Book Review | Critical Failures by Robert Bevan
This is a post I’ve been thinking on for quite some time now. Because I’ve read everything Mister Bevan has put out, I thought I’d throw together a single, massive review where I’d review each book and short story in the Caverns and Creatures series.
But then I thought “to hell with that. That’s way too much work” and instead I am going to review the first book in the series: Critical Failures and let the rest of the series speak for itself. If you’re anything like me once you’ve read the first one you’ll find that you have no other option than to read the rest of the series. Yes, I like them that much.
Fair warning before we begin though. These books aren’t for the easily offended. They contain copious amounts of swearing coupled with fart, dick, and bodily function jokes plus any other form of lowbrow humour you can think of. I’ve seen a number of reviews were people complain about racist or homophobic jokes, but if you actually read what Mister Bevan has written in context, you’ll find when these remarks are made there’s typically someone calling the person out for them and the person making the off remarks becomes the butt of the joke instead. So with that out of the way,let’s look at the blurb.
Tim and his friends find out the hard way that you shouldn’t question the game master, and you shouldn’t make fun of his cape.
One minute, they’re drinking away the dreariness of their lives, escaping into a fantasy game and laughing their asses off. The next minute, they’re in a horse-drawn cart surrounded by soldiers pointing crossbows at them.
Tim now has the voice and physique of a prepubescent girl. Dave finds that while he lost a foot or two in height, he somehow acquired a suit of armor and a badass beard. Julian’s ears have grown ridiculously long and pointy. And Cooper… well Cooper has gotten himself a set of tusks, a pair of clawed hands, and a bad case of the shits. He also finds that he’s carrying a bag with a human head in it – a head that he had chopped off when they were still just playing a game.
Shit just got real, and if they want to survive, these four friends are going to have to tap into some baser instincts they didn’t even know existed in their fast-food and pizza delivery world.
It’s fight, flight, or try to convince the people who are trying to kill them that they don’t really exist.
Meanwhile, a sadistic game master sits back in the real world eating their fried chicken.
So our four hapless heroes in this story mercilessly rip into their new Game Master when he shows up. He’s a bit of a douche and wearing a cape so he kind of has it coming and based on what we learn throughout the series he definitely had it coming.
When they push him too far though he uses his magic dice to transport them into an alternate universe where they become the characters they were playing: a Halfling, a Dwarf, a half-Orc and an Elf. The world of Caverns and Creatures they find themselves in (like D&D but without the copyright issues 🙂 ) adheres to the rules of the table-top game they were playing. So magic is real, as well as Orcs, Dwarfs, Elves, and the undead to name but a few.
Because of a poor choice in the game before they were transported they find they’re carrying a head in a bag and are running from the town guards. They must survive an attack by the guards and come to terms with who they now are. Cooper, the half-Orc in particular has a charisma deficit and is extremely obnoxious to be around, and is the source of many of the scat jokes.
The one they have going for them though is that they know the rules of the game, so they have a distinct advantage in some situations. Whether they know how to best use that advantage is another thing altogether. Horses, for example, prove to be much more useful in life-and-death situations than you may think.
In all, the series is a hilariously funny adventure with a mismatched bunch of idiots who you would also probably want to magically transport into an alternate reality if you knew them in person.
Between each book in the series Mister Bevan puts out a series of six non-canonical short stories set in the same universe. These are the “D6” books (eg D6, 2D6, 3D6… etc) and can be read out of order, but if I’m re-reading the series, I tend to read these between each book. These are all well worth a read as you get to see how the heroes react to different situations and monsters outside of the main series.
If you want to check out his writing style without spending any money (note: book 1 is now less than a buck to buy), you can grab a copy of a short story he has written (that doesn’t feature in the D6 series of shorts) called Multiple Orc Chasms for free by joining his mailing list or Guts and Volts which is also free depending on which Amazon site you visit.
And if all that wasn’t enough to get you excited there are whispers around of a possible movie deal for the series. I’m itching to know more about this to the point of: