Bethesda: First "Elder Scrolls" Novel Due this Fall

I've recently been replaying Bethesda's role playing opus Oblivion to fiddle with all the stuff I missed on my first pass years ago. My radar's thus full-spin for Elder Scrolls news...and then this dropped in my inbox a couple hours ago.

Bethesda Softworks, a ZeniMax Media company, and Del Rey, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group, are pleased to announce that

Del Rey Books will publish two novels based on Bethesda Softworks’ award-winning, high-fantasy video game series, The Elder Scrolls

. The best-selling game series is known for giving the player the ability to choose how their story will play out and unfold, and for the incredible amount of lore and depth found in these rich game worlds.

"Incredible amount of lore" indeed. The series boasts several novel's worth of readable text divvied into virtual tomes distributed throughout Cyrodiil, the panoramic province in which Oblivion takes place. Some are "skill books" that buff your stats the minute you crack them. Others snap markers onto your map and send you galloping into danger. But most are just, you know, books, stacked on shelves in the hundreds for no other reason than to edify your appetite for background lore and the odd bit of miscellaneous locational information.

Who'll author? Take a bow Greg Keyes, who you might know as the guy who authored a couple New York Times bestsellers in the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series. I'm not much for shared universe fiction — the writing's almost axiomatically hack-ish — so I'll highlight Keyes' original work, like his "The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone" quartet (see SF Site mostly positive review of the tetralogy's closer) and "Age of Reason" series (also a four-booker), an alternate history science-fantasy involving historical luminaries like Isaac Newton and Ben Franklin mucking about with alchemy and demonology.

Best thing to do is sample his writing for yourself, which you can here.

As for the Elder Scrolls books — two individual stories, or a duology? — the novels will be "all-new, original stories based in The Elder Scrolls universe." The first one's titled The Infernal City, and it's due out sometime this coming fall.

"We've been big fans of Greg’s work for a long time, and we're thrilled he agreed to bring his talents to The Elder Scrolls,� said Bethesda's VP of public relations Pete Hines. "We see these books as a natural extension of the franchise and think fans will love the stories and characters Greg has created."

About the book:

The Infernal City is set after the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the latest game in the video game series, and finds the citizens of Tamriel once again facing an uncertain future. Floating high above the land is a strange and mysterious city that is casting a horrifying shadow – wherever it falls, people die and rise again as undead. It is up to an unlikely duo – a seventeen-year-old girl named Annaig and the Emperor’s young son, Prince Attrebus – to rescue the kingdom from doom. Annaig and Attrebus’ quest will take them through the Elder Scrolls universe and their adventure is sure to add to the series’ already magnificent mythology.

Possible downloadable expansion pack for Oblivion? Nah. I'm betting bridge material for The Elder Scrolls V, which I've pegged (perhaps madly) for an official announcement (2010 release?) sometime later this year.

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