Saturday, 29 June 2013

World of Warcraft Archives Book Review

This book review was not written by myself, but rather Allen Christianson, who has given me permission to post his review here. The reason for using his review is that, for one, I am not so good at writing book reviews without basically spoiling the plot, and secondly, because I agree with every thing that Allen has said on the book below:

Day of the Dragon - Richard A. Knaak
As always, Knaak seems to bring down the WoW lore to a place of B-action movies, focused on describing the visuals he has in his mind instead of focusing on actual character reactions to situations. Couple that with a grandiose portrayal of the higher creatures, such as dragons, and you have a very predictable plot. He also has a tendency to attach female characters to the male lead, and provide a very male-oriented view of her character and development (if there is any). While the book does solve a huge change in the Warcraft lore, namely the freedom of Alexstrazsa, everything else is more less status quo, so most of the book felt inconsequential.

Lord of the Clans - Christie Golden
On the other hand, Golden shows her great skill in not just the representation of the Orcs and their strange ways, but in the proper development of characters independent of the demands of Orc culture. We truly see Thrall's development as he goes from willing slave, to prisoner of war, eager apprentice and finally Warchief. We always see from his perspective why he decides what he does, and nothing is left in shadow. The only thing driving the plot is the pure emotion and drive of Thrall. We also get to see, and even have pity, for his captor, despite the obvious evils he has done. While he's definitely in the wrong, it's not unreasonable, nor is it ever hidden from the reader what his true intentions are.

The Last Guardian - Jeff Grubb
Jeff Grubb is an interesting middle ground between the two previous writers, providing an intriguing story and some decent character development. However, the overall personality of Medhiv is disappointing, because it's never clear if he's being portrayed as eccentric, or controlled by Sargeras. While that might be part of the point, it makes it difficult to feel empathy for him, and see things from his perspective. The boy genius aspect to Khadgar also makes it difficult to identify with him, though he's a very interesting character nonetheless, if not a tad sensitive. Overall, the character development is not as good as I'd want, but the overall writing style encourages an air of intrigue and discovery that keeps you reading.

Of Blood and Honor - Chris Metzen
Once again we visit Blizzard's attempt to reconcile the Orc race in preperation for the later titles of Wacraft, by appealing to the Human perspective. However,this work is not that by an acclaimed author, but by Chris Metzen, known as a jack of all trades at Blizzard, and one of the main bodies behind the Warcraft universe. This allows players and Warcraft lore enthusiasts alike to get a direct view from the minds of Blizzard on how the world is. If familiar with World of Warcraft, many of the descriptions of objects, places and people become very familiar, as they match the original designs present. Having said that, the writing is not by any means a masterpiece, but the character development of Tirion is simply fantastic, though his main rival leaves some to be desired. It does a very good job of focusing on the emotional and moral implications of war.

In conclusion, the book provides a good starting point for pre-World of Warcraft lore, focusing on the relations between Humans and Orcs at the end of the Second War and the rise of the New Orcish Horde. I originally gave it a four due to Knaak's writing style, but Golden's work and Metzen's portrayal of Tirion makes up for it in my mind.
   Personally, The Last Guardian was my favourite. While I enjoyed the story of Fordring and Eitrigg, I am more interested in that of Medivh. This book is a few years old now, and I read it about 3 years ago, but it is a fantastic place to start if you're unfamiliar with the lore of Warcraft, as it gives you a good foundation of understanding.

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