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Freehaven Online: Dragonsbane

A LitRPG Adventure
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Series: Freehaven Online Series, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

Non-member price: $34.76

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Publisher's Summary

Freehaven Online is more than a game to Justine. By day, she creates monsters for the world, by night she's raiding dungeons. Most importantly, it's her one connection to her dead brother whose buffs still linger within the game. 

When his virtual shrine is threatened by an update, Justine reforges his guild to complete the Dragonsbane quest in his honor. As an experienced tank, she's no stranger to the bandit attacks, PvP combat, and dragons Freehaven will throw at her. 

Little does she know, a hacker organization known as Archangel tampers with the update, leaving thousands of players, including Justine, stranded in full immersion virtual reality. As if that weren't strange enough, NPCs are getting smarter, and some marooned players don't want to escape. They're ready to jump at the chance for virtual immortality. 

Justine must temper the fervent emotions stirring in her guild and unite them to complete the quest. If she doesn't, friends will break from sanity, and others will die in real life.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Jun Prince (P)2018 Jun Prince

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Profile Image for Ray Johnson
  • Ray Johnson
  • 04-11-2018

A look at grief via gaming

I think that as a funeral director I see this book in a light that few others will. I look at it as an introspection of a character going through the grieving process. Jun really looks at loss in a couple of ways, and how it affects our lives, and I really appreciated that aspect because I had never seen it done in LITRPG before. Justine’s brother died, and she sort of steals his account, and finds herself entering the game as him just to get a feel for who he was, and what he was like. The best part of it is that she has to come to conclusions on her own because no one magically shows up and tells her how great her brother was, or what a D-bag he was to other players. She has to figure these things out all on her own. The book also deals with loss in a few other ways, the players become trapped in the game (not a spoiler it’s in the description) and have to deal with the possibility of never going home again. Also, some players learn that there is a way to permanently join the game, but die in the process. This leads to some complications, and Prince does not make it easy, as grieving never is just a simple emotional process.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the concept of two MMORPG’s merging into a totally new game. Let’s be honest, not every game can end up like World of Warcraft and exist in perpetuity. So, how could games stay alive? By merging with another game that is also losing traction. Can you imagine if City of Heroes merged with Everquest? How cool would that be? Great idea!

The story has some innovative battles, cool quests, dragons, and interesting NPCs, but it isn’t without its own issues. First, the whole trapped in the game thing kind of comes out of left field. Personally, I think it would have worked better if it had happened early in the book. As it was it was a little jarring even if you had read the book’s description. A lot of possible ramifications were overlooked, such as what if a single parent had gotten online just before the attack happened. Young kids would be left to fend for themselves, even if the parent was kept alive by the VR tech. It could be days before they were found. What if a person trapped had to have medication, and lived alone? I would have loved to have seen some other players voicing these concerns. We do have one dad who wants to get back to his kids.

The biggest issue I had, and only because I could see it being confusing was that the MC, a well as the other players, could all switch between their alts at any time. One it made it really hard for me to connect with Justine’s character side, as I enjoyed Scootie Wootums, but the dwarf got bounced as the party needs dictated. I was fully expecting a merging of her brother’s character and her own. I think a melding would have played better, so that all the alts merged into one unique class. That would have really amped the story up, if everyone was struggling to suss out what their capabilities were after the merge. As it was it was just a choice of picking your COH superhero or the Everquest Druid whenever you wanted for example. Also, I don’t really recall a lot of the other players swapping their characters all that often. I did appreciate that Justine’s squad was basically a playground group, you know you wander around the playground and ask kids if they wanted to play. This was a pack of LFG people, you know “Looking for a group!” That isn’t something that you see very often in Litrpg books either, while it should be the norm. Most times you enter a game with maybe one other person you know playing, and get to know others by shouting out Tank LFG or Rogue LFG. The story was good and well written, but I did have an issue connecting to the characters as much as I would have liked, but I loved the underlying theme that grief and loss played throughout the book.


The narration by Landon was fair. There were times that I just did not connect with her at all, she was very clear when she spoke but her non dialogue bits lacked any emotion at all. Go back and listen to the book’s audio clip. She almost says each sentence separately, and without any kind of inflection. Her dialogue isn’t bad, and she does some decent accents, but I could not connect with her reading style much at all. It was very distant and seemed cold. She’s not bad, but really needs to add some energy into the reading of non-dialogue portions of the novel. This had a major impact on me, as I found it a little harder to connect with the characters and their actions, especially during fight scenes.

