Caverns and Creatures
Robert Bevan is an author I’ve been reading for years now. His Critical Failures books in the Caverns and Creatures series are some of the most re-read books on my Kindle.
Between each Critical Failures books he puts out 6 short stories which eventually get bundled into their own six-pack. These are the most recent two which I read one after another (I was behind a little since it took a few weeks for them to get onto Kindle Unlimited).
While the title seems somewhat literal, you need to understand the short stories Mister Bevan puts out are always puns or jokes on whatever the theme is. Cornholed for example, isn’t about what you might think. Probing the Annis is another.
Anyway, a subset of our usual heroes are tricked into following a sorcerer through a portal where their doom awaits them. Not an uncommon occurrence for the hapless heroes, but Bevan always manages new and disgusting lows in which to take the story.
Tricked into becoming slaves / target practice for stone giants, the boys must escape. Through a series of misunderstandings they’re not sure which fate they’d prefer.
Continuing the tradition and possibly one of the grossest covers yet, From the Bowels of Hell Hounds finds our heroes as escorts of a wagon filled with magical goodies on its way to an interesting character I really wouldn’t mind seeing more of, maybe in the canonical series.
Count Fabulazzo welcomes them, calling off his hell hounds just after they’ve barbequed the groups horses. PS – If you’re a horse lover then this series (not just this book) isn’t for you. They meet their demise in a startling array of horrors.
Tricked, of course, into accepting the mission which is really a ruse for them to become the fall guys for the real mission, they’ve no alternative to accept the quest set to them by the Count to retrieve what was stolen.
Fans of the podcast Authors and Dragons will enjoy the appearance of a religious zealot by the name of Sinas, who I couldn’t help but read in the voice of Rick Gualtieri’s “Silas Kane” voice.
Both of these were lots of fun to read. They’re non-canonical to the overall series so can be enjoyed as individual reads. What happens in these has no impact at all to the main story, but knowing the background of the characters helps understand their motives so if you haven’t yet, go read Critical Failures.
Robert Bevan is someone I’ve been reading for a long time now, getting into his books a few years back and reading them all multiple times. His latest book in the series, Critical Failures V, has left me a little on the fence.
While each book in the series so far has followed the standard formula of problem at start -> solved at end + new cliff-hanger (introduced to keep you wanting the next one), this one meandered along without much urgency and ended without any real satisfaction.
In this one, the expanding cast of unique characters has been split into multiple groups as they set out to find Tim who they believe is trying to abandon them all in the game. The splitting of the party was something I particularly enjoyed as it allowed some lesser characters the chance to shine on their own, giving us a chance to get to know them better.
Mister Bevan does a great job at pulling together all the divergent paths the characters have taken by the end, but this is where it fell down for me. I looked at the progress bar on my Kindle and thought it must have been malfunctioning. It said 99% and I felt that the climax of the book was about to kick into gear, but instead I was left with a cliff-hanger ending without any real feeling of satisfaction.
I would have gladly waited another 6 months or a year or more to have this storyline play out to a more satisfactory conclusion. As it is, it feels like I only read half a book, and for a book that’s close to 100,000 words, it felt kind of short. Read the rest of this entry »