Bad guys, a jeep chase, some treasure and a rescued damsel in distress. Pretty standard fare for Nathan Drake in the Uncharted games, so starting off The Fourth Labyrinth in exactly this way is a promising start to what develops into a novel which is very much worthy of the Uncharted series.
The story of The Fourth Labyrinth is pretty dark, but typically Uncharted. After arriving back from his latest burgling raid, Drake is contacted by his old friend Sully, desperate for help in finding the reasons behind his friend having been chopped up and left in a box at a busy train station. The action from this point on swings between historical discovery, fast paced action and some well paced twists which keep you guessing while maintaining the excitement and danger so often felt while playing an Uncharted title.
This comes as quite a relief, as it’s very easy to create a mediocre game tie-in novel. Having adored the recent Drake’s Deception game (our review is over here) I was nervous about reading this, wondering just how the action and heart-pumping scenes from the games would transfer into a medium which is, essentially, developed at the pace chosen by the reader. So while it’s entirely true that there are slower moments while the storyline is built up, the danger of the situations Drake and co find themselves in is never lost, right up to the final few pages.
I’m not really sure how well this will come across to anyone unfamiliar with the Uncharted series of game though. While the story is very much worth reading, it’s the relationship between Nate and Sully which links most strongly to the game, and having not seen this relationship in action (not to mention the great voice acting by Nolan North and Richard McGonagle) it’s difficult to imagine the book having quite the same charm as if you were a fan of the games. Being able to picture the looks cast between the main characters, the sarcasm in the voice during a witty exchange of put-downs, it all adds to the fun of the book. If I consider reading a book having already experienced the characters elsewhere (such as reading Harry Potter having seen the films) I usually decide against it, preferring to let my imagination do the hard work for me. But this time, I reckon it’s pretty much essential to have the prior exposure.
In addition to this, you won’t be getting any extra sneaky peaks into Drake’s past, with Golden instead choosing to keep everything current and relevant. This turns out to be a good call, as with a constantly high-octane adventure dipping out to look at some long forgotten piece of history would not have fitted at all well. The story will take you to various locations around the world in the search for the elusive Fourth Labyrinth (hence the name) which, for reasons that soon become clear, confusing, then clear again is also being hunted by another set of historians. Add to that a set of mysterious silently-killing ninja assassins (yes, really) who seem hell-bent on kicking up random acts of insanity (which do become clearer later on) and you’ve got plenty to keep you turning the pages until you realise you should have gone to sleep about 3 hours ago.
So would I recommend The Fourth Labyrinth? That depends. If you love the Uncharted games then you shouldn’t miss out on it, it’s a genuinely worthy novel. But for those who have no idea what Uncharted is, or just don’t care, then it might not really hit the same funky chords.
But me? I loved it.