REVIEW: Academic Mayhem – The Medford Family Chronicles Book #4 – John Paul Ried

Academic Mayhem Book Cover Academic Mayhem
The Medford Family Chronicles Book #4
John Paul Ried
YA 12-18, Swords & Sorcery, Folklore, Mythology,
Az Pubishing Services LLC
Jan 30, 2019

Welcome to the Gamemasters University. Octavian has been cooped up on his Mother's private island for over twenty-six years and intends to prove he is a big boy now. The trouble is that his Mom is Grace Hamilton Oakley a.k.a Kildarious Sharpclaw the Ancient Purple Dragon. Seven-year-old Kathy Crowly and her younger brother Stephan love and worship their Grampa, Liam 'The Cleaver,' Thorensen because his stories are always so amazing! What possible harm could come from such tales within the sleepy, gentle hills of their farm?

Review By Sherry Perkins

Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

“My mother always said if you dig deep enough you will eventually find something.”—Academic Mayhem

Okay! We’re off on another gaming quest with John Paul Ried’s Medford Family Chronicles multiverse characters. Ried is a dungeon master at heart and it’s obvious in the stories he tells. The construction, characterization, plot, sub-plot, and setting—it’s all an elaborate D&D game laid out in an epic book format. While I appreciate Reid’s vision and effort, I’m not a gamer. The Medford Family Chronicles, of which there are four, would have made better sense to me as serialized graphic novels especially showcasing the wonderful maps by David Delanty, and cover art by Chris Ehnot but also allowing Ried’s stories to shine and digest!

There’s a lot going on in Volume 4 of the Medford Family Chronicles, Academic Mayhem, but you’d expect that since this is a multiverse. It could be a bit confusing with all the campaigns and characters, their names, or aliases (honestly, the ridiculous but oddly appropriate character and place names are part of the fun) but overall, it was a satisfying end to a complex and extensive series.

In Academic Mayhem, we find the children and grandchildren of characters from previous books. BTW, you don’t necessarily have to have read the previous stories, but it helps best understand the story/game’s conclusion. So, in many ways, the culmination of the stories is a simple coming-of-age tale. Some of the descendant characters come out as winners and some do not.

You will undoubtedly root for the great purple dragon, KildariousSharpclaw’s, son Octavian as he is challenged by friends, foes, lovers. But Cindy Medford, distant heir to the Palmaran Kingdom, her challenges are different. All these challenges are meant to test the mettle of the youngsters and grow them into the fantastic beings they are meant to be but with the mélange of universes, supernatural beings, quests and such…the story gets bogged down. The primary setting for these adventures is at the Game Masters University which is a perfect place to discover who you are, separate from your parents, extended family, and ancestral history; however, things often sounded anachronistic but that happens sometimes in multiverse stories (think Everything Everywhere All at Once).

But if you are used to a gazillion things happening within the larger context of a quest or gaming adventure plus its historical and epic world-building, you’ll appreciate Reid’s stories.

A three-and-a-half-star story about learning who you truly are through questing and challenging life, friends, and ancestryas you know it while jumping through universes to do it.

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