Fable: The Balverine Order by Peter David

Not all video game adaptations are created equal.  That is to say, some are actually halfway decent.  I've mentioned previously Mass Effect novels and how while they have appeal based on source material, they aren't actually very good.  I will review others soon that are even less flattering, including Assassin's Creed and Bioshock.  (Don't take this to mean you shouldn't let boys read them.  I know, I know, don't give junk when there is better stuff available.  But remember, better stuff doesn't always mean appealing stuff, and you have to start somewhere.)  With Fable: the Balverine Order, I've found one that's actually pretty entertaining.

Set in the fictional land of Albion, where magic (called will) and pre-Victorian technology such as rifles and pistols co-exist, mythical beasts may well be real.  One of these beasts is the balverine, and giant wolf-like creature, sort of like a more evil werewolf.  Thomas, the son of a town merchant, claims his brother was killed by one of these beasts, and when he comes of age, he decides to head out on a quest with his loyal servant/best friend James to find and kill it.  Of course, all is not what it seems and they find themselves mixing with angry giant women, pirates, and mysterious folks of all types.

The plot isn't original at all but it doesn't really matter.  It's a pretty standard quest, with the guys going from point A to point B to point C pretty efficiently, meeting most of the problems you would expect in this kind of story.  What sets it apart from other video game books is that if you didn't know that's what it was, there is no giveaway.  The writing is casual and straightforward, nothing complicated, and foreknowledge of the game world is unnecessary.  It's also pretty funny, too. (The game has its moments, too.  Conversation in the game is handled via "gestures" such as thumbs up, laugh and, of course, fart.)

The games the novel is based on (Fable, Fable II and Fable III) are pretty popular, but I wouldn't say they are the most appealing to teens.  I wouldn't put this in a collection as the only game tie-in since other books like Halo and World of Warcraft have more obvious appeal, but it probably would have the broadest appeal to the general public, non-gamers included.
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