For more than 25 years, the Elder Scrolls has been one of the most popular and influential video game series in existence. Its success has resulted in its lore permeating numerous mediums, including books. In 2012, one year after the release of the incredibly popular video game Skyrim, two novels were published: The Infernal City and Lord of Souls, both by Greg Keyes. These books are a singular narrative split across two books, making for an intricate and compelling tale steeped in Elder Scrolls lore.
The Infernal City Book Synopsis
Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow-for wherever it falls, people die and rise again. And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaïg, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest.
As you can see from the synopsis above, the first book picks up four decades after the Oblivion Crisis. My first exposure to the Elder Scrolls games was Oblivion, so this intrigued me. What I enjoyed most about this book was the cultural differences between the characters and hearing about the races and locales I remember exploring in this series’ various games. I should point out that I listened to the audiobook version of The Infernal City and Lord of Souls, and the narrator does a lovely job with the text. I was amazed by how deftly he pronounced words that would easily intimidate most. As with a great deal of fantasy-based content, the Elder Scrolls has a language all its own and much of the vernacular is complex.Several people find the second book, Lord of Souls, to be more interesting. I understand why. After all, it’s the second half of the story so it moves along at a quicker pace. The first book set the stage, and the second book brings it to a dramatic finish. As with The Infernal City, the narrator of Lord of Souls does a fantastic job. I love his accent because it’s perfectly suited for the Elder Scrolls universe. He sounds as if he’s a voice actor from one of the games. Very pleasant and reflective of the source material.
Lord of Souls Book Synopsis
Forty years after the Oblivion crisis, the empire of Tamriel is threatened by a mysterious floating city, Umbriel, whose shadow spawns a terrifying undead army. Reeling from a devastating discovery, Prince Attrebus continues on his seemingly doomed quest to obtain a magic sword that holds the key to destroying the deadly invaders. Meanwhile, in the Imperial City, the spy Colin finds evidence of betrayal at the heart of the empire-if his own heart doesn’t betray him first. And Annaïg, trapped in Umbriel itself, has become a slave to its dark lord and his insatiable hunger for souls. How can these three unlikely heroes save Tamriel when they cannot even save themselves?
I highly recommend reading these books in order as it makes for a more satisfactory experience. Both are available in physical, ebook, and audiobook formats. If you’re a fan of the Elder Scrolls, you’ll love them. Being familiar with the world in which these books are based will bring a smile to your face when you come across the abundance of references that pay homage to the games we love. I also think that fans of quality fantasy novels will enjoy these as well. They’re imaginative, well written, and highly entertaining.