If you don’t know my story….

I didn’t touch a videogame or fantasy book until my 23rd year on Earth. I started working at an old-school arcade—hired primarily, I was told, because of his “badass ridiculous name”—and from then my education began.

They started me on the classics, a strict diet of Pac-ManGalagaDonkey KongAsteroidsDig DugStreet Fighter, and Rampage.

Freakish proficiency. Beginners luck, they said.

I was given dog-eared copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern.

Devoured in days.

Finally, I was invited up to the arcade owner’s private gaming room: BattletoadsTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES), and Ghosts ‘n Goblins followed.

Defeated, at last—maybe I wasn’t such a wunderkid, after all. But I didn’t give up. And that earned me a seat at the group’s D&D table. Many a happy day has passed since—I even beat TMNT’s Dam level and its health-draining pink seaweed.

Then a year ago, that same group introduced me to the new Fantasy-LitRPG genre—what I saw as the final stage in his education. Because, for me, it doesn’t get any better than LitRPG. The combination of an immersive fantasy world, gaming objectives and leveled progression makes for a fascinating storytelling experience.

Inspired, I took two weeks holiday from the arcade, sat down and wrote the Dragon Kings of the New World series.

But before i sat down and blasted out 300,000+ words, i read pretty much every LitRPG book out there. When i say read… i mean an IV drop wouldn’t have got them into me faster. I loved every single one of them, all for different reasons—regardless, they inspired me. So this is my “thank you” to all those authors and my top 20 as of 1st September 2017.

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1. Aleron Kong

The Land: Founding (Chaos Seeds Book 1) (Kindle Edition) by Aleron Kong
If you’re drawn to wry occasionally dark humour with stand-out characters, then you’ll enjoy reading The Land: Founding.
This is one book which is very easy to get lost in, as your instantly put yourself in the position of the main hero. It forces you to sympathise with his journey, from the trials to the triumphs. Don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two!
It’s very easy to get lost in the story, which starts with a gamer becoming a founding ‘chaos seed’ in a new world. Entering the fantasy RPF world it toggles with flashbacks and the current day, all intertwined with interesting characters that grab you from the get-go.
A page-turner that immerses you in its full being. It’s no surprise to see this received number one status in Cyberpunk and Video Game Fantasy.

2. Travis Bagwell

Awaken Online (Book 1; Catharsis) (Kindle Edition), by Travis Bagwell
Disenchanted with real life, outsider Jason turns to virtual game ‘Awaken Online’ to supplement the desires he lacks in real life – power, freedom and action.
But he soon falls down the rabbit hole of the new world he’s discovered and all is not quite what it seems. There are no damsels to save, no bad guys to fight and there are no heroes.
A truly representative and worthy LitRPG title, bringing artificial intelligence to the fore. It covers all the essentials you’d expect, greed, family, future technology and well-rounded characters you can relate to.
More than just a fantasy flick, Bagwell provokes the time-asked question of good versus evil, and will leave you wondering what really makes us human and what is our purpose?
An intriguing, progressive powerhouse read that will be considered a milestone in LitRPG history.

3. Michael Chatfield

The Trapped Mind Project (Emerilia, book 1) (Kindle edition), by Michael Chatfield
A great introduction to the LitRPG genre, Chatfield’s original thinking comes to life in this easy-to-read fantasy tale which melds with sci-fi elements.
Austin is a successful CEO by day, and Dave the half-dwarf in virtual reality game ‘Emerilia’, at any other given opportunity.
What he doesn’t know, is that Earth is a virtual reality simulation. While, yes you guessed it, Emerilia is in fact a futuristic world mimicking early MMORPG’s.
The main character crafts armour and just happens to be an accomplished fighter too. This fighting theme features heavily throughout the book, packed with plenty of action to entertain and spark imaginations.
Well fleshed out characters with a considered futuristic backdrop, ‘The Trapped Mind Project’ will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew.

4. James A. Hunter

Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm (Kindle Edition) by James Hunter
It’s the year 2042 and mankind is faced with extension as a gigantic asteroid cannonballs towards earth. The collision will be fatal, life as we know it will not exist.
Faced with the bleak reality ahead, James Mitchel commits the ultimate sacrifice. He discovers a next-gen virtual reality capsule to which he can submit his brain, but in doing so will kill his body. Even though survival rates are low, James succumbs to the only hope he has for a future, albeit a virtual one.
Twisting through the new world James finds himself in, brings monsters and turbulence, demons and artificial intelligence.
At times grim, but always gripping, there’s so much packed in to this fascinating book, which will leave you desperate to read the next in the series.
Above all Viridian Gate Online is an unmissable read for serious LitRPG fans.

