Tales of the Apt Thoughts

When Adrian Tchaikovsky’s massive Shadows of the Apt saga at last came to an end, I left it with very mixed feelings, having disagreed with some of the story-telling choices he had made toward the end. Nonetheless, I cannot deny he is an objectively good writer, and that Shadows of the Apt boasts one of the most intricate and impressive settings in the entire fantasy genre.

Cover art for Tales of the Apt: Spoils of War by Adrian TchaikovskyThus, I did eventually find myself compelled to look into the short fiction collections set in that universe he has released since the end of the main series, titled Tales of the Apt. So far, there are three installments in this series: Spoils of War, A Time for Grief, and For Love of Distant Shores.

The first collection somewhat disappointed me. It mainly dealt with locations, cultures, and themes that were already well-explored in the main series, which seemed a waste of potential. We get it; Wasps are dicks.

The only highlight was the story of a disgraced Mantis-kinden Weaponmaster searching for her warrior’s death, a story perfectly calculated to appeal to my interests.

A Time for Grief was more impressive, though. It features a lot of new material surrounding settings and concepts that were not explored by the novels, including a very interesting delve into pre-history and the true origins of the insect-kinden. The title story also delves into the birth of the city-state of Princep Salmae, and feels important enough that I think it really should have been included in the main books somehow.

The third book, For Love of Distant Shores, was my favourite. It feels more like a full new novel, because while it is still technically a short story collection, it follows the same characters throughout.

For Love of Distant Shores tells of the travels of the absent-minded Beetle explorer Doctor Ludweg Phinagler (seriously) as he uncovers new knowledge, and mortal peril. Mostly peril. This serves as an opportunity to visit a number of areas and stories mostly or entirely new to the series, some of it truly fascinating.

However, Phinagler himself isn’t necessarily the focus. The stories are told via the notes of Fosse, his assistant, an acerbic and debaucherous Fly-kinden woman. More than anything else, Fosse is what makes For Love of Distant Shores worth reading. Her wry, cutting commentary is an absolute delight from beginning to end.

All of these stories seemed to be written with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the setting, so unfortunately I’m not sure I’d recommend the collections to those who haven’t already read Shadows of the Apt.

For those who have read the novels, I definitely recommend A Time for Grief and For Love of Distant Shores. Spoils of War is less memorable and probably only worth it for super fans, if that.

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The Book of Adria: Some Life in Diablo III After All?

Before Diablo III first released, Blizzard put out the Book of Cain, a lovingly crafted lore repository that has become one of my all-time favourite pieces of gaming memorabilia. To mark Reaper of Souls’ launch, they released the somewhat less impressive Book of Tyrael, which added more to Diablo’s backstory.

A cutscene from Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsAnd that was pretty much that, except now something interesting has happened. Amazon has now posted a listing for a third installment of this series: the Book of Adria.

Well.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up here, and I’m not being entirely successful.

I had pretty much written Diablo III off as a dead game at this point. I’m desperate for a conclusion to the multiple cliffhangers left by Reaper of Souls, but it’s been so long without any meaningful updates to the game or even the suggestion of such that I had figured Blizzard had abandoned the project for some incomprehensible reason.

And a new book definitely doesn’t mean that a new expansion pack is around the corner. Maybe they’re just churning out a new book for the sake of getting a little extra cash from the Diablo brand name.

But each of the previous Book of X installments were tied to a major release. And this is coming on the heels of the announcement of new comic books in the Diablo universe, so it does feel as if some momentum is building here. Gamescom and BlizzCon are both coming soon, so there’s at least the opportunity for a major announcement in the near future.

We do know that Blizzard is working on something related to Diablo. They’ve been hiring new developers for the Diablo franchise for a while now. The general assumption was that it was for Diablo IV or some other new game, but it seems too early for an announcement of either of those things. If the Book of Adria is tied to a new release — which I grant is far from certain — it’s more likely to be for Diablo III content than anything else.

The treachery of Adria in Diablo IIIIf nothing else, a new source of Diablo lore is appealing, especially as seen through the eyes of Adria. She was one of the most memorable characters of Diablo III, and delving into her writings could provide fascinating insights into not just the Burning Hells, but her psychology as a character, as well.

Finally, as an aside, this news comes at an interest time for me personally as I’ve recently been getting back into playing D3. I’m doing so very casually, but I wanted something mindless to relax with, and it occurred to me I’d never finished the story on my necromancer. My gripes from before remain, but I can’t deny Corpse Explosion is ridiculously satisfying to use.