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The Once King

Forever Fantasy Online, Book 3
Narrated by: Josh Hurley
Series: Forever Fantasy Online, Book 3
Length: 17 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: Young Adults, Ages 13 & Up
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Summary

Leylia’s secret could unite them all or lead them to an eternity of undeath.

After the loss of Bastion, everyone who’s not a zombie has holed up in FFO’s sole remaining safe haven: the lowbie town of Windy Lake. But the undead armies never rest, and it’s only a matter of time before the Once King’s forces come to crush what’s left of life in this world. 

But Tina, James, and the rest of the players are facing a crisis of their own. After so long in this world, their human bodies are dying on the other side. If they don’t find a way home soon, they may have nothing to go back to. 

With time running out in two worlds, Tina and James face a horrible choice: do they spend their final days looking for a way to get back to their old bodies, or join the NPCs to fight for their new ones? But just when things look impossible, James learns a secret that might change everything. Only one catch: to pull it off, they’re going to have to fight one raid boss no one, not even Tina, has ever beaten. 

The Once King.

©2019 Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

EXCELLENT!!!

I can't reccomend this series enough. the story was one of the best I've ever listened to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Emma
  • 30-11-19

an amazing end for the series

There were so many good points in this book.
i really loved it. if you liked world of warcraft you will like this as well:)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeremiah Brill
  • 03-01-20

Good end.

An excellent end to the trilogy you don't get to many of those with the litrpg books so I had to rate it.

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  • Salvatore
  • 23-12-19

Better than the Last

A terriffic wrap up to a trilogy that has left me wanting more from this wonderful world that was built.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lonnie-The GreatNorthernTroll-Moore
  • 23-12-19

Get this action packed conclusion!

Oh, My, Gosh!!! I was totally unprepared for how much I really, really loved the conclusion to Forever Fantasy Online, especially Josh Hurley's contribution. I had really panned his over-acting in the last book, and I totally expected I'd just have to suck it up for the sake of the rest of the storyline... and surprisingly, I didn't have to! Josh was excellent this time around. His performance was Much more refined and nuanced, making The Once King a pleasure to listen to!
I was also tickled pink to discover that the race of cats, known in the game as "Jubatus", is in part, the actual scientific name for Cheetahs (Acinonyx Jubatus). How cool is that?!??
Rachel Aaron, and Travis Bach really outdid themselves with the way this book brings the FFO series to its conclusion. So much so in fact, that I don't mind if we can't play FFO again... and no, I'm not telling you what happens (Dream On! LOL)! Get the Series, 'cause my lips are sealed, locked, and I've thrown away the key! 🤫 🤐

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  • K. Rukshan Viduranga Perera
  • 19-12-19

Exciting story that you cannot wait till the end.

In almost every occasion characters take actions which yiiu dont expect and they go through situations you dont expect them to succeed. I couldnt wait till the end.

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  • L. A. Mahmud
  • 17-12-19

Great ending to a nice series

Loved the series. Loved the fact that the ending didn't leave loose ends. A great ending to a nice series

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  • Ben Smith
  • 06-12-19

A satisfying conclusion to a great series

This series has been a wild ride, and I'm happy to say that book 3 of the FFO trilogy absolutely sticks the landing. Battles, twists, and a satisfying conclusion.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Enpixel8
  • 09-12-19

A Tidy Bow for a Messy Story: For MMORPGers only.

/cracks knuckles
Ok... here we go:

The trilogy of FFO tales takes place during ~2 weeks from beginning to end. But it feels much longer. Like a road trip that combines the fun of inexplicable and erratic driving, unexpected turns, dead ends and gaping p(l)otholes. I really wanted to like this series. But I was equal parts bored and frustrated, which eventually settled on begrudgingly accepting the experience of being reluctantly dragged through 40hrs+ of audiobooks. I can't tell you how many times I just went "Uuuuuuugh!! Are you freaking serious?! Come ON!!" while listening to this on my commute.

WARNING: This book series is ONLY for people who played egregious amounts of WoW, Everquest, or other MMORPGs and the meta-driven, loot-loving, level-grinding sub-culture that's attached to it. If you imagine that being sucked into FFO is gonna be a sandwich laden, dessert filled picnic, that'd be a big old nope-a-rooney. Harrowed by flagrant gamer-speech and far too many acronyms that should only uttered with aid of a keyboard. Nobody actually says, "LMAO", "ROFL", or "LOL". It just makes you sound stupid, especially in a game-world. #SMH. Both the NPC's and Players are stuck in "game mode" and it aims us to think there is a set of rules to the power structure and "magic" of the world, which there isn't. It's all arbitrary and all over the place. No structure. No rules. No math. No sense. Like lost Legos in the carpet; you'll find it eventually, but it'll be a painful surprise followed by some colorful cussing. I don't entirely dislike the MCs/Players, but they just aren't relatable. Instead we get characterized wooden tropes of gamerdom, narcissistic pettiness, and that ever-present "murder hobo" violence that comes with any role-playing game. I said this in my other reviews of the series: it's an isekai LitRPG with out the G. No Game.

