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Varnoth

A LitRPG Story (The Black Blade, Book 1)
Narrated by: Jack Voraces
Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
4 out of 5 stars (74 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What would you do if you awoke without memory, crucified, and on the brink of death? 

Varnoth, a shadow panther, must struggle to survive in the cruel world of Albattara. He must use his natural-born skills in this fantasy LitRPG to explore the land, complete quests, conquer dungeons, craft potions, destroy terrifying monsters, and find answers to his questions: 

Who is he? 

Why was he crucified?

©2019 Lavelle Jackson (P)2019 Lavelle Jackson

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

The Black Blade bleeds read, er, red!

Here’s a story that I like to see. A man picks up a litrpg novel and loves it. Then he gets to reviewing it, and then he becomes a writer of the genre. It simply amazes me how many fans of this type of literature end up writing stories about it. Lavelle fits that to a tee, a fan that transcends from reader to writer. And I applaud that.

The story of Varnoth of the Black Blade is pretty simple, and it is one of those stories that I love to hate, the infamous slice of life type books. I have been trying really hard to push past my biases and just enjoy the story and little by little it is working for me. So, the book is about a shadow panther that wakes up tied to a cross. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there. He gets cut down by a Gandalf type and sent on his way. The story then wanders about as Varnoth strives to level up, and learn about himself. He meets several companions along the way as he forges a path to power.

One thing I will say that I appreciated as that no one was safe. Jackson kills characters without hesitation or mercy, and he doesn’t even ease you into it with the knowledge that the death was swift. Secondly, he does not flinch or skimp on the gore. Honestly, to me gore is just another thing and has no effect on me, but I do enjoy graphic depictions as they are more realistic. Eyeballs do fly and intestines do fall. So be warned. The only issue that I had was that the fights never quite seemed like Varnoth had to struggle too much. I would have liked some adversity for the panther, as there was a lot of throat slitting, beheading, and backstabbing going on. He’s kind of a melding of the Terminator and the Professional’s Leon. Stone cold, highly skilled, unstoppable, and relentless. Also, I almost let my kids listen to the book until some of the swearing happened, which technically I was fine with but there was a lot of mention of whores and the sex acts, so I couldn’t let them listen in.


My biggest issue came from the narration. I am not, it seems, a huge fan of Jack Voraces. I’m just huge. Wait. Wait. OK, Voraces really dropped the ball in several areas. First of all he has an inhuman lead character. Give that shadow panther a voice that matches it. Also, he is inconsistent because in the beginng of the book Varnoth learns Herbalism, with a hard H, and gathers Herbs, with a hard H, but when the panther man goes to a shop called Herb’s Herbs the latter part becomes erbs, losing the H sound entirely and then stays that way. It is also hard to follow him with his accent as Invenory becomes inventory and a composite became compazit. I really did not get one well with him at all. He at least tries to put in an effort and make it fun.
My final score? I have thought about this a lot. My issues with Voraces are nit picky for the most part, although I stand my ground when I say that an inhuman MC needs an inhuman voice, I can overlook a lot of that stuff as accent, but I do require consistency. Herbs Herbs. Still as funny as the other way if you say it right. So, final score 7.7 has some wonky parts but the gore, fighting and Varnoth’s dedication to doing the right thing overcomes.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable book

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I'd never heard of the author or the narrator so I didn't really know what to expect from it, but I definitely enjoyed it. While the narrator did take some getting used to at first (entirely my issue as I've been binging a series prior to this that the narrator has a similar accent, not the narrators), I felt he did a really great job and felt his voices for each character were distinct enough that I didn't have a hard time at all following between the dialog. The story and world itself gave me a very Elder Scrolls feel just with how the character acted in the world and while it fell into a few standard tropes, I didn't think that was a bad thing at all. In fact I think I enjoyed it more because of those tropes and the memories it brought up.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Varnoth: My awesome first LitRPG experience

This genre is new to me, but I was sucked in from the beginning. The author has a way of describing things in such great detail that I can clearly see what is happening and feel the emotions of each of the characters. The narrator is very skilled at helping to bring it all to life. My wife and I listened to Varnoth together as we were on a road trip recently. After a few chapters, she shared that she really enjoyed it and wanted to finish it. Therefore, I can say without a doubt that this book is something special, even for those that may be new to LitRPG.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An absolutely a fantastic read!

First thing I have to say I love the John Wick feel to this MC. There is no way around it he is an anti-hero which is great this book has a perfect blend of stats action and an overall presence of story that keeps you wanting to know more. an absolutely fantastic book all the way around and the narrator for this book is amazing. Do yourself a favor and listen to this book!

4 of 4 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

You Found a Legendary Book +10 to Fun

What an amazing LitRPG story, the only bad part was when book 1 was over and noticed book 2 was not yet on Audible and I would have to wait to continue the Black Blade story. The Narration by Jack Voraces was amazing as usual and was a great pairing with this Author. I am looking forward to many more stories read by Voraces. So Run, and get this book. you will not be disappointed.

Note at the time of this review audible did not have chapter titles listed for this book.

This title was provided for free for review, however, this review contains my honest opionos and thoughts.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I laughed my ass off.

So much good meme potential. I love this audi0book. I plan on updating this review soon.So stay tuned!

-Im 100% buying book 2.

-Did not see that coming wow 5/5

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chad
  • Arkansas
  • 09-28-19

Great listen!

