As a Warcraft fan of many years (pre-dating my playing of the wow mmo) and also an avid reader of any fantasy and scifi novels, be they pulpy, macabre, serious, or comedic. When the novel was announced to be the lead in to the Mists of Pandaria expansion for WoW I was interested.
It took a long while for me to get my hands on a borrowed copy, but now that I’m finished I thought I’d best share what I think was and wasn’t in the novel.
The quick review: The novel is OK and readable for wow fans. As a score its about 13/20 for the reasons below. Note there are spoilers below.
I think a non-wow player would really struggle to care about most of what happens in the book. I would not recommend this to a non-wow fan as most of the characters are those which we already have a large amount of knowledge of, and the novel does not waste time reintroducing us to characters we already have firmly in our minds. As this is one in a series for warcraft fans, that is OK.
So for me overall good, but…
It portrays Jania as a love-forlorn woman who needs the assistance of others to either keep to her true values, or to back her choices in what she does. I found that disappointing as I viewed Jania as one of the two women in the Warcraft lore who ignore the typical conventions and forge their own path (Slyvannas is the other). With so many strong male characters in the lore, the top two women would need to be darn impressive, and I didn’t get that from the book.
I also found that the lore in the book did not match the events of the game preview scenario for Theramore. I just don’t get that at all, given that the material was likely in development at a similar time. I listened to the official podcast where Christie was interviewed and was quite enticed by what I heard. An overarching theme in that interview was the integration of the game lore with the novel’s lore. It just did not do that from what I have played as an Alliance character.
And yes, subtracting the 7 points from 20 might seem harsh from an initial view, but that represents exactly how far from consistent the character of Jania is, and how out of sync the differences in lore are. It is jarring enough that you cannot ignore what you’ve read, and at times I was left wondering if several editors had hacked major sections of the book out, as Jania’s mood and demeanor change so quickly that it belies belief.