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Best Guild Wars 2 novel so far
on 30 July 2013
It speaks volumes that the best novel of the three released for the Guild Wars 2 world so far is written by somebody so close to the heart of its lore and atmosphere. Ree Soesbee brings all of the heart and charm from the Guild Wars universe to the written page.
The core premise of the novel is the cataclysmic rise of the Elder Dragon, Zhaitan, in the world of Tyria, which is the cause of the drastic changes in the world between the first and second games and details the background conflict against which the recent sequel is set. The writer weaves this neatly into a character-driven plot, and unlike the previous novels, the book never feels bogged or slowed down by clunky lore explanations delivered by awkwardly unrealistic conversations. Granted, I'm a Guild Wars veteran, but I found some of 'Ghosts of Ascalon' and 'Edge of Destiny' difficult to chew through for this reason nonetheless. Ree is perhaps somewhat freed from the restrictions of the poorest Guild Wars novel, 'Edge of Destiny', through a cast of original characters who exist only between the two games except by textual reference in-game, and this gives her free reign to really give them fleshed out, interesting personalities and behaviours instead of being tied to unchangeable in-game voice actors and cut scenes. Much of the cast, while engaging and likeable, are morally ambiguous and really explore and capture the grey-shaded but free-spirited community of Lion's Arch as it came to be. Villains become heroes become villains again constantly throughout the story in a manner that keeps things interesting.
It's a page turner, which is unusual (in my humble opinion) for a novel based on a video game. Their quality tends to be average at best, but there's a lot of convincing heart to this particular one, and some really exciting battle and action sequences. If you only pick up one Guild Wars novel, make sure it's this one - knowledge of the other two is not required. It makes me wonder how much better 'Ghosts of Ascalon' and 'Edge of Destiny' might have been with Guild Wars 2's own talented writers at the helm, but at least they've corrected this mistake with 'Sea of Sorrows'.