• Off to Be the Wizard

  • Magic 2.0, Book 1
  • By: Scott Meyer
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (31,306 ratings)

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Off to Be the Wizard  By  cover art

Off to Be the Wizard

By: Scott Meyer
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
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Publisher's summary

An io9 Can't Miss Science Fiction and Fantasy title in March 2014.

Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.

What could possibly go wrong?

An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.

©2013 Scott Meyer (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

Featured Article: The top 100 fantasy listens of all time


When compiling our list of the best fantasy listening out there, we immediately came up against the age-old question: Is this fantasy or science fiction? The distinction is not as clear as you may think. Dragons, elves, and wizards are definitely fantasy, but what about wizards that also fly space ships? (Looking at you, Star Wars.) For the sake of fantasy purity, the top 100 fantasy listens include the best audio works in all manner of fantasy subgenres.

What listeners say about Off to Be the Wizard

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

Hang in there

When I started this book, I felt some trepidation. I'd heard it was good, but not as good as Ready Player One. But, I wanted to give it a shot. The first part of the book was infuriating - I just kept wanting to yell "How is this NOT a bad idea? Stop being so stupid!". I almost gave up.

Then Martin meets Phillip. Suddenly I could not get through the book fast enough. I warn you to be careful if you listen while you drive - there were points when I laughed so hard I almost had to pull over. Luckily, I was in my neighborhood and could go 5 mph. I loved Ready Player One, but this was better in terms of entertainment. I will re-listen to this soon.

Luke Daniels kills this - I love what he does with Phillip. Phillip is definitely my favorite. He needs his own series!

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210 people found this helpful

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

Temporal distortion has never been so fun

This series fell into my lap as a suggestion in the Podcast’s Youtube page. I really appreciate that, as it keeps me from having to seek out books blindly.

Let me say, I hadn’t heard of Scott Meyer before this book, but this cat is on my radar now. The man knows how to set up a story, and make it funny. The tale revolves around a guy who discovers a small piece of code that makes him realize that he is living in a computer program, and that he can manipulate the system. In other words, there is no spoon. He can rewrite some of his code and provide all kinds of benefits to himself such as making himself taller, teleport, or wealthier by inflating his bank account, etc. Naturally, this leads him into getting himself into trouble with the law, and before you know it he flees to the past where he plans on setting himself up as a wizard. Now, we all know that nothing good comes from thinking like this, and that things are not going to go as planned. Still, the book really takes off and there is a ton of magic, time travel, thugs, FBI types, and wizards to keep you entranced before you know what hit you.

Meyer never misses a beat, and has a built in rim shot that appears every couple of beats to make you laugh. It is a good mix of funny, ironic, satire, and seriousness that all blends together in one hell of a sweet literary smoothie. I looked and there are quite a few books in this series, and I look forward to getting my grubby mitts on each one, just as much as I do other big names in the Litrpg genre.

One huge benefit for this series is that the book is narrated by Luke Daniels, and like Jeff Hays, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a book that he narrated that I didn’t love. Daniels proves to be as professional and silly as a person can be simultaneously. I think my favorite part was where he imitated sounding like someone speaking into a fan. That was pure narration brilliance. And his portrayal of Jimmy was soooo funny that I squirted milk out of my nose, and I wasn’t even drinking anything.

So, the question is is this book LITRPG or not? There are a lot of things to consider, but I’m going to go with two things. First, the wizards are all self aware NPC’s if nothing else. They know that they are algorithms, and it doesn’t bother them at all. Secondly, they are in a computer game. Of that there is no question. They literally rewrite code in order to achieve things that they want. Just on those two things alone I will say this is LITRPG, it doesn’t matter if it was a “real” human who entered the world or if the NPC’s suddenly became sentient. The end result is that the MC is trapped in a Sims like game and regardless of whether he is “alive” he is a player, and that too qualifies. So for this I’m calling it Lit! Final score for this Litrpg book is 8.1 stars. I can’t wait to listen to more of this wonderful series..

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

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180 people found this helpful

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

IT WOULD BE IDYLLIC, IF NOT FOR THE CORPSES

JUST BECAUSE YOU CALL SOMETHING, SOMETHING, DOESN'T MAKE IT, IT.
If you like John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton, then you will love this. During the first hour, I thought this is cute, but it is going to grow old. Over nine hours later, I am still laughing. As the story grows, it gets funnier and more interesting. If you are driving be careful, you may miss your exit, it is that engaging.

TECHNICALLY I AM OLDER THEN YOU, I WAS JUST BORN LATER
I am 56 and barely understand computers, so this was not aimed at me, but I loved it anyway. It was a fun light book, with plenty of surprises. After a while some of the jokes become predictable, but they are still funny. There is a little Connecticut Yankee in here, an updated version. This has time travel, wizards, Lord of the Rings, orcs, etc...

