A visitor's guide to the books of Skyrim

He Split His Head And Died, The End

A visitor’s guide to the books of Skyrim.

By Joe Keiser • April 10, 2012

Books! If you played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you know books as “those colorful rectangles that aren’t worth enough gold to pick up,” and maybe you marveled at how realistic this was. But they’re actually even more realistic than that—did you know there were words inside the books? Thousands and thousands of words, inconsequential words you don’t even have time to read because you’re kind of in the middle of this hundred-hour game? 

It’s okay. You can’t and shouldn’t read all of these bits of meta-ephemera. Instead, I’ve read them for you, and below are the results of my semi-comprehensive survey of Skyrim literature. I’ve singled out the titles that are especially informative, or filthy, or simply crazy enough to make them worth filching from that bandit you just murdered. (I’ve also included star ratings, as no review is complete without one.)

2920, Sun’s Dawn, V2—3 Stars

His mistress Rijja washed his back, her legs wrapped around his waist. She knew after all these many years when to be sensual and when to be sexual. When he was in a mood like this, it was best to be calmly, soothingly, seductively sensual.

This is what passes for a historical text in Tamriel, and what a delightfully ribald bit of history it is! This important academic tome has a little bit of everything: mistresses, pregnant mistresses, wizards teaching other wizards about vomit. Of particular note here is the careful delineation between wrapping one’s naked legs around another in a “sexual” way versus a “seductively sensual” way. These are clearly two very different things, so the next time you plan to engage in stationary nude mutual crab-walking with your partner, be sure that you’re both on the same stationary nude mutual crab-walking wavelength.

A Dance In Fire—2 Stars

All afternoon, Scotti and the Silvenar discussed the pressing needs of Valenwood. Every contract was filled and signed. So much was required and there were so many costs associated that addendums and codicils had to be scribbled into the margins of the papers, and those had to be resigned.

So goes one of 11 books about the fat government clerk Decemus Scotti and his adventures in organizing trade routes and strategic embezzling. Were you interested in the minutiae of building agreements made by long-dead bureaucrats in a land not even remotely close to Skyrim? Great! I have news for both of you—there’re over a hundred pages of this stuff. You’ll especially love the part where he loses his contracts in a raid. Oh my, will he ever find contracts again? Whatever will his counterparties amend and sign? The answer may surprise you! (Answer: Other contracts.)

Ahzirr Traajijazeri—4 Stars

Life is short. If you have not made love recently, please, put down this book, and take care of that with all haste. Find a wanton lass or a frisky lad, or several, in whatever combination your wise loins direct, and do not under any circumstances play hard to get.

Perhaps the wisest book in all of Skyrim, Ahzirr Traajijazeri purports to teach its readers about fighting a brave guerilla war, and its instructions are profound. Mostly, it says, you should run away. Maybe rob and burn a farm or two? Sure, that would help, possibly. You should also smile and get into dirty fights. Sex is also key—any kind, with anyone, you know, whatever. This is a book about better living by way of dramatically lowering your standards. That can be an especially compelling stance when you find this book at 4 a.m. and realize you haven’t even gone to the bathroom since noon.

Kolb & The Dragon: An Adventure For Nord Boys—2 Stars

A strong gust of wind blew Kolb’s torch out, and knocked him into a pit where split [sic] his head and died. THE END

Maybe you don’t want to do any lore reading in Skyrim, no matter how good the books actually are. So here’s an in-game book that you can play, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style yarn where you lead a boy named Kolb on a quest to kill a dragon. To enter the “cold cave,” turn to page 17. To enter the “windy cave,” turn to page eight. Interactivity! Except you can’t go directly to a page number in Skyrim books. So when the game asks you to do so, you have to flip past each page one at a time to get there, making this the rare game that spoils itself. The sheer number of cheap deaths on offer here also makes Kolb’s dragon one of the hardest ones in Skyrim to kill. It still might be worth playing for fans of the genre, but pick it up at a used wares shop.

The Lusty Argonian Maid—5 Stars

Lifts-Her-Tail: I must finish my cleaning, sir. The mistress will have my head if I do not!

Crantius Colto: Cleaning, eh? I have something for you. Here, polish my spear.

Lifts-Her-Tail: But it is huge! It could take me all night!

An unparalleled triumph. Here at last is the reptilian smut we have been waiting for, a bold tale that dares to ask intimate questions about lizard people, baked goods, and the pornographic possibilities of their commingling. From these seemingly banal threads, a majestic tapestry of eroticism is woven. You will read it again and again, scanning for the bits of subtle innuendo you missed the first time. (Did you know? “Crantius Colto” is a Latin name that loosely translates to “There can be some lonely nights when you’re developing a video game.”) 

Jornibret’s Last Dance—0 Stars

At this social event
Everyone who went
Knew the bows and stances
And steps to all the dances.

My brain reads this in Ke$ha’s voice. I hate Skyrim now.

