Tomb Raider Volume 1 : Season of the Witch by Gail Simone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot is one of my favorite games. I loved the revised Lara Croft character and I loved the focus on gritty survivalism. There was a bit of mysticism in the game, but it’s fairly subtle, certainly more so than the previous Tomb Raider incarnations. It’s an amazing game and easily the best reboot I’ve ever seen for a character as popular as Lara Croft is.
“Season of the Witch” serves as a sort of inter-quel story set between the events of Tomb Raider 2013 and the new game “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” In this story, Lara and the other survivors of the Endurance are trying to get on with their lives after their horrifying experience on the island of Yamatai. Unfortunately, weird things are happening which draw them back to the island.
The plot, unfortunately, is the biggest problem here. A story about trying to cope with the events of the island could have been pretty cool, but instead we’re drawn into a conspiracy surrounding the Solarii (the antagonists from the game). Wait, why is there a conspiracy about the Solarii? These business suit types are worshippers of Matthias? How is that possible? Based on the game, Matthias was a survivor who was trapped on Yamatai and formed the Solarii as an island cult so he could break free of its supernatural power. The game made it pretty clear that nobody had ever escaped from Yamatai prior to the events of the game. So where did these conspiracy guys come from? How did they know about the events of the island? Why would they worship a guy who, according to the game’s depiction, was really just a sort of feral survivor?
I appreciated how much the story tried not to be obviously supernatural, and the various things that occur are all suggested to be trickery, coincidence, or other artifice. Unfortunately, I could not wrap my mind around the idea that the homeless psycho who was the game’s antagonist was worshiped by a secret cabal. I also felt like “returning to the island” wasn’t really all that compelling.
Despite all that, it’s great getting to see Lara interact with the crew of Endurance more. It helps build on those relationships and makes her connections feel more meaningful. Overall, it’s a decent book with good characters but some deep plot and world building problems. It’s a good read if you’re really hungry for more Tomb Raider stories, especially since it’ll be a few years until the next game (presumably).