May 24, 2022     erinthebooknut     Book review

CRITICAL ROLE: VOX MACHINA–KITH AND KIN BY MARIEKE NIJKAMPCritical Role: Vox Machina--Kith & Kin by Marieke Nijkamp, Critical Role
Published by Random House Worlds on November 30, 2021
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Dragons & Mythical Creatures, Fiction / Fantasy / Epic, Fiction / Media Tie-In
Pages: 368

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Explore the past of Critical Role’s daring half-elf twins, Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan, in this original prequel novel to their adventures with Vox Machina.
Vex and Vax have always been outsiders. A harsh childhood in the elite elven city of Syngorn quickly taught them not to rely on others. Now, freed from the expectations of their exacting father and the scornful eyes of Syngorn’s elves, the cunning hunter and the conning thief have made their own way in the world of Exandria. 
The twins have traveled far and experienced great hardship. But with the help of Vex’s quick wit and Vax’s quicker dagger, they’ve always kept ahead of trouble. Now, unknown perils await them in the bustling city of Westruun, where the twins become entangled in a web spun by the thieves’ guild known to many as the Clasp. Trapped by a hasty deal, Vex and Vax (along with Vex’s faithful bear companion, Trinket) set out into the wilds to fulfill their debt to the infamous crime syndicate. 
As the situation grows more complicated than they ever could have imagined, for the first time Vex and Vax find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that threatens the home they have carried with each other for years.
Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp, Critical Role: Vox Machina—Kith & Kin follows a brand-new adventure that delves into the twins’ unexplored history, and returns to some of the iconic moments that forged Vox Machina’s most unbreakable bond.

5 Nuts

KITH AND KIN is a YA tie in novel for the highly successful live play Dungeons and Dragons streaming show Critical Role. Formerly a D&D home game among a group of “nerdy-ass voice actor” friends, the show is insanely popular and one of the best examples of modern D&D storytelling. Fans of the show call themselves “Critters”, a moniker the author of the book wears proudly. Written by a fan, for the fans, and with the enthusiastic participation of the actors who play the main characters Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan, KITH AND KIN is a unique piece of fiction that has many moving parts and much to live up to.

That being said, I think KITH AND KIN is an interesting concept from an arts perspective as well as a promotional one. Critical Role itself is an adult show. There’s swearing, gory violence (though described, not shown), and heaps of sex jokes and innuendoes. Which, if any of you know anything about me by now, you know doesn’t bother me one wit. However, between that and the 4-5 hr run time per episode it’s not as accessible to younger audiences from many parents’ perspectives. A YA novel may seem like an odd merchandise decision but I would call it a rather clever one.

KITH AND KIN is a prequel to the plot of the show, a prequel to the plot of even the home game the cast ran for a year before they even went online. Twins Vax and Vex are probably the most relatable to a teen audience, having left their shitty home life with no one but each other. Much of what happens in KITH AND KIN is only briefly alluded to in back story segments of the original show, and content that fans have speculated about but never really got details on. What better way to draw in new fans than to start here, in a story that’s separate but important to the twins’ history. It can stand on its own or compliment an extensive knowledge of the canon.

So, what did I think of the book? Well I’m a massive Critter and I loved ever second. its very clear to me that Nijkamp knows her lore and I can see Liam O’Brien and Laura Bailey worked with her closely. The characters have their charm and personality and very much remain in the scope of who they are in the show. I’ve read and loved Nijkamp’s work long before this book and I couldn’t think of a better author to write these characters.

Even better is the audiobook, a fantastic mesh of Nijkamp’s storytelling, Liam and Laura’s experience with their characters and as voice actors, and the exceptional narration of fellow voice actor Robbie Daymond. I’ve been familiar with Robbie from several of his audiobooks, moreso than his VO work. I’ve always liked his charm and boyish excitement. His performance is a treat, especially for anyone who is a fan of his character as an addition to Critical Role’s 3rd campaign. It’s like a little easter egg. Everyone’s performance is great, Liam and Laura know these characters inside and out and it shows.

This book is great whether you’re a fan of CR or not. It’s a great story with complex characters that will make you want to learn more about. Thankfully, if you don’t feel like ingesting over 300 hrs of C1 content, there’s a series of comic books and a VERY popular Amazon Prime cartoon, THE LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA (which is geared towards ADULTS, please don’t yell at me about the content!)

I had a great time coming back to these characters and I hope they write more of these. I’d be especially interested in one about Percy.

Where my Critters at? Show some love in the comments!

From my shelf to yours,



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