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Shadow Sun Survival

Shadow Sun, Book 1
Written by: Dave Willmarth
Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

How well would you fare if the apocalypse fell upon you? Could you survive more than a few days? Would you be able to feed yourself? Find clean water? Safe shelter? Heal your wounds?

Allistor is a gamer geek who has spent most of his life indoors, playing virtual reality MMORPGS and reading classic LitRPG books. But when Earth is seized by an ancient race wielding incredibly advanced tech, who transport the entire planet to a new location with twin suns, he finds himself fighting to survive in real life. The human race is declared a contaminant, and the new overlords decree that 90 percent of us will be exterminated. Creatures out of myth and legend are sent to do the killing. Dragons, titans, alien creatures, big and small, all with a hunger for human flesh. Humans who survive the first year will be rewarded.

After seeing his family killed in the first week, Allistor leads a small group of survivors in their struggle to stay alive. Not satisfied with simple survival, he strives to make himself and his people stronger. The new "magic" RPG system that now governs the planet is something he can work with, and teach others to exploit. Thrust into a leadership position, and with vengeance in his heart, Allistor aims to establish a stronghold, then take the fight to the monsters who seek to enslave his people.

©2019 Dave Willmarth (P)2019 Dave Willmarth

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

Good start, endgame needs more content

Just to start, Soundbooth Theater was absolutely fantastic! The intense narration really gives weight and emotion to the frequent life or death situations. Character voices had a good range and variety, with only a couple of female voices difficult for me to tell apart. The music appropriately marks those life or death situations. I haven't listened to a lot of audio books so far, but they far and away deserve the credit for making this book actually interesting!

Now, the story here, on the other hand, had a great start but petered out toward the end. The intense battles against dangerous predators and learning to survive in a suddenly hostile landscape, finding other survivors and working together into a tight-knit family. All great stuff!

But then it eventually gives way to tedious base-building and tower defense. There are no major villains for the heroes to match wits against (actually, none of the humans can seem to put together a plan more complex than tricking people into thinking they're good people when they're not and then standing around at the front door when that doesn't pan out), no giant unstoppable monsters that last more than a chapter after the mid-way point, no dungeon crawls in alien labyrinths, no grand treasures or even MacGuffins to acquire. They just build one base, then another, and another, one more, a token base defense event against non-threatening foes, then done.

The thing that bothered me the most was the realization that the RPG statistics make an appearance and don't really do much else. Attributes, levels, hit points, damage, and skills all seem to just be indicators of what the character is capable of, but adding more doesn't seem to give any new knowledge, endurance, or power after it's first brought up. After putting just a few points in Strength, Allistor already has almost superhuman power that he fritters away on hauling gear and opening doors, but he then raises his Intelligence even higher than his Strength and definitely doesn't get any smarter. The damage enemies deal isn't proportional to their levels but rather to the location they attack just as if there were no RPG system in place at all. Getting healed tops off the HP bar and restores skin, but blood/limb loss, concussions, internal damage, and other effects are all treated as debuffs completely unassociated with HP aside from preventing it from recovering naturally, albeit with vastly reduced recovery times. Skill gains don't impart additional knowledge of how to do something properly. Level 3 characters do just as much damage as Level 10 characters.

And when the book eventually devolves into the aforementioned base-building and tower defense sections, it's guns, guns, and bigger guns, all the way to the end. I won't harp on as much about cars because the setting is only a few weeks after the apocalypse, and there aren't any other viable methods of long-distance travel since it's still Earth. But guns are practically the end-all be-all of combat. Allistor himself continues to use scavenged shotguns and rifles as his primary weapons right to the end, with the occasional spell to lock things down or burn an area to spice things up. Even new armor would have added something, but one group gets a few suits of crafted leather armor and then no one ever gets anything defensive again, except for one of Allistor's spells that barely has any effect on anything as every attack just smashes his puny barrier to pieces and does almost full damage to the target on the other side anyway.

Overall, the first half of the book is 5 stars! The second half drops all the way down to 2 stars as everything that came before just stagnates.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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a really solid fantasy book

I've listened to quite a few litrpg books and fantasy books and I have to say this one was great it was solid story with lots of action the narrator was excellent I would recommend this to any fantasy lover my only complaint was it ended too soon.

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  • Christopher
  • 2019-08-17

Another great book from Dave Willmarth...

...And a questionable production by the normally fantastic Soundbooth Theater.

First, this book falls into the sub-genre of post-apocalyptic RPG GameLit where after an outside force hijacks the planet, seeds it with horrible monsters and introduces an RPG style interface/stat system, the remaining humans must level up to survive.

So yes, this does have quite a few similarities to The System Apocalypse by Tao Wong among others. That said, though the circumstances might be similar, the characters are totally different. And Willmarth is telling such a compelling story that the similarities fall by the wayside. I think it would be shortsighted and petty to lower the number of stars given just because this book’s setup shares some of its primary features with another book that came before it.

