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Summer reading: The best books for gamers

Above: The cover to World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde.

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Editor's Note from Stephanie Carmichael:
McLain has listed his recommendations below, and the best part is, these are only a sampling of the video game books available today.

I love games. I’m usually jittery with excitement when I finish one, but that’s rarely because of the story. It’s probably due to how most developers tend to put all of their effort into the gameplay because, heck, it’s a game! Why would we play it if it weren’t fun? The story elements usually come second.

But I want to know more. I want the scoop on a character’s background so I can find out why he’s the good guy and the other guy is the bad guy. Where are they from? Why is the world being invaded by another mysterious alien horde? With books, if they’re written well, I can learn all of that. Plus, they can even be fun!

Below are four of what I think are the best books out there for gamers. You should definitely consider picking them up at your local bookstore or, if you’re too cool for that now, Amazon.

Halo: Cryptum

Halo: CryptumWhy do I recommend Halo: Cryptum?

Any fan of the Halo franchise needs this book. Set in the Halo 4 universe and starring a young rebellious Forerunner, it pits new antagonists up against Master Chief. Cryptum offers a glimpse of what’s going to happen in the upcoming sequel. If you’re a fan of the game’s lore, then this is sure to please.

The story (from the publisher):

100,000 years ago, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings. But one species — eons beyond all others in both technology and knowledge — achieved dominance. They ruled in peace but met opposition with quick and brutal effectiveness. They were the Forerunners — the keepers of the Mantle, the next stage of life in the Universe’s Living Time. And then they vanished. This is their story.

My take:

Though Greg Bear’s writing style took me awhile to get used to (big vocabulary and wordy descriptions seem to be the author’s forté), the book contains numerous plot twists, mysteries, and an ending you’re sure to never forget.

Dead Space: Martyr

Dead Space: MartyrFor those who want to know more about the Dead Space universe and why it features so many people turning into monsters, Dead Space: Martyr is a great place to start.

The story (from the publisher):

A universe cursed with life after death. It all started deep beneath the Yucatâan peninsula, where an archaeological discovery took us into a new age, bringing us face-to-face with our origins and destiny. Michael Altman had a theory that no one would hear. It cursed our world for centuries to come. This, at last, is his story.

My take:

Don’t bother if you haven’t played the games. The entire plot would probably make little sense to you (if any). However, by the time I put the book down, I had a much better understanding of what the heck had just happened in my earlier playthrough of Dead Space.

Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth

Uncharted: The Fourth LabyrinthWith Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth, fans of the series will be treated to a nice little story that doesn’t really affect the games at all, meaning it can be read at any time.

The story (from the publisher):

Uncharted follows the adventures of daring thief Nathan Drake who is in search of ancient ruins, priceless artifacts, and untold riches. Sony’s Uncharted series has sold nearly 4 million copies to date. Known for breathtaking action sequences, deep and inventive mystery, and amiable characters, Uncharted makes its natural leap to print much to the excitement of fans everywhere.

My take:

This is yet another fun Nathan Drake tale that will keep you occupied for hours. If you’ve played the games before, then you know just what kind of attitudes to expect from each of the characters. Unfortunately, newcomers to the franchise will feel a bit lost since there is very little character development whatsoever.

World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde

World of Warcraft: Rise of the HordeWorld of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde is enjoyable, the plot is pretty solid, and the characters are spot on. The author even claims to play World of Warcraft, and it shows since she obviously knows her stuff.

The story (from the publisher):

Long ago, on the idyllic world of Draenor, the noble orc clans lived in relative peace with their enigmatic neighbors, the draenei. But the nefarious agents of the Burning Legion had other plans for both of the unsuspecting races. The demon-lord Kil’jaeden set in motion a dark chain of events that would succeed not only in eradicating the draenei but forging the orc clans into an single, unstoppable juggernaut of hatred and destruction.

My take:

Any fan of Warcraft will be pleasantly surprised by the depth of lore that Rise of the Horde jumps into. This is one of my favorite novels based on Blizzard’s epic franchise, and I wish all video game books were modeled after this one.


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