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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If R.A Salvatore had written Clerks..., 17 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Unabashed heroic fantasy meets unapologetic beer-swliing trash-talk in this tale of four friends who find themselves sucked into the world of Creatures and Caverns (Bevan's answer to Dungeons and Dragons). Though all the elements of sword and sorcery at its most kitsch are present, our surly, rude, and somewhat dim-witted heroes make for a sardonic antithesis that allows a grown man to sit back and enjoy the adventure without a trace of guilt. With a host of companion novellas also available, Critical Failures is a great series for those looking for a generation x flavour to their to might and magic. Or just a good laugh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blend of Slapstick Humour & Fantasy, 1 Mar 2013
This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Critical Failures is an interesting blend of a novel. The story starts with a group of lads Tim, Cooper, Julian and Dave awaiting the arrival of a new Games Master for their weekly game of Caverns and Creatures, a Dungeons and Dragons style role playing game. As you might expect the author takes every opportunity to poke fun at the stereotype gamer, nerds with absolutely no prospect of ever finding a girlfriend. When the Games Master finally arrives, wearing a cape, they all take the opportunity to have some fun at his expense. Matters go from bad to worse and our "heroes" find themselves magically transported to the Games World with the GM having full control over this environment.

Bevan neatly combines the fantasy and comedy genres with quite a lot of action for the characters but with them of course fully aware of their game characters strengths and weaknesses. The strength of this novel lies in the humour. I found myself laughing out loud a lot but also rooting for our hapless heroes. Fantasy and RPG fans will get the jokes and find this funny. Anyone who is partial to slapstick humour will enjoy this also I'd imagine. It's not a high brow book and the humour isn't subtle but we all need a laugh sometimes and Critical Failures does this effortlessly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, 14 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is a really fun book. The basic premise: a group of friends are keen players of 'Caverns and Creatures', a game not totally unlike 'Dungeons and Dragons' (cough), but when they insult their new Cavern Master, he retaliates by sending them into the game for real. And so a half-orc barbarian, a dwarven cleric, a halfling rogue and an elvish sorcerer find themselves getting used to new bodies, learning to use their abilities, facing up to trolls, goblins, giant ants and a humourless town guard, and finding ingenious ways to survive, but all strictly within the rules of the game.

I've never played D&D, and my only contact with the culture was reading 'The Elfish Gene' many years ago, so a lot of this could have been incomprehensible to me. It's a testament to the author's skill that it wasn't; there was never a point where I felt I needed more explanation (apart from the title!), or that I was missing the point of a joke. And yes, it's funny, very very funny. The first half depends a great deal on the barbarian orc, whose low charisma rating manifests itself in explosions of bodily fluids and a great deal of swearing and aggression, which palls fairly rapidly, but the second half is much more clever, and laugh out loud humour right the way through. The appearance of the sister (as a half-elf druid with antler's horns) and her boyfriend (a muscular type transformed into a wimpy bard) liven things up greatly.

The plot - well, it's all pretty silly, but completely logical within the constructs of the game. There were multiple times where a solution took me by surprise yet was satisfyingly consistent, and the ending is ingenious and unexpected, setting things up very nicely for the next book. The characters don't have a great deal of depth (but then a barbarian orc is bound to be fairly one-note), but they adapt very nicely to their changed circumstances and learn to use their abilities over the course of the book. The only big negative for me was that so many of the jokes depend on what can only be described as adolescent humour - a lot of four-letter-words, gross-out descriptions of blood, vomit and worse, dismembered corpses and the like. I'm not offended by such things, but it's a very cheap type of humour, and although a certain amount is fine, and it's in character for the barbarian, the best moments for me were the more subtle ones - such as the halfling having a sister who's half-human and half-elf, or having to use a British accent to understand elvish. There's enough humour inherent in the situation to make the juvenile jokes unnecessary. This is an entertaining light-hearted read, and I'm tempted to say three stars because of the silliness, but I've had a bad week (stupid cold) and this book cheered me up no end and made me laugh. Four stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hangover in Middle Earth, 14 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I love Robert Bevan, This and would be happy to bite his big black mentor.

