A couple days ago I finished Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw. Yeah, I know, a couple days ago. It’s only partly laziness and the rest is the whole job and kid thing. Nonetheless, I am productive today and you can bask in the hilarity of this book.
What time is it now? Back of the book time!
In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn’t be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He’s awfully grumpy. Plus, he’s been dead for about sixty years. When a renegade necromancer wrenches him from eternal slumber and into a world gone terribly, bizarrely wrong, all Jim wants is to find a way to die properly, once and for all.
On his side, he’s got a few shambling corpses, an inept thief, and a powerful death wish. But he’s up against tough odds: angry mobs of adventures, a body falling apart at the seams – and a team of programmers racing a deadline to hammer out the last few bugs in their AI.
Wait, what’s this you say? Programmers? Ayup. This may be the most meta book I’ve read in a long time. This book is Gamearth for the Warcraft set. Never read Gamearth? Well you should. And let me explain.Mogworld takes place inside an MMO. Our main character, Jim, is an NPC. This book owes a lot to World of Warcraft, in fact the author dedicates the book “To Blizzard Entertainment, for the three months of my life I’ll never get back.” Pfft. Three months. Amateur. Most people are lucky to get out of it with only a year.
So when I’m reading this book, my first thoughts are “Holy hell how come I didn’t know about this book already?” And it was closely followed by “Goddamnit! I already outlined this same book!”
As much as I am still pissed that I have to scrap the outline which I wanted to turn into the next novel, this book was amazingly hilarious. Seriously, if you have ever played World of Warcraft or EverQuest or any of the other myriad of MMOs that have dropped into the market over the years, you will absolutely love this. When it gets all meta, seeing player characters from the point of view of an NPC is hilarious. It points out just how much roleplaying is actually in one of these roleplaying games, and it’s not that much. When this book is showing us how we play our games from a different point of view, it’s hilariously absurd. The economics of quest rewards, and now Jim breaks it a little, is one of my favorites.
Mogworld is full of injokes, but that’s not it’s only selling points so here’s a little more of the plot and characters. The cast of characters, while they may not be the most well defined, they are comically well defined. Our inept thief, Slippery John, was already mentioned in the back of the book. Jim isn’t the only undead citizen brought forth to serve Lord Deadgrave the necromancer. Thaddeus is a priest constantly proclaiming them abominations of the lord and it’s up to him to fix all that, even though he’s undead himself. Meryl is the most chipper zombie you’ll ever see. She starts out as Deadgrave’s personal assistant and spends a lot of time putting Jim back together.
A little more of the plot… Well right from the start that’s pretty awesome too. It’s a roundabout quest for Jim to find his way back to the death which was so rudely interrupted. And it is a rather roundabout quest to the point where it would probably be a minus in a regular kind of book, but with the meta MMO theme going on here, it just keeps supporting that theme. There are reams of quests which take more and more and more steps than you really think they will, so I don’t see it bothering any readers of this book.
Speaking of readers of this book… I loved the hell out ofMogworld but it really is a niche book. Humor is very hard to do in writing, especially in genre writing. This book is chock full of humor, it’s coming fast and well executed… if you get the references. I played EverQuest for years. I played Warcraft for years. I get all the MMO tropes that are thrown around and turned upside down. If you’re not familiar with these themes, you’ll be lost and confused. But if you’ve ever dabbled in the never ending timesink that is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game… Why aren’t you reading this already? Go! Read it faster!