Spoiler Warning: This article is spoiler-free up until the indicated point.
So I -finally- got around to finishing EoD. I know a few people were nervous since I gave Ghosts of Ascalon a pretty harsh assessment, but I’m happy to say that I very much enjoyed this book. It really blew GoA out of the water in terms of characters and action.
The characters had much more depth this time around and went beyond their stereotypical roles. Unlike in GoA where each person seemed to be more or less the personification of their race, here they were individuals with quirks, talents, and habits that pushed them into the realm of having substance. Their interactions with one another was also satisfying and believable. Although the dynamic between Logan and Rytlock sometimes teetered on a little ridiculous, it was also the primary source of humor and so it served a purpose making it acceptable and welcome.
There wasn’t much individual growth other than from Caithe, and everybody’s ultimate reactions at the end, but I think that’s because the focus wasn’t on them separately but rather as a team. It wasn’t about individuals so much but rather Destiny’s Edge: How they came to be, what they meant to the world, and how it ended up. It was important to set that up to make the conclusion that much more significant, so there wasn’t much time, really, to focus on them seperately. So they started out pretty solidified already, which isn’t a bad thing here.
The overall story was entertaining because it was a good mixture of telling the tale of the rise and fall of a band of heroes while also setting the stage for GW2. It fulfilled the later much better than GoA did, in my opinion, as the main antagonists were the very dragons we’re expected to challenge in the game. There were a few twists and a few frustrations. But the ending definitely had a bit of a wow-factor to it.
The greatest part was the action. It was relatively non-stop, but done in a way that isn’t overwhelming. We get a lot of build-up for the first big victory which allows us to get to know the characters and exactly what they are capable of, paving the way for the subsequent battles to be told in an increasingly swifter manner without feeling like you missed anything.
All in all, I definitely enjoyed it. Once again we have to keep in mind the purpose of these books: they are to fill us in on the story of the game. As such, we can’t expect Tolkien-level writing since it needs to be accessible to people who may not be regular readers. But for what it is, EoD provided an easy to read, enjoyable adventure that was well-written and dramatic. It gave us a ton of answers and even more questions, and really allowed us to see what challenges we are faced with once it’s our turn to step up to the hero plate in Guild Wars 2.
To The Readers: What did you guys think? Better or worse than GoA? Favorite characters / parts? How do you think this will affect the stories in GW2? Any other forum discussions / reviews I missed, let me know!
Discussions: GW2G | Quaggan | GW2 Forums | IncGamers
Reviews: Hunter’s Insight | MMO Gamer Chick | JohnnyV
So now for the spoiler-ridden in-depth part, follow the jump
Characters & Races
Once again the human seems to have the least exciting personality and backstory throughout, but even so, Logan’s development really fits in with how we see him in GoA. It’s also a bit of irony that it is ultimately his brash action at the end that ruins everything.
With a typical little-brother complex and hero-worship / infatuation with his Queen, Logan is extremely weak on his own. He is defined not by who he is as much as by the people in his life. The relationship with his brother Dylan is less than interesting and even a little cliché, but it’s important in that sets up his almost childish behavior. He uses his resentment of his brother as an excuse to be an outcast. He is funniest when he is bickering with Rytlock and the most heroic when fighting for Jennah. It’s almost pitiful.
Showing off in front of the queen and besting his older brother are just more points that prove Logan’s need for attention and worth are huge drives in his behavior. I’m not at all surprised at his decision, but I don’t think he expected the consequences that resulted. He runs of to save Jennah, and every single person in the story lost something important except for him. Instead of owning up to his selfish mistake he settles by inflicting a twisted self-punishment by becoming the older brother he resented. He is no longer Logan, but a shell. It’s left him cold and empty, which is essentially how we find him at the start of GoA.
Queen Jennah is a extremely hard to pin-point. I almost forgot she was in GoA at all, but she played a more prevalent role here and so we get a bit of a look at who she is as a character. She is severely mysterious, purposefully so, and this is un-surprising considering two points. One, she’s a mesmer and two, she’s a queen. No better combination than illusion and politics to make for a very allusive and interesting character. I honestly can’t tell what is real and what isn’t when it comes to her, which is brilliant story-telling.
