The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories
Publisher: Titan Books
Page Count: 232
Release Date: 06/23/2015
Get it Here: The Bethesda Store
Many Elder Scrolls fans were definitely looking forward to the day where they could have their hands on the finished works of Skyrim; in fact, more than a few have created libraries in-game with the various texts found throughout the land. Fan favorites often include titles like, “The Lusty Argonian Maid,” though there are more serious texts in the game worth reading if you want to understand the game’s lore. It seemed only natural that Bethesda would eventually work to release these texts, though considering the game came out in 2011, a lot of people likely thought it was never going to happen.
Enter The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories, the first of a three-part series specifically on Skyrim, released alongside another two-part book series about The Elder Scrolls Online. These books feature in-game texts put to page with illustrations scattered throughout. The first book in this series, the one I will review soon, features history-related texts found in Skyrim, and was released in late June. The second, Man, Mer, and Beast, will focus on “in-game texts on factions, landscapes, creatures, heroes, and dragons” and is slated to release in September of this year. In March of next year, we’ll see The Arcane, which will presumably focus on, well, the arcane aspects of Skyrim. For those that are curious, the books on The Elder Scrolls Online also features in-game (that is, in TESO) texts covering the land and the lore, respectively, of Tamriel. They also look like they would be worth looking into, but alas, we don’t have a copy of those to review at this time. So let’s focus on what we do have: the first Skyrim book.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories is beautifully bound, with a cover made to look like it’s made of leather, and does look like it’ll be a hassle to keep smudges off of, for those who care about that. It also features debossed text and Skyrim emblem on the front and back covers, which are a nice touch. My only real aesthetic complaint about the way that the book looks and feels on the outside is that the price tag isn’t removable–it’s a part of the cover. (I actually tried removing it on several occasions, forgetting that it wasn’t a sticker.) I think it detracts from the presentation quite a bit, as otherwise you could pretty easily pretend it’s similar to an actual book from the game, aside from the fact that in-game books’ paper edges are rougher. As it is, it’s a little obnoxious to have that on there like that.
The inside of the book looks fantastic. I know a few people will likely complain about the font they used, but I think it looks great and is easy to read. The paper appears to be high quality, not too thin, and the “aged” effect looks nice with the illustrations and text. The illustrations include things like maps, concept art, sketches, and landscapes, which really add to the appeal of the book, though some of them could have been improved with captions.
You’ll find 20 stories outlining Skyrim’s history, 15 stories about Skyrim itself, 3 stories about Morrowind, and 9 stories about dragons in this book, totaling 47 stories and 232 pages in this book. Some people might be a little peeved that most if not all of this text can be found in the games, and that that there isn’t anything new in there. I can understand that to some extent, as they’re essentially charging you for something you can already get for free (so long as you already have the game, I guess). However, I can say that there are definitely stories in here that I hadn’t yet found in the game, and I appreciate that it’s right at my fingertips in such a beautiful format. Having them all in one tome also highlighted how diverse these stories are: you can see the quality of writing shift between my personal favorite, The Wolf Queen, and a story new to me, Alduin is Real, and He Ent Akatosh. Before this book, I hadn’t really thought about how difficult it must have been to have so many stories by different in-game authors and how to make their writing voices distinct from one another. Obviously, the differences between the two stories I just mentioned are pretty stark, but I hadn’t realized how just the historical stories differed from one another, for example. For that alone, I really appreciate that Bethesda and Titan Books put together this book. In general, though, I think that releasing these texts is a great idea, because I know a few people I’ve talked to don’t actually like reading the lore while playing the game, even if they do like the lore itself. Having this as an option for those fans is great: you can read when you want to read, and play when you want to play.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories is definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of The Elder Scrolls and are okay with the fact that there’s no new information available to you, assuming that you have found every single piece of literature in the game. For me, it’s a nice book to lounge around with and reread in order to refresh my memory of the game’s lore. I think most collectors will appreciate having this in their library. I look forward to the next two volumes being released and hope I can get my hands on the TESO books eventually as well, though I haven’t had a chance to play the game yet. I’m glad that Bethesda finally went ahead and put these into a physical format for us, and I think Titan Books was the way to go with regard to publishers, though there are a few minor issues with presentation, as I mentioned. The way that they’ve split these books up makes perfect sense to me, and I’m happy to see some fan favorites were chosen to be released first. Definitely pick this up if you’re a fan of the series, and give The Wolf Queen a thorough read for me.
Short Attention Span Summary
Everything that’s in this book can be found in game, but for the physical item collector (or for those who don’t want to spend all their time finding and reading each book in game), this is a perfect addition to one’s library. The book is beautifully crafted and easy to read with only a few flaws. Here’s hoping we’ll eventually see some Morrowind books and 6th single-player game.