If you’re a gamer or you read The Escapist, then you’ve likely heard about Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, an Englishman living in Australia who reviews video games on his online show, Zero Punctuation. Yahtzee does five-minute reviews where he speaks really, really fast about the latest video game, usually emphasizing its negative points in the most hilarious way possible, and illustrating those points with simple and often-ironic animation.
In addition to being a reviewer for The Escapist, Yahtzee Croshaw can now also claim to be a novelist thanks to his recently-published fantasy novel, Mogworld.
According to Yahtzee’s press release, Mogworld is:
“…an idea I’ve been kicking around ever since those dark, unproductive three months I spent playing World of Warcraft. It’s a bit of a cynical take on MMOs and the standard Tolkienesque ‘fantasy’ setting.”
And for the most part, he’s right. The story is basically World of Warcraft from the point-of-view of an NPC who doesn’t know his whole world is actually one big gaming environment.
To give you an idea of the plot, try this summary on for size: Jim has been raised up as a reanimated sixty-year-old corpse to serve in a necromancer’s horde of the undead, but wants to go back to his previous non-existence. He sets out on a quest in search of a proper death, encountering troublesome adventurers, strangely-behaving villagers, and beings from another world–specifically, our world, as two programmers attempt to work out the bugs in the AI of their new MMORPG, Mogworld, with poor Jim at the center of it.
The cast for this story is pretty great. Jim is not so much the hero as he is the protagonist, since all he cares about is figuring out what’s going on and what to do with his current existence. He’s accompanied on his travels by two other undead individuals: a chipper young woman named Meryl and a zealous priest named Thaddeus. Meryl is an eternal optimist who counteracts Jim’s sarcastic cynicism, while Thaddeus is forever condemning poor Jim with such lines as:
“Be silent, venomous spittle of the Doom Serpent!”
“The minions of demonkind are slippery with the foul butter of dreadful cows.”
Add on a host of minor characters ranging from the incompetent Slippery John to the psychotic Mr. Wonderful, and it’s not hard to see why Jim is so thoroughly depressed from beginning to end in this book.
If I have one issue with the story, it’s that the end wasn’t quite what I expected. If you want a truly heroic ending, then look somewhere else. Even so, Mogworld is the kind of story that immerses the reader in a fantastic world just as any MMO would, the only difference being that it will make snarky comments about its world and even point out that man behind the curtain. It’s irreverent, ironic, and at times, quite exciting.
Bibliography: Croshaw, Ben. Mogworld. Milwaukie: Dark Horse Books, 2010.