This is definitely the most fun I've had with a book this year, and I know nothing whatsoever about role-playing games (though I'm a connoisseur when it comes to dick jokes). I laughed out loud countless times, and stayed up late into the night to finish it. Buy this book now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh Out Loud Funny, 24 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
'Critical Failures' is the story of a geek called Tim who arranges weekly a role playing game similar to Dungeons & Dragons. Tim & three friends make the mistake of inviting stranger Mordred to play with them and they end up at his mercy when he puts them inside the game after they insult him.

It isn't hard to grasp any of the role playing game rules if you're unfamiliar with them, things are explained as the story moves along and it all makes sense. How exactly Mordred puts them inside the game doesn't really get fully explained but that wasn't a concern for me, it was an interesting enough concept not to question it too much.

The characters are brilliant, particulary Cooper who winds up an Orc with a horrendously low charisma score which makes him utterly disgusting to be around - I don't think I've ever thought 'Yuck!' so much in my life! The dialogue is fantastic, it really brings the characters to life and adds to the humorous tone. There's honestly nothing I didn't like about this book. Even the situations Bevan puts his characters in seem to be designed for maximum hilarity.

To sum up, this book really made me laugh. I loved it. The ending made me want a sequel, right now!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic central idea, 10 July 2014
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Fantastic central idea, delivered without any compromise for younger readers (the humour, language, and often the main characters, are absolutely filthy and the book is all the better for taking the adult approach).
I genuinely laughed aloud many times reading this book (even more so in the sequel).

And you will never think about a simple spell such as "Summon horse" the same way ever again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fun, 18 April 2014
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Loved it, kind of like the cartoon Dungeons & Dragons but with a serious case of potty mouth. If you want a quick and easy read that's as amusing as it is entertaining, read this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Critical Acclaim, 11 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I was extremely impressed by Critical Failures. It's beautifully written. The plot is taut and it's a brilliant expose of how 20-40 year old men talk amongst themselves when they're sure no-one else is around. Bevan's style is both strong and fluid, making the novel a quick read.

However, while Critical Failures is an excellent book - it's not for everyone.

1. If you're a fan of South Park or Seths Rogen or MacFarlane: buy this book, you won't regret it.
2. Alternatively, if you know your Steve Jackson from your Steve Jackson (or understand what that means): buy this book, you won't regret it.
3. If you want a lighter shade of fantasy literature, Critical Failures is to Lord of the Rings, what Red Dwarf is to Star Wars: buy this book, you won't regret it.
4. If you're an author still looking to find your voice or understand why your adverb & adjective laden work is repeatedly getting one and two-star reviews: buy this book, you could learn a lot from Bevan's writing style.

If none of those apply, you'll struggle with Critical Failures. That's not a fault of the book - it is a perfect photograph of the characters and Dungeons & Dragons environment it seeks to portray - it's just that the subject matter may not be to everyone's taste.

Nonetheless, I can heartily recommend it as a storming novel and I'll certainly look forward to reading more in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I want to play too!, 18 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Crass humour
Corny jokes
Super geek fest
MORE PLEASE!

I was on the unlucky end of dungeons and dragons, I started secondary school a year after they closed the group, but I have always had a fascination and played computer games when I can get m hands on them. This took me into the world and let me explore. Funny and light hearted, yet it made me feel for the characters even the rather... shall I say animalistic Cooper!

I would recommend this to anyone with a good sense of humour and either experience of these types of games or a desire to play.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 11 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Thoroughly enjoyable story, with a group of foul mouthed players magical transported into the very D&D like world they were playing in, and all the mis-adventures that then ensue.

Not child friendly due to the language involved unfortunately, but a really good description & understanding of so many of the things players take for granted.
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