Empires of EVE started off back in 2014 as the Andrew Groen Kickstarter project to write a book about the null sec wars of EVE Online.
I was in as a backer, as were more than three thousand other people from the EVE Online community.
Two years later, the book was out and I had my nice hardback copy, which is currently sitting on the desk beside my keyboard. The title, originally A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online, had been slimmed down to Empires of EVE, but the content was in no way trimmed.
The book follows the formation of the first null sec corporations and alliances from the launch of the game in 2003 through what is called The Great War and the eventual downfall of the Band of Brothers alliance in 2009.
The book went out to the backers of the Kickstarter as well as going up for sale in both physical and ebook formats. At last update, Andrew Groen has sold more than 12,000 copies of the book. Not bad for a book about an obscure game with an odd name in a small segment of the video game market.
To promote the book Andrew Groen has given presentations at various gaming event, such as PAX. If you get a chance to see one of his presentations, you should go. He is an engaging speaking and remains enthusiastic on the topic.
So I was quite happy to hear that he had produced an audiobook version of the work and that he was the narrator. It is available from Audible.com.
Having had an “any two titles” per month subscription with Audible.com since 2000, I put it in my queue and picked up a copy with my August titles and just finished listening to it.
It is not perfect. Having seen Andrew Groen present about EVE Online and Empires of EVE, the book does not live up to that sort of experience. This is not Andrew in front of an audience gushing about a topic in which he is invested, this is Andrew reading a book in a measured and even tone. That was a minor disconnect for me, though I did get used to it quickly enough. It just doesn’t seem like him.
Then there is pronunciation, something that plagues just about every audiobook. How do you pronounce things in New Eden? I remember during the Casino War being confused to find that CCP pronounces the region of Deklein as if it were the work “decline” and not “Deck-lynn” as I had always heard it pronounced. In Andrew’s case, among other things, he pronounces the region Venal, which I always say as though it were the sin (which seems appropriate for null sec), as though it rhymes with the word “fennel.”
Also, hearing a written work read aloud tends to call attention to awkward phrasing and word repetition. That is why it is an oft used self-editing technique. At one point Andrew uses variations of the word “history” three times in a single sentence. Reading that to yourself you might not notice it, but on hearing somebody say it aloud and it draws a cringe and an audible correction from me. I talk back to my audiobooks in the car.
Then there is the recording itself, which is not optimal. It was not recorded in a professional studio by my estimation, given the minor echo that runs throughout the book.
Finally, with the audiobook you do not get any of the maps of visuals included with the physical book. The reason that my hardcover copy is next to me was that I pulled it out a couple of times to look at maps. (I also spent time at DOTLAN looking at regional maps.)
Still, these are not insurmountable issues. And there is something very helpful or comforting about having somebody telling you about these events as opposed to reading the text off of a page. The events wash over you and the threads and overall arc of the story become more important than whether or not a fight too place in the system C-J6MT.
I burned through the book in a few days, mostly while playing Minecraft or doing things in EVE Online like tend my PI farm, move ships, and rat. The work is solid and enjoyable.
Furthermore, the work maybe be just the start. Andrew Groen wrote in his update about the audiobook production of Empires of EVE that it was a learning process as much as anything with an eye towards being able to tell more such stories in the format. So this may be the start of something.
Anyway, my gripes all summed up were minor while my enjoyment of the book in audio format was huge. I recommend it, and I look forward to what might come next.