Her relationship with Logan, for instance, is a huge mix of flattery and idolization. Dylan seems convinced that she is using magic to mesmerize Logan, but I get the feeling she doesn’t even have to. He is so infatuated with her that all she really needs is shower him with attention and words and he’s completely at her whim. What her intentions are is really up in the air; but that’s exactly what makes her one of the best characters in Guild Wars 2.
Rytlock charmingly served the primary source of humor, having the most lighthearted personality (a bit of irony here considering he’s of the most ferocious race), being the butt of many jokes and mishaps, and the source of some of the best wit and one-liners in the entire book. All the funny things that happen to him, between not being able to swim, getting sea-sick, and being awkwardly tossed about by golems, and his animated reactions make him the most entertaining character. It’s an interesting contrast to Ember and Almorra, the main Charr in GoA. While they all share that short-tempered charr superiority and over-confidence, Ember was also very serious and dutiful where Rytlock is rebellious and almost free-spirited.
It’s obvious from the get-go that Rytlock is a deviation from the charr in terms of personality, since he’s a bit of a rogue and was allegedly “kicked out” of the Blood Legion and his warband for being, well…annoying.
I think Rytlock’s relationship with Logan is interesting. The source of much of the humor in EoD is the borderline flirtatious antics between the two. It’s chalked up to brotherhood, something the Charr take very seriously.
The sylvari continue to spark so much mystery, and Caithe brought with her an entire cauldron of new questions about not only their society and culture but inter-personal relationships. Of course, I’m talking about her interactions with Faolin. We can’t really define relationships for Slyvari because they are much different than that of other creatures. There is discussion on whether or not Caithe and Faolin are lovers given their exchanges. I would disagree, as their connection would not be sexual at all, but something else entirely. They allegedly love[d] each other very deeply, and Caithe sincerely cares for her. She is upset to the point of tears, something that we might find a little surprising coming from Slyvari who seemingly are still learning about emotions and what they mean.
Caithe is interesting on her own because for a first-born, she certainly seems to have grown the ability to harbor deep feelings for the people in her life. She seems much more developed than Killeen was in GoA, a story that takes place four years after.In the end, she is the one desperately trying to hold the team together, and allegedly tried to visit and spend time with them since they broke up. And yet she didn’t seem to mourn the loss of Logan or Snaff, not in the traditional sense. It’s hard to gauge whether she was truly upset or just finding it illogical that a group with so much potential to fight dragons would break up over distress and betrayal, concepts she may not yet understand fully. She still very much as the child-like mentality, though, finding it difficult to deal with confusion and torn emotions (like her rejection of Faolin). And I thought the scene where she asked Rytlock “What does that mean?” open desperately upon his departure was particularly powerful, especially because of his silence.
Eir is wonderful. She really does make a great leader and it’s great to see a strong female in that role. She’s resourceful, determined, iron-willed and most importantly willing to adapt based on other people’s input. Although she is a little humorless, she still is thoughtful and has her witty moments. I love that she’s an artistic soul, too (a little based, I know). Everything she does is executed with the meticulous planning and attention to detail that any artist would with their work. She has a very strong need to succeed, probably driven by the death of her father. She is also cynical because of the rather hapless foolishness of the Norn brazenly trying to fight Jormag’s champion without really thinking.
This is probably why she took their failure at the end so to heart.
Major points go to the Asura this round, with Snaff and Zojja being some of the funniest and most lovable characters in Guild Wars yet. They are like a married couple (which seemingly isn’t too far from the truth) constantly bickering but still pretty openly affectionate in their weird asuran ways. Zojja’s antics can get a little aggravating, but it’s obvious her heart is in the right place. Still, she seemed a little spoiled and so her dramatic “nothing matters anymore” reaction to Snaff’s death isn’t surprising.
Snaff was great. He was a lot of fun and in a weird way seemed almost the wise elder in the group. He was brilliant and powerful but oddly humble (for an asura). It was obvious from early on he was going to be the one to die, with at least four different points of foreshadowing, mostly involving someone telling Zojja he wouldn’t be around forever. I think it’s also important his death was borderline not a heroic sacrifice. It was tragic, unexpected, and unwanted. Snaff didn’t want to die, but he was unfortunately the victim.
All in all, I think the characters were great. They were accessible and entertaining. Instead of growing, the nature of the ending actually caused them all to take huge steps back, but I’ll cover that in Part II. Coming soon!