5. Gregg Horlock

Difficulty: Legendary (Kindle Book) by Gregg Horlock
Giants and dwarves, tinkers and tailors all come together in this fusion of worlds.
In the world of Re:Fuze, anything is possible and it’s a world that lures in vulnerable Eric Templeton. With national service on the horizon, and no chance of employment, Eric’s outlook is gloomy.
When a by-chance opportunity gives him the chance to enter a promising new world, Eric doesn’t think twice. He can save himself and his family from a life less ordinary, but at what cost?
Action packed from the outset, Eric is catapulted into the darkest depths of the game, throwing him into the thick of it. It’s an awakening he couldn’t have prepared for, a virtual reality check of many kinds.
Filled with thought-provoking characters, we follow Eric’s journey, the adversity he faces and realise that weakness can too be a strength.

6. Brent Roth

The Dragon’s Wrath: A Virtual Dream (Kindle edition), by Brent Roth
The first of a multi-part series, ‘The Dragon’s Roth’ grips you from the get-go. Believable characters mixed with grit and fantasy come together to produce an exciting LitRPG read.
Brent Roth suffers a workplace accident that changes his life forever. Bed-ridden with an uncertain future, Brent’s mind wonders off, as he dreams of a better tomorrow. A world where financial and health worries are void, a world where hope replaces fear and possibilities are endless.
This hopeful and promising world fuelled from Brent’s curiosity lends itself to the perfect virtual reality platform. A place of salvation and hope, a world of adventure and companionship. But is it too good to be true?
Brent creates an enthralling world filled with wonders and quests. It will leave you feeling like you’ve awoken from a very real dream.
It’s time to feel the Dragon’s wrath!
7 Vasily Mahanenko — https://www.amazon.com/Survival-Quest-Way-Shaman-LitRPG-ebook/dp/B00VQRW14E/
Survival Quest (The Way of the Shaman: Book #1) (Kindle Edition) by Vasily Mahanenko
Enter the dark world of Barliona.
This virtual landscape is one where monsters and magic co-exist, alongside players. Millions of them all come here to escape the dull reality of day-to-day-living.
And Barliona is anything but dull. But this is half the problem since gamers flock here for months without returning home.
The fantasy lair houses wizards and elves, monsters and men. It’s a world where anything goes – where you can be a mythical hero, a combat aficionado or even a thief. The only glitch being that players are not permitted to feel actual pain… but gamers aren’t fond of rules and love nothing more than to problem solve.
Entwined in this world are criminals, sent to Barliona to serve time. For them, it’s all about survival.

As these worlds collide, the intensity increases and in the end we realise death is not the end, nor the beginning….
An intriguing read that will take you on a spiritual journey.

8. Andrew Rowe

Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension) (Kindle Edition), by Andrew Rowe
If you enjoy game-like worlds and magic, keep reading…
The plot of ‘Sufficiently Advanced Magic’ revolves around RPG dungeons that provide powers and tools to characters. In the world of virtual reality, nothing is of course that straight forward, and competitors find themselves batting ever-shifting rooms and looming traps.
But, the few that survive are awarded with great magical powers. For the elite who defeat the tower, they will be granted a favour by its goddess.

Replacing fear with flair, Corin is determined to meet the Goddess. But first, he must survive the trials. Along the way he must learn to hone his fighting skills and trust in his ability, if he has any chance of overcoming the mightiest challenge of them all.
The author describes this book as a “love letter to Japanese role-playing games” with can be seen at every turn of the page.

9. Shemer Kuznits

Life Reset (New Era Online Book) (Kindle Edition) by Shemer Kuznits.
Fans of LitRPG will not be disappointed by Kuznit’s first book, which ranks up there with ‘Way of the Sharman’ in its appeal.
Punchy and potent with plenty of action, the premise of the book follows the betrayal and cursing of Oren – a powerful and influential player, who finds himself as a first level goblin.
Through his challenges and trials, he vows to avenge those that have betrayed him. With reduced powers, Oren battles through, using his knowledge and ability to immerse himself in the game’s world to his advantage.
Interesting characters that you grow to care about, offset to plenty of action, make it a worthy five-star read. With 900+ pages that you’ll struggle to put down, this will leave you wanting more… which is just as well with rumours of a follow-up coming soon.