So, just on the basis that I enjoyed the narration, but was not enamored of it, and a few other factors such as having a hard time identifying with the MC’s rotating character class, and the wonky delivery of the game trap I have to give this a 7.3 stars. I enjoyed it, but felt that some issues could have been better addressed and it really needed one class for me to latch onto as a reader/listener.

Final Score: 7.3 stars

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

11 people found this helpful

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  • Suji K.
  • 19-09-2018

IT'S DRAGON-A-GEDDON!

This book rocks because it not only has solid battle sequences, and dragon pummeling action, but because it's founded on a heartfelt emotional core that many LitRPGs are lacking. In game actions have real world consequences. The idea of using the game to keep someone's memory alive was touching, and the entire cast has enough depth to them that they feel like real people.

Amy Landon owned this performance. She speaks clearly with multiple accents, and infuses every character with life.

The bottom line is that this book is filled with a bit of humor, exciting quests, well choreographed fights, and a twist at the end that'll stab you in the heart. There's no cliffhanger ending, but a lot of room for the story to expand in future novels.

The worst thing about this is that I'll have to wait a few months for book 2, and knowing that there's no where in the world I can buy a magic elemental powered motorcycle. Book three is already on Amazon, so I guess there's more to come.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MScottFiona
  • 20-09-2018

Epic

World building *check*
Relatable characters *check*
Well written action *check*
A game I want to play myself *check*

This is everything I want in a GameLit/LitRPG. It's a marriage between a gaming world with stats, questing and battles with characters with enough depth that you can imagine hanging out with them.

I enjoyed the tournament.because it's a lot like WoW arena and battlegrounds. I haven't seen a lot of contest style of PvP in LitRPGs. I also love that this book has a powerful female MC. Having read/listened to the author's other novel, he does a fantastic job getting into the heads of his female characters. There's no sex or harems in this book (this is a plus for me).

When I read the eBook I was like "WTF?" with what happened with Mirae at the end, but now I see that her story continues in book 2.

The narration was great. Landon brings the characters to life.

Totally worth the credit.

9 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Nia Ireland
  • Nia Ireland
  • 05-11-2018

A strong start to a series

I've never read LitRPG before… mainly because I never knew it was a thing. But if the rest of the genre is anything like this book, I AM IN.

The main character, Justine, is a computer game developer and gamer. Her younger brother has passed away and she's taken to playing in his favourite VR game to feel closer to him and to try to contact his old guild members to let them know why he suddenly disappeared from their game. She's a very sympathetic and likable character, though she can be a little over sensitive at times.

This was an amazingly immersive read, exploring the new world with Justine and discovering her capabilities within it as she did. She meets a variety of new people from different walks of life and creates her own guild, which felt very personal to me.
I enjoyed this book in audio format so discovering that the book is actually 600+ pages long after I'd finished it blew my mind, I was easily listening to 3 hour chunks while doing housework and trying to drag it out as long as possible near the end so I wasn't going to have to say goodbye to the characters.
The audio format did make listening to the stat read outs a bit tedious, I probably would have skimmed those bits in a print edition but there weren’t so many that it was a problem.

I've listened to a few audiobooks by Amy Landon before and I love her first person narration and pacing, but this time I'm going to have to say that the accents she used in this book are not her strong suit.
As an audio listener, I'd rather hear a narrator use the wrong accent than one they haven't mastered - making me giggle does ruin the immersion a bit!

Thankfully all the characters start using American accents around halfway through the story so it does become less distracting.

Having just finished this audio, I now have to decide whether or not to jump straight into the next instalment in print or wait for the audio.... decisions, decisions!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rabid Reader
  • 27-10-2018

Great first book in the series

I really enjoyed this first book in series. The characters are well developed, had losses and problems you can relate to and you soon become attached to them. The entertaining storyline has lots of action, scenes that touch your heart and others that make you laugh. I enjoyed the mix of real world and game world; how in-game actions had an impact on the characters' real lives. You care about these characters and want them to achieve their aims and to survive. The narration suited the book well, drawing you into the world and giving the characters individual voices. I look forward to the next book in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Aquatic Kumquat
  • 20-09-2018

Awesome

I think this might be my new favorite LitRPG series. Solid characters. Interesting quests. Lots of action.The performance was phenomenal, and the story is proof that writers are stepping up their game. Ignore the rating bombers. This is a fantastic book. I must have book two.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-09-2018

cadence-bound narrator

I think I really would enjoy the story if I were reading it, but I just can't handle the narrator. she does alright with the voices, but she gets into a particular rhythm and tonal cadence that just... it's very repetitive and grates on my nerves.

