Wednesday, November 7, 2012

REVIEW: The Shattering by Christie Golden

My partner, who knows absolutely nothing about fantasy, bought me this is a present after I finished a show because I play WoW. It was really cute, even though I never would have picked this up myself. Anyway, that was two years ago and the other day when I was deciding what book to read, he pointed out that I hadn't read the one he bought me and ordered me to do so.

I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed this.

I was immediately drawn into the story because I was instantly familiar with all the characters and settings; Jaine Proudmoore in Theramore, Thrall in Orgrimmar, Anduin and Varian Wrynn in Stormwind ... these are all places and people that I have interacted with while playing World of Warcraft. Having forged my own journey in this incredibly complex world through the game allowed me to be a part of it and invest in the story much more quickly and with greater depth. I could see so vividly the forests of Ashenvale and the fields of Mulgore, and even elements of politics and warfare gave me feelings of nostaliga from my time gaming.

On a more logistical level, it also eliminated the need for lengthy descriptions and backstories, which meant the novel could move at quite a brisk pace. However what I really enjoyed was the greater level of detail that The Shattering gave me, including personal histories and relationships that aren't so prominent in the game.

There was a great amount of action and plot development in such a relatively short novel, which Golden handled with expertise. When considering the scope of the Warcraft Universe this really felt like a short story, even though it stands at 328 pages, but it left me satisfied yet also wanting more - the best place to be!

As a bridging novel between the events of Wrath of the Lich King and the Cataclysm this works excellently. It references key events and characters and also foreshadows what we (now that the Cataclysm has happened in game) know is coming. However, what I loved was that it highlighted some great plot elements that went under the radar in the game, such as changes to key ruling positions within the various races. 

While the incredible range and power of magic systems introduced by the game could potentially be overwhelming for any one story, Golden handles it well, introducing small snippets of shaman, mage, druid and priest magic without letting it get over the top. Sometimes the altruism of the shamans and tauren can get a little tiring, but hey, at least they are staying true to character.

Characterisation was great, and I particularly loved reading from the perspective of Anduin Wrynn, who has quite a complex history and relationship with his father the King, even though he is only 13 years old.

I would really like to hear from someone who has read this but not played WoW at all (although I think that would be exceedingly rare, for obvious reasons) so see how the book stands on its own.

Really looking forward now to reading more from the Warcraft Universe!

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