The Prince Has No Pants, written by Matthew Howry, has been sitting in my list of audiobooks to buy eventually for a while now, and when it came up in the 2-for-1 sale on Audible, I grabbed it plus a bunch of others I’d been mulling over. The premise is right smack in the types of books I’ve been enjoying recently, and after listening to it, I’m hoping to hear many more in the series.
The book opens with two (yes, two) prologues involving Space Elves and their hedonistic galactic empire. While they do serve their purpose of giving a heap of background to what is about to happen to humanity and why it has to happen, ultimately, it seems superfluous as once we’d moved on, we never really heard about the Space Elves again. Maybe they’ll come up again in future books?
Once we move past the prologues, we get into the meat of the story. Earth has been stripped clean, down the mantle, with everything transported into “The System” – an MMORPG-style world, governed by an apparent AI who looks like the devil (for ease of recognition). Humans, plus all other animals (such as sharks), are now players trapped in the game.
Ben, the hero of our story, is a likable character trying his best to make his way through life working for the city government. We learn a little about him as he goes through some basic character creation, plus a little more of maybe what is to come when everyone is levelled up sufficiently.
The bulk of the first half involves a new favourite side character – Short Bus. Short Bus is a great white shark, given the ability to communicate and level up just like humans. His character is a lot of fun, and I hope to see more of him in future books.
The second half is much more game-heavy, where Ben battles his way through a “dungeon” to advance his levels and his class. The fight scenes are tight, and not too much time is spent on stat readout, but enough so you can get a sense of how Ben is progressing and the options available to him.
Narration by Johnathan McClain was a treat! His voice for The System I enjoyed immensely. It had an almost Sherlock-style vibe to it where it was bombastic and posh-sounding at the same time. I’ll be seeking out more of his books in the future. No production issues that caught my ear. Podium Audio (the publisher) have their name stamped on many of the books I’ve listened to recently, and their quality is top-notch.
There were plenty of laughs but also some intensely emotional moments. No spoilers, but a scene fairly early on during character creation is exceptionally well written, to the point it’ll rip out your heart. The end of the book seemed a little arbitrary, and I guess it makes sense from a jumping-off point thinking back on it, but it also seemed like we didn’t get enough done. The final 30 minutes or so are a preview of book two, which might have messed with my expectations where I was expecting more, but instead was cut short.