I don’t remember just how I came across the novel Morningwood: Everybody Love Large Chests by Neven Iliev, nor why I didn’t just smirk and move on. A quick read of the synopsis on Audible got me to take a chance and I’m happy I did. The synopsis reads:
Large chests are said to encompass all manner of hopes and dreams. Men covet them. Women envy them. But one fact holds true – everyone wants to get their hands on some big ones. The same holds true for one intrepid adventurer – a strapping young lad by the name of Himmel. Armed with his grandfather’s trusty longsword and the dream of being the strongest, he sets out on the journey of a lifetime! It is sure to be a long and dangerous road, fraught with danger! And it all starts with a simple test – reach Level Five in the dungeon called the “newbie zone” and earn the right to become a full-fledged adventurer! However, such things get hopelessly derailed when his adolescent mind beholds an exposed chest for the first time – a fateful meeting that would inevitably lead his life in a direction he never even dreamed of!
As an avid player of World of Warcraft for the last decade and a more recent inductee into Dungeons & Dragons, the book caught me pretty quickly. It’s the story of a random, unnamed dungeon creature — a mimic — that ends up outgrowing its dungeon. The synopsis talks of a young adventurer in a newbie dungeon coming across his first treasure chest. As it turns out, that chest is the mimic, and it kills him. And instead of following the young adventurer, we follow the dim-witted mimic that begins to level up through an outlandish series of accidental events that turns him into a very powerful creature.
For anyone who has played an MMORPG or RPG and thought about the life of the poor NPC or creature, this is your chance to follow them. It’s a world where the characters are cognizant of leveling up, status screens and hidden achievements. It’s a surprisingly clever take on the genre and is an enjoyable listen from narrator Jeff Hays.
The book is short — only eight hours of listening — and contains gore, violence, explicit sexual scenes. It can be bawdy and a bit sexist at times, but it does so in conjunction with the genre. Although, the book would’ve worked just fine without the explicit sex and would’ve opened it up to more readers. It’s also the first part of a new series, and it appears the author writes it by chapter on Patreon.
One of the most enjoyable things about the book is that the author has basically created his own RPG world and game system to make the novel work.
Overall the book is a fun, purposely silly adventure of a treasure chest looking monster on its way to world domination.