A question we’re frequently asked is what exactly is the LitRPG genre. This name of this genre is a neologism that only entered the lexicon in 2013. As the name suggests, these are not only books but share a lot of common elements with role-playing games—hence, the RPG portion of their name. However, with that being said, it’s also important to state that they aren’t in-fact games. They’re a lot more.
While these books have a story that features game-like challenges and/or traps, coupled with the characters having obvious roleplaying statistics such as strength, wisdom, or charisma, but that’s as far as the similarities go, however. These books are different from the actual choose-your-own storybooks, and they’re different from the books produced to market particular RPG systems such as Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. That’s why they belong in their own genre, and why we’re reviewing the best LitRPG books.
Quick Summary of the Best LitRPG Books
- Best Overall
The Land: Founding: A Litrpg Saga (Amazon) – Review
- Best Transition To A Game World
Ritualist (The Completionist Chronicles) (Amazon) – Review
- Best Blend Of LitRPG & Fantasy
Downfall And Rise (Challenger’s Call Book 1) (Amazon) – Review
- The Best World-In-A-World Story
Towers of Heaven: A LitRPG Adventure (Amazon) – Review
- Best Blend Of GameLit/LitRPG Dynamics
One More Last Time: A LitRPG/GameLit Novel (Amazon) – Review
- Best LitRPG Audiobook
Dragon Seed: A LitRPG Dragonrider Adventure (Amazon) – Review
- Best Paperback LitRPG Book
City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) (Amazon) – Review
- Best M.U.D Feel Book
Shattered Sword: A LitRPG Adventure (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value
Class-A Threat (Disgardium Book #1) (Amazon) – Review
Best Overall: The Land: Founding: A Litrpg Saga
The Land: Founding by Aleron Kong is one of the best-selling LitRPG books around and there’s a good reason for that little fact. This is a book that takes worldbuilding to the next level and engages the reader not only with a tightly-woven story but with characters that all but pop off of the page. This is a book that tells the story of Richter—a hero who was tricked into a world of magic. A world that contains banished gods, sprites, goblins, and other mythical creatures. This is a story in which the hero’s actions have real consequences, not only for him but for the rest of the world.
As the reader follows along, they are pulled into the story and wonder how Richter is going to forge his path in the relentless world. Will he be able to forge the alliances he needs to survive this harsh world, or will he be defeated by this land’s residents? And probably most importantly, how will his decisions change the course of history in this world and will he be able to match the awful powers that are brought to bear against him? Only Richter, and perhaps the reader, can know for sure.
Best Transition To A Game World: Ritualist (The Completionist Chronicles)
The real world can be extremely challenging, but sometimes the transition into another world can be even more challenging. No one knows this better than Joe, the protagonist of the Ritualist. When he’s blown up in the real world while serving as an army medic, he makes the biggest decision of his life. He decides to become a permanent denizen to a game world where his mental and arcane powers allow him to join a class that few people can join. Unfortunately, this newfound power also means that some of the most dangerous creatures in the world are going to hunt him.
Throughout this delightful story by Dakota Krout, Joe fights side-by-side with his team as he begins to unravel the mysteries, and the potential, of his class. He also learns that he can only practice his skills in secret, or else he will draw the ire of all those who oppose him. As he and his team complete one quest after another, he begins to master his abilities and reveal the secrets of the world in which he now resides. Will he be able to reach the pinnacle of his powers, or will he be defeated by his enemies? The only way to find out is by reading the book.
Best Blend Of LitRPG & Fantasy: Downfall And Rise (Challenger’s Call Book 1)
This book by Nathan A. Thompson follows Wes Malcolm as the only hero who can save seven worlds. It begins as he suffers a serious sports injury, an injury that not only robs him of his scholarship but also robs him of his memory. As he begins to lose his place in the world, and after multiple attempts to treat him have failed, he notices that he’s on the verge of losing all of his dreams. Fortunately, when he goes to sleep that night, he wakes up not on Earth but in another world. It’s a world where the rules are different, and he has the opportunity to change his destiny.
The world that Wesley finds himself in allows him to grow and thrive, and do it without public disgrace or injury overshadowing his existence. Unfortunately, it’s also a world that’s under assault by a horde of creatures that are prophesied to attack this world and its sister planets. This is when the steward of this world offers Wes a deal—a deal that will not only change the destiny of the world he now finds himself in but one that could change the destiny of Earth. If he takes her deal, then he will gain back his original body on Earth. If he fails, however, all will be lost for him.
The Best World-In-A-World Story: Towers of Heaven: A LitRPG Adventure
This book is unique from some of the other ones that we’ve reviewed because it doesn’t occur in a separate game world per se, but instead most of the action occurs in a world within a world. This pocket world happens when six mysterious towers appear on the Earth. Each of these towers is hundreds of stories tall, and none of them can be destroyed by the conventional attack. Each of these towers has a portal that leads into a world within–a world that’s full of magic, treasure, and monsters. Things that would beckon just about any adventurer.
