I wanted to write this review before the launch of Gears 5 and certainly before the review that followed but unfortunately I’ve just gotten the opportunity to write out my thoughts. And that’s OK, because this book is amazing.
Gears of War: Ascendance picks up shortly after the conclusion of Gears of War 4 and concludes right at the start of Gears 5. The book follows several characters but focuses primarily on two groups with perspective often coming from Kait Diaz and Del Walker.
Without spoilers, it can be a bit hard to explain what makes this book so great but I want everyone to experience the story with a blank slate so that they can be just as surprised as I was so I’ll do my best to keep everything minor.
The book begins with a small group of survivors from Gears of War 4 attempting to establish contact with New Ephyra, the capitol city of the COG following the conclusion of the Locust War, to warn them of the new Swarm threat.
What follows is a relatively small scale adventure in the grand scheme of things but as it’s taking place it feels so grandiose and filled to the brim with details, both small and large, that fans of the franchise will drool over.
For example, the casual return of a specific character in Gears 5 might strike some players as unusual considering their fate in the previous game, but Ascendance provides much needed emotion and resolution regarding their return and as such offers more satisfaction.
Two characters who take a large part in the story, Eli and Mackenzie, are the kids mentioned off hand by Kait in Gears of War 4 when the Swarm raid Reyna’s outsider village. It’s nice to see these seemingly unimportant name drops come to life through the course of the book, though oddly, they seem to be MIA through the entirety of Gears 5 but I’m hopeful they will return some day.
The book also develops a deep bond between the characters Kait Diaz and Marcus Fenix and that is useful knowledge when digesting certain lines of dialogue that takes place in Gears 5 between JD and Kait.
In fact, much like Gears 5, the book focuses heavily on character development and makes it genuinely interesting to the reader. So much so that I often found myself eager to get through the action scenes just so I could figure out what happens next in a relationship and this occurs several times, with essentially the entire cast, so you’ll feel like your favorite character gets the love they deserve.
That’s not to say the action wasn’t enjoyable. The battles detailed in Ascendance somehow manage to make a lot of those that appear in the mainline games seem small or insignificant including a later encounter with a Swarmak that is just utterly insane.
Ultimately, Gears of War: Ascendance is optional reading that likely only dedicated fans will go out of their way to enjoy, and that’s OK. But discovering all these small details such as why Jinn uses a Deebee to move on the field, or what Baird is working on in secret, how and why Deebees are receiving significant program upgrades or what happened with that mystery character between 4 and 5 is very satisfying to digest.
So for any fan of Gears, or anyone who just wants to read a damn good book I recommend picking up Ascendance and exploring the story Jason M. Hough has created for you. I guarantee you’ll never find a dull moment.
If you’re interested in reading Gears of War: Ascendance, check out some of the retails below!