Greetings, bookah! My name is Blogg, the Flaming Asura, Asuran scribe and keen critic of tomes, tablets and tapestries. Today, I shall be discussing the new Guild Wars novel ‘Edge of Destiny’. Also, don’t worry about the flames on my head, they aren’t made of primordial fire. Just a little joke the Mad King made last Halloween.
So. What do I think of ‘Edge of Destiny’?
I’ll explain how I feel about the novel, but be prepared for spoilers.
Firstly, I love the characters and the Guild’s development. The humourous exchanges that occur between Logan and Rytlock are amusing, and the genius of Snaff and Zojja does not disappoint. Eir and Caithe flesh out the drive and determination of the Guild, and having Garm appear as a team member, not just a pet gaining all the aggro, is wonderful.
The settings described fit the Guild Wars world well for the advance in the timeline since GW1. The maritime theme of Lion’s Arch contrasts with the old, royal city we used to know. The settlement has become home to more than just humans, making it a multi-racial hub, will be exciting to explore in the sophomore release. I look forward to seeing Norn pirates in the dockyards.
The descriptions of Glint’s Sanctuary and the Dragonspawn’s lair are also immersive, and the Dragonbrand’s inception is developed from the description in ‘Ghosts of Ascalon’. Rata Sum seems to have grown larger and more impressive since we first visited it in ‘Eye of the North’. That would be down to the fantastic developments of the College of Statics. The fantasy environments stay true to the beautiful and impressive vistas shown in GW1.
I imgine that video game novelists can struggle with the exposition of lore to those unfamiliar with its origins. Here, though, the author has kept the descriptions minimal, but effective. J. Robert King has mentioned Svanir and Jora in passing, without dragging us into a drawn out explanation. In addition, with regards to Glint’s appearance in the novel, we can understand her place in Tyria without having to play Prophesies. A plus for any non-GW1 players.
The battle scenes are written well, with both failures and battlefield innovations abound. This does seem to happen rather repetitively, however, with each problem being solved by a new piece of technology or magical item being drawn out of thin air. One such example would be the ‘hole in the pocket’; it is placed into the novel without any reference to its creation or development beforehand.
The same could almost be said of each new foe the Guild faces. The Dragonspawn is regarded a huge threat, and is spectacularly killed in chapter 20. Within the next four chapters, the guild manage to kill another two champions. The same amount of build up is not expressed at all with Morgus Lethe and the Destroyer of Life. This strikes me as a little rushed and unbalanced. It seems to me that plot devices, such as the dragon champions, were just created to drag out the story until Destiny’s Edge could be disbanded.
Next, came a surprise – with Glint being the next dragon champion. With Glint’s introduction, and the awakening of Kralkatorrik, came the opportunity to expand upon the lore behind the dragons. King gave us a piece of lore we’ve never had before; how the dragons lived in Tyria before the Exodus of the Gods. It was interesting to see further into Glint’s past than just the events of GW1.
Of course, Glint’s death hit hard to Guild Wars players. This character, who had granted us her wisdom and strength in GW1, is now gone, and the potential for an encounter with her in GW2 is gone. Still, I’m almost satisfied with the Guild’s failure to kill Kralkatorrik, as now we have a shot at it ourselves.
As for character relationships, I felt more could have been done to develop the Guild’s bond. King doesn’t seem to have focused on the Guild’s relationship as a whole, and they, in fact, are split into seperate groups within Destiny’s Edge. This is especially clear when Logan’s ‘betrayal’ causes Rytlock to leave the Guild, with no mention of his bond to the others.
As for other characters’ relationships, Caithe’s interactions with Faolain, of the antagonistic Nightmare Court, are almost confusing. To what end does Faolain attempt to poison Caithe? Her presence in the book seems to be just a distraction from the plot, to merely show that a sinister form of the Sylvari exists. They certainly do seem interesting, though.
Regarding the bizarre interactions between queen Jennah and Logan, that too just seems like a weary attempt to set up the conditions for the breakdown of the Guild. The formality of the exchanges is also grating; it is discribed earlier that Logan despises the Seraph and avoids Divinity’s Reach, yet he is completely taken to the queen and her influence. I remember reading on the ArenaNet blog that the team had decided to turn down formal language in GW2, yet the letters in ‘Edge of Destiny’ spill with pretentious courtly langauge. Even though the letters are from, and to, the queen, it seems out-of-place. Especially when Logan acts like a cocky teenager around his brother, Dylan, and Rytlock.
Overall, I enjoyed Edge of Destiny, with its wonderful depictions of Tyria and its inhabitants, the battles with the dragon champions and the protagonists’ stories. Unfortunately, I also feel that the pacing was rushed, and that the story’s advancement was too easily changed by just one line of dialogue, here, or a new piece of technology, there. Snaff himself seemed like a walking, talking plot device unto himself, with his inventions and ideas changing the story drastically, or making every mission – before Kralkatorrik- a breeze. In the end, it is clear that his genius holds the Guild – and plot – together, and the aftermath of his death sets the stage for Guild Wars 2.
– Blogg, the Flaming Asura