My biggest gripe is that the characters tend to get out of negative situations with articles of power that just show up.
-Example: "Oh! This was that thing that, if you played FFO [which no one has/will], you'd know did the EXACT thing the character needs to survive/escape/win/etc and it showed up out of nowhere, the character conveniently remembered, and/or never mentioned it before!!!"
...
Dude.
What?
Get Out of Jail Free Cards work only once and it happens at least 3-5x a book; How's our hero going to get out of this mess? Surprise! It's a thing you never knew about and are completely blindsided with! It just happened to appear over there or be remembered at this critical point! Yay. Fun.

I did like how certain untraditional themes were explored (dealing with physical and mental illness, LBGTQ+ issues, trauma, adoption, arranged marriage), but it still felt uncomfortably injected for the sake of appeasing potential readers vs applying it in a practical application in the world and learning from it. Almost like the authors knew that these issues needed attention, but didn't really identify with these people, or their struggles, aside from obvious stereotypes and therefore they became identified by them. i.e. The transgender troll is always a transgender troll. The macho latino is always macho latino. Snobby successful person stays snobby and successful. No one learns anything aside from what could be gleaned from a single episode of Sesame Street. In wartime, 2 weeks is enough to change anyone. But, no one really changed. At all. And that's not how people work.

I also liked how the MCs had some character development, albeit predictable, but they still moved forward. Hell, that's the one thing this book does well: barrel ahead in a straight line like Roxxy. Careening through the story all smashy-smashy with almost no concern for the world around her. We avoid lore & world building in favor of conflict & battle. The fight scenes were either predictable or droning. I definitely appreciate the amount of effort that went into the battle-planning stratagem and the overall visualization. But again, we had more internet-y randomness show up and lots of just-add-water-for-instant-plot-filler. That made anticipating any potential strategic moves, from the reader's standpoint, a moot one. Even James' chapters were either all talk or all action. By the time the story points and lore started "coming together", I just didn't care anymore.

The ending was, as the headline says, "A Tidy Bow". The MCs and Lead SCs all get the 80's montage outro treatment. Its astonishing how much gets glossed over so we can have that kind of epilogue. Also, it's very reminiscent of Rachel's Heartstriker series in which lots of bad stuff happens but we still have time for at least one sappily awkward romance that's laden with communication issues and scandalous secrets we drag along by it's neck til the (almost) bitter end. It's not the kind of drama I want in LitRPG because it permeates every other kind of storytelling and that magical love-love unicorn is deader and drier than petrified horse jerky so please stop kicking it. It's dead, Jim.

All in all, I don't dislike the book series, but when compared to Rachel Aaron's other works, (which have their own flawed gems) I have no choice but to assume that Travis was the weak link in the writing. That blatant disregard for understanding how user-perceptions shift when "AR/VR" becomes just "R" felt so broken. The way the Players interact with the world, it's pretty obvious that they don't get it and none of them learn to really engage in the world around them (aside from the MCs). Don't use VR as an excuse to water down your characters. The assumption that gamers are all (at least in some way) single-minded, differently-abled, borderline sociopathic MMO-junkies that masquerade as meme collectors and edge-lords is painfully inaccurate and kind of insulting. These people truly love these artificial realities and the digital social environments they provide to help them maintain a grip on the real world and their responsibilities in it. Even the SCs that aren't obviously basement-dwellers come off as pedantic and petulant. It doesn't feel like a "love letter" to gaming. Maybe more like an "unrequited confession letter".

Overall, this series lacks balance, a coherent mythos, and worst of all an honest heart. I'm more disappointed by how it COULD'VE gone. So much critical information came in reluctant sprints and quick gleanings instead of crafting and shaping the "why". So much storytelling destruction is left by the wake of the Roughnecks' mudbound trudge to the end. So many good characters left by the wayside or discarded due to poorly thought out development and plot to make room for fake quirkiness and cheap gags. This isn't supposed to be a virtual world, it's a just different one. From both the Players and the NPCs, we never really feel like we know what each side is going through. Just a little peek through a clean spot on a dirty window. All in all, it's not terrible. But there are many other stories that are much better. Here's to hoping DFZ book 3 doesn't disappoint as much as FFO did.

Oh and Josh Hurley did great. He was the only reason I finished this series.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful