Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Books Based on Video Games

I like books. I like video games. I like books about video games, and books inspired by video games, and books set in video game worlds. Here are three books that are attached to a video game property in some way.

The Last Wish Andrzej SapkowskiThe Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sapkowski’s The Last Wish is the first book about Geralt of Rivia, a member of a mysterious paramilitary organization known as Witchers. The Witcher is also a trilogy of well-received action-RPGs developed by CD Projekt Red. The Last Wish is a set of 7 interconnected short stories in which Geralt, recovering after being injured by a striga, thinks back on some of his formative adventures. Geralt drips with cool, and performs some pretty awesome sword tricks. The supporting cast, which consists of various sorceresses, elves, dwarves, knights, monsters, and priestesses, are all lovingly depicted. Sapkowski’s world is just beginning to shift with the winds of change. The Last Wish is a pretty good set of fantasy short stories that I tore through in a couple of days. The translated prose is great, and the tone is just shy of too dark.

The Verdict: Buy, unless you’re not a fan of the games. The Last Wish is the first in a series of four more-or-less traditional fantasy novels set in the same world. The books following The Last Wish, judging by my feelings about Sword of Destiny (the next book in the series), are better borrowed than bought.

 

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life Bryan Lee O'MalleyScott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life is the beginning of the series of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, and is the slightly less known precursor to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the book that shares a name with a fairly awesome film and an extremely fun 2D beat-em-up game. Anyone who’s seen the first thirty minutes or so of the movie have basically witnessed the plot of this graphic novel: a 23 year old slacker and bassist has a dream about a girl who is so real that he has to find her. Wackiness ensues. Even if you know the plot, the book is so good that you should get it anyway. O’Malley’s art is fantastic, and even though I’m not a fan of books about slackers, this one pushes all the right nerd buttons. As a bonus, this book (and the whole series) has nods to video games all the way through.

The Verdict: Buy this one, then buy all of the sequels.

 

Dragon Age Last Flight Liane MercielDragon Age: Last Flight by Liane Merciel

Dragon Age: Last Flight is the fifth book in a series of novels set in the Dragon Age universe, which itself is the setting for a series of action role playing games developed by Bioware. The games themselves are fantastic, with compelling characters, great plots, and smart writing that every fan of role playing games should experience. If I’m honest, none of the Dragon Age novelizations are high art, and this one is perhaps the most disappointing. Last Flight is the story of Issenya, a Grey Warden (another paramilitary group, this one dedicated to killing Darkspawn, which are…uh…Orc Zombies? The game describes them so much better). Issenya is the last of the griffon riders–well, it’s Issenya’s story as discovered by a mage named Valya, who is a Grey Warden recruit tasked with studying the history of the Grey Wardens and their enemies.

I love the Dragon Age universe, which is what drew me to this novel. Last Flight has plenty of bright spots: griffons are awesome, it’s cool to read more about the Darkspawn, and it has some really cool fight scenes, but the characters are wooden, and if it were a fantasy novel not attached to an existing (and beloved) property, I might not have finished it.

The Verdict: Bypass. Read The Stolen Throne or The Calling instead.

I know that there are other video game-y books out there that I forgot. I’ve been meaning to get back into the Warhammer 40k novels, but I have no idea where to start. What are some of your favorite video game attached books?

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