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Good Video Game Novels

Posted 1st April 2011 at 02:25 PM by daranthered
Updated 1st April 2011 at 02:28 PM by daranthered

A friend and I had a discussion the other day about the worst books we had ever read that were based on video games. Mine was The Ruins of Dantooine. His was a Sonic the Hedgehog novel he had had the misfortune of reading in middle school. Amidst the reminiscences of these truly awful books, I made the assertion that most video game books were bad, which brought my friend up short. The majority, he said, of game books he'd read were actually pretty good. When I stopped and thought, I realized he was right. Most of the game books I'd read were pretty good. It was just that the bad ones were really bad. In the spirit of rehabilitating this disparaged genre, I'm going to list a few of my favorite video game books, in the hopes that someone picks up some one these books when they otherwise wouldn't have

My first is the Hellgate:London books, written by Mel Odom. It was a gliltchy and badly scripted game, but the novels smoothed out a lot of the story problems, and made the characters really rather likable. The only real downside to the novels were the number of spelling mistakes in the series, which was a result of poor editing and proof reading. Other than that I devoured each of the three books in one sitting, and I'm considering rereading them more than a year later.

My second choice is the Resident Evil series, by S.D. Perry. She's done a number of tie-in books over the years for franchise like Aliens and Star Trek, but my favorite are her works in the Resident Evil world. She gave the characters from the games more dimension than they have when you play them, and likeable characters was never a problem for the series. The books takes you from the first game through Code Veronica, with every other book being an original story. Those originals are the books that really shine.

The Halo books, particularly by Eric S. Nylund, are some of the best adaptations ever made. One of the smartest moves Microsoft ever made was to have their story bible guy write the novelization, so the lore of the games and books meshed. The result has been a series of books which really pull the reader into the world of Halo, and act as a kind of appendices; answering questions players may have had about the back story of the games.

My favorite game adaptation is without doubt is, Baldur's Gate by Phillip Athans. In the interests of disclosure, I loved the game so much, it might have colored my perception of the book. But I'm told by objective sources that it is in fact a good book. There's a grim sort of Conan the Barbarian flavor that makes this a great Sword and Sorcery read in its own right. I like Phil Athand from hos Forgotten Realms books, and this is really one more of those.

My last pick is one I have not yet read. In asking friends what their favorite game books are, one series came up several times. One I have not yet read: the Doom series. These three books, written by Dafydd ab Hugh, and Brad Linaweaver are very early example of tie in novels, and apparently very well done.

There are many other novel adaptations out there; some I would recommend, some I would not. I know many people who think highly of the Warcraft books, but I've never been able to get into them. Same goes for Starcraft. I think that, like any genre, there's a bit of good and bad. I won't be so quick to judge in the future. Unless it's movie novelizations. Those all suck.
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  1. Old Comment
    daranthered's Avatar
    I just thought I would add that if anybody has read a particularly good, or bad, game novel, please post a comment letting me know what it is, and which. I'm always looking for a good read.
    Posted 1st April 2011 at 07:07 PM by daranthered daranthered is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Schizo's Avatar
    The Guild Wars games have recently gotten a book series started, mostly to help bridge the gap in storylines from the first to the (upcoming) second game.

    I've had a chance to read the first book - Ghosts of Ascalon. It was better than I'd expected. I was expecting to read a very poorly written book with tons of name-dropping and silly game mechanic references. Instead, it was a halfway decent fantasy novel that could have stood alone on its own.

    I do have the second book, Edge of Destiny. I am ashamed to say I've not yet read it though.
    Posted 21st April 2011 at 05:40 AM by Schizo Schizo is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Some of the novels based in and around the WoW universe provided me with a good and lasting read. Best one's include ''War of the Ancients Trilogy'' & ''Chronicles of War''.
    Posted 29th March 2013 at 11:20 PM by Lucpol Lucpol is offline
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