they're accepting to their new situation a little too easy, but as explained theres reasons for that.
In relation to the two 'ladies' they come across, I think that both of them ending up in a relationship with the two Mc's is a little too good to be true and feels a little more like hero worship and entrapment of some kind, at least to me.
Of course, I can't fault the performance, Jeff really brings the best to the table and he's always going to make something amazing. As an audiobook I listened til just before Chapter 15 before I the writing actually pulled me out the story. As I'm new to the genre, I'm not 100% sure on how switching POV's so late in the story is acceptable, but I guess it is.
Marine's pov here didn't do anything for me, and I have to be honest. As a script writer and juggler of multiple POV's they're important for me to be early on in a story. I can only think that and the same goes for the other POV's that sneak in now and then.
There were two pretty important big battles in here, and the most important for me is the fight against Thod obviously, and this is a really great scene. Almost wanted the book to end soon after, I honestly am not sure that the dungeon scene later measures up to it.
Overall, I had some fun, laughed and routed for the Mc's in their quest. I know I'm not quite the target market, and that shows in the way I perceived some of the plot points. I do think this is a good book and that people of all generations and those who love both Fantasy, Scifi and this newer genre will enjoy.
I look forward to more from Jeff and Blaise. Thanks for the entertainment. :)
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The idea is a classic at this point - modern characters in a fantasy world and the hijinks that follow.
Several issues with this one though.
a) main characters are bland and uninspiring. It keeps adding quirks or details to them in an attempt to add depth, but they still come off as flat.
b) the violence is gratuitous. It takes charisma to pull off explicit and detailed violence. This book doesn't offer that - and the scenes that spend a good ten minutes unnecessarily explaining the horror involved are not only poorly written, but pornographically twisted.
c) the dialogue is pretty clunky.
unfortunately makes this a disappointment.
First off, I don't write reviews, I usually just offer some stars but hardly ever actually write something but this is just such an amazing series that I finished waaay too fast, I couldn't stop! Characters are great, with the story going back and forth between their point of views, gives a great in depth feel to the world.
The powers, good God they're cool, like seriously. After some action sequences, had me wishing it was me.
The narrating is absolute tops, giving such depth to everyone, I could really feel like I was really there.
Thank you team, I can't wait for more!
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I'd happily recommend the book to any friend that liked either games or fantasy.
What did you like best about this story?
The story is fast-paced and lighthearted. The characters are likeable in a way that is quite rare; they feel real, even when suspending disbelief for some of their rections.
Have you listened to any of Jeff Hays’s other performances? How does this one compare?
First time listening to Jeff Hays, but I'd happily listen to him again. He makes characters sound distinct, and he never broke my immersion. The audio quality is also excellent.
Any additional comments?
If you like LitRPG, Fantasy or just games in general, just get it. The book is at least worth the money.