Karen Traviss wrote the story of Gears of War 3, which concluded the original trilogy in an epic way, and then wrote a significant part of the official novels, expanding the universe in many ways. She has 5 books to her name before the series was interrupted with the games. His books are generally considered the top of the totem pole and have done an immeasurable job in making Gears of War what it is today. Now that Gears is back on our screens, the books have also made a comeback, with Jason Hough writing two new titles. This is the first Gears novel by Michael Stackpole, having already written works in other universes such as Star Trek. He has good shoes to fill, because by the standards of the licensed book and just by the standards of the book in general, Karen Traviss was a strong author. How is Michael and where did the books come from?
The story takes place shortly after the events of Gears of War 3. The Delta Squad successfully deployed the countermeasure device, apparently eradicating the grasshopper threat once and for all. But while the grasshopper may have disappeared, a devastated planet has been left in their wake. The remnants of humanity are scattered in the distance, cities are in ruins, and infrastructure is largely non-existent. This is a period when the game jumps, moving from Gears of War 3 to Gears 4, where civilization managed to get up, dust itself off and return to stabbing each other instead of stabbing monsters. During these years of reconstruction, there are a lot of opportunities to tell interesting stories about Marcus, Anya, Delta Squad and others, so Stackpole certainly has a lot to work with under the authority of Microsoft and the coalition.
With the novel only a few months after Gears of War 3, there is still a lot of room to expand the events between the games, especially since Ephyra Rising sets up a few more plot points at the end to explore. A will be especially interesting because it is not mentioned in the recent games or books, at least not that I remember. I don’t know how Michael Stackpole is going to put it all together. In addition, there are many other characters and stories that can be extracted.
Simply put, Ephyra Rising is a solid read, neither particularly memorable nor particularly bad. I had a great time with it, but I doubt I’ll ever come back for a second read like I did with some of Karen’s previous Gears books. It doesn’t jump into the more important plot points between games and therefore presents itself somewhat inconsistently in the big picture, but that also makes it a good light reading experience. The Gears universe has a lot of room for these little stories, and I like the idea of focusing a little less on blood and guts and more on politics and the world. However, I think it’s also fair to say that some fans may find corruption and politics too dry and clichéd. Finally, Stackpole doesn’t seem to have a good understanding of the character’s voices yet, although I can imagine that in his next book, assuming there is one, he will have nailed it.