Narrator: Jack Voraces
Series: Limitless Lands #1
Published by Self Published / Indie on 24 October 2018
Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, LitRPG, Science Fiction
Source: Author, Submitted
Colonel James Raytak is about to die. The 93-year-old combat veteran is living his last days in a nursing home; his only hope for survival is an experimental Medpod life support system controlled by an artificial intelligence.
Co-developed by the world’s largest gaming company, Qualitranos the AI will also control the soon-to-be-released game Limitless Lands. Without its creator’s knowledge, the AI decides the best course of treatment is to import its patient’s consciousness directly into the game.
Colonel Raytak must dust off his military training and lead his virtual troops in a fight to repair his broken body and mind while exploring the Limitless Lands.
©2018 Dean Henegar (P)2018 Dean Henegar
ABR received this audiobook for free from the Author, Submitted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect our opinion of the audiobook or the content of our review.Buy from AudibleAdd to Goodreads
“Limitless Lands” is a blending of a LitRPG, real-time strategy, and a fantasy world containing some unique and fresh ideas. Who would have imagined and army of Roman soldiers in a fantasy-like setting? It is the first book in the Limitless Lands series and a premiere work from author Dean Henegar. The audiobook edition is narrated by Jack Voraces, who appears to be a newcomer to the narration scene having three audiobooks listed on Audible at the time of this review. I found the author’s closing chapter impactful even though it was short, detailing his reasons and perspectives driving him to write the book; in many ways I which it had been the first chapter listened too. Overall, I liked the story and found enough fresh ideas to make it interesting and entertaining even though there were a few potholes along the way. I felt the author attempted to blend too many elements and genres which at times made the story more muddled, faded and disconnected from the core reasons people often listen to this genre. Additionally, I had issues with the overly used sound effects, character voicing, and production quality in the audiobook edition. Some of these audio problems may have taken away from the story itself instead of enhancing it. In such a crowded and rather hot LitRPG space, it can be hard to stand out. For me, the book was not bad, but it also was not to the standards that many now expect from the genre. If you are more a fan of military tactics and movements, this might be the book you are looking for. I thought the story diverged from many of the basic RPG fundamentals (stats, experience, etc.) for me to recommend it to people interested solely in LitRPG type books. There was some stats usage, but this was not the focus nor did one feel it was necessary nor impactful to the story’s outcome. I felt more like I was watching a real-time strategy game being played then an RPG, and I was never a fan of that type of game.
I enjoyed both the physical and virtual worlds the author created in the book. In the physical world we have a very utopian futuristic place where drones and robots are now the way wars are fought. Physical human military personnel are no longer required and many of those who remember wars involving humans are few and far between. Like many of our remaining World War II veterans today, the story’s main character is aged and finds himself in a rather different world. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and game immersion are the things that some use for both escape and entertainment. The new system being brought online may have the ability to not only entertain, but help in slowing the aging process of our ninety-three-year-old veteran. A way to keep him alive is by having the all-knowing AI, running the game, import the patient’s conscience directly into the game. Here the main character leverages his skills and knowledge of war to win the many battles he faces all the while his body and mind are sustained and even enhanced in the physical world. There were some good transitional periods where the story shifts between the physical and virtual worlds. As with many other books in the genre, we have nanobots, medical reasons, and a few other standard tropes, but again it felt well-thought out and planned.
I liked some of the extra detail the author included such as the time compression of those in the game from those outside. A language translation system being included to make conversations with others around the world much easier, and there is the concept of one earning and converting virtual currencies to physical real-world ones. The world consisted of goblins, dryads, wolfs, spiders, and halflings along with quite a few others one meets along the way. The writing style was detailed and descriptive allowing the listener to be dropped in to the story having a good visual understanding of both worlds. What felt somewhat different for me was the additional RTS components around town building and resource management. It simply did not seem to fit the mold of a fantasy-based LitRPG, and in some ways it worked, but in others it just seems like an odd fit. A town requiring one building to be constructed before another could be built just did not feel right. I felt there was a good balance of action, adventure, strategy, and even emotion throughout the story. As I said earlier, it was entertaining but at time too different for my comfort level.
I think one of the main issues I had keeping me from enjoying the book was its audio quality and narration. No offense to Jack Voraces, the narrator, as such quality production takes time and honing and I’m sure will improve as he performs more books. But it was a bit too much for me and I can say that it was more a distraction than help. Many of the notes I took while listening to the book related in one way or another to the audio. During very quiet times or silence, I could hear audio compression artifacts. These were not excessive, but quite noticeable. Some of the character differences and voicing felt forced and a few times confused with another during conversation. As with many male narrators, voicing of female characters was not fluid, nor did it feel natural. In situations like these, I would rather a narrator just read the portion of text and not attempt to voice it as a character. I understand this is not easy for most narrators to get right when dealing with the opposite gender. Lastly, I think the sound effects often overpowered the narration and I would have liked to have had them more in the background.
For parents and younger readers, the book had some graphic scenes of war and violence which is expected in a book of this genre. I do not recall any mature subject matter or vulgar language used by the author which is quite unusual and in my opinion a welcomed change. I believe the book could be enjoyed by both younger and older audiences.
In summary, the premise, story and world are solid. A few of the components I felt did not belong in a LitRPG and I would have liked to have had more integration and impact of the main character’s stats as I watched him grow. I just felt this was a bit lacking. My biggest concern was with the narration of the different characters, the overpowering sound effects, and the annoying background compression noise. The story is detailed, yet it seems to lack continuity. I hope future books in the series are more RPG focused. A good listen if you can get past the issues I found while listening.
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