Here to answer the burning questions you may have about any of the backstory of Destiny are the official books from Titan Books. The snappily titled “Destiny Grimoire Anthology Volume II: Fallen Kingdoms” takes as its inspiration parts of the first game, mixes in snippets of the second, and always seeks to build on the lore that was found throughout.
As I have mentioned before – mostly in my review of the Destiny Grimoire Anthology Volume I – I always thought that Bungie’s decision about the lore in the first game, to make it unreadable in the actual game, in the moment when you finally find a fragment of story and want to see how it fits into the overarching narrative, was wrong, and reading this collection has only reinforced my feelings. There is something satisfying about finding out just what has been going on, filling in any holes in the lore that you hadn’t discovered, that makes these books great to read. So, come with me to the Fallen Kingdoms, and let’s see what collection Titan have put together this time. Expect a few little spoilers.
For me, the best of all the original Destiny expansions was The Taken King, closely followed by Rise of Iron. And just as the whole Oryx/Crota shebang was covered in the last volume, here it’s the Iron Lords and their backstory that kick things off. What I hadn’t remembered, or perhaps never really thought about, was the actual way that the Iron Lords were formed, like a gang of do-gooders rising from the chaos following the arrival of the Traveller. As old Lord Saladin puts it, “When the Ghosts first found us, those who were chosen were blessed with power, but not wisdom“. And so it seems, if the stories here are anything to judge by, it appears that when some people were resurrected by the Ghosts, they took the power that was given (and bear in mind that Lightbearers, as they were known, are, to all intents and purposes, immortal) and used it to terrorise the people who were left, demanding tributes and generally behaving like the Robber Barons of the Destiny universe.
So, the Iron Wolves were formed – a group of like-minded Light-bearing individuals who thought to make the world a better place, not squeeze it for whatever they could gain. Saladin, Peruan, Radegast: all names of the people who came to be known as Iron Lords, and who either managed to win their old enemies over to the right side with diplomacy, or who fought them to a standstill, killing them for the final time. Of course, killing a Lightbearer (or a Guardian, for that matter) isn’t as simple as just killing them; oh no, you have to not only kill them, but then also kill their Ghost, making them Lightless before they can be put down for good. Who can forget the scene at the start of the Destiny 2: Forsaken expansion where Cayde-6 met his end? My favourite character gone in a flash: it was like Game of Thrones all of a sudden! Of course, the rule of the Iron Lords was brought about by SIVA, the nano machines that they couldn’t stop, and finally only Saladin remained, sealing the SIVA and the rest of his friends away. However, as we’ve learned in video games in general, the longer something is locked away, the more likely it is to escape, and this was proved here.
The Fallen are also covered in quite some detail in this volume of the Anthology. This regards what and who they are, and the different types from lowly Dregs, all the way up through Kells, to Servitors and the Walkers – the massive Spider Tanks that the Fallen love to scatter about the place. What I hadn’t realised until now, and minor spoiler alerts ahead, is that the Traveller first found the Fallen, and they lost its favour as it abandoned them. Indeed, the Servitors that they build, that help to sustain them with Ether, are built in the Traveller’s image, and it was a real “kick myself” moment when I read this, as I just hadn’t made the connection previously. The story of the Fallen and Earth conflict is a long one, and here the story of the Battle of the Six Fronts is played out, with views from both sides as the new heroes of the City are introduced. These include Guardians like Lord Shaxx, Saint-14, and even the mighty Gjallahorn gets an entry with its story, and all in all its a very pleasing bit of fan service.
The Fallen section continues with the backstory of the Forsaken – the group of Fallen who broke out of the Prison of Elders and caused the death of Cayde. Each member gets a section, from the Mad Bomber to the Fanatic, all covered to a degree. Of course, this leads to a deeper explanation of what the Prison was, and the part that Varkis played in it, yes? Well, it is difficult to see in this volume what is actual lore from the game, and what may be some additional exposition that was written around the gaps, but all in all the storytelling is masterful. I don’t remember finding lore detailing conversations between Variks and Cayde, for example, but they are all here to read and help to flesh out the bare bones of the story that Bungie put together.
So, the tricky matter of a conclusion. If you are a fan of Destiny and want to know more about what happens in the universe Bungie created, then the Destiny Grimoire Anthology Volume II: Fallen Kingdoms from Titan Books is an easy sell. Even for those who don’t care, the writing on display, along with the images that are reproduced beautifully in the book, make this something you’ll want to buy. If you couldn’t care less about Destiny, then perhaps not so much, but this is still a quality product that I have no hesitation in recommending.
Massive thanks go out to Titan Books for providing us a copy of the Destiny Grimoire Anthology Volume II: Fallen Kingdoms for review. You can grab a copy for yourself by visiting Titan Books direct.