Review Detail

Kids Fiction 343
Fantastic Twist on D&D
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Albiorix is a young Medieval wizard from the mystical realm of Bríandalör who is Hall Master for the role playing game Homerooms and Hall Passes. He and his friends (Thromdurr, a barbarian; Sorrowshade, a gloom elf; Vela, a paladin; and Devis, a thief) meet at a local pub in between their real life adventures (thwarting evil orcs, rescuing jewels, etc.) to run their newest campaign, The Semester of Stultification. Set in J.A. Dewar Middle School, it involves each of Albiorix's friends having an alter ego. Thromdurr is Douglas, a Nerd; Sorrowshade is Melissa the Loner; Vela is Valerie, an overachiever, and Devis is Stinky, whose back story is not well developed. When the group sits down to play, they start with Spirit Week at the school, but they are all suddenly whisked into the realm of the game! Of course, they all look a bit unusual in their Medieval garb, and have to stow their weapons in the auditorium closet. Not only that, but as Hall Master, Albiorix doesn't exist, so he has to pretend to be Armando, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada! He lives in a supply closet with a little used floor polisher and subsists off cheese crackers he buys from the vending machine with magicked coins. He also consults his 26 guides to the world of H&H in order to understand the classes, teachers, etc. He must provide the principal with documentation, and asks another new student, June Westray. She is understanding of the group's eccentricities, helps Armando with the computer, and also ends up helping the group with algebra, a subject with which they struggle mightily. The group believes that if they can run a successful campaign, they will get home, and there are several different problems they must face, but when Armando conjures the evil wizard Zazirak by using the Malnomicon, and the wizard takes over the body of the assistant principal, the group must save both of their worlds.
Good Points
This made me laugh and laugh and laugh, and I really needed that after the summer of Serious Middle Grade Books with Serious but Trendy Problems. Oh, my... Thromdurr! Loved him SO MUCH! And when I say laugh, I mean snorted unbecomingly. Again and again. I have a small group of students who believe in their heart of hearts that I will be able to teach them to play Dungeons and Dragons, which is super sweet but not going to happen because it involves, as Albiorix knows, a huge background knowledge of the game, which I will never possess, and those students each need their own personal copy of this book! There is a deep understanding of middle school students and how they operate, and the group from Bríandalör is hysterical when they turn those expectations on their ears! Of COURSE Devis puts mustard on pizza. I'm just surprised he didn't suck the mustard packets.

The middle school setting is very realistic; as I was reading it, I was taken directly back to my own middle school; I could see exactly where they would store their weapons in the auditorium! The families with which the members lived were sketched briefly but convincingly as well. We get a brief glance of Briandalor, and I would not be averse to a sequel that was set mainly in that world.

This was hysterically funny, and my young D&D fans practically came to blows over the Advanced Reader Copy. If you have a young gamer who is in middle school, just trust me and buy it. Denis Markell's The Game Masters of Garden Place, Anderson's Dungeoneers, and Rylander's The Legend of Greg are somewhat similar.
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