“The Land: Swarm” is the fifth (and next to last) book in the Chaos Seed series written by Aleron Kong. This book, as with all the earlier ones, is delightfully narrated by Nick Podehl. His narrating skills adds a level of detail one would never get by simply reading the book. It is a Literary Role-Playing Game (LitRPG) genre where we are given a view into the main character’s activities, actions, and struggles. As with the previous books, this book continues the growth of or main character and the utopian society he established back in the first book. As with previous books, this book picks up shortly after the ending of the book before it. The book opens with a flood of action, dropping the listener right back into all the chaos with our regular cast of characters; I felt right at home. If you are a fan of the series, go and download this audiobook when you are done with the fourth. The book is bigger than the previous ones with nearly four additional hours of content.
The book’s main character continues to struggle in balancing his ever-increasing growing number of abilities, the needs of his community, and his number of people or creatures wanting him dead. We are even introduced to a new creature who desires to kill while remaining in the dark shrouds it in even more mystery. Like with the previous book, this one also seems to have a darker feel then the previous books. Again, I can see the continued building to the last and final book in the series. The weight of his responsibilities along with the consequences of his decisions seems to be reaching a climax in this book compared to the previous ones. We quickly learn a few new and interesting things about the crystals growing back in the catacombs used for improving the character’s alchemy skill. We are also given a better view into the magical tree and a newly created species.
We have the same deep friendships along with all the mockery and sarcasm found in earlier books. We are given a good view into the maturing of our character and the village he is responsible for. We are also treated to not only the consequences of using magic in some instances, but the true effects of using dark magic begin to be revealed in this book. As with most role-playing games, there is a level of grinding necessary to advance, and there is a fair amount of it in this book. However, for me, that made it feel more realistic as most RPGs are not all about the action and fighting. There are tasks needing to be done, and not all of them are exciting or fun. To this, we see an emphasis on the magical forge and trying to increase one’s enchanting skills. It is a learning process. I liked that the author concluded fail conditions making the character feel more human while in the game.
This book had more of a focus on the character’s talent tree and his ability to apply points to increase specific skills. He also had the capacity to sacrifice his prized experience points in exchange for additional talent points. Again, this was an area which required thoughts and balance. The way the talent tree was described, it made me think of a similar tree provided in the game Skyrim. The deep description of the various talents along with their abilities became a bit tedious, but I’m sure some listening to the book enjoy this level of detail. There was also an increased focus on soul stones and the importance of where these could be leveraged.
New levels, new forging, combined with new enchanting brings about unique and interesting weapons. We are treated to a deeper relationship between the main character and this draginling familiar. We are also given a new tamed creature which our protagonist uses to help him win some of the battles faced in this book. We are shown a view into scribing and the task of book making. This is no simple process and these tombs can be quite expensive to buy or make from raw materials. Even with these challenges, our hero sets off to tackle the lucrative book market. I quite enjoyed the interaction between the scribes and the main character at one point in the book. I was not a fan of the very odd twins we are introduced to, but I can see their importance in progressing the story.
As with the previous books I have listened to in the series, Nick Podehl does a fantastic job narrating. The audio is clean, crisp, and lacking any audio issues. His ability to use inflection helped me to better feel the dread and action happening in many scenes. I like when a narrator does not simply read a book, but instead brings it to life for the listener. Nick is very skilled in his craft and I would rank him in the near mastery RPG narrator talent level. When you pick up one of his works, you know that you can expect a high quality and passionate piece.
For parents and younger readers, this book still has a heavy amount of vulgar language and humor of a sexual nature; most notably sexual inferences. There is also a fair amount of crude humor that may not be acceptable or younger readers. If you have listened to the previous books in the series, this one follows closely, but at times seemed a bit more for mature audiences.
In summary, the book continues the growth and leveling of nearly everything within the Chaos Seed world. Everything becomes bigger, better and more powerful, but there are equal foes needing to be vanquished for the world to survive; including our main character. There are a few more tedious parts in this book not found in some of the others, but I believe the author included them in this book to make it feel more realistic and majestic.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.