10. R.A. Mejia

Adventures on Terra (Book 1: Beginnings) (Kindle Edition) by R.A. Mejia
Fusing video game and table top RPG elements with fictional writing, Mejia has created a touching read in ‘Adventures on Terra’.
Pulling no punches, the protagonist is an orphan, who now aged 19 leads a solitary existence. He’s also an avid gamer, but prefers the term geek!
Consumed by gaming, he meets his fate after a mammoth three-day binge. His love of gaming it seems has prepared him for the afterlife, which transports him to familiar surroundings.
With an underlying human/non-human dynamic, this becomes a core theme throughout the book, as we delve into the unknown world Armon finds himself in.
Opposite to the world he just left, Armon is now bound by a new world of magic and myth. The adventure takes him to new highs, with endless possibilities.
Above all, this is a story of companionship and discovery.

11. Edward Brody

Eden Gate: The Reborn (Kindle edition), by Edward Brody
Written by a gamer for other die-hard gamers, ‘Eden Gate’ hits all the right notes – levelling, looting, stats, progression and fantasy adventure.
Meet Gunnar – he’s a regular guy every-man, who finds himself in a fully-immersive virtual world of role play (MMORPG). Perhaps too laid back, Gunnar makes some questionable choices, as he enters a new world filled with mystery and magic set to an action-packed backdrop.
The storyline is thought-provoking with relatable characters and intriguing scenarios. There are times when it will even make you question the choices you make.
Brought to life with rich characters, Gunnar learns to follow the games rules. He must follow, level, quest and loot. Much like the real-world, there are consequences to every action.

12. Arthur Stone

The Weirdest Noob (The Weirdest Noob Book 1) (Kindle Edition), by Arthur Stone
“Darkness is never quite impenetrable” starts Stone’s new novel, which fuses fantasy with action and adventure, in equal measures.
It’s a fitting opening for a mesmerising read that takes you on a journey from the moment you switch your kindle on.
Set in a ‘Second World’ – the planet’s foremost MMORPG, provides the perfect backdrop for this enchanting tale.
But in this new world order, loyalty and friendships are being tested and even forgotten. It’s every man for themselves, with vicious battles and clans ready to do battle at every corner.
Borders are controlled, roads are blocked, there is no room for weakness, just resourcefulness. Only the strong can prevail in this unique virtual world.

13. Luke Chmilenko

Hello To Pay (Ascend Online) (Kindle Edition), by Luke Chmilenko
Those familiar with Chemilneko’s writing will be excited to read this new ‘side novel’.
His latest instalment, builds on his previous work, while offering fresh characters in a new setting.
This time, the anti-hero characters toggle with themes of bravery in a fantasy world.
Lazarus, part of the ‘Grim Shadows’ clan is one of the inhabitants of ‘Eberia’. He finds himself waking in a torture chamber with memory loss. His only clue to his identify is the magical sigli burned into his chest.
With no time for fear or doubt, Lazarus must use his skills to uncover the world he now finds himself in. On his journey, he discovers that the Grim Shadows are not the only Thieves Guild in the city, and more importantly they aren’t alone.
For someone, there’s hell to pay…

14. D Rus

AlterWorld (Play to Live. Book 1) (Kindle Edition) by D. Rus
Fans of ‘The Clan’, ‘Inferno’ and the many other titles written by D.Rus, will already know why this author is one of the bestselling in this genre.
His books tell interesting stories with characters you care about, always with a glint of optimism. And so, we find ourselves once again enthralled in his latest instalment and best-seller ‘AlterWorld’.
We follow the lead character Max, who is terminally ill. The only glimmer of extending his short life is to merge himself into a MMO. But with reward there’s risk, and Max is faced with losing his memories, knowing that once he logs in, there’s no way back.
The new world ticks all the right boxes for LitRPG fans – dungeons and guilds, levels and quests.
Together you roam the realms of AlterWorld, a place where agony and freedom co-exist in this moving journey.

