Guild Wars Edge of Destiny Review

The second book in the Guild Wars fiction line was officially released yesterday. One can find Edge of Destiny by J. Robert King at most bookstores and e-bookstores. The book was better and worse than Ghosts of Ascalon, and I will get to that. For Guild Wars fans and future Guild Wars 2 players that want a deep background for some of the major NPCs in their Guild Wars 2 personal story, I’d say that this book is worth the read. I think that ultimately the Guild Wars 2 world will be deeper and richer because I read the book.

Okay, now I will try and be spoiler free-ish, but you have to be “spoiled” on one well known fact regarding Guild Wars 2. This book details the formation of the famous guild Destiny’s Edge. The spoiler is… the book also details their separation. Most Guild Wars 2 fans knew this because a large part of Guild Wars 2 will be getting the band back together to rock some dragon face. The “why” is much more interesting, and I will not be spoiling that.

As for writing, I felt it was great. The writing flowed very well. The dialogue was entertaining and snappy. I noticed that some of the criticisms of the book were leveled at the dialogue. I don’t understand what those critics expected. For the most part, I felt King did a good job at showing emotion and thoughts, instead of telling, and I am thankful we had no Wheel of Time-length conversations where I would have to masochistically get to the end of the chapter. The best part of the writing, in my opinion, was how King described Capitalized Proper Nouns. I felt in comparison to Ghosts of Ascalon, the descriptions were much less in the reader’s face. The book was much less a Guild Wars universe teaching aid, but I think it told plenty of lore.

The thing I always secretly hated about Destiny’s Edge was that they were evenly composed of the five playable races. One human, one charr, one sylvari, one asura, and one norn made up the group. Except that’s not quite right for reasons explained in the book. Anyway, the first half of the book details how this ragtag bunch became a guild, and I have to say I was very impressed with how King handled it. I mean, it is very easy to do some variant of “you meet up in a tavern,” but King set up a chain of events that made the group come together quite well. Each character, individually or in small groups, had their own small story for a few chapters. By the time they settled in as Destiny’s Edge, I was just nodding my head.

The first major problem to be handled by Destiny’s Edge was set up very early in the book. So, by the time the guild got around to dealing with it, it had been in my mind for some time. This should have been the end of the first book. However, ArenaNet needed to get the story of Destiny’s Edge in one book, and this is where I felt the book stumbles.

See, Destiny’s Edge accomplished a series of Herculanean feats by which their legend spread throughout Tyria to the degree that no one could ignore their celebrity. The second half of the book quickly portrays the problem, the set up (“weeks later”), and then gives a real-time on-the-fly solution. The feats are impressive, but the presentation is not. Whereas the first feat felt impending from the start of the book, the later feats felt tacked on. They were nearly meaningless to the me because I was not attached to the significance of the problem at all.

The book had to present reasons for the legend of Destiny’s Edge, and objectively it succeeded. Yet, I feel that the book did not portray the fame and impact of the guild’s feats very well. I would have preferred to have a few chapters of the protagonists talking with locals about their past accomplishments or overhearing bar chatter about them rather than me being at the action site for feats #2 and #3.  Then by the time the guild gets to feat #4, it feels like a trainwreck. Instead of the masterful elegance I saw in the first half of the book, the pacing and story elements felt like they were crammed in for the final throw. Honestly, the last half of Edge of Destiny could have easily been one or two more books. Thankfully, King pulls the book out of nosedive for the final chapter. He does a great job showing failure and loss in just a few short paragraphs.

Lorewise the book is a gold mine. The Elder Dragons are thoroughly reviewed, but some of their mysterious infinity is lost in the process. They now feel more Lovecraftian than the Greek/Exalted Titans I had them set out to be. King takes us in to the norn culture and the asura culture for a pretty good look at each race’s capital city. Unfortunately, sylvari still remain mostly a mystery. We learn a little bit more of the new race’s internal struggle with the Nightmare Court, but we are not shown much of the plant creature’s culture like we are with the asura and norn. I also feel that the one monumental lore feature near the end of the book kind of gets short changed. That piece was with us from the beginning, and it feels like that bit of lore was concluded abrasively. We do get a nice “gameplay” teaser because mesmers and mesmer magic are confirmed to be significant in the Guild Wars 2 world.

Finally, I loved all the times King would talk to the reader by bringing up “beta testing” or some other inside joke. I love when media brings in little jokes like that because when done well, it has a lot of impact. Those winks at me were not unnoticed, and much appreciated.

Overall, the book was well worth the read, and I am glad I bought it. I think that its flaws are mostly do to poor compression of too much material in to too little a writing space. Seriously, it could have easily been an 800 page book in a perfect world without deadlines, editors, and print costs. I would say that it’s still of good quality, and a must have for Guild Wars 2 fans. There has been little information on the third book, but I am very interested to see what the final, planned story is going to be… or if it beats the Guild Wars 2 launch date.


12 thoughts on “Guild Wars Edge of Destiny Review”

  1. Thanks so much for the review! I haven’t read the book myself yet, and I tend to be very touchy about spoilers. I think you did a great job of telling just enough to tease while still respecting those who haven’t read it yet.

  2. Thank you! I was unable to find the book at my local Borders last night (unlike with Ghosts of Ascalon), so I will have to make another trip out for the book in a couple of days when the dust (and Rift’s 3rd beta) settles.

  3. I thought it was a much stronger book than the first one and really enjoyed it. I will try to save some people trouble in getting the book. First, Borders doesn’t even know it exists. It is not in their system at all. The local Books-a-million had two (2) copies. That’s it. No more.

