Barrow King: An Epic LitRPG/GameLit Adventure

The Realms, Book 1
Narrated by: Armen Taylor
Series: The Realms Series, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (924 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Book 1 of the best-selling epic LitRPG series The Realms.

A betrayed spy turned noob hero.

Betrayed by those closest to him, Finn Caldwell thought he’d escaped his life of violence and deception. But when a frantic message from his estranged sister draws him into The Realms, the world’s most advanced holographic reality game, Finn is forced to embrace his deadly skills once more.

Armed with a mysterious artifact known as a Godhead, Finn becomes the warrior-mage Gryph. Yet, things are not as they seem and to save his sister, he must escape a sentient dungeon by defeating its master, the Barrow King.

The Realms will take you back to the days when Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and The Elder Scrolls were new. Feel the nostalgia!

WARNING: Welcome to your new favorite genre.

LitRPG/GameLit is genre that incorporates gaming elements from tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder with epic RPG video games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and MMO’s like World of Warcraft and sets them in a fantasy or science fiction setting. It generally has leveling, stat tables, character sheets and skill progressions. 

If you’re new to LitRPG or GameLit, then The Realms is the perfect place to start.

Prepare to lose sleep. You have been warned.

The Realms - an epic LitRPG/GameLit fantasy series. Suggested listening order:

  • Barrow King
  • The Lost City
  • Killing Time
  • Dead Must Die (a side quest)
  • Scourge of Souls
  • The Forsaken God
  • Chaos Rising
  • Ravaged Land (coming soon) 
©2018 C.M. Carney (P)2018 C.M. Carney
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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

An unexpected Dungeon crawl of fun!

This is a book that does something mind blowing in its execution. It sets up a quest for a man to save his sister by entering a Game World, and then spends the rest of the time with him on a dungeon crawl. It is pure madness in how it appears, but is really flawless in its execution. In fact, the story is more interesting than most books that take place in an open world. I give a real tip of the hat to Chris Carney for the conception and the implementation of this tale. I would never have done what he did, creating a whole world, and then confining the whole book to just one dungeon. Even Dungeon stories have more outside interaction than this book. Not to confuse you, but there is no dungeon core involved in this story. Although, the villain, aka the Barrow King, pretty much runs the place like he was one. I also appreciated how he avoided the trope of the smart mouthed AI that usually helps and hinders the MC as the story progresses. He does so in a pretty clever way that only adds to the story. So, the writing is clearly innovative and original. I get shivers just thinking about how good it was.

The main character, Finn/Gryph learns that his sister is in danger, and has been trapped in a virtual world that is not so virtual for over 40 subjective years. He has to go in and save in spite of the fact that he is not a gamer, nor does he have any real game knowledge or experience. What he does have is real world fighting experience, which he immediately puts to use in the game. His instincts are spot on, and when he listens to them he tends to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I like his fearlessness, but caution tempered attitude, and can respect a man who can stand up to a god.

The dungeon is full of dangers, and some almost familiar monsters if you are a fan of the Old D&D monster Manuals and Fiend Folio. I think my favorite was the Arboleth encounter that was a stunningly fun battle, and made me long for my old Psionicist character. There are nods to several of the best underdark creatures and races sprinkled throughout the book. It is easter eggs like that that I truly appreciate and respect. It was handled with a delicate hand, as it didn’t beat you over the head with it, but it also gave a nostalgic nod to days long gone. Another aspect of the book that I loved was the time compression that I touched upon a little earlier. Time moves much faster in the game, so days or months here could equal actual years there, I’m not sure about the time dilution, but it certainly made the story more interesting. Speaking of time dilation, this book did not seem like it was thirteen hours long, not even remotely. It was incredibly edited and time managed so that I really never saw a low point, or felt like there was a lull in the story. Once the book got going it was unrelenting, and for me the set up was the only thing that even slightly held the story up, but you have to have that background info, and even that was not some simple I’m entering a game and leveling up.

