Critical Failures by Robert Bevan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Tim, Dave, Cooper, and Julian play a game of Caverns and Creatures with a new Cavern Master, they get more than they bargained for. Trapped in the game world in the bodies of their characters, can they survive long enough to make it back to the real world and settle the pompous Cavern Master's hash?
Back in the day, around the time the oceans drank Atlantis, I played a fair bit of Dungeons and Dragons. Sadly, I recognize a lot of what goes on in this book.
Critical Failures tells the story of what many a Dungeon Master would like to do to disruptive characters, i.e. throw them into the game world and teach them a lesson. The cast isn't quite the bunch of gamer stereotypes I thought it might be but some of them are present, like the noob and the disruptive loudmouth. More than once, I empathized with Mordred the Cavern Master.
The story is full of humor and actually has some good adventure-y bits. I think you probably need to have gamed in order to fully appreciate a lot of it. The humor ranges from Python-esque to dick and fart jokes, crossing from one side of the humor spectrum to the other.
The story ends unexpectedly, not exactly a cliffhanger but not what I expected. Luckily, I got this and the sequel for 99 cents each so I'm be attacking the second one directly.
If you've ever spent nights drinking Mountain Dew and covered in nerd sweat and Cheetoh dust around a gaming table, this is the book for your. Four out of five stars!
Critical Failures II: Fail Harder by Robert Bevan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Trapped in the world of Creatures and Caverns, Tim, Dave, Cooper, and Julian struggle to find their way home, meeting a community of individuals also accosted by Mordred along the way. But what has happened to Katherine and Chaz?
The gang from Critical Failures is back in a second outing, continuing their quest to escape the world of Creatures and Caverns and settle Mordred's hash.
The humor of the first book is in full effect in the sequel. The D&D in-jokes continue, as does the bodily function humor. In addition, the boys have matured a bit, both in experience level and character-wise.
The story is a direct continuation and deals with another group of displaced C&C players, making a go of it in a fantasy world after being banished there by Mordred.
I thought the vampire subplot was very well done. My favorite part of the book, other than the masterwork wooden stake carved in the shape of a penis, was the excellent use of the Bag of Holding.
If I had to pick something to gripe about, it was that the humor was wearing a little thin by the end. However, since I just finished the first book, I imagine I was suffering from overload. Wait, I have something else to gripe about: Where is the next book?
If you're a D&D gamer with a sense of humor, you won't want to miss this. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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