I'm reading 'Tales of Tamriel Book 1: The Land' - the first Elder Scrolls Online lore collection (review)
Ripping open a FedEx package that's journeyed from the United States to the leafy pastures of Ealing Broadway in London is always satisfying. More so today when I discovered it contained an advanced copy of Bethesda and Titan Books' debut Tales of Tamriel lore guide.
Like previous releases, such as those pictured on my Elder Scrolls gaming room floor above, this new book presents text that will alienate those not familiar to the fantasy world of Nirn and Tamriel. It's a book that combines lore scribed within the in-game books, albeit in a format suitable for reading in a coffee shop.
But also like previous books then, it's something that fans of the game will immediately find special. It really looks and feels like something that fell out of the fictitious world and into our real-life hands. The cover is thick and weighty, the pages designed in a variety of styles to reflect the many hands supposedly responsible for writing it in the first place.
There are plenty of other consistencies with previous ESO books. Similar to The Hero's Guide to The Elder Scrolls Online (pictured top-left, above), the book consistently uses a proper typeface for the majority of its pages. This is unlike the conceptually-designed volume that arrived with the Imperial Edition of the game, which presented its text as if hand-written.
The artwork used for illustration is varied and includes a number of double-page colour prints of Tamrielic places of interest. In terms of the texts themselves, there are some inclusions that will be instantly memorable to players familiar with the game's faction quest lines and their zones, such as Legend of the Ghost Snake (from the journals of Bonorion the Wanderer, 2E 568); others represent tomes found across many regions, such as Giants: A Discourse, or introductions to other races and faction leaders.
Throughout, there are new artworks in a range of styles -- from what look like pencil sketches, to inked watercolours. Some texts are presented in the style of in-game posters, complete with requisite bloodstains and scorch marks.
So yes, it's a lovely book that fans will love. I have one big negative point though: there's no index at the back to discover topics of interest. This, to me at least, is a significant downside. I would have loved to find all references to the Yokuda, or Great House histories; or maybe go straight to the pages of writing about major characters, or perhaps mentions of the Dwemer. There's a decent chapter list at the beginning, but some fans may wish for a more detailed breakdown of topics. I'm happy to report there are texts concerning all of the above, as well as some good primers at the start about the Dawn and Merethic eras.
But I must be honest and say a lack of an index would not prevent me from enjoying the book at all. It's a delightful companion to the game, and probably the only one really worth buying of all the currently available ESO books if you actually want to sit down and read it. And I say that in contrast to those fans who buy the game books because they exist, but largely enjoy their existence on a shelf rather than next to a hot cup Americano. Or a drop of finest skooma.
Find me in the game as @Lanxon101 on the EU server!
Tales of Tamriel Book 1: The Land is published by Titan Books and will be on sale 24 April, 2015. This review was based on an advance copy of the book sent to me by Bethesda on request.