Reviewed by Paul Campbell Jr.
A lesson in fast-paced action
Luck, Stat, Strategy is first and foremost a novella, which means it isn’t some large epic tale. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed, shorter “hit you where it hurts” type of LitRPG. Don’t get me wrong. This in no way means it is sub-par, or lack luster in terms of story, premise, or intensity. This just means that this isn’t the whole story, and there can be so much more coming in the future, in these terms, Mr. Corvin and Mr. Hays make sure you are yearning for that and more.
Concept/World Building: 1.5 Stars
The world building for the most part, you could argue is sacrificed for the better. The placement of the vrmmorpg I believe isn’t mentioned until a third of the book is completed. There are classical Victorian era weapons, such as flint-lock pistols, rapiers, sabers, etc, as well as stage coaches, but those seem the edge of details that are unveiled. I am still keeping the faith that the environmental properties such as the abysmal city, the deserts, as well as other adventuring towns are later branched out and talked about in greater detail between action, and crucial parts of the underlying story arcs.
Story: 4.5 Stars
Going into reading Secret of the Old Ones: Luck, Stat, Strategy, I personally had no idea how novellas were read differently than novels, so for the pacing to be so much quicker made me a little alarmed. The story feels like it starts in the middle, back tracks a little bit like a shuddering step, then gets right back on the road. The premise of the story is about a hyper vrmmorpg called SOO. The story is very much, “go, go go” rather than world building, but that isn’t a bad thing, its all about the pacing, and boy, how much faster and exciting it gets. At first, I was thrown off and disappointed but this was my first time reading an actual novella. I’ve been use to full blown novels, but as the story continued I was less and less disappointed and more engulfed in the storyline and interactions.
The perceived antagonist shows up, and we have our first conflict right away. I’m a man of action, so this was welcomed, also it shows how each character interacts and handles sudden changes in either atmosphere or violence. The book progresses at a faster pace after each quest, but is a bit deceptive. As a reader you think that there are multiple stories within the book, but the clever part is that it is all part of the same story, but crafted to be seemingly different by the author because of the character dialogues. That alone makes the story all the better to read, keep up with, and make hypotheses about the next installment.
Characters: 4 Stars
Mr Hays really brings the characters alive in the audio book. The writing of the monologue pulls the characters ahead in front of the average development. There always seems to be a nagging feeling in the back of my mind asking “why not go further?” but those thoughts are kept at bay by the amazing inflections and talent of Mr. Hays. His narration combined with the realistic context of Mr. Corvin leaves you with a feeling of visual imagination. It’s almost like the characters are having a conversation right next to you, sitting in a chair relaxing. Trent, Steve, and Michelle, seem to have a solid foundation of communication and pseudo backstory. Even though the backstory is rushed, it seems to be that there’s a little more to Brutis and his sister, which I seriously hope is addressed in future novella’s because if not it leaves serious plot holes as well as major opportunities for further story-driven adventuring.
Narration: 5 Stars
I’ve listened to Mr. Hays in quite a number of different publications and I could honestly say this seems to be one of his best. It’s quite obvious while he was narrating that he was comfortable in his roles, the highs and lows, conflicts, monologues and dialogues all came through as if the conversation was happening in front of my own eyes. There were only a possible one or two minor slips when the action was hot and heavy and he had to transition between sometimes 4 completely different voices in the course of 30 seconds, but its course corrected in an instant. In these moments you can tell that he is a professional, and his craft truly stands out.
Overall: 4 Stars
This is a solid piece of writing. It brings together a gifted author, narrator, and an amusing story. The pros in this story greatly outweigh any cons that could be found. The book comes together in a way that the reader won’t release it until its too late and you are reading the last page, angry because there aren’t anymore words left to soak in.
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About the Reviewer:
Paul likes long walks on the beach, water, and star gazing. Just kidding, sand makes him itchy, water is wet, and looking at the stars gives him a neck ache. He’s a writer, geek, and likes entertainment. All three can be found right here at www.atqne.com