“The Land: Forging” is the second book in the “Chaos Seeds” series written by Aleron Kong and narrated by Nick Podehl; who also narrated the first book. It is a Literary Role Playing Game (LitRPG) book following the progression of our main character as he plays thought a digital game; or is it? A fair number of the issues I had with the first book were mostly corrected in this one. The writing is more focused and less childish or crude as mentioned in my review of the first book. The author seemed to have honed his skill of writing as this book seems more polished and flowing. If you enjoyed the action, mayhem, and treasure found in the first book, book two picks up where the first left off. It notches the volume up on all of these things and more. As one would expect from a LitRPG seies, as the book progress we see how the character grows and matures into the hero he wants to become. If you are in the mood for a well-developed gaming world with highaction, great adventure and a bit of fun, The Land: Forging is a good series to get onboard with. You will want to start the series with the first book as this is a series and not a stand-alone novel.
The book jumps right in where the first one left off, and I would have liked to have had a bit more of a prologue to condense and cover a few of the major storylines that occurred in the first book. This often helps those who read one book and cannot get to the second until later and a few of the plots may have been forgotten. This book, as stated above, is chock full of mystery, mayhem, and a fair amount of magic. There is still that light-hearted banter between the characters, and we are introduced to a few new and interesting characters as well. Even though the book still contains an amount of crude or childish humor intended to be wit, this book in the series seems more polished and the writing has improved over what is found in the first book. If you have gotten over the hump of book one, it seems the following books are more of a well paved highway; stick with it.
Book two is a little bit bigger and darker than the first, but it feels like to has more adventure, more fun, and more focus from its predecessor. There is a fair amount of character learning and growing based on the consequences of the main characters decisions and this bring with it more emotional and impactful storylines. There are still the very tight friendship bonds, including some light romance. As with the first book, you really feel a camaraderie with the main characters. In this story, it just seems more solidified than the first. As with the first book, you also get the sense and feeling of the character leveling up as he is better able to face new and ever-dangerous foes. Who knew disarming traps would become such a critical skill to have in this world?
For me, the story was brought to life by the author’s inclusion of some character backstory and other pieces of information that just made the characters feel alive and more three-dimensional. I also enjoyed the numerous other creatures and obstacles the main character often faced while on his journey. You can feel the weight of the decisions needing to be made along with the impact they have on everyone. Those decisions also were not often black and white, and at times meant the difference of one person dying over another. Not easy choices to be made to be sure. Like with the first book, this book also does a good job of closing up most of the events taking place in the story, however there seems to always be a cliffhanger that will make you want to pick up the third book; and you will.
Not only did the book feel more polished, I feel the narration also was better than the first. I did not notice any volume inconsistencies like with the previous book. The many characters and their accents were skillfully achieved. I enjoyed the narrations of the first book and this one was on par, maybe what seemed improved was the text Mr. Podehl was given to read instead. The addition of some sound effects enhanced the narration and was not over used. The same level of inflection used in the first book was also found in this one. I will say that it was also good to know the same narrator has continued to narrate at least the first four book of the series thus far.
For parents or younger readers, this book, like the first, contains some crude and vulgar language. It also has some light romance, but nothing unexpected for a RPG type game. There are still a few scenes of rather graphic violence which may not be suitable for younger readers. If any of the above offends you, you may want to pick up a different book series.
In summary, this book is a bit darker than the first, as we are introduced to drow, bugbears, and a few other darker and mystical characters. The book is more refined from the first and I will say that I jumped right into the third book when I was done. Much like the first, if you enjoy LitRPG books, you will find this series growing on you and it appears, as of the writing of this review, that six total books are planned. I have a feeling I will be listening to every one of them and enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.