Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever Review

12:00 pm HelenLJohnson 0 Comments

(Source: HardcoreGamers)
(This review contains no obvious spoilers and the book was bought by myself) 

I’ll admit, I did not have high expectations for this novel after the previous effort from Dan Abbot and Nik Vinent, Tomb Raider: Ten Thousand Immortals, was reduced into a Wikipedia, arse nugget, ten thousand train rides and terrible tipping non-adventure. I had more fun tweeting the atrocities in the book which you can find here. I suggest you read that rather than the few hours it will take for the book.

So it was safe to say I approached the latest Tomb Raider novel, Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever, with pretty low expectations. However there were times when I quite enjoyed it and the book was certainly better than Ten Thousand Immortals. Based on the spinoff ‘Lara Croft’ franchise that includes ‘Guardian of Light’ and ‘Temple of Osiris’, Blade of Gwynnerver is more your classic Tomb Raider story than the main franchise. This came through with the characterisation for Lara; this Lara was sassy, swore a little and highlighted the morality of what she was doing as an ‘archeologist’. To be honest, I hadn’t realised how much I missed this classic side of Lara and I particularly enjoyed the quips during fight scenes and the dynamic between Lara and Carter. A fellow archeologist who we were introduced to in ‘Temple of Osiris’. It did rely, at times, that the reader was aware of previous games and what happened in them which is a great little touch for fans, however could alienate potential readers who just want an action/adventure story without a previous backstory.

The book certainly had the feel of the two early noughties movies, which I personally didn’t mind as I enjoyed Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Lara, however if you were wishing for a true retro classic Lara, you may be disappointed. Yet that side certainly came through, in particular the way in which locations circled traditional Tomb Raider stomping grounds such as London, Egypt and Turkey. The story was deeply rooted into archaeology, more than I initially expected. I just wished more of that came out. However what bits there were added a fantastic level of depth to make the novel seem grounded compared to the more arcade and fantasy style of the Lara Croft franchise.

Blade of Gwynnever unfortunately had a similar problem to Ten Thousand Immortals, in that at times the authors sounded like they copy and pasted Wikipedia into their narrative to help describe a situation, item or phenomenon. Often these were not necessary and distracted away from the world creation of the novel. For example, at the start of the novel, there are two whole pages dedicated to the description of Boris Bikes and political unrest in London. Both of which did not add much to the story in the long term and simply acted as distracting factual fluff. Sometimes it became apparent that the authors did not fully understand the character of Lara Croft and the wider world of Tomb Raider, the narrative became confusing as they tried to grasp bits of the story together to create a coherent timeline. I have a feeling that the story has been heavily edited with new sections added in or removed as towards the end the structure is not as solid or entertaining as the start or middle.

A huge positive, despite the problems mentioned above, is that the authors appear freer in Blade of Gwynnever compared to Ten Thousand Immortals. The latter felt constricted with the need to fit into ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ and the book suffered because of this constriction on the character of Lara Croft and the need for her to finish in a certain location with the Trinity organisation set up. In Blade of Gwynnever the prose flows a lot better and we get to know this version of Lara in a greater depth from situations that seem viable for her. My personal favourites were the social sections where we see Lara mingling in scenes across the world with a gun strapped to her thigh under a dress. These were captured beautifully with the quick witted and sarcastic comments from Lara that acted as real throwbacks to both the movies and Core games.

Overall, it is a much better novel than Ten Thousand Immortals and the comic series Frozen Omen, a comic arc set in the same world as Blade of Gwynnever. However I doubt it having much appeal beyond that of the Tomb Raider fanbase. I’d say read it if you think it sounds interesting to you and you feel like you need a little dose of classic Lara, however keep in mind that there is much better fan fiction out there. It might be wise spending your time finding those rather than reading this book.

Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever is available to buy and download now from:
Amazon UK
Amazon USA