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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 (later downplayed a bit) of the player character: a man named Abdel Adrian.


The Baldur's Gate novels provide examples of:

  • 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 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.
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    • 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 (and scenes and plot elements, but that's not this trope) so that it seems almost like you're reading a parody. 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.
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  • Adapted Out: Many characters included (but not limited to...) Edwin, Viconia, Aerie, Anomen, Skie, Eldoth, Keldorn and many more.
  • 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, and Abdel takes no joy in his victory.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Implied. With the release of D&D NEXT, novel protagonist Abdel Adrian makes an appearance in the module Murder in Baldur's Gate that introduces Forgotten Realms to the new edition. He dies either as victim of the titular murder, or morphs into the Slayer and is immediately killed by the PCs. This directly contradicts the ending of the novels, where he gives up his Bhaal essence. Meanwhile, the Legends of Baldur's Gate comics, as well as an off-hand description of a statue in the city of Baldur's Gate, portrays Minsc (at least physically) as he is in the game. While it's not entirely clear if Abdel Adrian is still the canonical protagonist or if he's been Retconned into just another Bhaalspawn, it appears that the novel's narrative and characters have been quietly discarded.
  • Cassandra Truth: Xzar tells the others All There Is to Know About "The Crying 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. By the end of the trilogy, 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.
  • 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, but still, way to make it a Deus Ex Idiot.
  • Novelization: Well, obviously.
  • Suddenly Sexuality
    • It turns out Imoen is into chicks. Imoen "realizes her sexuality" when Phaere orders her to sleep with her. In order to keep up their drow disguises and continue with their mission, Imoen couldn't refuse. She had no romantic or sexual inclinations in either direction in the game except swooning momentarily over Haer'Dalis' poetic skill. Of course, Phaere isn't interested in women in the game either, but don't let that stop you.
    • Ironically done with Bodhi. In the game, she didn't do anything overtly sexual with anyone, but dressed and sounded like someone who might like that kind of thing if it came up. In the book, she is mentioned to have been asexual (or at least not into men) for hundreds of years just so that she can change her mind when she sees Adrian running around naked. Subsequently, she's, um, very into him at every opportunity.
  • 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.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Jaheira sleeps with Abdel while married to Khalid.

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