What do you get when you blend a hefty portion of nearly every fantasy story trope with a large helping of satire and throw in a plateful of witty humor from something like the “Airplane movie”? The answer to that questions is simple. You get a newly released book called “Villains Rule” which is the first book in The Shadow Mater series. The book is written by M. K. Gibson and the audiobook edition is extremely well narrated by Jeffrey Kafer. The author mocks and includes nearly every fantasy story cliché while putting a more modern or contemporary spin on them. No one is safe as he pokes fun at not only fantasy stories, but the authors of the material also.
Let me start this review by saying that the book is intended for adult readers only, young readers should stay far away from it due to its excessive use of vulgar language, direct sexual subject and actions including several innuendos. Nearly every other word of this book contains vulgar, crude, or offensive language, so if you are easily offended this book is not for you. Think Family Guy meets a contemporary fantasy story.
Those who are not offended by the book’s heavy use of language and enjoy witty humor, fantasy stories, adventure gaming, or have had or currently play D&D, you will find yourself laughing out loud multiple times while listening to this book. The book sets up a new and somewhat interesting fantasy world containing shadow masters, priestesses, multiple deities, elves, and peasants; goblins are not welcome. What makes the book even more humorous is that it is told from a quite different perspective; that of the villains and not the heroes. It is no surprise an entire chapter is devoted to why villains hate elves so much; but this would exclude dark elves who are eviler. Having a secretive evil infiltrator with a powerful title bringing fear to everyone who encounters him. This fearful character is called none other than Steve. What becomes of the famous Shadow Master’s trusty steed called Glue? You will have to read the book to find out.
I enjoyed the descriptive nature of the author. His detail of the Blackwell Villain Consulting agency; complete with cookies and juice boxes. Also, the snarky receptionist displayed on the book’s cover. If I learned one thing from this book that I have not in any of the other fantasy books is that all villain issues can be boiled down in to overarching leadership issues. It never occurred to me that this was the case, but after being explained in this book, it is as clear as a bright sunny day. Villains would win so many more times if they just had proper leadership training and mentoring.
The book is not about “Good vs Evil”, instead it is about “Evil vs Good”. And when you read the book you will understand many of these differences. I also enjoyed the more unique magic systems even though the author I believe is poking fun at one of the more prolific fantasy boo authors and his many different magic systems. As I stated earlier, no one if safe from being called out in this book. Will Evil win? You will have to read or listen to find out.
When it comes to the quality of the audiobook edition, there is no question that Jeffrey Kafer hits another home run with this book. Mr. Kafer has narrated nearly four hundred books on Audible, so it would be no surprise this one would meet or exceed his other audiobook narration high standards. His ability to voice the many different characters while remembering all their unique qualities takes a lot of work and effort that only an experienced narrator can pull off. Not once did I hear a different character’s voice used in place of another. Even the female characters were well voiced in this recording. The quality of the audio was clean and without any audio issues or artifacts I can recall while listening.
If you are a fan of TV shows such as the “Family Guy” or “Rick and Morty” and you like fantasy stories, you will enjoy much of the humor used by this author. Instead, if you are one that thinks these shows are over-the-top, you will feel the same about this book. The book at the time of this review has received some high ratings, and I think much of this is the content itself but it also is because of the great narration.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.