Review by C.J. Bunce

Ahoy there, matey.  Gaming developer Rare and distributor Microsoft have said they expect their new shared world action-adventure game Sea of Thieves to be a major success for Xbox One and Windows PC, with a Rare company executive stating he expects the game to become a franchise as popular as Halo, Gears of War, and Minecraft.  As part of its efforts to bring in players, Rare has partnered with Titan Books to publish a tie-in to the game, Tales from the Sea of Thieves.  Sea of Thieves the game is a first-person pirate adventure allowing players to sail a legendary world alone or with a crew of up to four players.  Released in March, the game’s greatest appeal so far for fans has been its great visuals, opting for a cartoon-like palette versus a photo-real world, and its cooperative gameplay.

Written by Paul Davies, Tales from the Sea of Thieves is a fictional journal written loosely in the style of seafaring lore like you’d find in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, more recently William Goldings’ To the Ends of the Earth, and countless other historical accounts.  Its design becomes a real-world take-home prop from the game, a mock “battered and beaten” textured hardcover that looks and feels like a 19th century book that will go well with your tricorn, Jolly Roger, parrot, compass, and telescope.  The contents are in-universe, providing the accounts of pirate crew experienced years before the events of the game, introducing the types of adventures players can encounter in the game.

The tales are light fare, suitable for any age.  They don’t go so far as the darker side of the high seas as you would find in Lovecraft, but the voices are similarly evocative of his style.  The artwork is stylized from the game and fun, full color with the icons and emblems you’d expect from pirate lore.  Even the page edges are untrimmed as with journals and books of years past.

High points of the book are Davies’ newly-created chanties, games, and recipes.  Locations and concepts may be useful in gameplay, but this is not a how-to book or book full of secrets that will assist with gameplay.  In the post-Ready Player One era, fans would normally expect to see some kind of useful Easter egg, helpful tool, or game strategy pointers in a tie-in book, but that is not what this book is about.  So Tales from the Sea of Thieves has two potential audiences: those excited about the game and interested in more related content, and as a springboard for those who know little about pirates and life at sea, and have yet to step into the world of Pirates of the Caribbean, Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey, Long John Silver, and the legion of nonfiction and fiction books on the subject, but could use a push to get excited about this interesting genre.

Here are some images from the book:

Sea of Thieves is another game rooted in the early roleplaying game Oregon Trail–live or die by your actions and your wits.  No doubt the Tales from the Sea of Thieves can get you into the mindset for that kind of adventure.  Tales from the Sea of Thieves is available now here, and the game available here, at Amazon.  Another book is also available for fans of the game, The Art of Sea of Thieves, available here from Dark Horse.

 

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