The Infernal City by Greg Keyes

Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow–for wherever it falls, people die and rise again.

And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins, and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest….

I’m still a little bummed that Greg Keyes, author of The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone is writing tie-in fiction… but I suppose you gotta pay the bills somehow. Still, if any author can get me to give tie-in fiction a second look, it’s Keyes.

As for the cover, the most interesting aspect to me is that they’re downplaying the Elder Scrolls connection. There’s no big logo, there’s nothing indicating that it’s related to a videogame, there’s no cheesy Computer Generated chick is leather. In fact, it all looks kinda boring. The artwork is nice, but the overall low contrast and the font work isn’t very memorable. Maybe it’ll look better in person.

  • Shawn August 28, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Anyone else think of Steven Erikson when they see that cover…? ;)

  • Saibot August 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

    It actually reminds me more of 3rd edition Forgotten Realms.

  • James August 28, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Yet another synopsis that leaves me entirely uninterested. Is it the goal of publishers to ensure that synopses these days sound as mediocre and cliched as possible?

    The actual art is nice and if the city bits were left out then it would not be out of place on an Erikson novel. Have to agree with you, Aidan. The art is undoubtedly nice, but the frame and typography is drab. A new font and a new color (nothing says infernal like a red)would do a lot to improve things.

  • Joseph August 28, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Definitely agree with James, as far as the Erikson mention goes.

    In fact:


  • aidan August 28, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    James – One thought: rather than insipid dust jacket summaries, perhaps the real reason is that you’re getting a little burnt out on traditional secondary world/epic fantasy?

    I know I go through periods where everything seems uninspired to me, and all it takes is a bit of reading outside of the immediate genre and all of a sudden my interest is re-sparked.

  • James August 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Ha, no worries there. I have been reading less and less epic fantasy over the past year. I think five out of around forty books have been so. It goes beyond that though. Recently there was a bit of talk about Blake Charlton’s Spellwright, the synopsis of which did nothing more than make me want to avoid it at all costs. However, the sample chapters provided by the author had a lot of potential and made me change my mind.

    Yeah, there is little doubt that I am burning out on Epic fantasy. I have a tendency to pick up whatever looks interesting, no matter the genre, and Epic fantasy hasn’t been catching my attention.

    Still, one would think that publishers could quite possibly think of a way to spin the gist of a story without making it sound like everything else being released.

  • aidan August 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Funny you mention Charlton. We’ve been trading emails over the last few days, and Charlton mentioned that the synopsis for his novel that’s been floating around the web was written four years ago, and is in need of an overhaul.

    In other words, I expect the copy on the dust jacket to read differently than what we’ve seen so far.

  • Joe Sherry August 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Keyes has done tie-in before. Star Wars and Babylon Five. I suppose lots of folks, have, though I know we’re not really talking about that.

  • Joe Sherry August 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    There’s an extra comma in there. Whoops.

  • Adam Whitehead August 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Yeah, not really getting the complaint. Keyes did three books in the NEW JEDI ORDER series and a BABYLON 5 trilogy which, although set in the TV show’s universe, was actually set about 150 years before the show with an entirely original cast. It was pretty good.

    Also, we need less discussion of the ELDER SCROLLS guys ripping off Erikson and more discussion of Erikson ripping off DRAGONLANCE, which did the flying mountain city thing a lot earlier than he did ;-)

  • James August 28, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I am not even going to judge the whole tie-in thing. I happen to like a Star Wars book every now and then. Back when I started playing Morrowind, I said to myself, “Someone needs to write in this setting.” Now I cannot say that I am the biggest fan of Keyes, but I did enjoy the first half of his Kingdom of Thorn and Bone. If he manages to bring out something at least on par with those two, then we should have something good.

    I may bitch about that horrid little synopsis, but there is little doubt that I will be picking up the book anyway. What with my mild obsession with Morrowind and all…

    Wert: If only I could have made it more than fifteen pages into one of the Dragonlance books, I may well have tried to discuss that point.

  • Kendall August 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Wow, until I read Aidan’s post (and the comments), I didn’t even know “elder scrolls” wasn’t just the name of a new series by Keyes. I live under a rock, I guess–well, I don’t play lots of computer games–so I’ve never heard of it. Damn, and I was intrigued until I realized it was tie-in to a game….

  • Joseph August 29, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Shall be interesting to see how this one is going to be. Hopefully, if done right, even non-game fans will be pulled into reading and enjoying it.

  • […] this Greg Keyes info comes to us from the book blog A Dribble of Ink. First up, there’s the cover and blurb for The Infernal City, the Elder Scrolls videogame tie-in novel being published in trade paperback […]

  • James Monroe October 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I like the cover, it holds to the somewhat bland covers of the games.

  • Mysti October 24, 2009 at 5:12 am

    The covers of the games aren’t bland, just… understated. Really though, there shouldn’t be too much worry about the fact that this book’s a tie-in. It isn’t as though the Elder Scrolls is a series entirely based on “man with gun shoots monsters.” I’ve been playing Morrowind for nearly seven years now, and the thing that keeps me coming back to it is the huge amount of rich and complex lore to be found in this universe. I’ve always been an extensive reader first, and a gamer second. Seriously, why not head over to the Imperial Library? ( It’s the “unofficial” site containing all relevant Elder Scrolls information, including timelines, game plots, and a multitude of in-game books. Known developers of the games use it as an information source, as did Greg Keyes while researching the novels. (So I’ve heard. These things can’t always be verified, of course.) You’ll (hopefully) be as intrigued as I am.

  • […] visceral enough to complement each other perfectly. In a perfect world, authors like Stover (and Greg Keyes) would be able to work exclusively on original fiction, but it’s also nice to see tie-in […]

  • […] visceral enough to complement each other perfectly. In a perfect world, authors like Stover (and Greg Keyes) would be able to work exclusively on original fiction, but it’s also nice to see tie-in […]