REVIEW: ‘The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy’

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The World of Critical Role cover pager

Grab your favorite d20, dust off your mini, and roll for initiative because The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy is here to take Critters through the full history of the famed Dungeons and Dragons group. Published by Penguin Random HouseThe World of Critical Role may rise as the go-to encyclopedia for all things Critical Role. From a home campaign to sold-out theaters around the world, Critical Role has taken the tabletop world by storm. Author Liz Marsham covers everything the group of voice actors has accomplished so far with the help of the cast themselves (Ashley Johnson, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Travis Willingham, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, and Matthew Mercer), photographer Ray Kachatorian, artists Oliver Barret, Rich Kelley, and Francesca Baerald.

The World of Critical opens with a beautiful foreword from Felicia Day who brought Critical Role to Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel five years ago. The subsequent chapters serve as a comprehensive guide to Critical Role‘s beginnings and their first campaign that was streamed from 2015 to 2017 as well as their second campaign that is currently streaming as of 2018. Inside the whopping 320 pages, readers will find interviews, behind the scenes photography, artwork, and even trivia dating all the way back to days of the groups home games. Author Marsham expertly weaves the extensive history with meticulous detail down to chapter names that follow the lyrics for the introduction song for Critical Role’s second campaign with the Mighty Nein.

Much like the animation that precedes the campaign every Thursday, both the artwork and photography in The World of Critical Role is fantastic. Whether it is a closeup shot of campaign maps, a candid shot of the cast, art depicting their characters and other items, or even the cast in cosplay depicting their characters, everything feels intentionally placed to supplements Marsham’s writing. There is a plethora of information in The World of Critical Role and the art and variety of photos make the book flow to be much more than just a Wikipedia page.

The World of Critical Role shines as inclusive for Critters of all walks of life. If you are a new Critter who doesn’t know much about the adventures of Vox Machina, The World of Critical Role is filled with art, character history, and some of the biggest moments from that first campaign that will make you want to go back and binge all 115 episodes. If you fancy yourself a Critical Role expert, there are more enough trivia facts, critical moments in both campaigns, and even never before seen photos and anecdotes that will surprise even the most devout fan. Want to know more about the cast themselves outside of their characters? Well, Marsham has you covered there as well with a whole chapter dedicated to a deep dive into each member of the cast inside and outside of the DnD table.

While their performances and natural chemistry has captivated fans and sold out theaters over the last five years, the cast’s contribution to the world outside of the table cannot be understated. Marsham makes a concerted effort to include the group’s charity work and inclusion of their fans that have made Critical Role a staple in using your fandom for good. Whether it is the addition of Talks Machina which provided a Q&A for fans or their dedicated work to charities as early as episode two, The World of Critical Role shows readers that the cast is more than just the heroes of Exandria but our world as well.

Ultimately, The World of Critical Role is an essential item for any Critter. 320 pages will fly by as memories from over the last fives and beyond jump off the page in this encapsulation of all things Critical Role. Much in the way that the group has come to be known for, The World of Critical Role is one of the most inclusive guides that I have had the pleasure of enjoying. While navigating the chapters may prove to be a little difficult given the way they are named, new Critters, longtime Critters, young Critters, adult Critters, and everyone in between will definitely find something to love here.

The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy is available now.

The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy
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TL;DR

Ultimately, The World of Critical Role is an essential item for any Critter. 320 pages will fly by as memories from over the last fives and beyond jump off the page in this encapsulation of all things Critical Role. Much in the way that the group has come to be known for, The World of Critical Role is one of the most inclusive guides that I have had the pleasure of enjoying. While navigating the chapters may prove to be a little difficult given the way they are named, new Critters, longtime Critters, young Critters, adult Critters, and everyone in between will definitely find something to love here.