Title: Billy Barbarian
Author: J.R. Murdock
Genre: Fantasy (Stonepunk?)
Released: 16 May 2010 – 31 July 2010
Located: Podibooks, iTunes, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast only
Rating: G but with some slight violence and mild suggestiveness (okay, MAYBE a mild PG)
I’d been following J.R. Murdock (@jrmurdock) on twitter for quite a while now. I don’t know why he started following me or because of whom, but following my rules of engagement, he quickly earned a return follow and became a regular twit in my daily feed. (Copied from my review of V&A Shipping)
Almost a year ago, Mr. Murdock turned his novel V&A Shipping into a podcast. I listened and enjoyed it very much. It was a whimsical, fun scifi journey, so I have to admit when I heard his next story was a fantasy take, I was intrigued.
So, on to the review.
Synopsis: For a barbarian, life is simple. Hunt. Eat. Build. There’s not much else. But for Billy Barbarian there has to be more to life. So he’s decided to head down to the big city and check things out. In the mighty, booming metropolis of Sethopolis Billy seeks employment, and finds it. His first job is to protect Ms. Celine Dijon while she is giving a concert at Stump Arena. Through his assignment, Billy gets to meet the famous real estate developer, Ronald Stump.
But the fun and joy don’t last long, as Billy uncovers a plot against Ms. Celine’s life. Can this sturdy barbarian do what needs to be done to protect her? Is he strong enough and quick witted enough?
Join Billy, Jack Indabocks and Phat Cao as Billy tries to deal with dragons, skyscrapers, wizards, and evil plots as they try to keep Ms. Celine safe. Will his first job in the big city be his last? Find out! (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)
Production: Billy the Barbarian is Mr. Murdock’s second podcast novel and the production on this one shows the growth that one might expect. This is not to say that the first had problems, but as mentioned in that review, Mr. Murdock had switched microphones during the production, which did create a different sound. Billy, however, is consistent from beginning to end. This is a straight read with Mr. Murdock doing the voice work. The musical theme is appealing and works well.
Cast: As previously mentioned, Billy the Barbarian is voiced completely by Mr. Murdock. He does a commendable job and for the most part the voices are done quite well. The whiny characters whine, the boisterous boast, and the imbecilic are, well, sufficiently imbecile. My only issue with the voices resides in the fact that the main character’s voice, though exactly what it should be, can become rather tiresome after a while, and occasionally the voicing is a bit inconsistent.
Story: I really thought I was going to get to have an original description here and be totally unique when I compared Billy to Conan meets The Flintstones. Unfortunately, this exact conversation occurred on Twitter (curse you and your little dog too Mainframe ,^) )
I don’t know if this comparison was in Mr. Murdock’s mind when he wrote the story, though it wouldn’t surprise me. After all V&A was inspired by Smokey and the Bandit. Mr. Murdock’s stories really aren’t written with the goal of making you think or do any deep introspection. They are lighthearted, family friendly good natured romps. At least these first two have been.
Verdict: I don’t have any problem recommending Billy the Barbarian, though I don’t think everyone that starts it will finish it. It is exactly what it is. If you’ve listened to four episodes and wondering if things are greatly going to change, the answer is no. If you’re not hooked, give it up. However, I think the audience that Mr. Murdock is targeting will enjoy this story and will be waiting for his next.
Disclaimer: Although, as I have previously mentioned, I have followed J.R. Murdock on twitter for quite some time now, I was not asked to provide this review. I was not coerced or promised anything either. Not even a candy bar from Smith’s Convenience Stores. I feel a bit cheated.