Do you believe in magic?
With this week’s release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, there’s no better time for a refresher course on the many intricacies of the franchise’s lore. Luckily for us, the fine folks at Titan Books are here to answer the call, delivering a crash course on all things Tamriel with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. III: The Arcane. While the previous volumes have focused on the world of Nim’s history and the various creatures, both natural and supernatural, that inhabit it, this latest edition dabbles in the esoteric arts, providing readers with a spellbinding journey that will capture your attention like an eager Soul Gem.
This collection of texts from Bethesda’s popular Fantasy RPG is made up of four different sections, each exploring the different aspects of the series’ mystical lore, with the first section dealing with all manner of Magicka. Ever want to learn how to cast your own Arcana Restored spell, you know, just in case? Well, the Bethesda puts that power at your fingertips. Feel like poring over a collection of notes scrawled in a Necromancer’s forbidden tongue? Go wild! This 55-page section is filled to the brim with esoteric notes detailing the many schools of magic, along with several short stories that detail some of the mystical arts and relics found in the realm of Tamriel. Each of these stories is filled with clever twists, with my favorite being the an exchange titled the “Charwich-Koniinge Letters”, which tells an entertaining story of revenge as two adventurers half a world away seek out a powerful Daedric relic.
The second section deals with the many religions and deities the residents of Tamriel pay tribute to. Here you’ll learn about the various beliefs and customs of The Elder Scrolls’ races and faiths, like the Nords’ afterlife home of Sovngarde, which is essentially Valhalla, where their mead flagons runneth over and the battles never end (unless of course they suffer from Lycanthropy, then it’s off to the searing shores of Oblivion for them). You’ll also find interesting details about the lives on the Patron Saints of the Tibunal Temple, and the fascinating story of Laloriaran Dynar, high elf and Last King of the Ayleids.
The third section is an exhaustive look at 2920: The Last Year of the First Era, with its 12-part story beginning with the Morning Star and closing with The Evening Star. It’s a hugely entertaining read that bounces across the land of Tamriel to High Rock, Morrowind and Oblivion, detailing the final year of the First Era that ushered in the Age of Chaos. Lastly, the final section of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. III: The Arcane deals with the Aedra and Daedra. In the Elvish tongue, Aedra essentially means “Ancestors”, while the Daedra, which simply translates to “not our ancestors.” These powerful beings are the many Gods and Demons who preside over the land. Here you’ll learn the story of the Daedric Prince of Madness’ prized staff, the Wabbajack, along with other intriguing tidbits such as the story of the Daedric Prince Boethiah’s followers, the Changed Ones.
All in all, each of these four sections is brought to life with the masterful reading we’ve come to expect from the veteran world-builders at Bethesda. If you’ve ever found yourself getting lost for hours in the in-game books that litter the bookshelves of The Elder Scrolls games, you’ll certainly have trouble putting down this lavish, 232 page tome. Each chapter is filled with fascinating information that breathes life into the expansive lore of the series. And to top it off, Titan Books’ meticulous attention to detail does a great job of pulling the reader in with a surprisingly authentic looking product that looks yellowed and weathered enough to have come from a home in Riverwood itself. And while there isn’t a great deal of art adorning the pages of the book, what’s there is truly impressive, with paintings, concept art, and various diagrams that help the reader inject themselves into the series’ rich fantasy world.
If you’re a longtime fan of The Elder Scrolls or a newcomer looking to expand your knowledge of the many facets of life in Tamriel, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. III: The Arcane is a fantastic read that demands a spot in your collection. So what are you waiting for? Order your copy here.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. III: The Arcane , written by Bethesda Softworks, is published by Titan Books. It is available now. MSRP: $34.99.
Full Disclosure: This review is based on an advance copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Skyrim Library, Vol. III: The Arcane provided by Titan Books.