Ryan has died, been reborn as a dungeon core, defeated a necromancer, and made a number of friends along the way. Life, well un-life, is good.
However, everything changed when the demons attacked. With his dungeon town in danger and cultists scheming in the shadows, Ryan must decide whether to draw upon the darker side of his own nature – unlocking powers far greater than anything he has accessed before.
Something his new dungeon fairy seems suspiciously excited about.With his favorite adventurer, Blake, slowly accepting his new powers as a Specter of Balance, Ryan learns being a darkness dungeon means a lot more than just bones, zombies, and skeletal fight club. Apparently, the power granted by God of Death encompasses much, much more.
Unfortunately, Ryan learns the hard way that some things should remain dead…
Title: Infernal Bones
Author: Jonathan Smidt
Series: Elemental Dungeon #2
Publisher: Portal Books
Length and Cost: 506 pages at $4.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, available on Kindle Unlimited
Overall Experience Rating: 8.7 / 10
Genres: Dungeon Core, GameLit, Fantasy, Humor
Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book for my honest review, and purchased a copy when it was released.
This was a fun and enjoyable sequel to Bone Dungeon, and I enjoyed seeing the continuation of monsters, the dungeon, and adventurers from the first of the series. Seeing the development of the above and the various skills, abilities, and variants introduced was great, and seeing even more classes be introduced and developed was an extra treat. The story was good, the character increasingly memorable, and their flaws and aptitudes decently balanced. At 100 pages longer than the first book, the density of content stays pleasing despite there being more perspectives to split between. Many authors mess that up, and Jonathan avoided that pitfall. Purchase price is just under middle range for flat cost, and mid range for content. Some rough writing issues that can interrupt the flow, but made up for with story and quantity. Overall I very much enjoyed both the humorous interactions and serious implications in the story, and look forward to the third, and potentially final in the first trilogy of the overall Elemental Dungeon series.
Oh, little potential Easter Egg, the author has expressed the possibility of making an actual card game based on the dungeon cards from the series, which could be a lot of fun.
Rating break down:
Quality/Depth of Characters: 9.5 / 10
The characters from book 1 continued to grow and change in response to the events around them, and seeing their progression was satisfying and enjoyable. Their reactions to stimuli was along what would be expected for their personalities, and their backstory came into play logically.
An extra treat was that some of the events or information shared gave extra importance to their actions and words from the first book, making a reread of book 1 more rewarding.
My only complaint was a small number of characters were malicious to a degree that did not match their other motivations, as far as I could understand. Counterbalancing that though was the fair limitations of the characters, helping maintain some form of balance.
Quality and Depth of World: 9.5 / 10
Props to Jonathan here. He expands on some of the gods in the world and how the dungeons, magic, and gods work. The book also expands on the cultural and social behaviors of various regions. This also lead to being able to clarify how the Adventurer’s Guild works for adventurers both young and old, with features like Questers being better explained. On top of all that is how all this plays into the economics of the world, and having that be balanced it a big deal to me in series.
With regards to the dungeons, there is a cool combination of traps, terrain, and monsters for both the main dungeon, and some other dungeons mentioned, which is enjoyable.
Best of all was the author manages to expand on how adventurers, classes, dungeons, and monsters all worked in such a way that casual readers can get a better sense of the world balance, and crunch loving readers can even extrapolate on the numbers provided for further implications (or making a homebrew, hint hint, wink wink).
Detail Balance and Completeness: 8 / 10
The balance and consistency of details was pretty decent in the sequel to Bone Dungeon, with mana and summoning limitations for dungeons being well handled, and in turn a balance with adventurers mostly making sense.
The level up speed of the adventurers did seem faster than logical though, with most of the events happening within the span of a year, and the implications for the world with such mean that the group is either that much more unique, or this is a break in balance for the world.
Beyond that potential logic gap, I had some issues with faulty physics and anatomy in a few parts. Not deal breakers, and many readers will not notice at all, but for me they were a bit jarring.
Quality of Story: 9.5 / 10
This was a blast to read, and hard to put down. In particular I LOVED the boss fights and the mechanics introduced, and some of the brilliant implications that some of the monsters hold. The various twists in the story walked the line between expected and surprise, making them super satisfying. I wanted to express how glad I was that the surprises were not just because the author had neglected to share a tidbit of information like is done in crappy mystery novels, and instead we learned things as the characters learned things. The fairness is appreciated. Each bit of info and epiphany built on what was introduced before. I had to look to find areas where the story had any rough edging.
Quality of Writing: 6 / 10
This section is where the book takes a hit. There were a noticeable number of typos and errors, but being a pre-release book and the author working to fix them before release I won’t be too harsh.
Where I do take away points are all the various repetitive parts of the book, where a conversation is repeated over a few pages, a description cycles back with the same information two to three times, wording is reused in the same page, and some other bits that made me wonder if I had accidentally flipped backwards in the book.
This was compounded by there being a variety of odd wording where it sounded like a thought was incomplete or the author meant something other than what was written. This does not ruin the book or anything, but it did interrupt the flow of reading and took away from focusing on the story at times.
Lastly, and my personal pet peeve and can be considered unfair to focus on, was all the times where dialogue was split up by descriptions or explanations that then led to me losing track of the conversation in the first place. To clarify, this was instances where one character would say one short sentence, one to two pages of other content would take place, and then a follow up sentence from another character would be said, and this would repeat a few times. Keeping track was a pain.
Score: 8.7 out of 10
Book Sales Link: https://amzn.to/3afCB6d
Authors Primary Link: https://www.patreon.com/Glyax
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