The Tomb Raider series has produced some of the most iconic games ever created, and its pop cultural impact cannot be overstated. Lara Croft, more than almost any other character, has become a shorthand for the kind of adult appeal the game has grown over the years, from its consciously “adult” incarnation to the more grounded take on the reboot; and through it all, she was a pioneer of female portrayal in video games.
So it makes sense that fans want more material to dive into – more stories, more perspectives, more Lara. The Tomb Raider Expanded Universe has spawned several books based on the series, across all kinds of genres and stories. But for the discerning fan, which Tomb Raider books are most worth your time?
The Tomb Raider Coloring Book
Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore – as many adults can tell you, diving into a coloring book for a while can be a great way to refocus. So the Tomb Raider coloring book is a great way to take a break after playing one of the more intense sections of a Tomb Raider game.
The book is also a tribute to the vibrant fandom surrounding the franchise; it features several different artists with varying styles, including several illustrations submitted by fans. It’s a great way to see how many ways you can play a beloved character like Lara Croft.
Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever
While this is one of the more recent novels in the Tomb Raider franchise, Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever is more of a throwback to classic games. It focuses less on Lara’s origin story and the trauma she carries with it, and more on her historical adventures and kicks.
As such, if you’re looking for psychological depth, this book probably won’t give you what you want. However, if you are interested in a simple and exciting adventure with supernatural time-leaping shenanigans, this will be exactly what you need.
Tomb Raider: Ten Thousand Immortals
Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals is written by the same author as The Blade of Gwynnever, Dan Abnett. However, The Ten Thousand Immortals is written into reboot games canon – bridging the gap between 2013’s Tomb Raider and its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider.
It is much more interesting to describe Lara’s psyche as she deals with her post-traumatic stress disorder from the events of the first game. The Ten Thousand Immortals do a great job of expanding Lara’s character, showing the rugged adventurer in a newer, more human light.
Tomb Raider: The Official Cookbook and Travel Guide
One of the strongest assets of the Tomb Raider franchise is its sense of belonging; Lara’s adventures take her all over the world, and the games are both an explosion of action-packed fun and a sort of virtual vacation.
So it makes sense that Tomb Raider: The Official Cookbook and Travel Guide will join the ranks of video game-based cookbooks, allowing you to learn more about the cultures Lara encounters through food. If you’re interested in great food, or just want to learn more about the real-world locations that inspired the games, this cookbook is a great place to start.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Movie novels don’t always have the best reputation, but Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is surprisingly good read. On the one hand, the film is actually one of the best video game adaptations to the screen and played a big part in consolidating Lara’s iconic status.
On the other hand, while the movie doesn’t work very hard to align with the continuity of the games, the book actually recalls the events of the original Tomb Raider games, lining them up on top of each other. It is clear that a lot of thought has been put into this book.
20 years of Tomb Raider: unearthing the past, defining the future
Released for the series’ 20th anniversary in 2016, 20 Years of Tomb Raider is a must read for any fan of the series. The book is written by Meagan Marie, a longtime fan who worked at Crystal Dynamics for many years. As a result, 20 Years of Tomb Raider is packed with details, with interviews from the show’s staff and information on every aspect of the show.
It also includes beautiful archival artwork, including promotional material, concept artwork, and more. Considering that even iconic locations like Croft Manor have changed dramatically over the years, it’s amazing to have a resource showing how these changes came about to make Tomb Raider a touchstone in the game.
Tomb Raider Archives
Given the luscious adventure stories that inspired the series, it’s only natural that Lara’s adventures would be adapted as a comic book; after all, visual media are great for depicting thrilling action, and Lara’s stamina is nothing short of superhuman. But the comics based on the original games had been out of print for several years, and worse yet, the books available were in fragile paperback form.
But in 2016, the Tomb Raider archives went into publication. These volumes compile these early comics into glossy hard covers, showcasing their magnificent artistry better than ever. They even include the old cover artwork for each comic book installment, a nice inclusion for fans who have read the original version.
The filming of Tomb Raider
While all of the other books on this list are an officially approved publication, Daryl Baxter’s The Making Of Tomb Raider is an unofficial look at the development of the original Tomb Raider games. But that’s not a bad thing.
Baxter fills the book with in-depth interviews with the creative team, allowing an unusual level of understanding not only of these iconic games, but also of the open space for developers and the game development landscape at the start of the 3D revolution. As Tomb Raider developer Gavin Rummery can tell you, it’s a compelling story that you can’t get from any of the official books.
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