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The Artificer: A LitRPG Adventure

The Imperial Initiative, Book 1
Narrated by: Matthew Broadhead
Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (198 ratings)
Regular price: $24.95
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Publisher's Summary

A tech genius. A corrupt politician. The world hangs in the balance.

October, 2042: In two weeks, the world will die, murdered by a nine-mile-wide, extinction-level asteroid.

And Robert Osmark - billionaire and savvy tech genius - couldn't be readier for the fiery apocalypse.

Unlike the shortsighted masses, he’s been diligently preparing for this day from the moment the asteroid first appeared. Through his relentless efforts, digital salvation now awaits anyone bold enough to take the leap and permanently transition into the brand-new, ultra-immersive, fantasy-based VRMMORPG, Viridian Gate Online. And Robert Osmark will lead this new world he has created.

But even with every advantage skewed in his favor, Osmark faces powerful opposition. A rogue faction of global elites led by US Senator Sizemore isn’t content to merely survive the apocalypse. They have their sights set much higher, and are recruiting dangerous allies, undercutting Robert's efforts at every turn, and hiring VGO’s most deadly assassins to get what they want. 

To win, Osmark will need to viciously crush all opposition before his plans turn to ash.

©2017 James A. Hunter and Shadow Alley Press Inc. (P)2018 James A. Hunter and Shadow Alley Press Inc.

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You know how you can tell that Hunter is an amazing author? Because he can make you appreciate and sympathize (a little) for one of the nastiest villains this side of Darth Vader. Yeah, Ozmark is a huge jerk, an A-hole, and scumbag extrodinaire but this is one anti-hero who has reasons for every move he makes. By no means does this book negate his asshat status that he earned in the VGO books, but you do get a better handle on his motives to a small extent, and see what pushed him to be the way he is when we meet him in Viridian Gate, book one.

Ozmark knows the world is going to end long before the general public, and takes steps to ensure his survival, and as many other people he can get to enter his virtual world. Problem is he meets resistance from political types, and he soon has to start doing things that would make his mother cry to make things happen. This is done to make him more sympathetic, and make you see that things are not always black and white, but man do I hate that guy. This just made me hate him like he was Anthony Perkins in Psycho! Don't get me wrong. The book is amazing, and ties right into VGO leading right up to a point where he first hears of a certain fellow named Grim Jack. I can totally see the next book picking up somewhere after their initial encounter and showing us everything that he has to deal with while our man Jack (and Cutter!) tries to stave off his military advances. I highly anticipate the interweaving of the stories, and even seeing Ozmark's side of things as we progress. I do want to comment that Hunter did not write this moving fast paced story alone, he partnered with S.R. Witt, and their collaboration churned out one heck of a story. Seriously, if it had been another character I would have been rooting for him all the way. I still loved this book and hold it to the same standards as VGO.

I also feel a need to say just how much I love that cover. It is so awesome that it catches your eyes and doesn't let go. VGO has some beautiful covers, but this one just jumps out at me.

Broadhead, who is not Armen Taylor (narrator of the VGO series) narrates this book and I think it was a smart move to have a different voic, so to speak, to tell Ozmark's tale. This way you don't think of Ozmark as being Grim Jack, only as another character. It really sets both series and main characters apart. I would say that Broadhead is totally on par with Taylor, and such close skill levels also keeps thing balanced. Broadhead does a fine job here. I know him from the Bathrobe Knight series, and so I guess I am a little biased on how good he is, as I love that series.

Overall, for quality, story and narration this is like holding a mirror up to VGO. You can see they are the same, but so different as to stand apart. If you love VGO you will not want to miss this novel. Get it today!!!! 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. In fact, 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!!!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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EFF YEAH! A coauthor novel

I was excited when I discovered this hidden in Audible's Library. It is kind of annoying trying to find stuff in Audible sometimes. Even though I follow authors I will sometimes go into books I've previously listened to to see what people have bought based on that book and that's how I found this one Yay!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good narrator, Except......(Good book otherwise)

Okay, I hate to be so picky, but this seriously bugged me. The narrator is really good, but he mispronounces the word staMINA every single time! He pronounces it as staNIMA! Such a small thing if he did it once, but he does it every single time! If this were the type of book where the word was only used a few times, it wouldn't bug me so much. This book, however, is LITRPG, and the word is used A LOT. You would think someone would have corrected this. Otherwise, the narration was really good. He reads well and does good voices and accents. And the book itself is really good, so long as you've read the Veridian Gate books. I just wish this issue had been taken care of.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story

It was great to see everything from Robert's side. It will make everything going forward more meaningful, and it was also nice to see the imperial side a bit. The one annoying thing was how the narrator kept saying stanima over and over at least 100 times, instead of stamina. Don't know if that was a typo, or an error on his part. At first I thought I was hearing things, but nope, stanima stanima stanima, ugh. Other than that it was a good performance.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story of VGO's villain's rise to power

If you enjoyed the VGO series, this is a great addition, giving a look at the "villain" Robert Osmark's side of the story.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good except for the stanima

Seriously I get a little eye twitch whenever the narrator says stanima rather than stamina, and it happens HUNDREDS of times.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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

Great story, very mediocre/strange narrator

The narrator was tolerable, but I'm confused why he's even in the business. He mispronounced so many common words like stamina, proficiency, and on and on. He often swapped the vowels E and ih like in Still and Steel. Like, fine if English isn't your first language or something, or you're dyslexic, but at least the editors should catch the errors?

Story was a great continuation.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator makes this hard to get through

Having listened to all 5 VGO books I was looking forward to this side quest but the narrator’s cadence and lack of emotion in the reading just ruins it

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Good listen

Good listen for VGO fans, very interesting story. I would recommend it as a prequel to reading VGO.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Umm yaa just no

I had a tough time dealing with the narration of this book. Interesting premise, but the author simply fails at story telling. A wasted credit.

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  • Scott R
  • 10-17-18

Interesting new adventure


Not sure about some of the reviews but i found this immensely enjoyable and I think for those who haven't reached lich priest it may go a bit much against the characters portrayed in earlier books.
For me I liked this and I found the background politics of the council very good. Having some of the events before viridian game play started also helps i think but i don't know if I would read this as the 1st book but rather maybe after book 3 for best enjoyment and understanding
Narration was quite good but i missed the regular Viridian narrator Armen so won't rush for this on audio. Either way I think 4.5 stars and I shall follow further adventures but propably on ebook.