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Literature / Baldur's Gate

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The Baldur's Gate video games received three Novelizations, corresponding to the three biggest entries in the series. They are:

  • Baldur's Gate (1999) by Philip Athans
  • Baldur's Gate II (2000) by Philip Athans
  • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (2001) by Drew Karpyshyn

The books establish a "canon" version of the player character: a human male fighter named Abdel Adrian.

The Baldur's Gate novels provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Angelo. In the game, he was Sarevok's strongest ally while in the books, he sides with Abdel at the climax after being almost killed by Sarevok.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In the games Khalid is a Nice Guy, if a bit of a coward. In the books he's kind of competent, but he's also a jerk to his friends and downright abusive towards Jaheira.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Xan in the game was quite nihilistic and pessimist. In the book, he's more of a upbeat, optimistic character. Also, while Xan in the game was an enchanter, he was a rogue in the book.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Imoen is a lesbian in the books, which is only notable because there's no hint of her sexuality in the games.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: Minsc, who has a bald head in the games, is described as having a full head of red hair in the Shadows of Amn novel.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While Xzar and Montaron are already evil in the game, their mission was to solve the Iron Crisis for the Zhentharim who were falsely accused by the Iron Throne. In the book, they are Sarevok's henchmen.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Practically everyone, at least in the first two books.
    • The protagonist Abdel Adrian is initially more like the opposite, because instead of starting out as a novice just out of his childhood home like the Player Character, he's already an experienced mercenary. However, by Shadows of Amn, he becomes an Adaptational Wimp, because he's still the same rather crude thug he always was, whereas the game has the characters advancing to pretty epic levels and fighting demons and dragons. If you think in terms of the game, it's like he started out at level 5note  and never advanced any higher in the second book. He gains super powers by the end of the book to compensate.
    • The protagonist's companions become pretty useless. The worst must be Jaheira, who's plummeted into Faux Action Girl status faster than you can say "Abdel saw a more delicate side of her behind her tough warrior outside."
    • The villains of Shadows of Amn: Bodhi turns from a menacing, superhumanly powerful vampire into someone who wants to seduce Adrian every time they meet and is torn apart by his Superpowered Evil Side. (Also, as revealed in the same scene, she can't regenerate like every standard vampire.) Meanwhile, Irenicus is still a vaguely powerful wizard, but this is nothing compared to his absolutely overwhelming power in the game. Besides, his personality goes from chilling monster to, well, like the most generic villain stereotype but with less personality.
    • This applies even to minor characters. From Shadows of Amn: Aran Linvail, head of the Shadow Thieves in Athkatla, becomes some random assassin who needs to be killed along the way for not much reason. Saemon Havarian, a flamboyant sea captain and repeatedly backstabbing Karma Houdini, becomes a drunk with a boat.
  • Adapted Out: Most of the party members and side quests from the games are left out, since a full adaptation of each game would turn the novels into Doorstoppers on the level of War and Peace. Examples include Imoen (though only in the first novel), Edwin, Viconia, Dynaheir, Aerie, Anomen, Skie, Eldoth, and Keldorn.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Throne of Bhaal. Abdel defeats Melissan at the throne, and chooses to give up his Bhaal essence to live the rest of his life as a mortal, ensuring that Bhaal is gone for good, but all of Abdel's friends, family and companions are dead. Abdel takes no joy in his victory, and heads back home with only the reassurance that he will eventually move on from his grief.
  • Broad Strokes: Fifth edition Forgotten Realms material and Baldur's Gate III have quietly discarded the novel's narrative, with characters like Jaheira and Minsc being shown alive with personalities authentic to their video game incarnations. Novel protagonist Abdel Adrian is still considered canon according to Murder in Baldur's Gate and comments from Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood.
  • The Cameo: After being absent from the first novel, Minsc briefly appears in the Shadows of Amn novelization.
  • Cassandra Truth: Xzar tells the others the big plot twist of the first game pretty much at the start. No-one believes him because he's insane. Of course, he also doesn't care, because he's insane.
  • Death by Adaptation: Khalid, Xzar and Montaron died during the first book. Canonically, Khalid died at the beginning of the second game and Xzar and Montaron died later in the same game. In addition, Grand Duke Eltan was killed by one of Sarevok's men while he barely survives in the game. By the end of the trilogy, virtually every companion from the games that was adapted into the novels is dead, including Imoen and Jaheira.
  • Dumb Muscle: Abdel Adrian.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: No one except for Abdel makes it to the end of the trilogy alive.
  • Faux Action Girl: Jaheira. A particularly egregious case in that she doesn't even try to fight anyone almost ever.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Abdel in the final parts of Throne of Bhaal. He's Nigh-Invulnerable at this point, so it's not like clothes or armor have much benefit to him.
  • The Ghost: Rieltar. He is mentioned in the books several times but never appeared in the novels physically. Which is surprising since he is one of the major antagonists and responsible for who Sarevok has become.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Adrian's thuggish fighting skills don't improve from the first novel to the second like they would in the games, so when he has to fight a giant monster, he just becomes super-powerful all of a sudden. Of course, he is carrying around the essence of a dead god inside him all the time.
  • Novelization: Well, obviously.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Kind of like in the game (Bhaalspawn turning into monsters), but here it's an Invoked Trope. In fact, it's basically Irenicus's whole plan: make them monsters and send them to attack his enemies.