Published on July 4th, 2018 | by Jules-Pierre Malartre0
Review: World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume III
~WoW Chronicle Volume III covers the “contemporary” history of Azeroth with a deep insight to be found about some of the key characters and events that have shaped the history of this world that is as alive and as fleshed out as Middle-Earth, Hyboria or The Forgotten Realms.~
If you’re a World of Warcraft player, chances are you like your MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) with a bit of lore on the side. Playing video games is one thing, but when you spend so much of your time in as immersive an environment as World of Warcraft, you also like to know what it’s all about.
Certainly, reading the novels and comic books, and even watching the movie, will add to your World of Warcraft gaming experience. If, for example, your character runs across Sylvanas Windrunner while questing, it makes your gaming that much more interesting if you know her background story, and what lead her to being called the Banshee Queen. That’s why I always eagerly await the arrival of any new Warcraft novel or graphic novel. With the next expansion of the game, The Battle for Azeroth, about to land, I am eagerly reading the prequel novel, Before the Storm, by Christie Golden. I hope it will make my gaming experience that much more vivid, the same way the novel Arthas: Rise of the Lich King improved my experience of the Wrath of the Lich King back in 2009.
Anyone picking up Warcraft Chronicle Volume III for similar reasons will not be disappointed. Personally, I always welcome the arrival of a new Warcraft book, whether it’s in prose or graphic format. In this case, it’s a bit of both. I had the chance of receiving an advanced copy the book. This review is a bit belated, but it was one hefty volume to go through…
Not everyone who plays the game will want to read the book, or shell out the cover price that is only a cent shy of forty dollars. Even gamers who like to read Warcraft novels may not have the patience to go through this weighty volume. It’s only 184 pages, but those 9” x 12” oversized pages are chuck-full of tiny, tightly written paragraphs with precious little graphical content that will test the patience and attention spans of too many gamers. However, the lore, the beautiful lore that the Warcraft design team knows how to weave so well is definitely worth the time and the money. The book turns out to be as immersive as the game it is associated with. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed poring over Warcraft lore that much since reading The Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb.
The first two volumes were also interesting, but Volume III concentrates on some of the most intense and key periods in the history of Azeroth. It covers the rise of Arthas Menethil, the Third War, the Culling of Stratholme, the Fall of Silvermoon, the Battle of Mount Hyjal, the Burning Crusade… so many rich moments in the history of Azeroth to satiate any fan’s craving for lore. Obviously, most of that info can already be gleaned from the game and multiple websites but presented in this fashion, in such a handsome manual, makes it pure reading pleasure.
I guess you could say Volume III covers the “contemporary” history of Azeroth. There is deep insight to be found here about some of the key characters and events that have shaped the history of this world that is as alive and as fleshed out as Middle-Earth, Hyboria or The Forgotten Realms. The more literary-minded may argue that the Warcraft narrative is a mess that makes very little sense, and that the creative minds behind the lore of Azeroth may not be as gifted as Tolkien, Howard or Greenwood. The lore gets so thick and convoluted at times that it feels it could only have been written to accommodate a computer game setting, but it is still very immersive, and rich, and addictive; some of the main characters that have arisen out of this history can proudly take their place among heroes and villains of other works of imaginative fiction like Aragorn, Conan and Elminster.
Chronicle Volume III is not a novel, but it’s not a comic book either. Illustrations are sparsely distributed from cover to cover, but what they lack in quantity, they very easily make up for in quality. If you’ve enjoyed the very rich crop of gorgeous illustrations that have been pouring out of Blizzard over the years, you won’t be disappointed by the ones accompanying this text. That will be evident the moment you come across the first two-page splash by Peter Lee introducing chapter one: an impressive overview of Hellfire Peninsula as seen by Soldiers from the Sons of Lothar standing atop a tower in Honor Hold. Other impressive illustrations are dispersed through the text, catching some of the most intense moments in Warcraft lore, including Alexstrasza’s breaking free of her bonds, and the climactic battle between Arthas Menethil and Illidan Stormrage in Northrend. The latter painted by Bayard Wu is one of the most vivid depictions of that legendary battle. It is sad, however, that one of Illidan’s blades hides the famous Demon Hunter’s face − smack dab in the middle of the painting. Quel dommage. It seems like such a faux pas by as impressive an artist as Bayard Wu. My favorite painting is that of Sylvanas Windrunner’s defeat at the hands of Arthas Menethil in Quel’Thalas. It is the most poignant of the book’s striking graphic content. Arthas and Sylvanas are two of the most intriguing and most popular characters in Warcraft. Probably because both are cursed, driven, flawed and still impossibly human. Finally, the painting by Daryl Mandryk depicting the battle between Magtheridon and the combined might of Illidan Stormrage, Akama, Lady Vashj and Kael’Thas Sunstrider captures the very essence of World of Warcraft raiding, and it deserves getting framed and hung over the computer of any Warcraft gamer.
The text itself is very immersive like the game it is inspired by. It’s a bit heavy at times, but you get drawn into it as you keep reading. It’s not a book that I could comfortably read in one sitting. In that respect, it’s almost like a reference book, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving any of its chapters unread before I picked up another book. Its illustrated content is also sufficiently inspiring to go back to it again and again for pure viewing pleasure. The table of content is very superficial, but the index more than makes up for it, which is a real boon for anyone wishing to revisit any lore at a later date, or a gamer who wants a handy reference while playing. In short, it’s a handsome volume well worth the reading and the having. I received a PDF version for review, and it was a pleasure reading it on the larger iPad Pro. Still, I have ordered the hardcopy, and I can’t wait to hold an actual physical copy in my hands.
World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume III
Writers: Blizzard Entertainment, Chris Metzen, Matt Burns, and Robert Brooks
Designer: David Nestelle
Format: 184 pages; hardcover, 9” x 12”