Review: Death March by Phil Tucker

39980416For me, at this point, Phil Tucker is one of those authors whose kickstarter I will immediately throw money at – which is a good description of what happened here. I was backer #2 on this one. Who has faster fingers than me?! WHOOOOO?! 😀

And naturally, seeing that the audiobooks are narrated by Vikas Adam, I absolutely couldn’t not go that route, even if it would take a bit longer to get my hands on it.

The hard part was waiting for the audio release so I didn’t spoil the story for myself. 😀

I sacrificed everything for my family. It wasn’t enough. I lost my mother, and now I’m about to lose my brother.

I’ve got only one thing left to gamble: my life. Which is why I’m willing to play Euphoria Online in Death March mode.

If I survive six months in-game against a lethal array of wyverns, ogres, necromancers, and more, I’ll earn my brother a pardon.

If I lose?

Well. I’m done with losing.


Well then. I finally got some time to sit down and listen to this badboy, and while it’s only 9 hours or so long, it still took me a while because of so, so many other things happening in my life. I hate when that happens, but c’est la vie!

However this is one of those books that you just fall into for a while and you don’t realize how much time has passed since you started. I had an afternoon at work just fly by here, and before I knew it it was time to go home. That’s always good!

This is the story of Chris, who is a teacher and sometimes-pro-gamer, and in a rather untenable position. All he has left of family in the world is his brother, and his brother is in prison. He was caught scavenging off the coast of Florida, which in this world is partially flooded, and scavenging is a big no-no. There’s word that he’s going to be given the death penalty as an example to others as well, so Chris is scrambling to find out how to help him.

Suddenly and in seemingly the nick of time, Chris’ ex-girlfriend calls and says she has a free weekend pass for Euphoria Online, and would he like to have a go at the newest, most awesome game in the universe? Well, yes he does, because he has a brilliant idea!

Euphoria Online is a game that brings you right into the world. Your brain is hooked right into it, so it’s a much more real experience than any of these VR games that are all the rage. But, as such, it costs several thousand dollars for a weekend in the game. Good news though! One weekend in the real world feels like 6 months in the game. So at least you feel like you’re getting your moneys worth. There’s also a hardcore mode, like in Diablo for example, which in this game is called Death March. You get to die one time. Period.

Of course, with your brain all hooked in there and stuff, Death March is going to really for realsies kill you too, so there’s that. 😀

But! If you manage 6 months in game in Death March mode without dying horribly, Albertus, the AI master of this game will grant you pretty much anything you ask. Money, houses, cars, visas…. or pardons. So, Chris is going to survive 6 months in Death March mode to get a pardon for his brother.

Of course, that’s not going to be as easy at it sounds.

I really enjoyed this one. I liked Chris as a character and I really wanted him to succeed in his quest. I liked that his character, while being suitably badass enough to… yanno, not die immediately, was still fallible at times. He makes poor decisions at times, and he pays the price for doing so. It was quite fast-paced and the adventure was hair-raising when it needed to be, and took a bit of a break when needed as well. The addition of another character that he runs into, Lutharia, was neat. There was a bit of a romantic subplot here, which was actually really cleverly done, since charisma checks will often subvert a chance to be flirtatious in a way that doesn’t sound cringeworthy. Other characters Chris meets on the way are also fun. I especially liked the goblins.

Many books in this genre focus on stats a little too much for my liking, but this isn’t one of them – it seems to focus more on abilities than stats for many things. While the constant repetitive nature of some of the details of character sheets and what have you doesn’t always translate into audio well, it didn’t bother me overmuch here. This one is certainly repetitive when it’s time to look at stats, but I find that I could listen to Vikas Adam repeat things several million times and not really get sick of it, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice. ^_^

Guys, honestly, finding a narrator you really enjoy listening to and then getting *super* excited when you learn that they are narrating things by your favorite authors is one of those things that makes life worth living. 😀

hardcore-death
NO THEY WON’T.

I am admittedly rather hesitant to jump into most of the LitRPGs I see (and there are very, very many to choose from at this point), since I had some real not-great experiences with a few of the first ones I ever listened to. I have been trying to choose far more carefully than I did a couple of years back. Thankfully, this is one that I never worried about not liking. Phil Tucker has never disappointed me thusfar, and so I was quite glad to hear that his kickstarter was a success.

This one gets 5/5 stars from me. I would play the shit out of Euphoria Online. But not on hardcore mode. Man, that never goes well for me… my deeds of valor have absolutely been forgotten forever. 😀

I can’t wait for the next audiobook in this series. ^_^

You can see this book on goodreads here, and grab a copy of the print book here, and audiobook here. 🙂

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