I picked up both books in the Tower of Babel series during a recent Audible sale on a bit of a whim. I was trawling through Reddit, looking for some recommendations, when someone mentioned SpeedRunner, written by Adam Elliott. Without doing much more research than finding it, ten bucks later and both were in my library.
Honestly, at first blush, I thought perhaps I’d made a mistake. The book started off slow and took a couple of chapters to get moving, but once it did, I didn’t want to stop listening. It was a little heavy on stats and skills early on while the character build is going on, but that calms down after a while with only the occasional stat dump cropping up.
The premise is straightforward, without too much time trying to explain how the 101-kilometre tall “Tower of Babel” came into existence, wiping out most of Manhatten with it. Our hero, Cayden Caros, is a “speedrunner”; someone who specialises in completing computer games as quickly as possible. The initial conceit involves Cayden travelling to the tower to get up it faster than anyone ever has.
This idea is abandoned rather early on due to circumstances (no spoilers), which seems odd at first given the title, but the series is about the Tower, not speedrunning, so in a way, it’s more describing the intent and the character rather than the story as a whole.
With only a general understanding of MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) because I’ve never played one, some of the terms and acronyms had me reaching for Google, but fortunately, not too often. I’ve picked up enough through multiple different series to at least follow along with most of them, though I think it would be more annoying if I weren’t.
The narration by Vikas Adam was excellent. There were no obvious production issues, and I think his characterisations suited Cayden and the cast of supporting characters well. I’d certainly listen to something voiced by him again (and will, with book two!)
All that said, I do wish I’d spent a little more time researching the books. It seems as though the author abandoned the series, the last book being produced back in 2018. That’s likely to be disappointing come the end of book two.