For Jim, being dead has been kind of fun. After all, he’s gotten to go toward the light and has been sort of floating through his nonexistence quite nicely.
Not that he didn’t have to suffer a pretty awful death when his magic school was attacked by rival students. But he wasn’t a very good or hardworking student of magic anyway, and the defense of his school was bound to fail. What could he have done as a mage in adulthood?
Jim gets exactly the second chance he does not want when he is raised from the dead after sixty years of peace. He doesn’t know why he is raised from the dead except that an evil necromancer, Lord Dreadgrave, demands that Jim and other zombies follow him and become his minions. (Dreadgrave didn’t bank on them having free will—oops!)
Luckily, Meryl, Jim’s classmate, was also raised. She’s good at sewing body parts back together. After Jim’s many attempts to re-kill himself and get back to his happy place (there’s no tower too high for Jim to fling himself from), the far too cheery Meryl puts him back together. So, body coming to pieces, flesh loose, Jim must zombie-live. He rather enjoys his work in Dreadgrave’s castle dungeon, flinging living folks to their acid-bath deaths and decomposition by rat. But they, too, all come back to life. In fact, no one can ever die anymore and no new people are born.
Welcome to Mogworld, a place that gamers will quickly identify as a ‘multiplayer online game world’ (thus the title of the novel). Everyone has a quest to complete, and since death does not get them out of it, Jim seems to be continually caught up in someone’s plan. He must deal with the ‘values of convenience’ of Slippery Johnny, the morality-challenged priest (and fellow zombie) Thaddeus, the self-righteous religious leader Barry, the evil overlord Baron Civious, and the frightening domination of Mr. Wonderful and his silent dwarf companion, Bowg.
My favorite line: When Jim is asked if he wouldn’t want to be a hero, he answers, “I’d rather be a protagonist.” Not a bad way to live, even for the undead.
A Croshaw novel that I previously reviewed, Jam, is—very loosely speaking—a companion work. It, too, is hilarious.
High school housekeeping: Mogworld not only makes fun of video games. It is a great send-up of fantasy novels. Readers of Harry Potter books will get a kick out of the failed mages and their battles. But the thing is –you don’t need to be a fan of either video games or fantasy novels to enjoy Mogworld. (I am a fan of neither.) You’ll know enough about both through inescapable media. And this book is just so wildly funny. You might even read it just to hear Mr. Wonderful’s “little” sayings.
Sarcasm unleashed. You’ll be laughing so hard, you’ll snort in public.
In addition, if you are a gamer, you might really enjoy Croshaw’s weekly review of video games ‘Zero Punctuation’ on Escapist online magazine. He’s won an award for best gaming journalist and has designed video games. He’s just a highly entertaining guy—but caveat—his online discussions are for mature audiences (the language is stronger than in the books—not for your little brothers and sisters who like gaming). As my own son says, there are some unsettling metaphors.