Those who are fans of Zero Punctuation will already know who Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw is. Others might know him from his Fully Ramblomatic website/blog.
In between spitting out his various game reviews/condemnations, writing the odd adventure game and more, he’s found time to write a novel called Mogworld. I rather like his style of writing, and was idly thinking of buying said novel. What sold it for me was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) serialised the first section, and that sucked me in, and sucked money from my account.
Mogworld turned out to be rather thicker than I expected – probably because all I’d seen had been a cardboard mockup of it. Blame yourself for that one, Mr Crowshaw.
Mogworld tells the story of Jim, a student Mage who is killed, then some years later resurrected to be a Dark Lord’s Undead Minion. While Jim has been lucky to get a Dark Lord who cares about his Minions, and does his best to give them good working conditions, Jim isn’t really happy with the whole brought-back-to-unlife thing. Unfortunately he finds out that he can’t die permanently. In fact no-one can. No-one has died permanently for many years now.
And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot, which gets even more strange and interesting as the book progresses. I suspect, though, that it’s not giving much away (given Yahtzee himself has said this) that knowing a bit about Multiplayer Online Games (MOGs) and their mechanics will bring out even more of the humour. On the other hand, I think it’s a fun book even if you’ve never played such a game.
Yahtzee has an engaging writing style that is only mildly underpinned by his trademark game-weary cynicism. He’s very good at pacing the action, and doling out hints and information to keep you wanting to find out more of what’s going on. The characters are well realised, often seeming to start out as cardboard cut-outs, before breaking from those restrictions very quickly.
The story takes the characters through many twists and turns before the rather neat climax. And beyond. I will say I love what he’s done just past the climax. I suspect that if this were a movie, you’d be willing to wait for the extras just after the credits.
If you get the idea I like the book, you’d be right, and if you happen to like comic fantasy, or are into MOGs, then I think you’d like it too. As further recommendation, if such is needed, I will say this is the first fiction book I’ve read all the way through for over three years. I used to voraciously read fiction (mostly science-fiction and some fantasy) and then I just stopped, preferring non-fiction. Even books from my favourite authors lie in piles, waiting for me to read them one day.
Mogworld I read in one night. I think that’s recommendation enough.