Read Lately – Guild Wars: Edge Of DestinyJanuary 11, 2011
“Read lately” is a relative term, because I’ve actually been sitting on this review for a while. I’ve been busy, that is true, but I’ve also been holding off for another reason. Whenever I have an underwhelmed opinion of something, I like to take some time to mull it over to ensure I haven’t been too hasty in my judgment.
After considering it fully, however, my thoughts on Edge of Destiny remain the same, especially when I compare it to other books in the gaming tie-in genre or to Ghosts of Ascalon, the Guild Wars book that came before it. I would gladly recommend the latter, even to people who are just readers of fantasy fiction in general, but I don’t think I can say the same for EoD. Unfortunately, unless you are a fan of the Guild Wars franchise or familiar with the game, there is just not enough to hold you.
For one thing, author J. Robert King takes a different tack with EoD, focusing more on a plot driven story with little character development, with the goal of packing in a lot of action. Granted, that’s not always bad, and I’ll admit the first big fight scene had me turning the pages hungering for more. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for, because fight and more fight was what I got. In fact, any development in the plot seemed designed to exist solely to throw the characters into battle, and when our heroes aren’t in a fight, they’re either winding down from one or getting ready for yet another. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
In short, I found it difficult to to get into the book because I found it difficult to care about the members of Destiny’s Edge. Between all the fighting, I barely got the chance to know who they were. That is not to say the characters didn’t have potential, or that there weren’t some very interesting dynamics between them, because they did and there were. Rytlock and Logan, for example, two bitter enemies who are on their way to discovering that they have more things in common than they’d care to admit. Snaff and Rojja, for another, in which the apprentice must come to grips with her love for her master all the while yearning to come out from living in his shadow. And of course, what about the relationship (romance?) between Logan and Jennah? Throw a beautiful, royal woman into the mix and you know this can’t end well. Despite it all being somewhat predictable, all the ingredients are there for some great character development, but for some reason, King stops short of taking things all the way, leaving it up to the reader to reason out the characters’ motivations. This led me to question a lot of the characters’ decisions in the end, and led to a lot of confusion when they acted what I felt was out of character, taking some of my enjoyment away.
However, I will concede that perhaps EoD was not written for someone like me. Despite having played Guild Wars and looking forward to Guild Wars 2, I know very little about the game lore and I was actually well past the halfway point before I realized Destiny’s Edge was a renowned group of adventurers already in the in-game mythos. The novel’s direction made a lot more sense to me after that. I still would have preferred more character development, but I can also understand how fans who are already familiar with Caithe, Eir, Logan, Rytlock, Snaff, Zojja and Garm, would probably be more interested in the details of their many great deeds instead.
Nevertheless, I still believe the matter is one of balance. A lot of action in a book is fine, but EoD had it in excess. I felt that the novel would have been a lot stronger if the imbalance could have been addressed with a greater focus on developing the heroes, their internal thoughts, and the relationships between them. I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers, but let’s just say that would have made for a much more emotional and absorbing ending. Furthermore, I think the book would also have appealed to a wider audience, the way Ghost of Ascalon had by giving readers a good background on the game lore and its protagonists without sacrificing the action.
Anyway, if you’re interested in a take of EoD from a long time Guild Wars fan and don’t mind a ton of spoilers, I also recommend checking out Hunter’s review.