Summer Book Club Review: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tales of Tamriel – Vol. I: The Land

Welcome to VGBlogger’s Summer Book Club! All summer long, we will be providing weekly book reviews across a wide range of geek favorite categories, including art, comics/graphic novels, fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi. So whether you’re heading out for a road trip, going on vacation, lounging beach/poolside on a nice sunny day, relaxing inside away from the summer heat, or simply searching for a good read to fill your free time, follow our Summer Book Club for our top picks of what you should be reading during these hot summertime doldrums.

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Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls role-playing games are packed with lore. Almost too much lore to fully comprehend while actively immersed in the huge fantasy world of Tamriel. Enough lore to fill over 200 pages in a premium hardcover book. Hey, that sounds like a great idea. Why didn’t anyone else think of that? Oh wait, they actually did!

From Titan Books comes Tales of Tamriel – Vol. I: The Land, an art and history book companion to The Elder Scrolls Online, the PC MMORPG which was recently rebranded Tamriel Unlimited and brought over to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.

Scattered throughout the game’s virtual world are collectible lore books which help to flesh out the back story and side quests. Tales of Tamriel is a bound compendium of these lore books spanning a wide range of content, including anecdotes, historical texts, journal entries, military and political reports, poems, recruitment posters, and even a small bestiary of sorts containing hunting guides and stories about creatures big and small, from skeevers and alits, to werewolves and vampires, to spriggans and trolls.

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So yes, if you own the game all of this information is already available to you for no additional cost, but there is definitely something to be said for having everything compiled in a single book. (Actually, not in a single book, as there is so much lore in this game that there will be a second volume coming later this year!) I certainly wouldn’t read all of this stuff in the game, or at least I wouldn’t do more than skim over each lore book as I collected it so I could get back to questing. Reading the lore stitched together like a story book just makes the material more enjoyable and easier to absorb.

A major part of the enjoyment also comes from the way the book is presented. While Tales of Tamriel is not a full-blown art book, almost every lore entry is supplemented by an illustration; some are beautifully painted in full color, and some are black and white more like pencil or charcoal sketches. Additionally, rather than stock white paper the pages are treated to look like aged parchment, complete with water marks, dirt and dust grain, ink spots, and bloodstains that help you to imagine that you are reading an ancient tome from the world of Tamriel. I’m not sure what material the cover is made out of exactly, but it too looks great and has a very smooth surface that sort of feels like a cross between satin and rubber. And of course the Elder Scrolls Online ouroboros logo is embossed front and center on the cover. An obi wraps around the cover as well, though I think the book looks better without it.

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For everything this book has to offer, the noticeable lack of maps is the lone disappointment, especially considering this volume is subtitled “The Land.” A basic world map of Tamriel is printed on the inside of the front and back covers, but that’s where the Elder Scrolls cartography ends. With the central theme of the book being about the three main factions of Tamriel — Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant, and Ebonheart Pact — and the cultural and territorial history of the provinces and races that make up each alliance, you would think it would at least have localized provincial maps. Alas, it does not.

That oversight aside, Tales of Tamriel is a wonderful companion book to The Elder Scrolls universe, rich with intriguing historical back story and gorgeous, immersive artwork. It’s a must-have collectible reference for dedicated Elder Scrolls Online players, and for general series enthusiasts who prefer their Elder Scrolls games single player à la Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, this is the best possible way to catch up on the lore missed by not sinking fully into the MMORPG-ized game.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tales of Tamriel – Vol. I: The Land is now available on Amazon.com and the Bethesda Store for $34.99. If you like what you see here, be on the lookout for the second volume that’s currently scheduled to release in September. Titan Books also has a three-volume lore series lined up for Skyrim. Volume 1 of The Skyrim Library is available now, with the remaining two installments scheduled for late this year and early next year. Prepare to be inundated with lots of sweet, sweet lore over the coming months, Elder Scrolls fans!

Disclosure: A copy of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tales of Tamriel – Vol. I: The Land was provided to VGBlogger.com for review by Titan Books.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!