Author: Richard A. Knaak
Genre: Fantasy, series
Source: Gallery Books / Simon and Schuster sent me the novel for free in exchange for my honest review.
Let me just start right off by saying....no, I don't play World of Warcraft. I wasn't even aware that there were WoW novels. Though, a quick visit to a bookstore set me straight. Apparently, the stories/ novels of WoW are as popular, and are working on being as prolific as the stories/ novels of the Star Trek universe. It's crazy! So many authors, so many characters, so many story lines......but they all fit together. There must be something to them to attract this large and loyal of a fan base. When I was first approached to read and review this novel, honestly, I was a little put off. This isn't my flavor of geek. I'm not sure I could tell you anything about WoW other than some of my friends have lost hours of their lives to it. But heck, the cover matter made it sound interesting...and at worst it would just be another fantasy novel. It took me a bit to get into it, but I'm glad I got the chance to dip my toes into this new area of geekery.
What I liked:
1. At its core, this is part of a well built, long running, race war - fantasy novel. It has all the requirements....large scale wars, smaller personal battles, varieties of citizens (in this case all fantastical creatures such as Night Elves, Dragons, Centaurs, etc.), and an intricate (though not too complicated) plot to keep everyone / thing driving forward.
2. Having never read any other WoW novels, I was afraid that I wouldn't understand anything that was being talked about. Not so. Mr. Knaak was able to both continue on with the story and give the necessary background information to make it all work. This is a hard feat that he managed well.
What I didn't like:
1. Probably this is a flaw of I didn't read the previous parts of the series, but I never grew to care about any of the characters. Usually, in a good fantasy series I'm able to invest in the characters. I worry about them and cheer them on. It was a bit different with this novel. While I didn't outright hate any of the characters, I certainly wasn't invested in their story lines. I continued reading the novel because I wanted to know how the story / war ended....not because it was a gripping character driven story.
2. At times, particularly near the beginning, the writing was almost schizophrenic. One paragraph would be overly descriptive, the next narrative, all followed by a paragraph or two of haughty pseudo-medieval fantasy garble. Eventually, this worked itself out, but I can't help but feel that either the writer or the editor should have caught and fixed this.....or made it workable throughout.
Overall: I'm glad I was given the chance to peek into the story around the game, World of Warcraft. I must say that the novel is much more interesting to me than the story. For WoW players, I think / hope this novel is everything you've been waiting for. For non WoW players, this series may be a place to go if you're looking for a new fantasy series.