Armen Taylor really brings his A game to this book. I know I just talked about him in War God’s Mantle, but I have to say he is even better here than he ever has before, and he never sounded bad previously. There is just something in the way that he carries himself, and thereby the characters through the story. He is utterly gripping, and cements himself in the hallows of my heart as a preferred narrator. He really knocks this book out of the park.

Finally, he ends the book on a note with Gryph that I am not sure that I would have, but then he has turned some many other things on their ear that I can trust him to handle the new revelation with complete class and a deft skill that few writers I know can do. This book really hit every mark for me. I have to say that this is an 8.5 easily, but I’m going to go a little higher because of all the creativity employed here. 8.75 Stars, and a helping heap of I can’t wait for the next book.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

As seen on the LITRPG AUDIOBOOK PODCAST, please check it out on Youtube.com

34 people found this helpful

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

Why?

Why would you make a man supposedly a bad ass in real life and an idiot in the game? Yes, they explained why he couldn’t be as bad ass in game as it pertains to retaining skills, but regardless his mental skills are nowhere near what they describe it to be. Left and right he keeps falling for crap that is to stupid as to be viable for an intelligent tactical thinking man as they describe him to be. All that said it is still a worthwhile storyline.

20 people found this helpful

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

Good beginning to a great series!

The writing and performance are both quite good, but the most important part of this book is it's the introduction to a great series! Unless you don't like it for personal reasons, you'll likely be listening, if not reading the entire thing! Book Four came out not long ago, and it looks to be getting even better! Definitely worth spending a credit.

7 people found this 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

Great book, dont get the bad reweiws

I dont think the mc was stupid or ignored certain stuff like some People say here. Just character build. Like this first book and looking forward to the rest of the series.

2 people found this helpful

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

Great LitRPG

The main character is presented as a bad ass out of game, but a noob in-game, so that helps newer readers get into the story and action a little easier, however this is dropped about 1/3 into the book since, who wants a MC who is incompetent at basic things after all.
The characters are rich and interesting with their own backgrounds and motivations which are explained really well.
The setting is standard high fantasy, but let's be honest, with a title like that you weren't expecting cyberpunk.
The story is fluid and compelling strokes that paint a picture that I can't wait to see fully.

*Slight spoiler warning*
The book ends on a cliffhanger, which personally frustrates me senselessly since we don't know if we will get an audio version of this book, however there is already a second book out in hard copy, so it's not too bad.

8 people found this helpful

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

LitRPG Goodness

This is different then your regular nerd turns into Bad Ass. You have a Bad Ass turn into a noob. Overall story that comes together well.

7 people found this helpful

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

Excellent Read (Listen)

This is a very enjoyable RPG story. The MC is a dangerous guy that has left the life of fighting, but he is pulled into a dangerous game world to help his sister. It is nice to see a MC in a RPG book that doesn't really have a history of playing video games, but he learns how game mechanics work while trying to stay alive so that he can find his sister. I look forward to seeing how this series develops.

The narrator does a good job with the different characters, reading pace is excellent, and is very easy to listen to.

7 people found this helpful

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

My First RPG style novel.

I felt like I was back in 1982 playing D&D with my friends...just with a much better dungeon master narrating the game. The story moves fast, has a solid main character with plenty of grow potential, and keeps you interested and wanting more all the way to the end. Would defiantly recommend, especially with Aren Taylor as the narrator!

