Baldur's Gate II by Matt Bell
ISBN 13: 978-1-940535-08-1
Upon its release in 2000, BioWare's PC role-playing epic Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn was hailed as a paragon of its genre and named "RPG of the Year" by IGN, GameSpy, and GameSpot. A game like Baldur's Gate II requires not just a master wordsmith but a dungeon master. Enter award-winning novelist Matt Bell, author of four works of fiction and co-author of the Dungeons & Dragons novel The Last Garrison.
Bell's book explores BG2's immersive narrative and complex mechanics, unpacks how RPG systems enable our emotional investment in characters, investigates the game's non-linear story, and relates his own struggle to reconcile being a "serious" adult with his love of D&D and video games. Dig in, geek out, and go for the eyes, Boo!
"I simply plowed through this book in two sittings. Baldur's Gate II is a great read [...] I highly recommend you don't avoid it." - Dan Wickett, editor and publisher of Dzanc Books
"The manner in which Bell writes about these events feels so surprising to me: with straightforward clarity, full of anxious prevarication. This voice is [...] disturbingly open and honest. And disturbing in a good way: Bell clearly still struggles to reconcile these two selves—writer and gamer—and struggles too to figure out why it’s so hard for him." - Brooklyn Magazine
"Authors are far from free to write what they want [...] Baldur's Gate II is about exactly that. It’s an uneasy, courageous, and ultimately vulnerable attempt to bridge a divide [between literary fiction and genre fiction] most of us are unwilling to admit exists. Bell’s book succeeds because it lays this conflict bare." - The Rumpus
"At once a memoir, a lecture on storycraft, an apology, and a love letter to the classic Dungeons & Dragons video game. [...] Bell reminds us that to write well—and to live well—we must remain true to our hidden, buried selves." - Fiction Advocate
"The book thrives on those tensions between shame and love, denial and gratitude." - LA Review of Books
"Baldur’s Gate II is successful in nearly all aspects. It’s a book that offers something for every kind of reader [...] It is a book that comes from the heart, the story of becoming comfortable in your own skin, of embracing the things you once loved and probably, if you tried again, would probably still love." - Atticus Review
"A pleasure to read. [...] [T]his is as fine a work in this genre and theme that you’re likely to find." - Paste
"Baldur’s Gate II (the book) is the best sort of writing, and an exemplary of the essay form: it enlivens the subject at hand, it places it in a broader context (here, the place of games in culture, and it gives insight into the mind of the gamer), makes creative analogies (writing as analogy to character creation in gaming), and, most importantly, it is reflexive, it gives insight into the author and invites our own reflection." - Mike Woods
"Bell shows the humanity that lies between the lines of any RPG." - Heavy Feather Review
"Bell's book shows that it's okay to embrace the things you love because they're what make you who you are." - The Next Best Book Blog
More Reviews: Goodreads