Now on to the production. As I said up top, Soundbooth Theater has generally produced great audiobooks in my experience. There have been a few titles here and there that didn’t rock my world, but on the whole they’re great.

Here, for some unknown reason, they decided to add a bunch of totally unnecessary sound effects and tension building drums to all of the action sequences. I found it jarring, ham-handed, and lacking in any kind of subtlety. Worst of all, it repeatedly pulled me out of the story. I could compare it to watching a movie and every 20 minutes or so your TV would shoot out a cloud of the smell of whatever is happening...

Though it didn’t ruin the book, I didn’t ever get to the point where the sound effects and drums were ever more than a distraction. When the narrator tells you that a character shoots his rifle, you really don’t need to hear a canned sound effect of a gunshot two seconds later in order to understand that the rifle has been fired and what that shot sounds like.

In essence what Soundbooth Theater has done here is decided that our imaginations are not competent to recreate these things in our minds eye and therefore has decided to help us out by making a crunching noise every time one of the characters breaks a bone. What’s next... will they start including accompanying video files and flashing a picture of the car that the characters are driving every time it’s mentioned that they entered an automobile?

Though I applaud their enthusiasm and efforts to bring the art of the audiobook to a new level, the way they are going about it is just misguided.

That said, the narrator and most of the character voices were superb as usual. Regardless, of the problems with the sound effects this book is still a no-brainer when it comes to spend a credit.

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ray Johnson
  • 2019-11-21

Shine on Shadow Sun

Someone needs to chain Dave Willmarth up and make him write post apocalyptic books all day long. Clearly the impetus of making oodles of money isn’t enough to spur him on or we’d be on Dark Elf 5 and Shadow Sun 7 by now.

The point is that Shadow Sun was not what I was expecting. To be frank, I had thought that it was going to be a story about a boy and his bear wandering through a decimated landscape, sort of like Grizzly Adams meets Slash Maraud (Show those pics here please). FYI Slash is a DC comics mini-series about aliens who take over the earth and slowly wipe out humanity as they convert earth via terraforming into a world not unlike their own. It is a series that was not well loved and did not become a cult classic that was secretly beloved years later, but I LOVED it.

No, what Master Willmarth has done is taken a concept of aliens taking over Earth and putting a new slant on it in which they literally steal earth. Earth is physically moved and given new ground rules for how life is going to be. The MC is a young fella, but he has a good head on his shoulders, and does the best he can whenever he finds himself in a bad situation. His attitude makes him become the leader of a group of refugees who have survived a giant monster attack; which sort of snowballs into bigger leadership roles later.

One thing I will say about Dave is that he isn’t afraid to kill people, which keeps you alert every time a crisis comes up. I will also say that I appreciate the way that A-holes are dealt with. It may not always be quick, but you just know that the jerk is going to get it in the end. As an example, if there is some guy that abused kids, and he was walking through the rain forest in one of Willmarth’s books, then he would most likely get slowly crushed and eaten by an anaconda. Jerk that shoot their mouths off tend to get shot in the mouth, you get the point. DW suffers no fools lightly, and under his pen they pay.

The story is utterly engrossing and sucks you in immediately, the leveling process, the process of converting currency into Klacks (alien dough) works well, and gaining abilities is pretty slick. I think I only had one moment of WTF and it involved a certain train wreck, but hey, ya gotta have something to take down void terrors and the like I suppose. I just enjoy WillMarth’s style and prose, but overall his characterizations are just on point. They feel genuine and real.

Damn, I have to say that Will Watt does an amazing job on this book. Yes, he is joined by not only Jeff hays and Annie Ellicot, but also Andrea parsnaue!!!! Yeah. As impressed as I am I almost feel bad for poor Will, because they brought in all their big guns, plus a ringer from next door to ensure the success of this book in its audible form. If I were him I would feel like I wasn’t trusted to carry a book this big! Ya know wat? He handles this book like he wrote it. I was incredibly impressed with his American accents,as I do believe that the computer helper is his own natural voice. Jeff, Annie, and Andrea really do have supporting roles, here but they all go for the Oscar too. Seriously, the sound, vocal talent, and effects were completely flawless. I applaud Will on his first outing, and give Kudos to the rest of them for keeping things so real and gritty.

