Feb. 1st, 2011 11:44 pm
kenjimurasame: (MAIL)
[personal profile] kenjimurasame
Tonight, I finished the first novel of 2011 (well, my first novel, anyway), Yahtzee Croshaw's Mogworld.

Yes, that Yahtzee.

I was a bit unsure of what to expect before going into the book; Yahtzee is funny, sometimes, but his reviews teeter a bit too much on extended metaphor and become a bit similar after a while. But, it sounded somewhat interesting, so I decided to give it a read.

The general premise is that Mogworld follows Jim, an undead minion resurrected after being dead for 60 years, and the problems he finds himself in while trying to basically get himself killed for good; the little twist to Mogworld, though, is that the setting is within an MMO, like WoW.

Jim, basically, is an NPC.

The real charm of Mogworld revolves around this 'looking at a game from the NPC standpoint,' in which the NPCs treat the world around them (the "game") as their own world; and, suddenly, no one can die, and many Adventurers are becoming affected by a disease called the Syndrome, where they run mechanically, say very little, and are addicted to completing quests.

The book really doesn't need much more than that to get rolling; what I found surprising was that Yahtzee is actually a pretty competent writer, and Mogworld felt a little bit like a Discworld novel; not in the sense that he cribs entirely from Terry Pratchett, but it feels a little bit like it would fit nicely in that sort of universe. There are times when the humor is a bit overdrawn (like his reviews) but this generally occurs at the beginning of the book. Once it excels past part one (ironically, the part that was online available before publishing) the book turns into a quirky "adventure" novel set in a fantasy world that only the reader knows is really a "game," except that all of the characters are not players (like .hack or The Guild) but are, basically, data AI that are "living" in their own little world, and the one character who "died" and was then forcefully "resurrected" and the mystery behind it.

The novel isn't "groundbreaking" or "profound," but Jim's progression as a character is very well done and played out. You're never made to believe that he has to act a "savior," or rises to the role with gusto like most trite fantasy / adventure novels. Jim is just a guy who wants to die again, and above that he's not particularly good at anything; without his ability to not die, he'd probably have only lasted 10 pages. There are a few other supporting characters who really flesh the novel out, each one with their own little personality traits that make them memorable and makes you want to know about what's up with them. There are, obviously, lots of nods to gaming humor and in particular the lifestyle of MMO players and developers.

The book isn't perfect--I'd say my biggest problem with it is that there are, at times, a few too many 'one shot' characters who eat a lot of scenery with no real additions to the overall plot, but all in all the book is about Jim, and it stays focused on him. I never really found myself tired of him, and the resolution of the book is both fitting and humorous, as well as a little bit melancholic; I'm a bit sad the story is over already, really.

I was really pretty surprised at how well I enjoyed the book, and I polished it off rather quickly once I hit a bit towards the 1/2 point of the book. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Discworld, quirky fantasy humor, or plays WoW and can take a look at the game with a hint of humor--for example, the humor behind things like Mankrik's wife, etc.--but for 8 dollars, the book is well worth a read.
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