7 people found this helpful

  • 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 - lost it after that

The narrator made this book.
The story had an excellent start and brought a new refreshing take on how the main character gets placed into the digital world, unfortunately after that the story staggered and I had trouble keeping interest. The LITRPG elements where very chaotic and the player just happened to find epic / magic armor that would be perfect around ever corner. It was very unrealistic for a game to just drop tons of awesome loot on a player. Also the leveling seemed to be hap hazard as best. Okay we have gone through a few fights let’s check our stats o look I have killed another legendary creature. I think as a story it was good and had great adventure. The LITRPG portion seemed more an afterthought then as a main concept of the book.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

love the story

first few chapters are kinda bland for my taste but after he go's into the new world it is an amazing adventure that it at the top of my favorite books list

6 people found this helpful

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  • Bugeag Sebastian
  • 05-21-19

nice book

if the narrator didn't scream so much it it will make a a better book, but decent plotline a bit overboard with self godifing himself but mahh in all.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian Trevena
  • 03-19-19

Excellent start

For me, that is.. this is my first audio book and I’ve been listening in the car during my commute. The storyline is excellent - mix of sci-fi at the start, and proper RPG almost right away. It’s dragged me in, and the voice acting is very dramatic, my smart watch even warning me that my heartbeat is unusually elevated in some places. The writing style is definitely what I enjoy, with enough RPG stats to keep me happy and really give the full experience of a properly described D&D session. Brilliant!

4 people found this 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
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  • LGKM
  • 03-13-19

Great example of the genre

Really enjoyed this book. Good plot, engaging characters with interesting twists and turns. Highly recommended.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jim.a
  • 12-31-18

Ready Player one WITH MALICE

Imagination justified through the media of science and imagination, For my lifetime I drew fantasy from wizards and magic. but now its from the world of computers, This mind expanding book is a ball with event escalations not being restricted to the norm , Allowing for things to grow rather quick, I felt the book left me not only wanting more but wondering where the re-set button is and will it begin again.
Well read by Armen Taylor adding depth to the bigger characters, Overall a great read, By CM Carney and a world I will certainly be visiting again soon ,, Jim

4 people found this 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
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  • Darcielk
  • 03-02-19

Addictive story,

This is my second foray into LITRPG, on the whole it was very well done, my only criticism is the over use of character's names.Instead of Griff this and Griff that some could have been changed to he, or his. Not enough to put me off, I look forward to the next book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nighteyes
  • Nighteyes
  • 07-30-19

Great LitRPG

The main character is presented as a bad ass out of game, but a noob in-game, so that helps newer readers get into the story and action a little easier, however this is dropped about 1/3 into the book since, who wants a MC who is incompetent at basic things after all.
The characters are rich and interesting with their own backgrounds and motivations which are explained really well.
The setting is standard high fantasy, but let's be honest, with a title like that you weren't expecting cyberpunk.
The story is fluid and compelling strokes that paint a picture that I can't wait to see fully.

*Slight spoiler warning*
The book ends on a cliffhanger, which personally frustrates me senselessly since we don't know if we will get an audio version of this book, however there is already a second book out in hard copy, so it's not too bad.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Player1
  • 05-20-19

Excellant all round<br />great pacing dynamic character

just Excellant will be my hasty words as I rush to start book 2.
more more more

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Allen Stark
  • 10-23-19

fantastic read

loved this book and looking forward to further volumes. great lit RPG with a touch of realworld action too. highly recommend it to anyone that likes fantasy or litrpg books.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR J B NOWELL
  • 09-02-19

Solid and moreish

Great story and engaging telling, nice character development to the main protagonist as well as supporting bunch, will definitely be continuing the series

1 person found this 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
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  • Helen
  • 08-31-19

amazing storyline

when a frantic message from his estranged sister draws him into The Realms, the world's most advanced holographic reality game,
amazing book can't wait for book 2 its a must buy you will not regret it

1 person found this helpful

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  • Matthew Carpenter
  • 02-28-20

Hopefully it gets bettter

I found it okay for a first book, a bit on the windy side of things, seems to take a while to get through things, hopefully it gets better on the second book.

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  • Jason B
  • 01-04-20

Brilliant, captivating and awesome narration

The first book in this series captures your attention and it only drags you deeper through the rest of the series. Great humour, narration and storyline. Can't wait for the next title in the series.