ticThe Infernal City (Elder Scrolls Novel #1) by Greg Keyes
Release Date: November 24, 2009
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow–for wherever it falls, people die and rise again.

And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins, and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest…

Based on the award-winning The Elder Scrolls, The Infernal City is the first of two exhilarating novels following events that continue the story from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, named 2006 Game of the Year.

Review:

Okay, so this is a little esoteric, but I’ll explain.  I am a big fan of role-playing games (RPGs) and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion remains in my top five video games of all time.  So when I got the opportunity to request the sequel to this one from NetGalley, I jumped at it.  And, if I’m honest, the book turned out to be sillier than I expected, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable.  I liked hearing about the familiar places from the game, like Leyawiin and the Imperial City, and the introduction of Black Marsh was interesting as well.  The beginning was so slow as to be boring, though, and I had to slog my way through a lot of talk about things I didn’t understand.  This book takes place forty years after the end of the game, and things have happened that you learn about slowly, which means you are in the dark for a lot of the beginning.  That was frustrating.

I liked the main protagonists, Annaig and Mere-Glim, and I even liked Prince Attrebus, who is sympathetic even while being pathetically naive.  The idea of a floating city, one whose population feeds on the souls of inhabitants on the ground, is an intriguing one, and I found myself wishing I could play it in the game.  There is a bit of telling, not showing going on in this novel, but it’s not overdone nor was it distracting.  There was no real twist, other than a minor one near the end that doesn’t mean much.  The narrative goes between Annaig and Attrebus, and it flows quite nicely without any jarring transitions.  I really enjoyed reading about the things that happened in Cyrodiil after the game was over.

And that’s it, really.  This was a nice story, but nothing groundbreaking, nothing I couldn’t put down.  I read the book in a day because it was just so…easy.  It didn’t challenge me, but I enjoyed it well enough.  I want to warn that those who haven’t played an Elder Scrolls game may not understand what’s going on, because Keyes absolutely does not summarize the gameplay from Oblivion, and names are thrown in there with the expectation that the reader will already know them (Martin Septim, for example).  Still, if you like this sort of thing, like me, this one is a nice easy read that will keep you entertained until the end.