SILENCE SO THICK, YOU COULD LEAN ON IT.
I can not say enough about Luke Daniels. His performance is above and beyond. This would be a great book to read, but I believe that Daniels makes it so much more. Don't miss out on this experience.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN ME EAT ANY OF THAT STEW?
I will be getting the sequels.

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153 people found this helpful

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

Bad fan fiction, entertainingly read

I came into this book with high hopes - it had been compared to Ready Player One, which was a really fun young adult style wish-fulfillment romp for grown up geeks. I understand the comparison, since this is also a wish-fulfillment romp for grown up geeks, but, man, is this book bad.

It is badly written, and not just in a first novel kind of way. It is full of awkward phrases and mediocre descriptions, sure, but the problem goes deeper. The novel is set in Medieval England, but there is no attempt to actually engage with the setting which is barely described, and everyone acts (and talks) like 21st century stock characters.

It is badly plotted. Very little happens overall, and much of it makes little sense. This would be okay if the author wasn't trying to justify consistent rules for the universe he creates, but Meyer spends a lot of time setting up the world and magic system, making all of the glaring logic problems hard to ignore. Further, much of the joy of a time travel novel is seeing the interaction between the time traveler and the setting, but the main character is entirely incurious and Meyer uses the excuse of an "alternate timeline" to avoid any consequences of their actions.

That leaves us with the humor, which many people seem to like. I am a fan of geek reference humor (see: Scalzi, Stross, Ready Player One, etc) but this generally fell flat, though there were some cute moments. More troubling is the fan-fiction feel to the whole novel, where all the main characters are all-powerful computer geeks in a world full of dumb brawny people. And, of course, there are no women in the novel for reasons that are, ultimately, both stupid and insulting. At least the reader does a game job, providing excellent, completely over-the-top voices to accompany the story.

The reviews of the book repeatedly mention that it is good value for money, since it is a cheap self-published novel. It may be worth the money per page, but it isn't worth 10 hours of your time. There are many better books out there to scratch your geek wish fulfillment fantasy.

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

Fun and funny... amateur but enjoyable

The opening of the book had me worried... it was sloppily written, in fashion to get the plot moving as quickly as possible. The protagonist isn't well thought out... he's smart enough to be an elite hacker, but his intelligence is otherwise absent from anything he does thereafter... for the entire duration of the story.

The character discovers that he has the powers of a god, but this is quickly forgotten by both him and apparently the author. Like in the movie "Bruce Almighty", we're supposed to believe that our character is so unimaginative and selfish that the only thing he can think to do with his powers is to improve his own little life in small and insignificant ways.

But before you can get to frustrated with the story, Meyer throws you backwards in time, and the story takes a turn for the weird(er). Here in the past, Meyer has thought things out a little bit more. If he researched the time period, it doesn't really show... but he has built an amusing cast of characters.

Here the book starts to take on the flavor of Cline's "Ready Player One", one of my favorite light reads. Meyer's characters are funny, and the humor is geared at an audience who is familiar the life of 1980s computer geeks.

Everything stays fun and light. I wasn't bored for an instant. Oh, and the narration was hilarious.

The ending was satisfying within the scope of the story... but then, the scope of the story was very small.

As a listener, what I really longed for was for our hacker protagonist to play around more with the code he's discovered... outside of this one little pocket of use that he's fixated on in the past. Play with more variables... discover things... surprise me.

Anyway, Meyers has a lot of promise. I hope that he continues writing... and that next time he takes his writing to the next level.

Good listen for the price. I recommend it if you liked "Ready Player One".



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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

A Geekfest of good times.

Any additional comments?

I found this book because my favorite narrator, Luke Daniels, is reading. As an added bonus, I also fall into the demographic--White girl nerd who started with tech in the '80s.

Now, I know that previous viewers have said this is more for guys, but that is untrue! In life, I've found, nerd > gender. While we may not make the "obvious jokes," we have certainly heard enough of them to make us smirk when the obvious jokes pop up...so to speak. Oops, I think I just broke the first rule of Magic.

But I digress. Mr. Daniels' narration was perfection, as always! The storytelling was nimble, witty, and filled with nerdtastic goodness. Unlike another reviewer, I found Martin's reactions to be completely believable and probable, considering the circumstances. I also thoroughly enjoyed the bits of nostalgia. All in all, a highly recommended read!

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

Young (white male geek) adult fiction

Any additional comments?

