Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
Mogworld Audiobook read by Yahtzee Croshaw
Mogworld is a fantasy comedy novel written by Ben (Yahtzee) Croshaw, that bloke with the hat from Zero Punctuation, about a reanimated mage student who finds himself on a journey of discovery – into permanent death. Jim has found that his new zombie life and eternal revival isn’t as cracked up to what it ought to be and after being ousted out of contentment, decides to find a way to die and stay dead. Along with some undead buddies, a priest and a girl that’s basically a corpse-nurse, Jim goes on his unheroic quest where many misfortunes and adventures ensue.
It’s no real spoiler to say that the book is set in a virtual world, a parody of World of Warcraft. As such there are many parallels between mechanics found in MMORPG’s and those in Mogworld, the characters are very similar to the kind you find in games, but fleshed out and utilised for comical effect. Meryl the nurse is overtly positive and dense, the priest (Thadeus? I don’t know how to spell his name because audiobook) is a melancholy religious zealot and the main character Jim is a sarcastic unlikely hero. As the characters journey about the place, they encounter things like re-spawning, adventurers and quests and it’s amusing to see how sentient people deal with the frankly absurd tropes and aspects from MMO’s and gaming in general that one takes for granted.
The videogame theme was something to be expected, for those that have been hiding in the dark recesses of reality, Croshaw (as he will henceforth be known as I don’t much like “Yahtzee”) does videogame reviews on the Escapist site (by that I mean he gets pissed off at games) and is rather popular on “the information highway”. So much so that he has acquired enough fans that they’ve now obtained the usual small percentage of insanity found in large groups and are misguided enough to actually base their game purchases on his humourous yet cynical videos.
I didn’t read the book when it came out in 2010, however I became interested in reading it after I followed the… press…? the Marketing…? Anyway, I watched the couple of videos he posted about his book answering questions that fans had about his apparently shocking foray into novel writing and they piqued my interest (the videos, not the fans). By the time I actually could be bothered to go and read the book it had already fallen into the oblivion that is being “out of print”. Obviously, now that I go and look into the book on Amazon it’s available and apparently more are on the way, but back to my amazing story – there were no copies and I hate borrowing books I actually care about from others, so I decided to sit it out for a bit.
Some time later Croshaw got fed up of people badgering him about doing an audiobook and he went and did one of them and I decided I would go and get that, unfortunately I own the world’s most fickle MP3 player and so had to wait until I had something more suitable to play an audiobook on. A little more time later and by that I mean last Friday I got a Nexus (oh yes) and immediately bought it on Audible and not without much fuckarsery I might add.
Having not read Mogworld and also not listened to an Audiobook before (well I had The Bear on tape, but for the sake of my own dignity and Croshaw’s we’ll not go into that line of comparison), I was a bit confused at first as the reading was really slow. Before you interject with “that’s because you’re used to him speaking 100 mph on his videos!” that wasn’t it, it was just really slow for normal speech. You do get used to it and it’s probably a lot better for it, but if it’s still no-fly though, you can turn it onto Zero Punctuation mode by making it around 2x faster in the options or if you’re a loon, you can find out what he sounds like on Cocaine and turn it on 3x the speed.
Being English – and by extension, a complete wanker, Croshaw loves to imitate other accents/voices and he does so quite a lot in the book with mostly positive results.
The varying English accents and odd American one didn’t irk me, which is a good sign, and the voices of all the characters are easily distinguishable (but apparently not to him as he cocked up a few times throughout before correcting himself) and well personified. In fact the only gripe I had was with the character of Meryl, but I can hardly the fault the man for being one.
The book was a pleasant surprise as it turns out, I mean, I like ZP and I think that Croshaw is a talented writer wasted on the inanity that is game reviewing, but I still found myself genuinely immersed in the book and the characters (even Meryl despite the horrendous voice which hugely amplified her irritating personality). My favourite character in the book is Mr. Wonderful, who is a maniacal elf with leanings towards masochism, but digs also go out to Dreadgrave the evil lord, who sounded like Rik Mayall and Thadeus the pissy priest, who sounded like Christopher Lee.
Like everyone says (including Croshaw himself) there is a Pratchettey, Douglas Adams vibe going on, but this isn’t a negative thing, not least because either aren’t at all bad, but also because Croshaw sports a more blunt and misanthropic humour than his forebears. This twinned with the subject matter of the book and the couple of esoteric turns in plot that he employs sets the novel farther from Pratchett into something a lot more modern and satirical.
Fun listen, good if you like looking like a crazy on the bus. Looking forward to reading the next novel, Jam about an apocalypse involving Jam.