I was suckered into the dark domain of my local Games Workshop, er, shop the other day and convinced myself to purchase a copy of ‘Blood Bowl’ by Matt Forbeck, an American writer I believe. I have long been a fan of the game of Blood Bowl and I am currently joining the TableTopNorthleague for ’06.
So was it worth the dosh? Well, i did go and buy the second book, ‘Dead Bowl’, for another evening's read. So is this a ringing endorsement of a series that I go back the next day to get the other one?
Now I like Blood Bowl, its backstabbing, the gore, the power, the evil deals, the destruction, the disembowelling, and that’s just in the locker room. So in that respect the books are good.
When I was in the GW shop a guy sitting painting a miniature said he had read them and found himself laughing out loud and that they were very funny. All I can say is dear god, don’t let him go near a Terry Pratchett or Tom Holt book, he will explode.
OK, the books are funny, but only in the wry smile very odd groan come chuckle kind of way, not the maniacal laughter induced by Mr Pratchett or Mr Holt or Mr Rankin (Robert that is, in his Apocolyse the Musical time traveling sprout kind of way). There are puns flying all over the place, parodying real life people and places. There are in jokes on American Football, apparently, but I wouldn’t know cause I’m not American. I did play American football when I was wee. Much fun we had in smacking each other around. It resembled less American Football and more the Kindergarten version of Blood Bowl…. But I digress.
There are GW puns, some of which I get. Then there are puns from UK real life. Which I found interesting.
The hero of both books (Blood Bowl & Dead Bowl) is Dunkel ‘Dunk’ Hoffnung, a reluctant Blood Bowl recruit persuaded to stop fighting dragons, where he will end up poor and dead, and join the ranks of Blood Bowl players where he will end up rich and dead.
His agent is a Halfling called ‘Slick’ Fullbelly, who recruits him for the Bad Bay Hackers (I may be a bit slow but I did get this one – if you are not up on American football check a team called the Green Bay Packers).
Book one – Blood Bowl
It actually starts off quite well. I wonder if Matt read Pratchett???. I liked it. It set the scene very well, with a little of human nature gazing thrown in.
Then it moved on to Dunk joining the Hackers and the hilarious antics that ensue, or not hilarious antics as the case may be. He fights against insurmountable odds, becomes the best friend of the team Ogre, has a fight with an evil spellcaster, is threatened by a Black Orc desperate to keep his all time completion record, falls in love with the catcher of the Reikland Reavers while he meets up with his brother after a falling out who just happens to be the Reavers star thrower, gets embroiled in match fixing, stands up to the ‘Black Jerseys’, gets thrown out of a game for killing the team captain of the Chaos All-Stars at half time, has a bounty on his head from the Games Wizards, gets framed for murder, catches the real murderer, gets drunk, gets laid, and gets to the final of the Blood Bowl. Phew.
Not to mention the wonderful commentary from Bob and Jim.
It is a good tale, it kept my interest for the evening, indeed enough for me to go and buy ‘Dead Bowl’. It is like one of those movies you watch to zone out and not to think.
Now the bits that left me unfulfilled.
The editing is atrocious.
- Camera is constantly misspelled as camra.
- At one point Dunk is talking to M’Grash. Then its Dirk. Then its back to Dunk. Yet Dirk is not in this conversation. Sloppy.
- Very few games described, but it’s not a major gripe.
- The humour was very hit and miss, and even when it hit it was a bit cheesy.
- Only Dunk seems to be vaguely 3D.
Overall, I have to give the book a 6 out of 10. For all it’s faults I had to keep reading. Damn you Matt!!!!!
I would recommend it to readers. It’s a good pulp fiction type book and fun(ish) to read.
Matt, it’s a good effort, fair play for taking that step forward to put it in the public domain and wish you the best in the future.
I will review Dead Bowl at a later date.