Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Review: Empyrean Age Eve Novel

When the novel Empyrean Age was released I was skeptical of it being a good read because I rarely have seen a game-based novel or comic seem like anything except a blatant marketing/money grab. A few of the reviews I heard for the novel went along with that bias and I ended up not reading it then.

When Burning Life came out, I decided to try that one instead and was not super impressed. In contrast, over time the reviews and memories of people who read the Empyrean Age novel have been generally positive and a lot of people were excited for Templar One, written by the same author as Empyrean Age. So I decided to read the first book and give it a try.



The Good

I was impressed with the writing style. It was easy to read, the imagery was decent without being overwhelming. The characters were believable for the most part, with realistic motivations and personalities. There were four story arcs, one focusing on people from each of the major empires, and I found myself wishing that the novel had been two or four novels so that each story could have been given more room to cover more of the events and characters. That is always a good sign.

Even though the book felt like a marketing tool (as in, "here is EVE and this is what the major factions are about") I liked the fact that the book moved the plot of the major empires forward. For example, Jamyl Sarum was empress by the end, the Minmatar retrieved some of the Starkmanir tribe from slavery, the Caldari had a revolution for all intents and purposes, and the Gallente had been invaded and Caldari Prime occupied by the Caldari. Of course, the book was only able to move the plat forward because the expansion of the same name moved the game storyline forward, but its appreciated nonetheless.

The ground combat scenes, both in one on one violence and in military clashes, was excellent. I really wanted more of the Minmatar/Amarr and Gallente/Caldari ground battles. This alone makes me look forward to Templar One.

The Bad

For a book about a game about spaceships, there was not a large amount of space combat and what's there is not stellar. That left me a little disappointed but on the other hand, I know how hard it is to write good space combat.

Some character actions and reactions are unbelievable. For example, President Fourtain allowing the Caldari to blackmail him into letting them occupy Caldari Prime and hold millions of Gallenteans hostage, while the Caldari fleet goes back to Caldari space? Yeah, I don't buy that at all. There is a reason governments don't negotiate with terrorists; its because if it works once they will keep using it to get more.

On the unbelievable track, the character called The Broker seemed like one big Deus ex machina in order to force the story of the Caldari and Gallente into the direction the writer wanted. It seemed like he had no limitations but yet was killed off at the end by an incurable disease. How convenient!

Speaking of the Caldari, I don't care what universe you live in, no human society is going to take their entire military force for an invasion of an enemy with superior military might, and in the process leave their home systems with all their civilians completely unprotected. That is beyond the pale.

A lesser transgression of credulity was the Amarr / Minmatar conflict. I find it hard to believe that the massive Amarr empire was under anything more than annoyance level threat from the secretly built Elder led invasion. "Three Titan-led battlegroups" seems insignificant in our view as capsuleers facing entire fleets of nothing but Titans, but I was willing to let that pass as the difference between game realities and canon realities. But the thought that the Amarr could not match and surpass that force with ease and required Jamyl's super-weapon equipped battleship to save the day at Sarum Prime strained my credulity as well. I'm willing to let it pass because it set up some good storytelling and I can paper it over with thoughts that perhaps the Imperial Navy was corrupt or too slow to respond fast enough in high enough numbers.


Overall I enjoyed it and I'm starting Templar One. I don't think its a book I'll read again but it definitely ranks higher than Burning Life in my eyes and its one I don't mind recommending to people looking for a decent little sci-fi novel or introduction to Eve Online.


  1. Just to mention, the era this game was written was before titan proliferation. And these weren't capsuleer titans.

    But otherwise good'll enjoy Templar One. :)

    side note...can we get a twitter sign in option? This is PyroTech03 but it won't let me do it lol

  2. "the character called The Broker seemed like one big Deus ex machina"

    Those in the RP scene like myself have turned the Broker into a fight club reference: The first rule of the Broker is you do not talk about the Broker.
    We don't like him very much, for exactly the reasons you put forwards. As for 'Jamyl the Zombie Queen' things do not improve in Templar One. In fact (insert spoiler warning here), they go as far south as 'drug-fueled lesbian orgy' because thats what all the God-Empresses are doing these days.


  3. As a marketing ploy, it worked perfectly for me. I didn't even KNOW about EVE, period, anything, never heard of it til I saw the book (yeah, I are book-nerd, derp), thought it looked like an interesting read... read, read, read, and went "this isn't half ba...hey it's a GAME?!?! NO SHIT!"

    As far as "book in game/movie/whatever" universe being arbitrarily worse...not so. A lot of the older BattleTech books (particularly the series on the Gray Death Legion) were EXCELLENT reads. Also Jack McKinney's book-adaptations of the Robotech series was great stuff too. :-) So they're not always fail -- you just gotta look back about 15-20 years to find the "good stuff". lol

  4. I didn't care for Burning Life. Didn't actively dislike it, but didn't much care for it either way.

    Empyrean Age was again, merely "all right" in my estimation.

    Templar One was more or less a continuation of the EmpAge book. I'm not sorry I read it, but I also doubt I'll be picking up any more EVE books.

  5. Anonymous7:01 pm

    I bought the Empyrean Age and struggled to find time to read it properly, but RL dropped a load of time in my lap, in the form of sitting around hospital, with my wife being there for a while and this book saved my sanity (what I had). I did enjoy it so I bought The Burning Lfe which I have struggled o get into. I'm tempted to buy Templar one, incase I find some time to read, but feel theres no rush, but I will buy this book on the strength of Empyrean Age.