I spent most of my time listening to this book wishing it was longer. I was dreading the end of this part of the story. The book will send you from emotional highs to emotional lows in just a few minutes. I highly recommend and truly hope it has the support to garner a second book!!!

I was given a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

4 of 4 people found this review 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

A Serviceable LitRPG

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

TLDR; Decent LitRPG, not going to redefine the genre, and doesn't do anything particularly interesting with the concept, but is enjoyable none the less.

This is a decent enough book, the author leans a bit heavy on the LitRPG concept, using it more as a crutch for the story rather than an addition to expand the story. There are also some oddities that come from that crutch, for example, how much the "NPCs" know about this world. Sometimes they mention levels, and quests, other times they seem overly distraught over non-lethal damage that can be cured with a cheap health potion. Another issue that stems from using LitRPG as a crutch is a mixture of fantasy world with the hard numbers of an RPG. I'll avoid specifics, so no spoilers, but things like if the rewards for completing these quests are so good, why don't other people do these quests. This is easily explained in an actual game, where quests are repeatable, or in a fantasy world where you're the savior and no one else could do it, but in this case, it comes across as stronger people are just too lazy or evil to fix problems. This can't be the case because they worked hard to get the strength they have, and the two stronger people we meet in the book are both "good" guys. So there's some dissonance between the world and how the world "should" be.

As far as audio, I like Jack Voraces, so I'm a bit biased, but it's great. I think he was hampered a bit by some style choices, but still manages a great performance.

Overall, a serviceable book. With a few more books under his belt, I think he could be writing some really good stuff. I hope he'll continue writing I'm looking forward to checking out what he comes out with, in a few more books.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting Take on LitRPG

Note: I received a free code for this book by Mr. Voraces.

tl;dr Good start to a series from a new author, excited to see where Mr. Jackson takes Varnoth.

Story -
Overall, I would rate this book a 7.5 out of 10. It starts off a bit on the slow side but quickly turns up the heat. There is a fair bit of gore, more than I was expecting. I work from home and listen to a lot of audiobooks, but still turned the volume down, you know, in case the dog might hear. He's still a pup, doesn't need to be introduced to that kinda thing. There are some harem elements to this book, which for some reason is pretty common to the LitRPG genre. Again, the pup doesn't need to be introduced to that sorta thing, so the volume had to go down during those scenes. The character building is pretty decent, with plenty of depth given to the main characters. I generally prefer some kind of base/town-building but this is definitely not that kind of story, which is totally okay. There is an overall mystery in this book, one that is not really explored. Who is Varnoth? I really hope the author explores this mystery in the next installment.

Performance -
How do you rate Jack Voraces? 10/10 every single time. Jack is right up there with the crème de la crème of Audiobook narrators. I'm not just putting this here because he gave me an audiobook code, he is really a great narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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a very gory adventure

this story started off fairly well, if a little slow. I struggled to finish it however because about halfway thru the MC suddenly becomes very bloodthirsty and the author turns up the gore. I personally didn't enjoy it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • 10-08-19

It's ok


I was given a code for this book, where by I promised to leave an honest and voluntary review on audible once I'm done.
it was ok, not the best though. The foul language was a bit much for me, I'm no prude but it was too much.
It's not a bad story as LITRPG goes,
The narration was great, brought the characters to life, probably the only reason i finished the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Björn Björkman Bäckström
  • Björn Björkman Bäckström
  • 10-17-19

DNF, overly dramatic narrator.

As a disclaimer, I received this book through a promo-code, with the condition I leave a honest review.

I tried to get through it 3 times before giving up. I managed to get through about an hour before the narrators unnecessary dramatics, like being super exited about climbing tree's, calculations and all sorts of minor things killed my ability to endure.

If it was just the narrator, I'd be able to deal if the story compensated for it. During the hour I listened, the protagonist got rescued from a goblin, climbed a few tree's, killed a few animals, explored a dark cave and walked up on two "Goons" planning the graphic rape of two women... Once the women were predictably saved, they get out of the cave and the women decide to tear their dresses into bits to make it easier to navigate the brushes... I got told way more than I wanted about their "assets". If you like women being objectified, maybe this book is for you?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • ivar
  • 09-27-19

Nope can’t listen to the narrator

Didn’t give it a chance, they voice actor is too dramatic, didn’t listen for more then 4 min. Will maybe try out the kindle version.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Allen Stark
  • 11-11-19

highly enjoyable litrog

maybe a little clichéd at times but if anything that just adds to the books charm. brilliant performance and very enjoyable experience. looking forward to book 2

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-01-19

A really amazing writer

The author of this book is so amazing. Like he writes characters perfectly amazing plots etc. Ignore everything else and buy this.

I would set it at 1.25 speed

1 of 2 people found this review 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
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  • Jonathan
  • 09-30-19

A focus on leveling

I recieved a review copy of this book which I enjoyed very much. The story and characters are interesting whilst the narrator is an excellent choice.

The book masks the background of the main character, even from himself, which keeps the nature of the story mysterious. However, the character accepts the mechanics of the world immediately and without apparent question which somewhat undermines this. There also appears to be strong focus on leveling and gaining statistics, but these almost feel unearned due to the rate in which the character levels. This was relatively minor though and did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • james mcadam
  • 10-01-19

great story and awesome action

loved it excellent first book looking forward to the second in the series long live varnoth

1 of 3 people found this review helpful