Published on April 20th, 2016 | by Peter Freeman0
Empires of EVE: The Great Wars of EVE Online Review
Summary: Empires of Eve is a special book that deserves to read by anyone interested in experimental writing along side a Game of Thrones like tale in space.
Empires of Eve: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online is a history book, not about some long past real world events, but depicting a game. As the title states, the book is about Eve Online. Developed by CCP Games in 2003, Eve Online has become something truly unique in the gaming space. Unlike games of its genre, Eve Online allows for a persistent world to grow, flourish, and naturally, go to war. It’s these qualities that allow for Andrew Groen to write such an engaging novel.
The book covers several years of Eve’s history, from just prior to the game’s official release to sometime before 2009. Throughout the first six years of Eve Online’s life, there are stories that could rival that of Game of Thrones. There’s war, political intrigue, even spy craft and sabotage.
Groen does a really good job of setting you into the world and place of Eve Online. Even though it’s a game I’ve never played, Groen quickly describes the world and gets you into the narrative. If you’ve played games before, you’ll already have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on here. Learning the specifics of the Eve world doesn’t take too long and it isn’t many pages before you get shoved into the action.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue of the book presents itself almost immediately. The names of systems in Eve are basically mechanical designations. For example, a major battle might take place in the system of M-J562. Keeping all of these straight becomes something of a nightmare, so I just gave up on keeping track. Instead I worried about the importance of the battle and the potential cost vs. reward going on there.
There are a ton of names in the book as well. Eve alliances have funny names that don’t sound like they belong in a science fiction world. Much like in Game of Thrones, keeping track of who belongs in which alliance, who allied with who, and who wants to kill who gets a little hazy in the first half of the book. Due to events in the game, keeping track of who hates who gets pretty easy as things collapse into a few major factions.
Overall the book is extremely exciting to read. The things that happen in Eve are almost always worth reading about. There’s constant war, so the book never lacks any momentum. But the best parts are the events that take place outside of the game. For example, during a major war between two alliances, publisher EA closed down one of their MMO games. This left a ton of players with nothing to play, so they gravitated over to Eve and signed up in the war. These new members wound up making the difference for the losing side. It’s events like that, that’s truly fascinating to read about. Even things like patches act like new inventions or war tactics.
The book itself is really well put together. I feel like mentioning this because the pages are printed on something akin to photo paper. The whole thing has a very professional format and look to it. The thing I can begrudge it is the occasional sidebar that appears in certain chapters. The text in those sidebars is so small that there’s a very real possibility that most people won’t be able to read it.
That small complaint aside, I really couldn’t recommend Empires of Eve more. It’s a special book. It’s something that will no doubt interest gamers, but is also written in such a way to draw in those who know nothing about Eve and even less about video games. It’s an exciting chronicle of something truly unique in the space of video games and deserves to be read by everyone possible.