A Natural 20 for LaughsReview by: Morgan Hobbes
Fair warning before we begin. 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 complaining about racist or homophobic jokes, but if you actually read what 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 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 thing 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.
The narrator, Jonathan Sleep, puts on a command performance in my opinion. With the talent for an endless supply of voices, he really elevates this (and subsequent books) to new heights. While I'm still working my way through the series as audiobooks, I believe his performances become even better as he settles into the role and the characters.
The story here is much simpler and straight forward than in later novels. Having read kindle versions of everything to date, I already know how much more involved the story becomes and I'll be interested in how well I follow along. With Jonathan Sleep's array of voices though, I'd say there won't be much of an issue.