In this series of Blog posts I attempt to review every video game based novel I can find until I make my way through them all or run out of money. My ultimate goal is to create a picture of what there is available and see, once and for all, if video game based novels exsist purely to feed the cash cow or if they’re well crafted and provide quality extra content for the true fan. If you have any suggestions for books I should take a look at, or if you have any comments about this, please let me know.
Mass Effect: Revelations
Based in an Earlier time period of the Mass Effect universe Revelation focuses on the character of Anderson as he searches for those responsible for a Terrorist attack on A human colony. It’s an interesting story by itself and is very valuable to anyone wanting an extra little peak at that universe.
In the games Anderson is a wise star ship captain who’s been around the universe a fair few times. In this novel he’s certainly experienced but he’s a little unsure of himself and his surroundings and it makes for a more interesting character to follow. This is perhaps the most exciting part of Revelations as it provides a few insights on a character that was certainly interesting but there was little really known about him. Getting a look inside his mind provides a little more context for his somewhat jaded nature. Furthermore, and to my surprise, the novel is more about his character than it’s about any plot or story. This is Anderson’s tale and his character arc is interesting to watch evolve.
To say it’s Anderson’s story is not to say that it’s a one character novel, on the contrary there is a decent cast of characters to choose from and each goes through their own unique journey. There’s the somewhat lost military scientists Kahlee that’s just trying to make her way honestly through a dishonest galaxy, the fearsome ambassador Goyle that could make a Krogan back down with the merest look, and of course the infamous Saren.
Anyone who’s played the game will be familiar with this particular Turian. It could be argued that the novel really belongs to him as it delves deep into his motives and backstory. Personally I found his reasons for his sevear hatred of humanity to be quite predictable but still interesting and emotional. This is a man scarred by war and his mental damage clearly goes deep. There are some moments when you feel sorry for him or where you smile as he does something heroic and yet the net result was I hated the man. This book does a spectacular job at making me despise Saren even when he’s supposed to be on our side.
The main impetus of the plot doesn’t initially revolve around Saren but becomes far more complex and interesting when he’s dragged into it. As you could have guessed there is far more to the plot than you would ever guess and let’s just say it has an impact on Saren. It would be a spoiler to say how but the are some very definite ties between the plot lines of the game and book that twists together in a way I never expected. I went in thinking I’d get a little more information on the universe but instead what I got was an extra chapter in the main story.
For as good as the story and characters are, and for as good a job as Karpyshyn does making it fit in that world, there are some very large inconsistencies. Biotics, for example, use warp fields to affect the world around them whereas the book explains these powers by suggesting biotics can control dark matter. Granted this is probably a vestigial piece of text, as the book was written before the game came out, that was unable to be adjusted when the change from dark matter to warp fields was made to the game. Regardless I found it to be a little bit jarring and as a large mass effect nerd it took me out of the world somewhat.
Aside from the few technical discrepancies I also found that some of the basic descriptive text didn’t really engage me. The dialogue between characters was funny, snappy and interesting whereas the prose was just a little dry and bland. Most of the descriptions are very effective, one fight scene involving a space ship and several land vessel is thrilling, yet it lacks a distinct personality that I personally crave from prose.
Overall the book was very enjoyable providing a wide look at this grand universe while telling a story that ties directly into the games. It manages to perfectly toe the line between acknowledging the universe it belongs to whilst staying as an independent story that, although I would recommend against it, could be read with no prior mass effect knowledge. If you’re a die hard Mass Effect fan it’s a must read but for everyone else if you like fun little sci-fi stories with a decent amount of technobabble, gun fights, space magic and space ships then it’s probably
worth a read.
Also did I mention it’s set in space? Because it’s set in space.