If you’re wondering what to get next. This. Get this. Beware of Chicken, written by “Casualfarmer” (a pseudonym, obviously!) is a seriously funny slice-of-life fantasy. A kind of isekai/reincarnation style where a modern-day Canadian (I assume, given the love of maple syrup and hockey) wakes in the body of a “cultivator” in a world resembling feudal China.
His mind takes over that of a cultivator who has perished mid-fight. Jin nopes out of the sect he finds himself in and decides to become a farmer instead. He knows what this world is about and the horrible things it contains, and how short his life would likely be if he stayed where he was. Given the opportunity, I’d probably do the same thing as Jin.
The fact that he has the memories of the person who previously inhabited the body makes for a smooth transition into society, so we don’t need to go through awkward encounters and the like. Knowing the social norms makes the whole thing flow so much easier.
I’ll admit to being completely ignorant of the whole Xianxia / Cultivation style of fantasy writing. The main idea, as far as I have researched, is around (read: a quick Wikipedia search) reaching immortality and becoming as strong as a god through martial arts or other mystical means.
Beware of Chicken seems to subvert that idea because while Jin inherits great cosmic powers yet he wants none of it beyond what he needs to grow rice and look after his farm.
The story typically swaps perspectives between Jin and (most often) his rooster… Big D. Jin names his animals using tongue-in-cheek English words that the in-world characters try to pronounce, so often we get Bi De, Ri Zu (Rizzo the rat), Pi Pa (Peppa) Pig, and so on.
Big D is a fantastic character. Learning to cultivate at his master’s side, he quickly becomes stronger than cultivators who have been practising for years. Strong and proud and protective of his “fa ram” (farm).
There are moments of action and fight scenes, but mostly this is a pleasant slice-of-life fantasy story with a beautiful love story entwined. The split ticks along without getting bogged down in the minutiae. The dialogue seems believable and unforced, and the various characters are all mostly well-rounded.
Travis Baldree, of course, delivers a trademark performance. Easy to listen to, excellent pacing and time, and top-notch production values.
The second book in the series has just dropped, but I’m kind of keen just to go back and listen to this again. Yes, I enjoyed it that much. I’ll also need to poke around in the genre to see what else is out there. This one though, five stars all day.