Monday, August 16, 2010

Read Lately: Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb

  • Game fiction has a bad reputation that is well and truly earned. For the most part, the books are written without any pretense of art. They are just advertising copy without the benefit of Photoshopped screenshots. There is a reason that they are usually shelved between the D&D and Star Wars books. That was the mindset I had when I walked into my local chain bookstore and picked up a copy of Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb.

  • It wasn't bad. I expected it to be bad because that's what I expect from everything nowadays and it wasn't. I actually quite enjoyed the story. I liked many of the characters. The authors did a good job of giving everyone a personal motivation. And the story ended at just the right point without dragging on endlessly.

  • The biggest surprise for me was that, by the end of the book, I actually liked the charr character. Ever since I started the first game (now called Prophesies), I have hated the charr. I hated what they did to Ascalon, I hated that I had to help the idiots in Eye of the North, and I hated that we never got the opportunity to reclaim the kingdom where most of my characters where born. I was even hoping there would be a Charr Hater background option in GW2 so that I can carry on my charr hating ways. But in the last three pages of the book, Ember Doomforge did something (no spoilers here) that won me over. If the game is that good, I'll be happy to play with the charr. Strange, huh?

  • For nitpicking purposed, "dragon-haunted times" bugged me the third time the phrase came up. Thankfully, I think that was the last time. And some of the comparative storytelling got a little fan-wanky. But I shouldn't complain much. I flew through the book a lot faster than I expected. If you are interesting in Guild Wars lore, Ghosts of Ascalon would be a good choice.

  • For more analysis on the book, go check out Hunter's review. Because dude loves to analyze. I may start calling him The Analyzer.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. yeah i'd have to agree with pretty much everything you said. I guess we've mostly reached a place where tie-in novels don't have to suck.

    thanks for the pointer.

  2. That's how I approach game fiction nowadays, and to my surprise the only books that have really truly disappointed me despite my already low expectations are the World of Warcraft ones. The other books I've read recently that I can remember are Dragon Age, STO and SWTOR and they've all been decent, better than expected. Maybe like Hunter said, we've reached a point where game tie-in novels don't always have to be bad...WoW is still a whole different story.

    I think I'll be picking GoS up once my reading list starts to get a little more manageable.

  3. I think the quality of tie-ins has definitely gone up and not just the game related ones. I've read several Burn Notice novels lately and enjoyed them quite a bit.

  4. @ Hunter - Anytime. You have a great, informative blog.

    @ MMOGamerChick - I know people really enjoyed the Mass Effect books, so maybe you are right. It would be nice if we didn't have to dread cracking open a book.

    @ Blue Kae - I read your Blue Notice reviews. Glad you enjoyed them.