The skull throne sits empty and the Kingdom of Heaven is in turmoil.
Enter "iron" Jack Russo. Able to drop newbs with a single headshot and the king of online games. At least, he used to be, before his sister got pregnant and he had to get a job to help take care of them.
But when a particle accelerator explodes, causing Jack to get stuck in his favorite game, Kingdom of Heaven, he'll have to conqueror Heaven and seat himself on the skull throne. If not, he'll be trapped in the game forever.
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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!"