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Jack Russo is a pretty average guy, supporting his sister and nephew and spending all of his spare time playing the MMORPG Kingdom of Heaven. Inside the game he's Iron Jack, an awesome knight and member of one of the top guilds in KoH. When Jack's sister objects to him spending all his time in game with no real world friendships, she kicks him out of their house.
Jack meets a stranger who claims to work for the developers who created Kingdom of Heaven. The stranger takes him back to the studio where an explosion traps Jack in the actual game. No respawning, no communication with the outside. His only chance to go home is to capture the Skull Throne. Iron Jack is the biggest baddie in Kingdom of Heaven, but that still may not be enough to win the Throne.
I've read a few LitRPG books by these authors and they are really all about the slow burn. They put so much time and thought into developing the characters and their motivations, it's really well done. Jack spends a lot of time in his own head, beating himself up for the situation he's in. He makes some silly decisions, but he's really just a good guy at heart. I liked watching him come to terms with the reality of what he thought was a game. He's a character I want to root for.
The game side of the book is great, a world with a heaven, hell, mortal plane, and portals between them, and all the fantasy creatures that reside there. There weren't too many stats to drag down the action scenes, which I always appreciate. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but it's a great setup for the rest of the series.
I thought the narration was awesome. The narrator had a great range of character voices, even performing different voices for each female character which was really impressive. There were some cool sound effects that enhanced the story. I think I would have enjoyed reading the book, but I loved listening to it. I requested a copy of the audiobook, and I'm voluntarily leaving a review.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The Skull Throne
Kingdom of Heaven, Book 1
By: J.A. Cipriano, Conner Kressley
Narrated by: Jeff Hays
This is an audible book I requested and the review is voluntary.
This book I found to be much more personable for a LITRPG. The characters seemed more real and and I picture them as a person when they were not playing and experienced the fun and excitement when they were playing. Because it was more personal, the team playing was more interesting and more dramatic. Plus, no one knew that one of there friends was in the game for real! He was really feeling the hits, falls, and battles. There was humor too. A good all around fun read!
The narrator made this extra great! All the voices, emotions, sounds,....just perfect! Loved it, tipped it up a notch or two!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
OH MY GODS!
I know it's another book by J.A. Cipriano and that by this point I shouldn't really even be getting surprised like this. His writing just keeps getting better, and even if I actually read it I don't think I'd be able to put it down.
But as an audiobook? Un-be-lievable!
The voices, the acting, the emotion... Oh man!
Narrators can bring so much goodness to a book and make it so much more than it ever could have been if you read it for yourself. And if they're on top of their game, the whole thing becomes a theater in your mind.
This book you simply have to listen. If you don't, you will still enjoy it, but you will have no idea what you've missed.
Let me get this straight - I've never heard Jeff Hays in my life. I had no idea what to expect of him and his performance. When the book offer came up, I just saw Cipriano wrote it and didn't even check the audio sample. He always gets great people to read his books, and he's one hell of a writer, so why even bother, right?
My first minute of listening was "Hm. OK. There's something unusual about this guy's voice."
And then, another voice joined in. And it was a female voice. And it was a very good female voice! Generally, male narrators do better female voices than the other way around, but this was really good. Like, Ray Porter or Marc Thompson-level good.
And so the story continued, and every single voice in there was epic in its own right! Up and coming narrators - listen and take notes.
Characters are well written, but Jeff gave them life and uniqueness. I should probably give a huge credit to Conner Kressley too, as he co-authored this awesome book. With Cipriano and his frequent co-writing deal I never know who works on which part. And I'm not sure I even care. End result is always awesome.
Book starts the second LitRPG series I've read from Cipriano - first one being Soulstone - and it's the second one done right.
Character introductions are seamless, have a purpose and are not overly dramatic during their initial appearance as we tend to see nowadays. Well formed, built over time, and definitely not forgettable.
Majority of the story plays out in the virtual world, as we've come to expect with LitRPG genre, but as this is the exact reason I'm reading it I couldn't find any faults with it :-)
There's an immediate fork which differentiates The Skull Throne from Soulstone, and it's a good thing. Similarities of the virtual world quickly end, and I was left to enjoy the new world without having to subconsciously compare them.
Writer definitely isn't a one-trick-pony when it comes to similar subjects. Something I feel should be pointed out.
If anything, the book kind of expects you to have an MMO experience of sorts. If not, then an open mind is required so you can actually enjoy it. If not, you're definitely holding/listening the wrong book.
But I think the preamble takes care of that. "Enter "Iron" Jack Russo. Able to drop newbs with a single headshot and the king of online games." Yep, you're in the right place :-)
There's even a glossary of game terms at the end! Second-to-last chapter. Read first. I wish I did :-)
I couldn't help but feel how stuff, which is generally visual, got conveniently formed to accommodate narration. For example, combat logs, when you see something like:
"Goblin Thief hits you for 2432 Physical damage.
You are Poisoned.
You take 200 Poison damage.
12378 energy remaining."
A special voice is used for events like this, and it works surprisingly well!
"Congratulations! You have reached level 53!
The Principalities smile on you. You gain 2 attunement ranks.
You gain 2 Essences of Principalities"
Yes, it's actually "listen-able". Jeff the Wizard makes it so! Even the glitching characters are awesomely "converted".
"IronJack! Who is your best friend?" Jackal cracked me up every time. Ridiculously funny character. Also, made 50x better by hero-level voice acting.
Sequel cannot come soon enough. It's written already, but I'll absolutely wait for the audiobook to come out of production! Hope it arrives before holidays :-)
So, now I'm going to chase down books voiced by Jeff, as I simply have to confirm that this isn't a fluke. If he's really of Ray Porter's or Marc Thompson's caliber, I'll spend my entire Audible credit bank getting new stuff.
I'll have to find more time for reading, too. Perhaps hit the gym, as I've been planning for months now, and listen while on a treadmill.
- "I want you to be happy Jackie."
- "Don't call me Jackie!"
- "Why not? You can call me Chuck!"