It is school holidays here, and my wife and I both managed to wrangle some leave from work and spent 4 nights away with the kids. For the first time we went to one of those family type resorts, with various onsite entertainment options to augment the local tourist attractions. While there something entirely unexpected happened – I managed to read a book.
The book in question was EVE – Templar One. It had been sitting on my bookcase for the last three years waiting for me to have some spare time. Yep – it has taken that long.
I know if you want to be a literary snob, there are plenty of faults with the book. I also suspect a generic science fiction fan would get much less out of it than someone who plays EVE or Dust. With that said, I personally really enjoyed it.
No – enjoyed is probably the wrong word. There were just so many disturbingly dark aspects to the story that it wasn’t something that gave me happiness to read. But it was – if a little bit too disjointed on occasion, fascinating.
I grew up on a diet of science fiction books. A common theme across many was of a future world where tyrannical governments unjustly controlled the populace. Fast forward more than 20 years, and I see disturbing parallels in how our world currently operates. Oppressive surveillance, corruption, unchained capitalism, fanaticism, compromised media, a meek general population – mimicking the first steps towards aspects of those dark futures.
Templar One ramps that whole theme up 20 or 30 notches.
The book portrays the often sinister and immoral manipulations of those in power in EVE, their inherent weakness of character, and the most intimate acts of needless evil through to the grandest scale of lives lost. But the bleakest aspect of the book for me is just how powerless the New Eden citizen is, and how completely inconsequential the value placed on their life.
I have at times thought that maybe the biographers of EVE try unnecessarily hard at depicting this. I can find it difficult to justify the gratuitous gruesomeness of many of the stores I have read. This book however reminded me of the context those stories are told within. The world of EVE has one particular and prevailing influence that we don’t have in real life. It is the availability of immortality. I know that is obvious, but in a combative environment where the most powerful have little to fear from death, it is easy to imagine how far they could stray from our current moral compass. It explains EVE.
Now I’m not suggesting the book is particularly cerebral – nor me for that matter, but I found it gave me an excuse to ponder the game and its lore.
Without trying to put out spoilers (on a three year old book), here are a few additional reasons for why it is worth a read for players:
. It tells you what the Sleepers are.
. It gives two plausible explanations for what the Drifters might be.
. It gives you an overview of what Empress Jamyl Sarum is and how she became it. It gives the technological explanation to the mysticism around her, and makes it apparent how she acquired the weapon used to defeat the Elders invasion.
. It highlights just how dysfunctional the racial Factions and Concord are, and to my mind gives more credence to CCP’s direction of Capsuleers wanting to reach for complete autonomy from them.
. It suggests in part the mindset of Concord, right or wrong, in trying to balance the arms and technological race
. It of course outlines the initial lore behind Dust. I haven’t follow the development of that lore over the last 3 years, but my god I hope they are obtaining the core of their jump cloning technology from a different source than outlined in the book. That was abhorrent in so many ways.
I expect we won’t see any more books like these from CCP, which is disappointing. The staff have changed or moved on, and CCP seem more focused on telling the stories of the players instead. There were plenty of loose ends I would have liked to have seen wrapped up in later books.
Jamyl Sarum visited her father on his (apparently imminent) death bed at the age of 15, yet she was 18 when the church bells tolled to announce his death. Did it really take that long?
What part did those drugs play in Lord Falek Grange being able to control Jamyl?
The sleeper population (I remember a comment on there being trillions, although flipping back through the book later I only noticed references to billions) doesn’t really make sense. Given their background and how they lived their lives, wouldn’t the number have been much lower?
Wouldn’t the body of Templar Nine in the Armor Hanger have been extremely valuable?
What did Eagle One find on the ledge above where the THANATOS gunship was being salvaged? Was it just the snake carcass or something more interesting that I missed in the book?
As you can see – I did get a lot of EVE related value out of the book.
Now I think I might go and move one of my clones into my Rorqual – just for roleplaying sake. I’ve mentioned it before, but I would really like CCP to give us more control over our clones in future – even for us solo players. We really can’t trust the Empires.