Even though I haven’t played World of Warcraft since 2013, I still like to keep up with the overall story of the game through the books. So when the Illidan book was released, I had to buy it. But, I was also kind of confused about the book, I mean, didn’t his story already get told through the Burning Crusade expansion? Was he not defeated there? Am I missing something from my lack of in game knowledge? The answer to those questions was a resounding yes.
For a decent chunk of it, this book felt like it should have been released during or shortly after the Burning Crusade expansion. It seemed to overall retell a lot of the story there. The whole, released for ten thousand years in prison, him going to the Outland, his taking over of the Black Temple. I didn’t feel like I was getting anything new. Eventually, things seemed to change direction and give me new bits of information, but at the same time, they felt disjointed and strange.
The story follows four main characters, Illidan (duh), Maiev, Akama and Vandel. Three of these were already known to me, from playing the game, but Vandel was new. I found that Maiev was a fairly flat character. She lived for a single purpose, which is somewhat understandable, but that blinded her to other things and made her character not very appealing. I had hoped she would grow throughout the book, but in the end, she was that same tunnel vision driven person. Akama was an interesting creature. I don’t really recall much about his from the game, but he certainly had a big role in the story. His real purpose was hidden until the right time within the book, unlike other characters, whose purpose for being was revealed right from the beginning. Illidan was…well he was Illidan. I don’t know what I can say about him. Vandel felt…unnecessary at times. It’s like they needed another character to be like Illidan, but not quite Illidan and he fulfilled that role. I didn’t really feel like he reached his full potential and that there is more to his story beyond this book – and that’s probably the case in the game.
The major thing I didn’t like about the book was the authors writing. At times, it felt like he was trying too hard to describe things uniquely. I’m all for giving a story a solid descriptive base, but he was overdoing it. None to mention, there was a lot of repetitive descriptions. For example, at one point it is said that they defeated “…the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction” of the Burning Legion. Well, isn’t the tiniest fraction about as tiny as you can get? Maybe I’m nitpicking here, but that just stuck out to me as being overly descriptive.
Also, having the book span six years probably didn’t help the flow. One chapter it’s four years before the end and then the next it’s a mere five months. You’re telling me nothing of significance happened in nearly four years? That seems off to me.
There were a couple of inconsistencies as well. At one point Illidan swipes his arms across a map, knocking the markers that were on it away, and yet a page and a half later, one of his minions looks at the map, observing those markers as if they were still where they once were.
For me, I thought the book was alright, but was clearly geared towards people who still played the game. I didn’t quite understand the full differences between the Illidan story of Burning Crusade and this Illidan story that leads into the Legion expansion. There were a lot of things that felt the same, and that’s probably why I kept thinking that this book was written ten years too late. And yet, those new portions of the story seemed to be in stark contrast to what I already knew. I feel like if I still played the game, and had a full knowledge of all of the current lore, that this book would have been more enjoyable. Overall, it was okay and I am glad that I read it. I just hope any future books written are a bit more non-player friendly.