Bone Dungeon Book Review (Elemental Dungeon 1)

Read the first 3 chapters free!

Ryan doesn’t remember much about his life before becoming dungeon core. Only that he had a bit of a disagreement with the church — something to do with a beheading?

Now reborn, Ryan begins to arm his darkness dungeon with devious traps, bestial zombies and ill-named skeletal creations, without doing anything too evil. Well, mostly. Some adventurers just deserve a stalactite to the head.

But Ryan quickly learns being a darkness dungeon isn’t all loot and bone puns. With a necromancer on the rise and the Adventurer’s Guild watching his every move, he must prove that not all darkness dungeons are malevolent… even if they do have a few skeletons in their caverns.

Sadly, all of these issues keep distracting him from his own guilty pleasure, skeletal fight club. But don’t tell his fairy about that.

Title: Bone Dungeon

Author: Jonathan Smidt

Series: Elemental Dungeon

Publisher: Portal Books

Length and Cost: 398 pages at $4.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, available on Kindle Unlimited

Overall Experience Rating: 8.6 / 10

Genres: Dungeon Core, GameLit, LitRPG, Fantasy, Humor

Type: ebook

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book for my honest review, and purchased a copy when it was released.

Review Overview:
A solidly designed dungeon core and adventuring world where both the monsters, dungeons, and adventurers have fully designed skills, abilities, and levels. The story is fun, and the various characters introduced and followed in the story are memorable without going overboard. The author managed to completely avoid the Overpowered Main Character or Super Unique Class cliches seen too often in LitRPG, which made the characters cleverness and intelligence stand out more, and helped create anticipation of them figuring out smart ways of using game mechanics. Despite the multiple character perspectives shown in the book, it never felt too short, making the purchase price worth while, at the LitRPG middle range for flat cost, but mid to high end for content. Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this, and look forward to future releases of the current characters story, and the addition of other dungeons and and adventures as the author has mentioned in his plans.

Rating break down:

Quality/Depth of Characters: 9.5 / 10
Each character named in the book has enough background and personality to make their presence make sense, with enough depth to make each standout as a full character, all while somehow managing to never be excessive. This gives the interactions an impressive amount of weight with surprising levels of emotional impact throughout the entire book. Empathizing and sympathizing with the various characters was easy, and even with the jerks, I cared about what happened to them.

Quality and Depth of World: 8 / 10
Locations and distances are logical and thought out, regions make sense, even weather, seasons, and geography are touched upon in a manner that is consistent. Beyond that, the cultures and societies are mentioned organically, but without leaving the reader painfully blind, like many other books happen to do. This helped with immersion without being distracting or confusing. Large scale politics were not mentioned. Some of the behaviors did come off as a tad odd, weirdly mixing our real world modern culture with medieval fantasy behaviors, which threw me off at times, but this was rare.

Detail Balance and Completeness: 9 / 10
With regards to game mechanics, the story has health, mana, levels and XP, and other stats and factors depending on the characters personal class. Paired with this are some overarching ‘world rules’ that give the feel of a tabletop RPG world combined with an MMORPG. While it looks like crafting skills exist in game, most of the focus is on dungeon building and combat classes. The gamelike and leveling systems introduced include enough numerical information that a reader can track and breakdown where the MCs levels and skill come from, and what it takes for them to be used. The system set is pretty straightforward and easy to understand, and is balanced and thoroughly done enough that I could see an actual tabletop RPG, board game, or video game of this world and its system working if made, which I always find a really fun feature when reading LitRPG. Also, the MC, while meant to be unique in some ways and cared about by the reader, is not some OP superclass that no one else can pick from, or anything overtly special or unbalanced like that. In fact, many times the primary MC has to explicitly avoid doing things that would be ‘impolite etiquette’ lest he risk getting wiped out for breaking convention. Having the game mechanics and world culture working hand in hand like that was wonderfully organic, getting the best of both worlds.

Quality of Story: 9 / 10
Was a very enjoyable story, with minimized cliche or stereotypical events unless it made good sense based on the overarching context and events elsewhere in the book. Enough mystery remains for readers to wonder about the Big Bad Guys motivations and goals, while having enough clarity of individual events motivations that a reader can still care and understand as things progress.

Quality of Writing: 7 / 10
Some instances of information being repeated two to three times in one page, some minor typos and misspellings. A few rare times where a pop culture reference or quirk of speech broke the immersion. For the most part the reference were smooth enough and subtle enough to feel rewarding when recognized, and only one obvious one really gets pushed in your face, but is still funny. (At least to me.)

Narration Performance: N/A


Score: 8.6 out of 10

Bone Dungeon – A Dungeon Core LitRPG

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One thought on “Bone Dungeon Book Review (Elemental Dungeon 1)

  1. Pingback: Infernal Bones Book Review (Elemental Dungeon 2) | Apoc Mora

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