Myst: the Book of Atrus Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jan 1999
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The book starts slowly, and the first couple of chapters seem to drag until Gehn turns up, but thereafter you're rewarded with a spectacularly imaginative plot-line that's so inspiring you'll want to write the sequel yourself, straight away. (The second book in this series is a prequel.)
I was deeply impressed with the descriptions in Myst - the level of detail and language used capture the dramatically-varied landscapes perfectly, and there are a few (quite technical) illustrations, too.
The characters are well described, many-levelled and realistic - if you read the other books in the series, you'll find that their histories are also accurately reflected in their current personalities.
If there is a downside, it's that there are three or four typographical errors in the book and American spellings throughout; the book could do with a reprint for British readers.
In short, you must read Myst: it's a work of genius.
Contact me through Twitter (@NickBambridge) and I'll lend you a copy if you don't want to buy it first, but just read it.
As you can guess from the sub-title, this is the story of Atrus from child to adult - and he had quite an interesting life. Atrus learns from his father of a secret technique, in which symbols written in specially prepared books create links to new worlds. But this discovery is only the beginning of Atrus' adventures.
I was amazed at the invention and pure genius of the writers. This is fantasy storytelling at its greatest. And the way that the authors have applied pure logic to Atrus' exploration of parallel universes makes the story so believable. This is much more than background detail.
I read this book after I had played Myst, but before I tried Riven, and reading this novel really helped me to understand Riven in more detail - especially the details about the D'ni, which I hadn't understood before. Despite all that, I really think this book could hold its own without the games - it's that good.
You should definitely buy it - right now!
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Atrus learns his father's true nature as his father tries to impress Atrus' legacy upon him. Ghen believes that the D'ni are gods, rulers of countless worlds, and attempts to show Atrus this by subjugating the people of the fifth age, among whom is Katran, young, talented, and to Atrus' horror, betrothed to his father.
Atrus and Katran set a plan in motion to trap Ghen on the fifth age, but the plan falls apart when Ghen captures Atrus.
Just as all seems lost, the unexpected happens, and a secret is revealed.
Atrus and Katran re-settle on MYST island to start a family. Only years later, after their sons betray their father's trust, becomming imprisoned in books in the MYST library, a stranger appears to unravel the mystery, saving Atrus from his own prison on K'Veer.
Later, the stranger comes back, helping Atrus to save his wife Katran, who has been imprisoned on Ghen's fifth age, now known as Riven.
For those who have played both MYST and Riven, this book is an excellent back story on the history on MYST Island, Riven, D'ni, and Atrus' family origins.
Overall, an excellent read, even for those who have not played the games.
With Cyan releasing RealMYST Masterpiece in the next month, I strongly urge new and old players alike to purchase a copy, and become immersed anew in a story who's ending may never be written.