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Planescape: Torment

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Planescape: Torment, is a novel written by Ray and Valerie Vallese. It is based on the role playing video game by Interplay.

Cover of Planescape: Torment by Ray and Valerie Vallese.


Details

  • Title: Planescape: Torment
  • Author: Ray and Valerie Vallese
  • Format: Softcover
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
  • Pages: 247
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786915277
  • ISBN-13: 978-07869152798
  • Release Date: October 1, 1999


Synopsis

The endless Blood War rages, a never-ending battle between the fiends of the planes. Amid this horrific conflict, a single hero with no memory of his past seeks to discover his true identity.

Of course, this being the planes, his companions on his quest are ... unusual. But if you can't trust a floating skull, an eccentric investor, and a succubus, who can you trust?

Practically no one.


Book Review

The following review is taken from the Amazon.com book listing in the External Links below.


  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Ravel can see my Torment
  • Reviewed On: October 10, 2000
  • Reviewed By: David Mitchell


At one point in Torment (the game), Ravel Puzzelwell, an infamous legendary Night Hag who has granted the curse of immortality on the Nameless one looks mockingly into the heart of both him and the hearts of his five companions. Nameless, as she explains acts as a loadstone for tormented souls, all the characters who have followed him thus far are "tormented" to some degreee as well. Each has an internal conflict, and Ravel with her demented but nontheless truthful vision sees the faults and torments of each character: Dak'kon the grimly silent but obedient githzerai is bound to the service of the Nameless one through an old and forgotten debt. Annah, the bitchy but lovable teifling girl, finds herself mysteriously drawn to scarred and leathery man, although this revelation confuses and frightens rather than reassures her. Fall-from-grace, the reformed succubus, also finds that the Nameless one inspires her sympathy, although in turning away from her inherent dark nature she suffers as well. Nordom, the rogue modron, has lived in a world of perfect order until he deviated from the norm in his home. His assured and robotic voice hides is an increasingly confused being behind it. Even Morte, the goofy floating skull, with a wry and sometimes raunchy sense of humor, is stricken with guilt about a past event so distand he doesn't even remember it. Yet now his innate cowardace is his achilles heel.

Now, I suppose, if I were traveling with the Nameless one and his motley crew of friends, what would Ravel see in me? What is my torment? Very recently, I had played a turly phenominal game called Planescape: Torment. I revelled in world so fascinating and descriptive, with characters so real and outlandish at the same time, and lived vicariously as complex and tragic figure, a heavily scarred immortal amnesiac who wanders the planes in search of his identity. Games have made me laugh before, but never have made me laugh so hard. And never before had a game made me cry. Never before had I felt such a feeling of dread, despair, and morbid fascination. In short, the experience of Torment is like reading a gripping novel. Not this one, that is.

Then I found out that someone had written a novel of this game, so I had to submit to my own curiosity. I expected it to altered somewhat, but for 240 pages this book mechanically toils away and underminds everything about the game it possibly can. The end result: a fast-paced, user-friendly, watered-down, slipshod, juvenile carigature that completely destroys the best elements of the game. Even from the beginning the starts off on the wrong foot. Gone are the vivid descriptions, characterizations, startling revelations, subtlties, and in short scope of the game. Worse than that, the book is badly and hastily written besides. The emotional edge is lost as well as much of the imagery, for the book relentlessly nods away and proceeds, leaving little room for thought. This creates a sense of detatchment and even indifference on behalf of the reader. The story contained within this almost completely incongruous to that of the game, it's as if a sheet of paper was sent to authors within a weeks notice containing only a few vital names characters (The Nameless one, who is referred to as "Thane", Annah, Morte, Fall-from-grace, Dak'kon (who look nothing like how they did from the game), Pharod, etc.). Several of the most interesting locations and characters in the game, such as the Dismembered Crypt, the Warrens of Thought, The Alley of Lingering Sighs, The Brothel of Slating Intellectual Lusts, the Rubikon Testing grounds, the Lady of Pain's maze, the Maloseum, Deionarra, Nordom, Ignus, Vhailor and countless others are completely absent. Although they are familiar with the Planescape universe, it is impossible to assume, or even hypothesize that the authors ever played the game.

That alone will be evident after reading the first chapter or two. Therefore, nothing of quality remains in this choked story. It is an injustice of the worst sort (even Vhailor might agree with me on this). I wonder if anyone ever read the book before it was shipped. If you've played Torment, you will regret the experience. If you you have NOT played Torment, then I urge you--no I beg you--go out and buy the game. Or borrow it from a friend at least. Don't bother reading this book. Don't make eye contact with it. In fact, don't even finish reading this review. Even if someone had simply received a copy of the script and all it's countless ramifications from Black Isle and turned it into a book, it would be a much better read than this. (Come to think of it, I would like to see that . . .) There is way to make this material work in book form, though it would hardly be neccisary. If you truly wish to turn Torment into a novel, then for God's sake, I'll have you know that 90% of your dialogue and even descriptions have already been done for you in the game.

Otherwise, it makes this book seem even more pointless. Typically, novelizations of narrative-impaired games such as DOOM work for novels, because the authors are free to incorporate their own story encompassing the theme of the game and building on, rather than undermining those elements that made the game so memorable (and by conicidence, I'm being very fair when I state that the DOOM novels are much better than the novelization of Torment, even if you are to read them without prior knowledge of the games). Torment, however is a fluke in the fact that it is the exact opposite. They should have known better.


External Links