Unfortunately, many of the monsters aren’t contained within the tower at all times. Sometimes, these monsters escape and wreak havoc on Earth. The story begins in 2083, this is when hundreds of the last survivors challenge the final floor and do it without any regard for their own safety. Although all but one of them perished, the managed to beat the final floor and were granted one wish. And this survivor’s one wish is to go back to the time before the towers arrived. A lofty goal for an adventurer who wants to prevent humanity from being destroyed in the first place.
Best Blend Of GameLit/LitRPG Dynamics: One More Last Time: A LitRPG/GameLit Novel
One More Last Time is a story by Eric Ugland that’s a blend of GameLit and LitRPG dynamics that make for one great game. It’s a book that not only features role-playing game mechanics, but also features plenty of action, and an obvious level progression. It’s also a story steeped in deep game magic and features notes from classic Dungeon & Dragons campaigns.
In this story, the reader will follow a lovable fool who can’t shake his dark past and can’t seem to find the life of peace that he so desperately craves. He finds himself immersed in a game that claims to be a new life, and now he’s known as Montana—a character who larger than life and who is the party’s tank. Will he be able to set his life right?
Although this book is heavy on game mechanics and there are plenty of GameLit and LitRPG tropes in it, we thought that it was a brisk and refreshing read that anyone could enjoy. Sure, some of the language is stronger than we would’ve liked, but otherwise, it’s a great story. It’s also a story that we can wholeheartedly recommend.
Best LitRPG Audiobook: Dragon Seed: A LitRPG Dragonrider Adventure
This book is written by James Osiris Baldwin and illustrated by Richard Sashigane. It tells the story of a common person named Hector who only has 3-days to live, but is given the once-in-lifetime chance to cheat death. He can cheat death by joining his long-estranged brother in Archemi—a fantasy VR roleplaying game world. They can upload the essence of who they are and begin the path toward becoming a dragon knight. It’s a difficult path indeed, but one that he feels that he’s more than qualified to do.
Because he’s determined to lead a well-lived life, he uploads his consciousness into the game and starts on his path. Before he can become a dragon knight, however, he first has to prove that he’s worthy, and the only way to do that is by imprinting on a dragon, so the two can share a telepathic bond. This telepathic bond is more intimate than what he’s had with any other human being and is capable of not only giving him access to great abilities but also change his life forever. Can Hector master his dragon and develop the skills that he needs to become a dragon knight?
Best Paperback LitRPG Book: City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1)
Although the plot of this book isn’t revolutionary or anything that the average LitRPG fan hasn’t already read, we do feel that the author did a good job of putting all of the requirements of this genre into this book. And it’s done in a way that makes for a fun story that can easily be read over and over again. And because this book is available in paperback or on the Kindle, the reader can easily afford to give this story a chance. We were a bit reluctant at first, but once we dived into the main story, we found ourselves to be hooked.
What does a person do when they not only enter a game world but find out that they’ve been living in one and that it has existed for thousands of years? That’s the predicament that Tailyn Vlashich finds himself in during this story. He just wanted to make it through the desolate landscape and live his life in a world that’s populated with evil foes and an impartial god. And unfortunately, the god in this universe wants everything done according to its own divine will. What will he do in a game world where the players have left long ago and now the NPCs have taken up the mantle of being heroes.
Best M.U.D Feel Book: Shattered Sword: A LitRPG Adventure
What would you do in an apocalyptic world where slavery is not only an ever-present reality but is also completely legal? And what would you do if you could be enslaved for not only your debts but also for the debts of your parents? Well, that’s the central question of this book by TJ Reynolds. The central character Dahlia has to pay off her deceased father’s debts or face the real prospect of being forced to work her life in the lithium mines. So in a world run by tech, she decides to sell everything to explore a virtual world that her father was completely obsessed with while he was alive.
Inside of the game, Dahlia gets more than she bargained for. She finds an epic quest chain that has long been overlooked, so she feels that she has a way to not only claim glory but to make a bit of gold as well. In the process, she finds two friends and a powerful creature to go along on the adventure. Unfortunately, she also gains the attention of the world’s boss that gunning for all of them. This is a book that feels more like a M.U.D than many of the other LitRPG books we’ve read, and it’s one that we feel most of our readers will enjoy.
Best Value: Class-A Threat (Disgardium Book #1)
Even though this novel has a few phrases in it mistranslated from the original Russian, or should we say, translated poorly, we still feel that it’s a great LitRPG novel. This book was rated the number on LitRPG book in Russia in 2018 but is only beginning to find traction in the West. This is a book that takes place in 2074 when a 15-year old student named Alex dreams of being a space guide. Unfortunately, life has other plans for him and now the only way for him to reach his dreams is a new online game known as Disgardium.
In the game, he achieves what is essentially regarded as “God-Mode” that gives him almost absolute immunity. However, that power also makes him a target of the game company itself—a company that now views him as a threat to their very existence. That’s when they decide that paying a ton of mon to the prevention clans for his elimination is in their best interest. What will he do now that his character has been cursed? The only way to find out is by cracking open this book and embarking on the journey of a lifetime.