I would have enjoyed this book quite a bit when I was a pre-teen/teenage geek. If you are one now, then feel free to stop reading this review and go ahead and read & enjoy this series as light fiction. But as an adult I found the main character (and other characters), setting, and plot all disappointing. Has such a limited view of people, society, etc. that it is almost offensive in how insular and unaware it is (and yes, I am a white male geek!). As humorous SF/Fantasy it is supposed to be light, but falls short and just feels flat and contrived. My memory tells me that even Piers Anthony was better, and certainly this book is not even a pale echo of humor/parody as written by Terry Pratchett, John Scalzi, Connie Willis, Douglas Adams, Steven Brust, etc. Read those authors first, then don't come back to this book. (As for the narration -- it was good; light in tone befitting the materials. I would listen to other books read by Luke Daniels).

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Story!

Ah man, this story was great! Very funny and creative. It has a rather modern feel to it, along with a healthy reaction to existentianlism. Definitely believable in it's explanation of coding as a form of magic and the modern and midevil perspectives are interesting. All in all very compelling and enchanting story. I'd reccomend it to anyone who likes a good story.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A plausibly interesting idea ruined.

I have a tendency to like these sort of What If explorations. For example I really quite enjoyed the following three:
1. Bobiverse Trilogy Dennis E. Taylor (all three books excellent)
2. Nexus series by Ramez Naam (all three books excellent)
3. Awaken Online Series Travis Bagwell (only read first book, quite interesting although not in the same league as 1 and 2)

The base premise of Oww to be the wizard is interesting (discovering you are in a simulation and can alter it) but everything from that point onwards is just ghastly. I must admit I did not manage to finish this, which is unusual for me.

The main issue for me is that the main character is an idiot. And I don't mean in a charming self-effacing ironic sort of way. He is just incredibly stupid. From the very moment he discovers his ability to manipulate reality, almost every single choice he makes is foolish, thoughtless, ignorant or all of the above that it ceases to be interesting.

I kept thinking "OMG why are you doing that?" There are so many ways that this could be entertaining and it manages to avoid even accidentally stumbling into any of them.

My strong recommendation is to avoid this.

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

Fun, but Limited

Any additional comments?

This is not a well-written book. For the first quarter of it, that’s part of its charm. Meyer is so clever, so warmly funny, that he powers through not quite knowing “the rules” of writing a novel. Our hero, Martin, discovers an obscure data-set on the internet, one that includes his name along with millions of others. He changes his height, out of vanity, from 5’10” to 6’1” and realizes he’s changed his actual height. He realizes, that is, that he’s found the database of existence, and that he can alter his personal statistics as he pleases: his wealth, his location, his place in time.

Meyer gets through all of that background quickly and without pretension. Martin realizes his powers, gets into trouble, and flees to what he thinks is the security of medieval England, in only 50 pages or so. Meyer is so inventive and brings so much joy to his task, that it’s hard not to get caught up in the fun.

The second and third quarters slow down considerably, though, and the final quarter more or less hits a wall. A couple chapters of Martin training with another “wizard” might be nice, but more than half the book on that is overkill. And, as all that unwinds, there’s no real plot left. The final part means exaggerating a minor conflict into the central one, and there’s really little at stake.

Still, reading this hasn’t been a disappointment. I’ve enjoyed it, in substantial part, because its what-the-hell approach makes me appreciate the art of several other books all the more.

1) Claire Norths’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is really a gem, one of my favorite surprises of last year. It too tells the story of characters who play with time lines, but it takes its potential contradictions more seriously and answers them with deeper wisdom and care. When I find myself wondering here, for instance, why no changes in the past affect the future, I admire North’s subtler answer to that, where individual choices in the past can slightly alter the future – changing an individual’s wealth maybe – but not dramatically: no forestalling Hitler’s rise. North’s is a joy of a book, one that rises well above this one, and it’s rewarding to be reminded of it.

2) Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is actually about something. Where Meyer’s book sets out to entertain, or maybe to make a kind of revenge-of-the-nerds claim, Twain uses almost the exact same setting to make an argument about the nature of modernity. As far back as 1889 Twain saw some of the dehumanizing aspects of technology. His hero shows up some of the foolishness of chivalry, but, in the end, he shows all the more clearly the Holocaust potential of the industrial world. It’s an argument about human nature, one that’s far more deeply funny than this book, and one that’s simultaneously disturbingly predictive.

3) Any number of genre novels I’ve read recently do what they set out to do. The hero saves people, the heroine falls in love with him. Meyer tries to subvert the formula, his love story never gets off the ground and his Gandalf/Dumbledore figure is decidedly silly, and he gets some legit laughs out of it. Still, he’s clearly playing against expectation. When Charlie Huston or Jason Starr tells a good story, one where character types walk in the door in the opening pages, it’s all the more impressive to realize they’ve held my interest while obeying the demands of genre.

I have no plans to read any more Meyer, and I can’t recommend this one in good conscience, but I feel oddly good about having read it. This writing business is tough. It’s hard to get it right, and Meyer, in getting a lot wrong, reminds me of the joy and optimism I feel any time I sit down in front of a brand new blank page.

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