Summer Book Club Review: Fable: Blood of Heroes

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.

Fable_BloodofHeroes

Taking place hundreds of years prior to Lionhead’s existing Fable RPG trilogy, in the time after the fall of the Old Kingdom, Fable: Blood of Heroes is a companion novel tie-in with the upcoming co-op action RPG Fable Legends, which is coming out later this year as a free-to-play title for Windows 10 and Xbox One.

During this early era in Albion history, the kingdom is young and full of darkness and magic. But fear not, for Heroes, previously thought to be nothing more than legend and fairytale, have returned to fight back against the dangerous creatures that lurk in the wilderness. In Blood of Heroes specifically, a child- and hero-devouring witch named Yog has come out of hiding with a plot to break the curse that now limits her full and terrible powers. At her bidding are three riders–an ogre, a redcap, and a nymph–who have been sent out across Albion to enact her plan.

On the case are eight Heroes, split into two parties of four, before eventually converging as one united force of bravery and heroism. Team one–Inga, Rook, Leech, and Jeremiah Tipple–begins the adventure by investigating the arson of a pub in the village Brightlodge at the hands of a redcap, a mischievous, pyromaniacal breed of creatures that get its name from the red caps that have been securely nailed into their skulls. Obviously the nails must have caused some brain damage, because the goblin-like pests act like they have more than a few screws loose. Team Hero’s second group of Albion’s best and bravest–Glory, Shroud, Winter, and Sterling–pick up from the first team’s findings by embarking on an investigation of the dusty quarry town of Grayrock.

Instead of chapters that are numbered or given titles vaguely describing the events of the pages to follow, each chapter simply bears the name of a Hero, with the story continuing from where the last chapter left off, only from the perspective of a different character. It’s a neat way to give each Hero equal page time so readers can become acquainted with the characters they will soon be able to control directly when Fable Legends comes out. According to the game’s official website, seven of the eight Heroes from the book are currently listed as playable characters–as are a handful more that do not appear in the novel. (Tipple’s the odd man out.)

And for the most part, the cast is a diverse and likeable bunch. The characterization isn’t particularly deep or complex, but each Hero has a distinct personality and, in the words of Liam Neeson from Taken, a very particular set of skills that complements those of their fellow party members. Inga is the brave warrior tank of the group, equipped with an enchanted shield named Bulwark, which appears to have the spirit of a powerful mage living inside it. Tipple is the team’s brutish brawler, his strength perhaps only outmatched by his desire to hit the Cock and Bard inn for a night of drinking and debauchery. Sterling is a cocky, flamboyant cuss cut from the Prince Charming archetype, but despite his reputation for being a “stuck-up peacock” he is an exceptionally talented swordfighter. Despite her uplifting, life-of-the-party attitude, Winter is no joke when it comes to channeling her strong Will to conjure elemental spells of ice and cold.

Then there are Leech and Shroud, the two black sheep of the Hero profession. Leech uses his study of corpses and jarred collection of body parts and organs to fuel his ability to siphon life away from one creature and use it to heal another. Shroud shares a similarly peculiar fascination with death, only he uses his knowledge of how things die to broaden his skills as a master assassin representing the secret society known as the Conclave. The fact that he knows twenty-six ways to kill someone with a soup spoon should tell you all you need to know about this guy.

Author Jim C. Hines, of Goblin Quest fame, also does a wonderful job of staying true to the Fable series’ brand of humor by complementing its darker elements and high-fantasy world of swordplay and spellcasting with a lighter side that adds the right amount of charm to liven things up. Between ogres that wear and argue with the “noggins” of other ogres–you see, in Fable ogres have both their brain and heart inside their head and can survive and somehow talk without a body–and the Albion-wide infatuation with chickens, it’s clear from the opening pages that this is not a tale to be taken too seriously.

Blood of Heroes very much reminds me of the Fable series at large. It’s not super in-depth, and it does give off an impression of not quite reaching its full potential, but in the end its quickly-paced storytelling, fun fantasy action, and undercurrent of lighthearted humor are enough to win you over. Just don’t expect the epic scope and world building of Lord of the Rings or even Dragonlance.

Fable: Blood of Heroes works as both a one-off, standalone story and a companion book expanding upon the existing universe. So whether you’re a diehard Fable fan or a high-fantasy geek with little to no preexisting knowledge of the video games, this novel deserves a small slot on your bookshelf.

Fable: Blood of Heroes was published by Del Rey and written by Jim C. Hines. It is available now at Amazon and other book retailers.

Disclosure: A copy of Fable: Blood of Heroes was provided to VGBlogger.com by Del Rey for review purposes.

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!