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The Greystone Chronicles: Book One: Io Online cover art

The Greystone Chronicles: Book One: Io Online

By: Dave Willmarth
Narrated by: Laurie Catherine Winkel,Jeff Hays
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Summary

In the latter half of the 21st century, Alexander and his guild mates play Io Online for fun and to earn a living. It's the largest VRMMORPG on the planet, and the source of income that supports families around the globe. While completing a rare First Kill dungeon in hopes of epic loot, they discover that demons have once again invaded Io.

Given the chance to test a new experimental immersion system, the veteran players must give up their high-level characters and begin again at level one. As they work through the noob zone quests, they discover that the new immersion system allows them to play in ways that hadn't been possible before. Casting is faster. Movement more fluid. Even magic itself behaves differently. They quickly run afoul of a party of player killers and become the targets of an entire PK guild bent on spawn-camping them until they leave the game. War has been declared.

The fight expands into populated areas, where innocent citizens are murdered, and player accounts are terminated. The guild works to help citizens rebuild what has been destroyed, but are repeatedly forced to stop and defend against enemy attacks. After the gods of Io and a powerful being of darkness get involved, Alexander and his friends learn the hard way that their in-game actions have consequences, both in the game and in the real world.

Soundbooth Theater has had the honor of working with Laurie Catherine Winkel once more, in the first installment of the epic Greystone Chronicles. Her bright and light performance matches the tone of this Gamelit romp about friendship and community, while perfectly framing Jeff Hays' performance as the male cast.

The Soundbooth Theater team for this production:

  • Laurie Catherine Winkel - narration, female characters, and Fibble!
  • Jeff Hays - male characters
  • Dalton Lynne - proofing, editing
  • Justin Thomas James - production, editing, mastering
©2017 Dave Willmarth (P)2018 Dave Willmarth, Soundbooth Theater

What listeners say about The Greystone Chronicles: Book One: Io Online

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Let me start by saying that Jeff, as always, did a masterful job with the voices, as did Laurie. But I did find Laurie's narrative to be a bit flat but still very good. Here comes the painful part:
It's billed as a LitRPG but there's very little in the way of character and skill progression. I don't think a character sheet came up more than two or three cursory times. The characters start off with new toons at level 1 but keep their legendary artifact demigod gear from the beginning. Coupled with substantial wealth, this leaves them with absolutely no character growth whatsoever, which for me is the most enjoyable part of RPG's and LitRPG books. No one learns skills through actual training or leveling up. They just kind of have all these abilities that are OP as all hell. They can waltz through dungeons filled with demons and destroy player characters 50 levels higher than them without hardly taking a scratch.

The combat is largely glossed over. You get to a few descriptive opening shots on the first encounter then a, "They continued to battle their way through the dungeon until meeting the boss." They shoot a couple of arrows and launch a couple spells and the boss is dead and they add thousands of gold (seemingly the default amount for nearly every battle) to their already endless coffers as well as some awesome loot that is perfectly suited for each character, even the goblin the recruited just a few minutes prior.

The character themselves are fairly bland and ultra-goodie goodie, going through the game world like benevolent gods tossing handfuls of gold at the peasants and magically erecting entire buildings and towns and paving miles of roadways in minutes or hours. The main premise of the book revolves around a PK guild being dicks by playing in a way that the game allows but they don't like. This main plot encompasses maybe 30 minutes with 4 brief encounters where the PKers act like morons and get wiped out every time by people a fraction of their numbers and level with the heros once again not even getting scratched. Their encounters are boring and over in seconds. The other 95% of the book is mostly detailed corporate accounting reports and describing their numerous ingame meals.

Had the narrators not done such a good job, I doubt I would have finished it. As it was, I skipped through probably three hours of tedious, pointless conversations and dinner descriptions and made it to the end. It was a decent premise that was poorly executed.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I don’t like it.

This book took the meaning of the main character to the new meaning. Overall the whole book revolves around Alex and his friends while they play a VR game. The game seems rather lacklustre, it’s your typical knights vs demons and that’s it. I haven’t listened to the whole book simply because it was tedious to listen to. There are other books with VR elements that are much more sophisticated with more interesting characters, a simple example would be Ascend Online.

Jeff and Annie still did a good job, they were a major factor in my decision to take up this book and I honestly wish I didn’t. Still have them 5* for performance.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

two voices

both narrators were great and I really enjoyed this litrpg looking forward to more in this series

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Fails in most ways

Not funny when it tries to be funny, not exciting when it tries to be exciting in action, passive characters to whom things happen but no character moves the story on themselves (amazing how little the characters actually do as opposed to have done to them).

