The Empyrean Age [book]
After finishing This Gaming Life a couple of weeks ago, I started with The Empyrean Age of Tony Gonzalez and also quickly finished reading it in a couple of days. Which might be a good sign, but unlike some other people I can’t say I really liked it. If it wasn’t about the EVE universe I love I would’ve thrown the book away after a few chapters. It just isn’t that well written, the characters are very flat and one-sided and the plotlines are way too far-fetched for my taste. I guess that for books I may have higher standards than most people, I don’t read best-selling pulp of Raymond E. Feist and Dan Brown (anymore), it’s not that I am unable to enjoy those books and I fully understand why they’re so popular, but I demand better of books I read.
I did love the little reference to capsuleers (us players) in the book. Concord commanders whining about having to go through all the capsuleer wars of the last 24 hours just bring a big smile on my face. Tony Gonzalez (understandably) didn’t go as far as adding player corporation/names to it though.
Anyway, I didn’t expect the novel to be a masterpiece, but I did hope that the plotlines would be a bit more ‘realistic’, more on that (and spoilers) after the jump. As conclusion, if you like EVE and it’s storyline, this book is still very much a must, but I wouldn’t recommend it to non EVE playing people.
While the book answers a lot of questions behind all the events in the news, it also adds a lot of new questions and vagueness by doing so. We now know Jamyl’s superweapon was reverse-engineered Terran technology, but what the heck did actually happen to Jamyl and how does she know all these ‘things’? We now know Tibus Heth got to power with help of the Broker, but who/what is this Broker actually and all his reasons are still rather unknown. We now know why this Minmattar ambassador did what he did and where that Thukker/Minmattar fleet came from, but what did those Elders actually do all those hundreds of years and what is exactly up with the Thukkers? Etc, etc.
I usually like the overall vagueness in both the player (0.0) lore and the prime fiction, but this far-fetched unexplained vagueness just annoys me a bit. There’s more than one Deus Ex Machina going on. But it’s not just the overall plots that bother me, but also smaller things as the character Falek Grange. He’s a a glorious, pious and proud Amarrian, that suffers of amnesia, forgets who he is, befriends a matari slavechild that is unable to speak and suddenly opposes Amarr and everything it stands for. Can it get anymore black & white than that?
There’s a good review of the book here that points out the problems I have with the plotlines in detail, I agree with most (but not all!) of it.
This is probably my most negative post on EVE so far, but I’m not all negative on the Empyrean Age. I think CCP can’t get enough praise for actually basing a book on a game-changing storyline plotlines, having an on-going storyline is awesome and it’s one of the many things that makes EVE so unique. I also really enjoyed the storyline changes even while I think actual storyline plots could’ve been done a bit better. The events really – were – epic. It really did help to introduce the playerbase more into the prime-fiction. I really do hope to see more of this sort of thing in the future. I really like using the word ‘really’.
For future books I suggest that Tony Gonzalez focuses on less storylines going on at the same time, so you have more room to give more depth to them and avoid most of my criticism above.