RPG Fiction: A Review of Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin

Critical Role expanded into comic books awhile ago, telling tales of Vox Machina. Although their first campaign started in late 2012, Critical Role began streaming on March 12, 2015. The characters started that stream at 9th level, so there are still plenty of gaps to fill in about Vox Machina's early days and their origins. With Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin, we're finally digging in to their backstories.

Kith.jpg

Written by New York Times best-selling novelist Marieke Nijhamp from material by Critical Role, it's a hefty novel as a 368-page hardcover. The audiobook version is read by Robbie Daymond with Laura Bailey and Liam O'Brien voicing their characters' dialogue, and, not surprisingly, it's very well produced. If you like audiobooks or have been wanting to try one, Kith & Kin is an excellent choice.

In the book, Vex'ahlia Vessar and Vax'ildan Vessar are half-elf twins, a ranger and rogue respectively. Kith & Kin begins with them as children being raised by their human seamstress mother until the day their elven father claims them. Then it flips forward to Vax and Vex heading to a city, which he likes but she loathes, to restock and find more work. Thereafter the story seamlessly switches between their childhood and their adult selves.

At its core Kith & Kin reveals why Vax and Vex always feel like outsiders and their longing for home and belonging while not achieving it. As if it isn't difficult enough being whisked away to an elven city where their biracial status status stands out, the twins have to deal with a cold, unyielding, impossible-to-please father. While they are well schooled in fighting, history, and more, nothing is ever good enough. This makes Vex try harder while resenting it, and Vax rebellious.

But the main plot is an introduction to the Clasp, and how Vax became caught in their schemes. A slimy noble puts a contract out on Vex. The price of breaking that contract is another contract to retrieve a particular ring in the village of Jorenn. Vax is told it'll be a nice, easy task.

Of course it isn't.

Along the way the twins find themselves on opposing sides of a deadly conflict between Jorenn's villagers and a group of miners fighting to survive with undead as a threat to both. Vax and Vex, independently and together, navigate their way through lies and rationalizations to work their way out of the “simple job.”

I'm avoiding specific details because the twists and turns are part of what make Kith & Kin entertaining. Both half-elves hide tender hearts behind tough, indifferent exteriors and for a time think about finding a place in one or the other community. The truth makes those decisions much more complicated than they might seem at first.

Kith & Kin is a juicy fantasy adventure with twists, turns, and intrigue. It's not big “save the world” fantasy. This is “dark underbelly of life in a world with magic” fantasy. No knowledge of Critical Role or Vox Machina is required since this is a prequel. If you are a Vox Machina fan, Kith & Kin helps to explain Vax and Vex's personalities and behavior.

Whether it's for yourself or as a gift, Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin is an excellent choices for fantasy readers.
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

CapnZapp

Legend
Couldn’t disagree more with this review. I’m about finished with the book and it’s mostly been a tedious slog. Finishing it just so I can give a proper review. What a disappointment.
It isn't a review, it's a sales piece. (If it wasn't written by the publication team, they should consider hiring the poster)
 

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That was the best bit tbh.
IIRC I think I heard that the campaign before the stream started also featured another character from the 3.5 Book of Vile Darkness, the Dread Emperor, who was a guy with a magic belt that he kept children chained to that would cause the kids to die instead of him if he was attacked.

I'm thinking the world of Exandria was a bit darker and edgier before the show started.
 

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