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J&M Demildt
  • 28-12-2019

A well crafted Lit RPG with fusion of game styles

I am new to listening of the LitRPG genre, but I enjoyed listening to this book. The story is well thought out and progresses at a good pace. It also doesn't dwell too much on reading out the stat upgrades during the story, which seems to drag on in some books.

I thought the narrator did a good job and was easy to listen to.

I did receive a promo code for this book from the author, but I definitely think it is credit worthy if you're looking for something good to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ronald Shaw
  • 19-08-2019

Social Gaming Changes Lives

First of all, it has taken me nearly a year to write this review, mainly because I did not want to relive the VERY accurate emotions that the characters and themes made me look at. Even while listening, I had to stop to regain my composure several times. The book itself examines many things with a great deal of nuance and evocative character choices. However there are three main themes in particular.

1) What do you do with the online social media and game accounts of a friend or family member who has died? What happens to all of their friends and "community building" efforts, and in the case of gaming, the assets that they collected?

2) How does Virtual Reality change both gaming and the real world?

3) Are there people who would choose to escape into the game if they could, leaving "real life" and all of it's hardships for a reality where they can be what they always dreamed of? What reasons would drive a person to want to escape so badly? Are those reasons good enough?

The narrator is fantastic, although she does not rely on a varied vocal cast as some narrators do, she never the less makes each character distinct and her rhythm and cadence are such that immersion into the book becomes easy.

Like most LitRPGs this book focuses on gamer culture and terminology, as such gamers reading / listening will find many familiar and perhaps funny references, locations, and stereotypes. However this author's writing style is fluid enough and explanatory enough that non-gamer listeners will not feel excluded or like they're missing something. Thankfully, at least in my opinion, this book, unlike many LitRPGs does not over-focus on the game interface and the minutia of using game abilities and leveling up. Some readers find such things informative, but for me they are immersion breaking when interjected too often. Despite, or perhaps because of the truly excruciating levels of pain that this book inspires, it is amazing for its detail, story, and narration and I can't wait to get the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tory Wilson
  • 20-06-2019

Fantastic start to a series.

While the book starts off a bit slow it's necessary for character building and it doesn't take too long to really get going. The main character is developed pretty well and her motivations are solid, several of the supporting characters are developed pretty well and fleshed out motivations but there are also a few who haven't been built up yet, probably so they can be built up in the next book. The world building is fantastic and it's the first time I've ever seen a story where a developer is combining two games this way. The characters skills, (some) items, and (some) quests being (mostly) unique are all explained in ways that are new to me and make a lot more sense than Oh the character got lucky and found this ultra rare top secret quest. This book handles it much better and it's clearly well thought out. There are a few points in the book where my brain went wait why were those numbers and or rolls even necessary there and I wasn't catching the authors intent but eventually picked up on it representing the ongoing changes to the world. The overall trope of being trapped in a game is the standard affair and hasn't been fully fleshed out but it's done in an alright way so far. I can see obvious inspiration from some other books and light novels or anime including one of my favorites Log Horizon. Part of the end of the book is a little predictable and you can see it coming but it still hit me emotions for a little while after finishing the book. Honestly I can't understand why I don't see this book recommended more the author did a fantastic job, and the narrator was on point though I did recognize her voice slip a little into a character she's done in another book for a few seconds. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading / listening to the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Demetra Toula Iliopoulos
  • 05-01-2020

What a great concept

This is a great story that Jun wrote . It took a lot of imagination and detail . Jun wrote a story full of action and mystery . Jun took the time to explain how the game in the story flows . The main character is a female heroine.
Amy Landon performance was great. She voice is perfect for a Litlpg . Amy voice is smooth and strong

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-11-2018

A great story that never left kindergarden

Disclaimer: I'm about 2h into the book.

Interesting worldbuilding does not adjust for sub par writing unfortunately. To much "I said", "he said", "i thought" to make an interesting and engaging story. He's good at describing scenes and actions. (mostly) but conversations which makes up a good part of any book Is just jarring listening to.

I did like the narrator, she has a pleasant voice compared to other female narrators which I often find to high pitched to be pleasant, but that's taste.
She has some interesting accents and does a good job those few times the author forgets, and actually writes a fluid conversation, discerning between characters, thoughts etc. I hope she has narrated more books in my genre.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian
  • 16-10-2018

narrator lets it down

I couldn't even get past chapter 6. sorry to say the narrator is so monotone, it's like a painful droning, sorry to say. I'm not going to finish it.
im sure the book is a good though.

I'm no critic, I could not do a better of narration. it's just my opinion..