The Skyrim Library
Vol. I: The Histories
Author: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Media Tie-In
Review Spoilers: N/A
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The Skyrim Libraries Volume I: The Histories is a tremendous volume for learning more about not only Skyrim, but about the entire Elder Scrolls universe. In fact, I would go so far as to call this a must have for anyone who wants to be able to call themselves an Elder Scrolls fanboy. The volume is marked specifically for Skyrim because the stories nestled inside of it are from the Skyrim game. If you ever wanted to read the good books from the game, but never could be bothered to find them all, then this is what you are looking for. It’s nice and holds a plethora of information that a Skyrim fan would legitimately want to read.
Now, there is an overwhelming amount of history in Volume I, but that is expected. It’s called The Histories, it kind of clues you in that it will have an excessive amount of… history. There is information on Tamriel’s various emperors and wars, and to be honest the beginning of the book was very hit-you-over-head repetitive with information on the emperors. For a more… abbreviated history lesson check out Third Era: An Abbreviated Timeline. I loved the abbreviated timeline. When I made it to that I was able to look it over and actually completely understand it. Reading the actual long history sections is very rewarding and check out the awesome simplified Skyrim Calendar below!
When the history seems to be just about to bore you to death, a fun little adventure, or an interesting tale is inserted to help pick up the pace and bring back the readers attention. Such tales include some back story on Pelagius the Mad, Remanada, and a tale that spans seven books about Decumus Scotti. Expect throw backs to previous games with characters like Jagar Tharn, King Wulfharth, Camoran Usurper, Pelagius (who was also briefly seen in Skyrim), and three books are specifically dedicated to Morrowind. Good Guy Bethesda even suggests other books to find and read in game to help fill in blank spaces or to become more knowledgeable about certain events, such as Camoran Usurper.
Great maps and visuals are easy to find in this first installment, and I personally love the first letter font when you start a new book/chapter. I really wish there were more visuals, but I also know that this isn’t an Elder Scrolls picture book (which if that comes into being later on, I totally want credit for it). Some of the best images come from the Dragon section, in stories like Olaf and the Dragon, There Be Dragons, and The Alduin/Akatosh Dichotomy. Check out this awesome art from the beginning of the book!
The pages feel nice and very high quality for what you pay. It is easy to tell that a lot of effort went into making this book happen and in trying to give it an authentic feel. It doesn’t seem cheap in any way. The visually sparse cover of the book really works and I really love the indented type framing on it. If I had to find a shortcoming to The Skyrim Libraries Volume I: The Histories, it would be the binding. I feel like it’s going to let me down sooner than I would like.
While the emperor’s history may seem a bit boring at first, it does pick up here and there with Pelagius the Mad, Uriel VI, and Morihatha. Some of the more interesting tales include Remanada, Report of the Imperial Commission on the Disaster at Ionith (The Tsaesci sound seriously kickass), Dance in Fire, The Madness of Pelagius, The Lusty Argonian Maid, and The Sultry Argonian Bard. By the time I reached the end it was hard to remember why I was bored earlier on.
It’s crazy to think about how much work went into these stories just for a game series. I would love to see other franchises copy this method (looking at you Final Fantasy). People like it when the details are filled in and things are explained, even the little things. It adds to the experience of the game and makes the gamers feel like actual effort was put into it to make them, the consumer, happy. All in all, this Skyrim Volume is great for people who enjoyed reading the lore and a must have for any Skyrim history buff or true fanboy.