Cover Image: Climbing the Ranks

Climbing the Ranks

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Decades ago, the Towers first arrived with no warning or indication of their purpose. Now, the Towers are challenges – people line up for their chance to enter the tower and fight through each level to gain the top. Arthur Chua’s goal has always been climbing the Malaysian Beginner Tower, his only chance at changing his life. His goal is merely to survive and make the top of the tower, but Fate has another plan.

I enjoyed that this LitRPG didn’t get too heavy into the stats at the beginning of the book, but instead focused on the characters, their interactions, and the parameters of the tower. Then, once we were well situated, it became a bit more focused on the stats and technicalities. This was a great way to get the reader engaged in the story and characters while including the RPG aspects. However, by the last three-quarters of the read, it became much more focused on stats and technicalities to the detriment of the characters, the plot, and my enjoyment.

I also quite liked the interesting cultural aspects that were included in the book and added to the immersion of the world. The book focused on some diverse aspects of games, from monster fighting to building a clan from almost nothing. The protagonist wasn’t entirely likeable (he was a teenage boy doing and thinking teenage boy nonsense and rhymed a lot), but there was some growth and he was somewhat more tolerable by the end.

Unfortunately, this book began to slow down and become more boring for me around the three-quarters mark. I think this was partially due to the over-focus on stats and technicalities, but also because the characters spent a lot of the time planning and talking rather than things really happening. There were also quite a few instances of awkward wording/phrasing throughout the read.

Overall, this was a good LitRPG that started off stronger than it finished. I’m still interested to see where the sequel goes and to see if we learn more about the tower, and hopefully the pacing will be a bit more even. My thanks to NetGalley and Tantor Audio for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The LitRPG novel “Climbing the Ranks” by Tao Wong is the first installment in the “A Tower Climber Cultivation LitRPG Series”. We follow the perspective of Arthur Chua, a young man who enters one of the mysterious towers that appeared all around the world for the first time.

The story is set on an alternate history earth in Malaysia. I really liked the dive into the Malayan Culture since it's not really explored in any fantasy books I read to date. It felt fresh and interesting and I would like to read more books in a similar setting. The world building was immersive and vivid without any distracting info dumps.

The magic system is based around enchantments granted in the tower and power cores that are dropped by different monsters. There is also a big focus on cultivation. I was really intrigued by the mystery of the towers. The way they work and where they came from as well as the influence the new technology had on modern civilization.

Sadly I could not really get into the story. After the protagonist's first tower visit it took a turn that made the main character unlikable to me and I felt my interest in his personal story waning. It definitely is a very action packed succession of events but that rather hindered me to immerse myself into this new world and learn its intricacies.

I listened to the audiobook narration by Jamie Zubairi and really enjoyed it. The way he pronounced local words was great and really added to the atmosphere. If you like to pick this book up don't hesitate to give the audiobook a try!

A big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Tantor Audio for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This was the first time I've read anything written by this author. Climbing the ranks was the first book in this new series. I love a good syfi dystopian style novel, and this did not disappoint!

The character development was fantastic. Tao Wong has set a great variety of characters to build upon for the coming books. I'm guessing that each book will be based on the next level up in the tower that Arthur has set out to climb. Arthur comes from a background with no money or influence. He prepares hard before entering the tower, as he knows he will not have the ability to start out with any quality tools/equipment, as he doesn't have the means to purchase them. Every purchase he makes has to be well thought out and planned if he is to succeed.

Arthur has his luck truly change as he works so hard to succeed. He is strong and determined to succeed. As a result, he is off to a very solid start in his endeavors.

I greatly look forward to reading the coming books in this series! I'm invested now!

Thank you, NetGalley and Tantor Audio, for this privilege of reading this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I simply couldn't get into this book. I am sure that those who engage with the story and the characters will enjoy it but sadly, it was not for me

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was my first adventure into this genre and it was great. Fun characters, engaging plot that begged to be devoured. Easy to digest information that never felt overwhelming and concise chapters made it easy to make progress on. There’s a lot of knowledge and lore constantly being thrown at you but it never comes off as overwhelming or burdensome to the plot, it’s just little tidbits here and there. The main character is funny and relatable to most young men, it’s cool to see him transform throughout the book but not lose sense of originally drew us into him. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is looking to jump into the LitRPG realm or for someone who loves DnD or RPG video games. My only critique would be that it seems the main character has a lot of plot armor and I’d love to see them face greater setbacks in an effort to raise the stakes. Thank you for the ARC!

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Climbing the Ranks 1
Tao Wong
This is the first book in a new series.
Our hero in this tale is Arthur. There is a tower life at the top of the tower is affluent. Life at the bottom is poverty. Arthur lives at the bottom of the tower with no hopes of ever gaining wealth except by climbing. While Arthur is smart, he does not see himself as a leader. Once Arthur enters the tower it becomes the focus.
In my opinion author Tao Wong is using this book as a political and societal statement of the haves vs the have nots.

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Coming from Tao Wong, author of the excellent System Apocalypse series, comes Climbing the Ranks, the first book in his newest series. I’d say it was unique in the fact that it’s the first book I can recall reading that is set in Malaysia, yet that isn’t quite true. The opening chapter has Malaysia as the setting but the moment Arthur enters the tower the tower becomes the entire world. Not to say that’s bad, it’s just those opening passages of Malaysia really intrigued me. If you’ve read any of Tao’s other series than you know the man can sure as heck spin a tale. However, this is a seriously hefty tomb, clocking in at nearly 750 pages or 18+ hours for the audio. So if you are new to LitRPGS/cultivation stories and you just want to get a taste for the genre and Tao’s style you might want to start with something a bit shorter such as his book: A Thousand Li. While Arthur isn’t my favorite character that Tao’s created, I do look forward to seeing where his story goes next. I’d like to thank Tantor Audio and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advanced audio copy of Climbing the Ranks.

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