15. Domino Finn

Reboot (Kindle Edition) by Domino Finn
If life is about second chances, then Tad Lonnerman is winning. Even though he’s just died!
On this epic journey, we follow Tad who’s having a bad day, bad week in fact bad life. Lucky for Tad the only thing going for him is his bright gaming development career.
This is where we find ourselves, when Tad passes on. Except he passes on to a virtual world, one inhabited by fallen angles and saints. He finds himself in a beta test of Haven – a hyper-immersive MMO, where the dead get a second shot at life.
Curious minds will appreciate the considered storylines with elements of humour interwoven with spirituality and fantasy.
More than just a book, this is a fascinating read about how digital life crosses the boundaries of real life.

16. Michael-Scott Earle

Lions Quest: Undefeated (Kindle book) by Michael-Scott Earle
A refreshing novel in the LitRPG domain, with a hint of deep in-game lore.
Lions Quest is built on great characters with great depth, distinct personalities and ‘voices’. It’s engaging, intriguing and funny in all the right places. It can also be brutal with wonderfully descriptive fight scenes.

Its plot follows Leo, a world champion in virtual gaming. If gaming is his drug, then he’s looking for his next hit, which presents itself in ‘Zarra’. Lured by her intrigue. Zarra invites him to take part in her cutting-edge game.
Spiked with chemistry and a power struggle, Leo must consider what path to take. Filled with mystery and quest, it’s refreshing to read a book with a strong character that is already a success in the real world.
This is a fun story that will keep you invested from start to finish.

17. Blaise Corvin

Delvers LLC: Welcome to Ludus (Kindle Edition) by Blaise Corvin
A mix of fantasy and sci-fi come together in this well written fiction by Crovin.
Delvers LLC explores when reality meets fantasy, when its main characters Henry and Jason are abducted into another world.
The only hope of returning home is to please the abductor by fulfilling a near impossible task.
Serendipity plays its role in helping the duo escape, since they happen to have all the essential skills in order to take on the world of sword and sorcery that they find themselves in. But it is no easy feat in a new world with no real direction.
The friends take on the adventure of a lifetime, with one shared goal – to make it home.
A tale of survival and friendship, with likeable characters, plenty of action and sprinklings of humour, Delvers surely delivers!

18. Edward Castle

Unbound Deathlord: Book 1, Challenge (Kindle edition) by Edward Castle
Praised by the LitRPG community for being ‘unique’, Castle delivers an original and compelling read that will hook you in.
This is Fantasy LitRPG at its best, with a fascinating real world component which does not go unmissed
The premise of the story is the world of virtual reality when ‘Valia Online’ arrives. This new platform is discovered by a man running away from his past, looking for an outlet to escape. Here he finds it.
Going by the name of Jack Thorn, he immerses himself in the fantasy world, choosing to be a swordsman. But more than just magic is needed if he is to accomplish his feats.
With clever creative references and plenty of characters with unique personalities, Unbound Deathlord is a meaty read that is rich, complex and hard to put down!

19. Noah Barnett

Nigmus Online (Kindle edition) by Noah Barnett
Reminiscent of shows like ‘Sword Art Online’, this is a packed read, unusually from the perspective of the ‘bad guy’.
It starts with ‘Nigmus online’ the first MMO to use virtual drive technology. This new introduction is slowly eking its way into homes and offices.
The only sticking point – it doesn’t come with a manual, in fact the only way to understand it, is to play it. And herein is the rub.
The book brings players from different background together for one shared story. This includes Liam, who is tricked in to trying it out.
Unbeknown to him, players start out at level zero and can only progress the five continents through trial, error an experience.
Meanwhile in another part of the country, Kat agrees to join Nigmus Online as part of experimental research. She is suffering from a debilitating and paralysing disease, with this being the only glimmer of hope.
How do the worlds come together, or do they at all? Find out with this thought provoking read.

20. J.A. Cipriano

The Builder’s Sword (The Legendary Builder Book 1) Kindle Edition by J.A Cipriano
Brilliantly written by New York Times Bestselling author J.A. Cipriano, this is a modern LitRPG book, which brings light-hearted fantasy to the fore.
Central to the storyline is Arthur – a normal guy who stumbles across an ancient sword with magical properties in a pawnshop. He later discovers that the sword is only capable of modifying the abilities of those around him. Something he will soon discover yields benefits.
Trapped in a limbo world of hell, with no way out and no way in, an army of women and a sword who’s function he doesn’t quite understand, Arthur most overcome adversity if he wants to make it home.
An intriguing read with enjoyable characters and a sense of humour. The Builder’s Sword explores themes of power and problem solving at its LitRPG best!