The Black Arts On Trial—1 Star

Counter-Argument by Master gra-Kogg: Yes, we should be sensitive to the concerns of the community, but they should not and must not dictate our scholarship. “Necromancer” to many uneducated persons simply means an evil mage. It is madness to limit our work because of prejudices and half-formed understanding.

Here we have a seemingly necessary academic debate about whether or not it’s okay to teach youngsters to raise undead hordes. You would think the answer would be self-evident, but when you think about Skyrim’s sparsely populated towns versus its wall-to-wall zombie cavern smorgasbords, well, maybe it is about time somebody had this conversation. I’ll go ahead and ruin the ending for you: Twisting the remains of your loved ones into a grisly parody of life? Not okay. So find something else to do this weekend.

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25 Responses to “He Split His Head And Died, The End”

  1. undomielregina says:

    The Lusty Argonian Maid has actually been in the Elder Scrolls universe for a while — it first turned up in Morrowind, and was kicking around Oblivion too. Must be popular.

    • mikemariano says:

      Yeah, I find it odd that the majority of the literature in Skyrim is well over 200 years old.  Have there been no advancements in lizard erotica?

    • Joe Keiser says:

      This volume of The Lusty Argonian Maid has been kicking around since Morrowind, but there’s also a new volume in Skyrim. Culture moves ever forward.

      • Raging Bear says:

         Just when you’re wondering how they could pull off a tale like that, they come back with a new one.

      • Cirion says:

        Hello from 2015. You also meet the author in Morrowind, Crassius Curio, an Imperial working as spokesman for House Hlaalu.

        Funny thing, this book also existing in ESO thousands of years before it was written by Curio was the central focus of many arguments about the game, until Zenimax fabricated some weird story about time traveling books or something.

  2. Drew Toal says:

    It is about time somebody had this conversation.

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    I was far less concerned with reading each book than I was with finding all of them and putting them on my bookshelf.

    • DrunkPhilatelist says:

      i didn’t care for Markarth. it’s monochromatic, inconveniently laid out and home to a bunch of unpleasant people. but as soon as i bought the house i packed up the wife and my massive library.
      “cannibalism be dammed honey, look at all the shelf-space!”

      • HobbesMkii says:

        It’s always bummed me out that they don’t have a house with room for a proper library. You pay through the teeth for the Solitude home, and then it has less space for books than Markarth. I’d also like a house with a proper armory, with enough weapon racks and armor stands to show off everything I’ve collected.

        • MuParadigm says:

          HobbesMkii: “I’d also like a house with a proper armory, with enough weapon racks and armor stands to show off everything I’ve collected. ”

          Dovakhin Hideout Mod: http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=12697

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @twitter-132148367:disqus Unfortunately, I have a XBox version, because at the time, I couldn’t really afford to purchase a new rig. So, obviously, it would be better for me if it were in the base game.

          But otherwise, yes, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

    • Brian Ward says:

       Getting ALLLLLL the books is one of the many aspects of my 100% completion self-criteria. I’ve cleared every dungeon, almost got all my skills to 100, and most of the others…but the books (and then shelving them in alphabetical order across every house and bookshelf possible) is the hardest part of that.

  4. trilobiter says:

    Ugh, reading that quatrain from Jornibet’s made me cringe something fierce.   Even fake poetry is worth keeping a decent meter.  Not like this bullshit:


    Most uncool.

  5. Swadian Knight says:

    My favorite book series in the Elder Scrolls universe is still The Thirty-Six Lessons Of Vivec, from Morrowind.

  6. Channel_8_News says:

    Hopefully this is part one of a ten part series.

    I’ve always been more partial to reading the old emails and press releases on the terminals from the Fallout games than the books from Elder Scrolls games. I think it’s because the old computers tell the story of each particular set of ruins, and often times it is quite funny. And they sometimes point you in the direction of a secret stash of weapons and ammunition.

  7. Shain Eighmey says:

    Maybe I’m just a huge dork, but I’ve read almost all of the books in Skyrim. My favorite has to be “A Game at Dinner”, where a spy find himself in a tricky situation involving multiple layers of intrigue, an insane noble, and dinner.  

    Again, I believe that book dates to Morrowind though. 

  8. doyourealize says:

    I’ve always thought maybe I was missing something by playing these games and not reading the books.  Nice to see that’s not the case.  I recognize a few of these titles, and maybe I’ll check out the Lusty Argonian Maid when I go back (actually got a little bored of Skyrim after about 25 hours), but now I can be sure I’m not missing anything.

  9. itisdancing says:

    Don’t forget The Real Barenziah, which is censored in Skyrim because the player helps censor it in Daggerfall. Featuring barbed cat-man dicks!

    Aside from the smut, there’s really a lot of fun books to be had in the Elder Scrolls series. It’s one of my favorite things about the series.

  10. obiwanchernobi says:

    I keep reading books in Skyrim and then looking over at the stack of unread books on my desk that I keep buying and feeling really shitty about myself.