My final score? Well, Dave inspired me to go out and get a pet bear myself, I call him cuddles (Add in my pic of the bear). He’sa good bear, yes he is! Back on track, The story was not what I was expecting, and I give props to DW for emulating the Grizzly Adams rescue and then turning it on its head. It was well paced, filled with action, good characters, and some “gods” from the past who sort of fluctuate between being honorable and then not so much. I don’t believe there was a slow moment in the book. Or me this is 8.6 stars all the way, from writing to narration it impressed.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffery M
  • 2019-09-02

Love the story and narration

I could do without the sound effects during the fight scenes. To me it is just distracting. One of the reasons I like books over movies is that I can use my own imagination for visual and sound effects. If you are providing them it is taking away one of reasons books are better than movies.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick
  • 2019-08-29

Just okay….

Narration: The biggest adjustment you have to get used to is the use of a narrator from the U.K. and an A.I. from France (I assume that’s a French accent). It doesn’t make sense in a story that takes place in rural Colorado, U.S.A. You’re already using Soundbooth Theater for other vocals, or at least Jeff Hays and Annie who are vocal powerhouses and have monster vocal ranges, so why did the author go with a British Accent for all the narration, shifting back to American voices for characters? Sure, I appreciate a soothing British accent as much as the next person, but it was misplaced here, and the suspenseful parts were distracting because of it. I also didn’t care for the production as used here either. Drums, intense music, or victory sounds have been used before in other titles and were done so in a tasteful manner, here they’re used during vanilla fighting sequences. It’s not that suspenseful…it’s a rat. No need for Braveheart drums sequences. I also don’t need to hear every sound like a bear sniffing, somebody burping, whatever. Background noise when somebody walks into a tavern in other titles is well placed. What was done here was not.

Story: I have over 70 LitRPG titles in my library, so I’m pretty confident when I say there’s nothing new here, and while I enjoyed the majority of the book, I found myself skipping 2-3 minutes at a time with over-explanation of events. I don’t really feel like it’s necessary to explain somebody descended the stairs, step by step, flipped on the light switch, light filling the room, boards creaking beneath him, dust faintly swirling about, etc. etc. etc. I definitely want to be immersed in the environment, but telling us about each door, what’s behind each door, how many tables and chairs are in every room, what type of rug is on the floor, etc., at every new location the MC goes to is just overkill. Seemed like it dragged on in so many places. A simple “MC caught the rest of the people up on the system and how to distribute attribute points" is sufficient. No need to walk through every conversation among the characters. This is a very slow moving end of the world survival story with LitRPG elements. Much of it was entertaining; however, much of it was just boring as it was entertaining. The author could’ve either made the book shorter, or lessened the over explanation of things and added more action into the story. Either would’ve been fine.

LitRPG: Where art thou? There’s almost no stat building. Seriously, he levels up and then they say nothing about where he chooses to place his stat points. The magic system is barely explored, no talk about how much mana is used when he casts spells, no concept about how hard something hits, just “Runs in, attacks, gets bit, health level is XX%, kills MOB, eats food and drinks water (no explanation of statistical effects), then heals.” Why wouldn’t you sell a bunch of stuff, buy alien technology, and own everything in the area? I mean a car can be traded for enough funds to purchase superior weaponry to Earth’s, so…. I don’t know…just seems to be a survival story that the author went back through and added a couple of LitRPG elements into, not really being well versed in MMORPG’s (as pointed out by another review here).

I’d say it’s worth the free credit if you also don’t mind purchasing credits to obtain books you enjoy, but if you rely on the one free credit every month to obtain a new novel you otherwise couldn’t afford, then perhaps look into some of the better LitRPG’s. I’m hoping the following installments will have corrected some issues I found in this one, otherwise the next book will be where I move onto something else in my wishlist. Hope that helps some that might be on the fence.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Uria
  • 2019-08-23

soso story

characters do not seem to act in a convincing fashion. main character loses both his parents and his young sister and he's fine and joke with people hours later.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • christopher Baldinger
  • 2019-09-09

the best Litrpg I've read so far.

This is now my new standard to judge other Litrpg's by. The story was superb. The narration was excellent. They chose the perfect cast for this book. Will definitely get the next one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • clyde emmanuel
  • 2019-09-09

Solid

I somewhat stumbled on this one, very enjoyable. The story and performance did not disappoint.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-09-03

wow

it's amazing, I can't wait till the next one comes out on audible, in an super excited

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-31

This is the First full 5 Star Book

Awesome story great character development so much connection Between characters and Really interesting mindset please continue I hope you do well making the series Bloom Don't change what you been doing you will do well

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Taniko w
  • 2019-08-18

Dave you did it again!

A great start to a great new series, Dave Willmarth shows again why he is one of my favourite writers.
I started with his greystone books and when Shadow sun survival came out to kindle I brought it without hesitation.
The audio version of the book only brings it further to greatness, with some cute little Easter eggs to his greystone books tossed in to the delight of myself and I’m sure many others who has read the series. The next instalment of the shadow sun series is already out and is even better then book 1, I can’t wait for it also to join audible it’ll be a great listen.


7 of 9 people found this review helpful