Because all of life is stories.
If you remember a few weeks ago I did a review of one of Christopher Moore’s books and told you all that he was one of the funniest men alive. Today I would like to introduce you to another mad genius of literature. His name is Benjamin Croshaw, but the internet at large knows him as “Yahtzee”.
Yahtzee Crowshaw is a game journalist who runs a weekly web series reviewing games called Zero Punctuation. Each week he spends 8 to 15 minutes generally eviscerating this week’s big AAA title release in his signature fast talking, curse-laden, Brisbane accented style. Usually, even if the game is great, it turns into comedy gold.
And he turned his attention to the world of literature.
And it is a very. Very. Good thing.
Mogworld is Yahtzee’s debut novel, and it follows the life and…well…post life of a young wizard in training named Jim. Sixty years after a slight misunderstanding (invasion) at Jim’s magic school he is brought back to life…well…undeath anyways, to serve a burgeoning necromancer. When that gig doesn’t quite work out Jim sets out traveling the world, looking for a way to off himself. It turns out that Jim’s greatest wish in the world is just to die again and get a good eternity’s sleep. He’s really not big on the whole zombie thing. Sadly for Jim (Fantastic for us) simply climbing back into the grave or lopping his own head off doesn’t do the trick. So Jim takes off after a group of Angel-like creatures that he calls “Deleters”. On his quest he adds several members to his party of intrepid heroes, including Slippery John, an inept and cloying would-be adventurer, Meryl, a fellow un-dead-ee with a vicious nationalist streak, and Thaddeus, righteous zed-hating zealot who happens to be a zed himself.
Last week I spent some time talking about villains and how the most interesting ones have their own story, their own unique and powerful motivation that helps build them into fully fleshed three dimensional characters. Mogworld doesn’t really live up to that expectation. Not to say the villain isn’t a good one. His pawns are particular kinds of morons/bastards/bigots that you can’t wait to see beaten into a pulp or fried into a crisp. And when you figure out who the real villain is, and what kind of motivation he has, you’ll have an enormous amount of fun rooting for him to finally get his. He’s the punching bag villain. Not really all that complex or hard to figure out, but still fun to root against. And that’s not bad either.
The crew spend their time running through a plot that, admittedly, is a little bit spastic. It’s either going to be great or terrible for people who have attention spans because it tends to move about quite a bit. From Lord Dreadgrave’s fortress, to the peaks of Mount Murdercruel, and to a dozen other strangely familiar locales in between, these deaders have a lot on their plates. It tends to lend itself to meandering, and bouts of losing the readers interest. But overall, it’s still a plus if you can keep yourself on the long and winding road Croshaw leads you down. There is a delightful pull of the curtain that is well worth it, doubly so if you’re a gamer like Yahtzee and myself. I won’t tell you any more about it here, lest I run the risk of ruining it entirely.
The best part of Yahtzee’s books (He does have another one out now) is his dialogue. It’s one part of any book that is notoriously difficult to pull off, especially when there are upwards of a dozen characters each trying to speak and crack wise with a distinct voice. Having cut his teeth writing for games over the years and possessing the indescribably wonderful dry wit of the best of British comedy every line of dialogue shines. He combines high and low brow comedy in a poignant and often volatile mixture that brings to mind some of the best material of Monthy Python, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Laurie. With a heaping helping of indignant pissant thrown into the mixture.
Yahtzee is a breath of fresh air, unafraid to tear down, poke fun at, and overuse tropes and cliches to make people laugh. His irreverent take on most any subject he comes across is a welcome break from serious sci-fi, high fantasy, and literary fiction. He is a satirist at heart and no subject, even those he loves, is safe from scrutiny. Do yourself a favor. Kick back, relax, and laugh your ass off with cult favorite and soon to be cult classic, Mogworld.