Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is Simon Peg/Nick Frost meets World of Warcraft. I can’t remember if I got this in the same ebook bundle as Jam or a different one, but I chose Jam of this one to read first because it sounded like I’d enjoy more. I never played WoW or any of its ancestors or any progeny. As of this writing never even played Diablo or any of its clones. So Jam seemed more up my ally – especially after I confirmed it was more of a spiritual successor to Mogworld than a Sequel. (One of the programmers in Mogworld is a character in Jam, but other than references via t-shirts, posters, etc there’s no reason to read Mogworld first) I really only read Mogworld because a) I owned it and b) I really enjoyed Jam.
I knew I was in trouble when I started the book yesterday intending to just read enough to get to 1% done and get my first status update. I went about 20 pages beyond that and only stopped because I needed to sleep to get up for work in the morning. What I think is most incredible about Mr Croshaw is that he has written two incredibly different books. The only things they have in common are the British/Australian humor and a group of unlikely companions on a quest (the latter of which would make his books like 90% of all fiction ever).
A bit of a meta-story spoiler because it explains one of the reasons I liked this book way more than I thought I would: unfortunately the book description gives away the major plot twist. But on the plus side, it doesn’t harm the plot at all. What made me enjoy this book so much is that the real-world programmers don’t make their intrusion into the story until 50% or more of the way into the book. So the whole first half of the book is just “what if the NPCs in a WoW-like game were real?” I think the biggest strength of the book is that Yahtzee lets us play in that world for a while, really getting to know the characters, before he starts putting in the more meta elements. So the effort comes off a lot less cheesy and strained than a similar story might do. Think, it’s more like Toy Story than the toys come to life stories that came before it. Then comes the deconstruction phase, what would the NPCs think of the player characters vs themselves.
A British comedy wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t riff on bureaucracy and Mogworld certainly has its fair share. This time around I’m reading it from slightly higher as a supervisor so I found the Necromancer part early on and the office emails late in the story to be quite a bit funny in a different way that I used to laugh when I was a worker bee.
British humor has a very pessimistic or cynical side to it – or at least that which I’ve come across does (including Hitchhiker’s Guide and The Office) – and so does Mogworld. Without giving away what happens to each of the characters we meet, I can surely say that I was not expecting the happy or sad endings each of the characters got. That’s one thing I do really like about British literature, you’re a lot less likely to know just who’s going to come out on top.
I hope Jam sold well enough that Mr Croshaw could create a Don Sunderland trilogy. In this one a minor character, in Jam a major character. Maybe next time the main character?
If you like WoW, quest humor, and/or British humor, I’d check it out.