    I ended up getting the free kindle for android app and getting the book in seconds from Amazon. If the publishers plan to survive, they had best move more quickly.

  4. lol thanks alot now you got me more interested in the book lol though i wish they did more related to “The Ghosts of Ascalon” cause it musta been troublesome lugging all the loot through charr territory with a team left of 3

  5. “I noticed that some of the criticisms of the book were leveled at the dialogue. I don’t understand what those critics expected.”

    I have to agree with the critics on this one and I’ll tell why I, at least, feel that way. My major issue with the book was the personalities of the characters. In Ghosts of Ascalon the personalities varies greatly between the characters, likely a result of racial differences. In Edge of Destiny I felt like all the characters acted as if they were human. The asura weren’t arrogant and condescending, the norn wasn’t battle hungry and cocky, the charr wasn’t hateful and brooding, and the silvari wasn’t innocent and curious. These were all things that made me love the character dymanic in Ghosts of Ascalon.

    1. I should clarify my point by adding: The characters do show these differences with their actions but not in their dialog. Which is why that is my problem with the book.

  6. I completely enjoyed Ghosts of Ascalon(GoA), and found it pleasantly fluid considering I haven’t read anything in a long time. I can’t wait to finish Edge of Destiny so I can read GoA again. Essentially, everything bad I mention here was the complete opposite for GoA.

    As for Edge of Destiny (EoD)…I’m only 12 chapters in and feel the need to express my opinion.

    “”As for writing, I felt it was great. The writing flowed very well. The dialogue was entertaining and snappy.””

    SO…”Boom, Boom, Boom!” and “Crack! Crack! Crack!” is great writing? Kings writing is so poor at times, he needed to add the Crack! Crack! Crack! to explain how ice makes a noise.

    EoD has been so irritating to read…so much I’ve considered putting it down to re-read GoA. The dialogue has been so painful, that I’d rather have a Charr scratch my back with the Claw of Klan Ur. The childish banter between Logan and Rytlock is slowly pushing me away from the book. The dialogue between them reminds me of several bad Arnold Schwarzenegger movies with all these crappy 2 and 3 word wise cracks.

    I can only presume that King does not really know GW that well. Only Caithe reasonably portrays Sylvarian personality traits with respects to each race involved in EoD. GoA nails racial personalities to a T the whole way through the adventure, where EoD falls leaps and bounds short. If I didn’t know the racial differences already, I could have easily presumed that all these characters were just human.

    Not to mention things like…

    Rytlock and Logan had to get along to survive for a time being, but never really went back to wanting to kill each other. Rytlock wanted to run from fights. IN GoA, it was a fight to get Ember to run from a fight. Ember and Dougal were always eager to go their seperate ways, and didnt have these silly “we are best buds all the sudden” smack talking conversations.

    Out of no where, asura are running in battles as if they were norn yelling “CHARGE!” Are you kidding me? Battles have been lacking setup. Theres been actual plans of attack with long converstations during battles I.E. locker room “John Madden dry erase board type demonstrations” on how to kill something.

    Dont forget characters talking back and forth, without directly know who is saying what. Theres been several times where someone has said something to where the reader has to conclude who said it..

    Overall, I hope the story makes up for King’s writing. I’m not one to complain much especially when it comes to Guild Wars. I’ve loved the game from head to toe, and it will always be one of my favorite games of all time. Its just stuck with me, but I must complain about someone’s decision to allow Robert King to write this book. Maybe Robert King has some good writings, but this is clearly not one of them.

    Sorry Mr King.. I Hope this book gets better to overshadow the first 12 chapters.

    1. I got around to reading Ghosts of Ascalon and Edge of Destiny too. Amusingly enough, I find Edge of Destiny a better read.

      GoA seemed to me slightly more dramatic a story with less likeable characters and somewhat cardboard characterization and ‘lore dump’ exposition. Never adventure with people you like, Dougal keeps thinking. Very anti-heroish, and one keeps getting the feeling that the group would fracture apart and split if they didn’t feel obliged to keep going after the MacGuffin. Er, I mean the Claw-of-Khan-Ur.

      EoD on the other hand has better characterization running through it, to me anyhow. The races acted more typical, and it felt believable when describing how these people fell together through chance and became the classic Destiny’s Edge. It’s a fun romp.

      I did stall near the end though, mostly because after seeing Destiny’s Edge together, the plot requiring them to fall apart felt somewhat forced. The linchpin seemed to be swallowing the premise that Logan had a big long-distance crush on Jennah that caused him to lose most of his senses and intellect and do stupid things. And I didn’t want to read about (Spoiler Warning: Though a browse through any wiki would spoil it) Snaff dying, I liked him too much!

      Ultimately, both books are better at offering us a sneak peek of GW2 world and lore and implying the sights our characters will be seeing, than as novels with much substance. I get the feeling there were plot points both were required to hit, and things they had to add, and the authors wrapped the rest of their story around those.

      Oh, and if I had a hamster, I am so naming him Rytlock too.

      1. While I agree that Logan clearly is smitten with the Queen, I also read the interation between them as at least partly one of magical compulsion. She put a spell on him, and he’s hers. ;)

        So the dissolution of the group is the fault of a selfish, manipulative woman. If the others knew more about the hooks Jennah had in Logan, they definitely would have seen her as The Yoko. :P

        The sad thing is Logan doesn’t seem to understand what kind of leash his Queen has him on.

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