Voice acting is fine - making the most out of utterly unengaging characters. But you can't polish a turd.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Could have been far better.

Okay, there is some good and some bad with this book. I found the characters to be good, with enough depth and variety to keep me interested in them. The plot wasn't that bad either, though nothing ground breaking, given that it was supposed to be LitRPG.

What dragged this from a four or five star review for me were the glaring issues with this and it supposedly being a LitRPG. The author decided to have high level characters starting over at level one, but keeping some of the gear they had in their guild vaults, their money and the epic or legendary drops they get off the last boss they fight. This might be okay, but it massively limited character progression with their gear, and I don't think he ever bothers to mention their item stats again after the first time.

Also, he so rarely bothers to give any stats from the characters character sheets, and certainly not any one other than Alex's stats. But why bother when the WHOLE book he doesn't spend his earned points. I think he has 21 points to spend on attributes by the end of the book. If he mentioned he was saving them for a reason I might have accepted it, but given they were constantly fighting creatures or players over their level it made utterly no sense at all, and made players calling him a noob totally apt.

This last point leads to my next issue. Level disparity and OP characters. I'm sorry I cannot deal with a book where characters battle monsters twenty or more levels above their own. To me this is like a raid of level forties killing Ragnaros in WOW vanilla. WHen in truth they should get one or two shotted by characters or creatures that far above them in levels. While some of their wins can be considered good planning or tactics, it would still be unlikely unless the game was horribly balanced. They also start winning with some very OP spells, while other players seem to never use any ability against them at all.

Then there is the whining about PK (player killing) players, when you may as well whine about a game that allows PVP (player vs player) as they are only playing to rules the game allows. The last straw was when they make a huge deal out of the death of an NPC child. Not that I object to them being mad at players that murder NPC's when the world appears real, but it was the fact that one of the characters has the ability to resurrect once per day and doesn't fricking resurrect him.

I cannot forgive an author that forgets the abilities his characters have in a situation that would have been radically different otherwise. Not to mention the main character made a load of amulets for all the villagers to prevent instant deaths too. So all in all these flaws just dragged teh book down and down from being a potential five star review.

Oh, and last point. The narration was good, but not as good as it should have been for me. When your main character is male and the majority of his guild is male - certainly in the beginning - I find it very odd when you make the primary narrator a woman. It was jarring for me, despite both narrators being good. Still with someone of the quality of Jeff Hays it would have made vastly more sense with him doing the narrative, plus the male voices and then Laurie doing the female voices.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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ONE OF THE BEST AUDIO BOOKS I'VE LISTENED TO

A VERY WELL WRITENED & VOICED BOOKS I'VE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO PRIVILEGED TO ADD TO MY EVER GROWING COLLECTION INTRIGUING.. FUNNY..SAD AND GRIPPING..
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING EXCELLENT

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Empty story

Will make this sort
The story it was like it was being made up as it was going along. Every thing in the vr was so goody goody to the point it was painful.
The in game money was thrown about like sweates.
Overall there are far better books out there.


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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great start to the series

Greystone is the story of Alex as he enters IO online as part of an experiment to develop a treatment for a neurological condition he suffers from.

I particularly enjoyed the significant amount of time Dave Willmarth spent setting up the characters in the ‘real’ world. Often, I find litrpg rush into the in game world but there’s great mix here.

The in game world was interesting and has plenty of combat and world building. It reminded me of low level World of Warcraft, which was nice. One thing I found odd however was the speed in which the characters levels up, however they never felt like they were becoming too powerful or moving too quickly etc.

The narration was absolutely fantastic. Laurie Winkel does a great job of telling the story and Jeff Hays male voices are wonderfully varied. A really enjoyable, easy listen.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

GOOD BOOK

I have over 300 audible titles and I have to say that the narration and performance of this book is one of the best I've heard. It's a compelling universe with a great story and awesome characters

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant New Series

Hat's off this is world building at its best and is up there with the best.
The characters are very well thought out and are very compelling and interactive as are the secondary and tertiary characters.
The mix of humour and the intriguing, innovative solutions to the problems used in the real world and in game show great foresight and I was drawn in by every word due in part to the great skills of Jeff Hays and LCW. the editing and these two working together are a great match and well picked by Dave Wilmarth. I will be eagerly awaiting the 2nd audio and shall also follow along by the written word as well.
I got this audio at no charge by competition and have left my thoughts on this for you to peruse.

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