Friday, December 16, 2011

Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb

Books based on computer games? It’s the best of both worlds! Many different games have a literary component to their worlds: WoW, Starcraft, and Halo to name a few. With Ghosts of Ascalon, the PC game Guild Wars recently entered the list of games with novels based on their lore. You don't have to be a fan of the game though, or have ever played the game, or even be at all familiar with the setting to enjoy the book.

Ghosts of Ascalon, by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb, reads as a fun fantasy novel. Dougal Keane lives a threadbare existence selling his services as a guide and trap springer. After a brutal treasure hunt, an old friend springs him from jail demanding his services as a guide back to the one place he never wants to return: Ascalon City. Ascalon is the site of the infamous last battle between King Adelbern and the invading race known as the Charr. The Charr claim it as their homeland as do many of the humans of the continent of Kryta. Dougal Keane was the only survivor of his last trip there. His mission this time, along with his friends, will be to retrieve a sacred Charr relic called the Claw of the Khan-Ur. This relic could help foster a truce between the humans of Kryta and the Charr.

Dougal's story lead us on treasure hunts reminiscent of the adventures of Indiana Jones, through caves and ruins, with deadly traps aplenty and even deadlier opponents. The history of this world, Kryta, is touched on, hinting at the larger world and war with the Elder Dragons and the devastation they've brought. We meet interesting characters of each race: Human, the huge Norn, the monsterous cat-like Charr, the mysterious Sylvari, and the haughty Asura. Each race and character contributes in different ways to the progress of the story and, within the story, their own unique traits to the battles and adventures - whether it's raising an army of undead, raining fire on the bad guys, swinging a sword or a battle axe, or building a magical construct out of gems and stone to fight.

As the title suggests, there are indeed ghosts within the city of Ascalon: the ghosts of the entire Ascalonian Army that King Adelbern sacrificed to keep the Charr out. And they are not happy that Dougal and his group are in their realm. These ghosts view all trespassers as enemies, human and non-human alike.

If you like fantasy stories or playing fantasy-based computer games, you’ll like Ghosts of Ascalon.

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