Up until recently, I have been a longtime player of World of Warcraft, and I have enjoyed many of the other books which have been set in this universe. With the upcoming release of the Warcraft movie, and the new expansion pack for WoW, there was sure to be another book set in the universe.
Straight up, this is really one for fans of the game, and the Warcraft universe in general. This novel is not one which should be entered into lightly by people looking for a high fantasy novel. This novel is mostly a novelisation of the Burning Crusade expansion pack which was released about 9 years ago, and to pretend otherwise is a bit ridiculous. The reason for its release at this time is to provide a backdrop to the new character class – the Demon Hunter.
Illidan is one of the most interesting, and mercurial characters in the World of Warcraft game. He is a former Night Elf who consumed the powers of demons, and made an alliance with demons, and ultimately became a demon hunter. The novel traces the journey of a number of characters – namely Illidan, Akama and Maiev Shadowsong as they weave in an intricate dance for control of the world of Outland.
On the positive side, I felt like I got a deeper understanding of this person who was called The Betrayer, and caged up for 10000 years. To be honest, I still don’t really know the whys and wherefores of that, it is largely glossed over in this novel. (You will have to read War of the Ancients trilogy by Richard A Knaak for more information)
As someone who played during the period which is described in this novel (in terms of gameplay), I could see where the raid progression occurred, in terms of the deaths of Illidan’s lieutenants, and the rising pressure on him. But at the same time it felt rather contrived. The characterisatoin is excellent, I will give the author that, but anything beyond that felt like he was just fleshing out a script which had been already written and read.
If you are a fan of the game, or a fan of the Warcraft lore, then this is probably going to be up your alley. It isn’t the greatest of the novelisations – see the aforementioned series by Knaak, or the Christie Golden books. It is a competent novelisation which serves as a partial introduction to the Demon Hunter class, but I felt like it has come years too late.