NPCs by Drew Hayes was an Audible read. It is the first installment in the Spells, Swords, and Stealth series. The book is contemporary fantasy.
For all those of us who play video games or table top role playing games, how often have we wondered about the non-player characters that make up the bulk of those game? That is the premise that gives birth to this delightful tale. Four role players open the book by promptly dying in a tavern owned by a NPC from eating a poisonous mushroom in the opening session of a new module in their table top game. Ok, pretty common just re roll and start over right?
For our unfortunate role players, the NPCs use their untimely deaths to have an adventure of their own. On the dead bodies, an invitation to a neighboring kingdom for adventure is discovered. The NPCs decide to claim the invitation and leave their safe and boring lives behind. The NPCs have no clue that their world isn’t real and that their lives are works of fiction.
Our group of would-be adventurers are comprised of a gnarled gnome, an Orc, and two humans (one male and one female). They assigned themselves roles for the upcoming adventure based on preconceived notions the Orc is the berserker, the gnome the rogue, the human female the spell slinger, and the human male the paladin. Thus we have the premise for the adventure and the humor that follows.
The novel is so well conceived and executed that the reader quickly loses themselves in the adventure much like the very games the book is based on. From a run in with goblins, a god, a king, and the ever scary dungeon. The “real life” characters make more than one appearance in the novel, interfering in the lives of the NPCS. The result is an engaging and humorous story that was thoroughly enjoyable.
Five stars out of five, I’m eagerly looking forward to listening to the next three installments in the series.