Full disclosure: I love Zero Punctuation. So when I heard its creator had written a book set in an MMORPG starring a reluctant undead hero, I was psyched. I ordered it a month or so ago, and since then I've read it twice, each time with exactly the same level of eager anticipation.
Mogworld is funny. Not just funny, but laugh-out-loud hilarious on more occasions than I can list. If you're a fan of Zero Punctuation, this should come as no surprise and the nature of that humor should be pretty obvious. For those who aren't, I'll put it like this: Yahtzee has a classically British sense of humor - very dry, very deadpan, with irony and sarcasm in spades. It's the best kind of humor - the kind that's actually funny, not tedious. Very frequently I felt as though I was reading transcripts of lost Holy Grail scenes.
In short, unexpected and amusingly subversive. From a zombie horde that demands musical theater in return for their service, a village that enjoys being pillaged, and an evil black magic-wielding overlord who treasures his model train set, the jokes in Mogworld almost always arise from an unexpected twist on a familiar situation. SCORE.
It should be obvious by now, but humor has me wrapped around its metaphorical finger. I'll forgive murder from a book that actually makes me laugh, and as I said earlier, Mogworld made me laugh a lot, so let's not kid ourselves: I'll be recommending this no matter what. That being said, Mogworld wasn't a flawless book, and I'm not going to deny that.
I suppose the primary question here is the crossover appeal - in other words, is Mogworld a book non-gamers could enjoy? I think so, but I'm also a gamer. I've played Warcraft, and admittedly, that familiarity did help. Being set in an MMO, Mogworld comes with a certain amount of in-jokes and parody, but as far as I'm concerned, that only adds another layer to jokes and content that can stand on their own.
The real, potentially polarizing issue here, I think, is the sharp edge to Croshaw's humor and characterization. The key difference here between, say, Yahtzee's humor and that in the clip above is the tone. Where Python has a sillier feel, Croshaw's jokes are biting and mean-spirited. I didn't mind - much - but that's not everyone's cup of tea. Similarly, the characters, while entertaining, are almost universally unlikable, and Croshaw doesn't go out of his way to change that.
His protagonist, Jim, along with being a rather blatant author avatar, is unabashedly cowardly, self-serving, and disdainful of the people around him. But to be fair - and in keeping with the mean-spirited tone - he's almost entirely surrounded by idiots...
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