The Book of Secrets: What the Mystery Book in Tomb Raider’s Final Scene Spells for the Future of the Series

Ever since eagle-eyed gamers spotted the word “Croatoan” written in the book seen in Tomb Raider 2013’s closing scene, there has been a lot of speculation as to what this may mean for the future of the Tomb Raider series. Were the development team hinting at the story-line or location for the next game, perhaps a mission to find the Lost Colony of Roanoke? Were there any other clues to Lara’s next adventure scribbled across the pages visible in the closing scene? Did the note written in Cyrillic actually mean anything? And could the logbook have belonged to a Trinity agent?

These and many more questions were raised by fans over on the official Tomb Raider discussion forums as they tried to analyse every square inch of the screenshot below, poring over every detail in an attempt to make sense of the maps, illustrations, and cryptic messages found within the weathered logbook, which Lara had grabbed from a table in the cliffside bunker.

The logbook, as seen in Tomb Raider 2013's closing cutscene
The logbook, as seen in Tomb Raider 2013’s final cutscene (Image credit: Square Enix)

Some fans were so desperate to know what the book and its contents meant for the upcoming sequel that when Game Informer asked fans to submit questions for a special Q&A podcast with Rise of the Tomb Raider’s game director Brian Horton, one fan (“William Croft”) put forward the question “What about Croatoan?”, prompting Horton to talk a little about the journal/logbook and its role in the Tomb Raider franchise.

Horton: “The journal played a significant role in…setting up some mysteries for the franchise. We weren’t planning on expressing a specific nod to the sequel with that…. There are going to be further stories and adventures for Lara Croft in the future and this journal was going to be an important part of her discovery.” (Transcribed from the Game Informer podcast)

So while Rise of the Tomb Raider will be focusing on the lost city of Kitezh and not the Lost Colony of Roanoke as some originally thought, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be a Lost Colony-based storyline further down the line, whether it’s in the comics, games, or even in the planned Tomb Raider reboot film. In fact, the original synopses for Tomb Raider #9 and #10 suggest that a Roanoke story *had* been planned but later ditched in favour of the extended Pripyat and “Pride and Prejudice” story-lines. It’s possible that we might still see it crop up again in a future comic…or perhaps even as story-based DLC for Rise.

As for the logbook itself, it’s clear that it will play a role in Lara’s future quests even though we don’t know much about its contents at this time. In the novel, The Ten Thousand Immortals, Lara constantly referred to it as “The Book” and came to see it as a valuable resource in her research.

While the novel doesn’t explicitly point out that this book is the same one Lara found on Yamatai (this is just an assumption on my part), it describes it as “a collection of bits and pieces of information: notes, drawings, clippings, and references collected and added to over a long period of time” and states that it had “passed through any number of hands, had been annotated over and over again, and was a rich and wonderful resource”. To me, it certainly sounds like “The Book” could very well be that old logbook based on the physical description alone.

Concept art from Rise of the Tomb Raider (Image credit: Game Informer)
Concept art from Rise of the Tomb Raider (Image credit: Game Informer)

And what is perhaps more interesting in retrospect is the fact that “The Book” had a whole section devoted to immortality myths and spiritual transference, something that ties in well with the upcoming game. Brian Horton and franchise creative director Noah Hughes have both talked about Lara’s growing obsession with immortality myths following the events of Tomb Raider 2013, explaining that she is desperate to find clues that would validate what she saw on Yamatai (namely Himiko’s apparent immortality and the ritual that almost killed her best friend Sam). Sadly, the novel doesn’t really delve into any of the myths mentioned in the early chapters, which include those of the Irish goddess Airmid (a master herbalist and healer), He Qiong (one of China’s legendary Eight Immortals and better known as He Xiangu), and the Sámi sun goddess Beaivi.

Nevertheless, it’s now apparent that despite its lacklustre writing, shoddy characterisation of our heroine, and countless wasted opportunities, The Ten Thousand Immortals must have been part of a larger picture that is only now coming into view. In his Q&A session with Game Informer, Brian Horton stressed that Crystal Dynamics are “very much involved and vesting in making sure that the stories [in the comics and novel]…map very well to [their] plans for the game” and that all the supplemental material will “feather directly into the Rise of the Tomb Raider“.

In other words, don’t underestimate the importance of that mystery book within the grand scheme of things. That battered old logbook may have more in store for Ms Croft’s tomb raiding career than we previously thought…

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About Kelly M

Kelly McGuire is a writer, part-time translator, and gamer who is passionate about archaeology, language learning, travel, and wildlife conservation. She tweets under the username @TRHorizons and is the admin and chief content creator for Tomb Raider Horizons.

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3 Comments on “The Book of Secrets: What the Mystery Book in Tomb Raider’s Final Scene Spells for the Future of the Series”

  1. I would love it if some of those annotations had been made by Lara’s father, as one of the many hands through which the book passed.

    I do hope Rise closes the chapter on immortality and it’s not something dragged on for a few more games. It’s great they’re taking her on this direction, looking for answers, but I hope they give her and us the answers instead of just baiting us with mysteries.

    And to be honest, I would have loved to see a Lost Colony arc instead of the Pripyat one. I love it when you get original takes on legends and folklore. It’s my thing really.

    Lovely article, and more informative than a whole week of GameInformer 🙂

    1. Cheers, Kevin. Took a few days to get this all together (free time’s always a factor) but I’m quite proud of it. 🙂

      I need to re-read it but I think one of the comics (issue 6 possibly) hints that Lara’s dad was involved with Trinity at some point. Depending on how long that logbook had been lying on that table on Yamatai, there’s always a slim chance that he had seen it and/or made some notes in it. It’d be awesome if there’s a scene in the game (or comics) where Lara comes across something her father had written. Potential for some emotional moments there.. 😉

  2. Exactly. That’s something that I feel is still lacking here, the family connection. They only just began exploring it in the comics, and just with her ass uncle. I want to know how these Mr. & Mrs. Croft are different from the ones we know, you know? But I feel they’re focusing too heavy on Lara The Killer instead of her as a person, on her connections and background.

    And the time paid off, it is a lovely article. I’m actually going to write something on Rise for The Mental Attic this week. Hope you enjoy it.

    I also recently made a tough decision about the attic, one I hope will pay off. I posted about it yesterday evening if you haven’t had the chance to read it. I comment on it because I do want to assure you that the attic’s doors are still open to you if you ever wish to write or share anything 🙂