A very common complaint I have heard over and over for Mantic Games Kings of War is that the game is too generic - there isn't enough background and fluff to make it something other than generic elves, dwarfs, orcs and undead.
While the game and world doesn't have 30 years of people writing stories, the background is expanding and growing every year. Now comes a deep dive into the dwarven culture with world building, famous characters from the game, and a mystery to boot.
If I had to describe this in one word, it would be dense. I have found that most licensed books seem to feel a bit light - easy and quick to read, and depending on the reader already knowing the setting. This instead is a thorough exploration of the differences between the Imperial Dwarfs and their cousins, the Free Dwarfs. The printed version comes in about twice the size of previous books set in Mantica and Pannithor.
This isn't just battles - in fact the battles are the smallest part. Politics, mystery and betrayal are much more prevalent. Characters here are not simply cut outs that blindly go from one conflict to another - instead they are feeling, caring individuals - often wracked by the guilt they feel at not having lived up to the nearly impossible dwarven ideal of their clan and king.
Mantic is striving to make their game setting a living, breathing and most of all growing world. While stories from any point in the history of the world can be told, the world is progressing and there is no reset button to tell the old stories over again and again.
As much as I try to pay attention to the lore of the game, apparently the big surprise in this book is one of the worst kept secrets, and I was shocked not just by the reveal, but by the implications for the lore and the world of the game as we know it. The first book of a planned trilogy, this is going to change things up quite a bit as the story continues to unfold. But don't let those plans be intimidating - it makes for a full and satisfying novel on it's own even if the other two volumes were not to come out.
This is a feast for those who have hungered for more world building and stories, one that will leave you both satisfied and hungering for more.
The ebook is currently available at Zmok Books or Amazon.com . The dead trees edition is scheduled to be released January 23rd.
Because it is all fun and games . . .