Let's start with me saying how much I adore the Fable series and yes, there are spoilers so be warned.
As far as a novelization of a popular game series goes it's all right; not fantastic but okay. The unfortunate thing about having an author write a novelization is that they are not the actual creator, therefore the world they hash out on the page is never going to live up to expectation. As far as the characters go I would say Page was the only one who was closest to what Lionhead originally created.
This isn't Albion, at least not the one we've been playing since 2004. This is Peter David's Albion and it's like a watered down version of the real thing. If I read a novelization I want to read about the things we didn't know about this world instead of re-hashing what we've already seen in Fable 3. I have a problem believing these characters:
Ben Finn: Has described himself as a wandering soldier of fortune, that in his youth he always tried to remain moral but somehow was dragged down into criminal activity. Until he met Major Swift and joined the army. Ben Finn of Fable 3 is sharp, brave, funny, and a good man. Blood Ties Ben Finn is a womanizing, sexist, self-centered a**hole. Did we really start off the book with him having a random tumble in the hay with some woman whom he describes as ugly but she has big boobs so out comes Mr. Happy? REALLY?! His dialogue with Page just isn't believable either; it's like the author is getting back at game Page for being coldly anti-social towards just about all the characters by having Ben be loud and angry and argumentive with her in the book. He is described as the`legendary' Ben Finn by other characters and one even goes so far as to offer to gang-rape his wife who was, at the time, cheating with Ben when he walked in on them. What the hell was the author thinking writing that particular little scene? Ben goes on to get involved in army type things, defends the town of Blackholm from a balverine hybrid, gets jerked around by Reaver, offers to kill Page and actually seems to be willing to go through with it and manages to save the day by a complete Deus ex Machina; he makes a bargain with Reaver and wins on a completely absurd technicality. Which brings us to:
Reaver: Fable's Reaver is possibly one of Lionheads greatest inventions. He's the man you love to hate. Blood Ties Reaver was a sad watered down version of the real thing. While its totally conceivable that he would be behind some weird science experiment that created these Balverine hybrids and play the Villain in the story the rest of his actions and dialogue were just really frustrating. He was completely missing his total egotism, theatrical flair for the dramatic, wit and total disregard for morality, humanity and all honor. Why in the world would Ben Finn say that Reaver has a sort of honor that will bind him to his word? Haven't you played the Fable games? When offered an `honorable' duel between another great marksman Reaver's answer was to shoot him in the head. Not to mention we seem to be missing his hyper sexuality which drips from nearly every word from that man's mouth. You can write a scene that offers to gang-rape a woman but you can't have the bi-sexual ex-pirate flirt with Ben? Because that would have been in character. So in the end of the story Ben Finn outsmarts *SNORT* Reaver on a technicality and Reaver and his guests go off and...have a cup of cocoa. And how does Reaver miss shooting the gnome? Reaver, the Hero of Skill, probably the greatest marksman in all of Albion misses a target that is right in front of him!? This was completely out of character and was disappointing. In both Fable 2 and 3 Reaver is so damned cunning, ruthless and foresighted that we never actually win against him; he always twists events to his benefit. Why would he ask Ben to assassinate Page when he could have easily put a bullet in her himself back at the ball? Which brings us to:
Page: Its ironic that my least favorite character of Fable 3 was the only character in this novelization that was more or less spot on. I found it strange that the author would assume that the Hero has negated on some of his/her promises; Fable 3 is set up so you are the savior of Albion. It makes it pretty easy to save the 6.5 million gold so you don't have to resort to pimping out Albion for money and destroy it in the process. You don't have to sell out to Reaver unless you want to play an evil Hero in which Blood Ties seems to have done. Therefore Page is back at rebel headquarters, ready and willing to start up the revolution. Again. She doesn't have any of her lackeys with her though. She's just...all alone in the sewers, ruminating on the evil of Industry when Ben runs into her again. Her role in the story is just...strange. The two fight, Ben storms off because she won't play hide-the-sausage with him and then shows up again when Ben lures her out of the city to kill her. Page in Fable 3 (she had dialogue that frankly didn't suit her, I found it very hard to like her character because while I understand she's closed off and careful she was a complete jerk most the time) is the leader of the Underground Resistance. That means she's well-connected, smart, strong and compassionate towards a city in need of a leader. During the siege in Old Town Walter says, `that girl can handle herself' which means she is good in battle. So why is it the only strong female lead in the story ends up being a clichéd damsel in distress, awaiting Ben to rescue her? Which brings us to:
The Story: is pretty much a jumbled, mixed up rehash of the events in Fable 3. No new magic or weapons or creatures that make Fable so much fun, no new evil overlords to fight, no new characters, no including the Hero in which it seems Ben would have been a very close friend to, just Ben going to Mourningwood Fort to see old soldier buddies. Ben drinks a beer at the Cock and Crown. Ben finds out his supposedly dead brother William has been turned into a balverine-hybrid and he sets off to Reaver's Manor. Oh wait, no not the one in Millfields this is ANOTHER Reaver Manor which is pretty much like the first one except he has armed soldiers this time. Reaver makes a deal with a warlord, Ben gets tossed into an arena, much like the one the Hero fights through with Page in Fable 3. Ben is motivated to save his brother by making a deal with Reaver that will end with Page's death. Ben doesn't kill her (only because the balverine-things steal her away) so they both end up, again, in the arena in which Ben uses his staggering intellect to devise a devious plan. He wins against Reaver but, oops! The balverine-things escape and head back to Blackholm to slaughter the masses. Ben makes a dramatic decision to choose between his now slobbering crazy brother and Page and all ends happily with Page leaving a note telling Ben to screw off and never see her again. But, tee hee! Its just a female way of saying `come and get me' dictated by a foot tall, blood-thirsty gnome. Which brings us lastly to:
The Gnome: *HEADDESK* aaaand again *HEAD TO DESK* *DESK, MEET HEAD* Why? WHY? You could have done so many things with this, so many comedic hilarious wrong things with a gnome as a companion or even just as a part of the story. The crazy garden gnomes in Fable 3 were freaking awesome, weird and hilarious. Blood Ties gnome was not only a constant companion after saving Ben from hobbes *snortlaugh* but was given a completely and utterly tragic back story that ended in the terrible slaughter/genocide of the gnomes ancient and wondrous race. And here I thought they were garden gnomes brought to life by magic gone wrong. Just. What!? What!? Why are you turning a comedic shtick into something tragic? Is this supposed to bring depth to the story? It's just weird! Not to mention no new insults; after spending God knows how many hours playing Fable 3 and hearing just about every single insult written the in the script it's kind of a letdown to hear it repeated here. You have an opportunity to add to the world of Albion, to create new dialogue and characters but it's wasted. So instead we get more sexism and randomness. What is with the sexist tone in this book?! Nearly every single `insult' the gnome has is gendered. The Fable 3 gnome did use gendered insults but not all the time. And to top it off surprise! the gnome is female. Really, really weird.
So there we have Fable: Blood Ties. Sadly, exactly what to expect from a novelization of a popular video game. Decent enough as entertainment goes but completely off if you're looking to compare it with the Lionhead Studios version.