Ever wonder what a book would be like if a bunch of NPCs stood around talking to each other? I give you The Sword of Midras by . Tracy Hickman, of the original DragonLance fame, and Richard Garriott, the creator of Ultima and Shroud of the Avatar. Actually, looking at the games site, it looks like both of them are involved in Shroud of the Avatar
Our story starts a s a lot of fantasy stories do, in the middle of a battle.The Obsidian Army lay siege to the inferior city of Midras. We meet our main character, quippy Captain Aren Bennis and his equally quippy side kick Syenna. After the city is mostly defeated, the general sends Captain Bennis to find a good spot to hold his victory parade, sounds like a pretty standard MMO quest. While in the city Bennis and Syenna chase down one of the city’s priestesses. In the midst of their chase they fall into a large tomb where Aren finds a magic sword that only he can touch and is suspected to be the Blade of an Avatar. Now everyone wants the blade and to find out what power it holds.
First let’s talk about the characters. They sound like video game characters almost all of the time. All of them are either super witty and have a comeback for everything like Captain Bennis, overly dramatic and ominous, or very one dimensional only there to move the plot along. But they’re enjoyable enough and there is enough character development to make you kind of care about Captain Bennis at least.
Now when I started reading this I wondered why they got the book traditionally published besides the fact that they could. It was originally an e-book for backers of Shroud of the Avatar. But what was the appeal for mass market, maybe some more advertising? I wondered if it would hold up with other fantasy novels and I think it did. It’s a par for the course as far as fantasy writing and plot lines go. In the back drop, the Obsidian Army is trying to civilize the world through law and order while the rest of the countries form a coalition to oppose them. At its core its the story of Captain Bennis coming to terms with whether or not he still believes in the Obsidian Cause.
For a 300 page fantasy novel, it does a good job at introducing some of the world. Though it feels kind of like Destiny’s story. There’s just enough lore and information to move the plot along but the deeper stuff you have to go outside of the game/book to look for. They keep talking about the Fall and everyone in the book seems to know what it was but its never explained I thought it was interesting that elves, ogers, fauns and other fantasy creatures were actually ,magically shaped from living humans by the Obsidians.
It actually made me a little more interested in the game itself. It was fun reading about places and thinking if I could play the game and go to those same places. While I didn’t think this was a fantastic book I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.