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The Book Post

July 19, 2010

My recent move has played havoc with my schedule and I have a feeling it’s going to take me a while to find a working/gaming groove again. But the good thing about having to spend 12 hours on the road (plus another 3 at Customs and Immigration) this last weekend is that I got a chance to catch up on a lot of reading.

World of Warcraft: Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak is the latest game-related novel I finished. I’ll admit I picked this one up solely due to my fascination with its eponymous protagonist because in fact, I am not a big fan of Knaak’s writing at all. The War of the Ancients trilogy, for example, is the last thing I read by him and it was a torturous ordeal just to try and force myself to get through all three books. I find his style overly simplistic and at times vapid and flavorless, though to be fair, I’ve only ever read his WoW-related books even though he’s known for being quite a gifted author for his works in many other titles in the fantasy genre.

I decided to give this book a chance in the end, because if anything, my love for the Druid class made reading this a requirement. Malfurion Stormrage is also one of my favorite characters in WoW lore, and I figured maybe I’ll have a better time getting through Knaak’s writing when it’s not about Rhonin or Krasus/Korialstrasz.

Anyway, my final verdict for Stormrage is that it’s readable, but I think avid fans and readers of more established fantasy authors will be very disappointed. I realize it’s a game novel and that it’s a challenge to write for a series intended for a wide audience which may include younger readers, but there were times where the simplistic writing style made me feel like I was reading a comic book, or a very bad fanfic piece.

To Knaak’s credit, it’s clear he’s done a lot of research into the characters and locations of the WoW universe. In many ways, the book is also a nice follow-up to the War of the Ancients trilogy and ties in well with the WoW comics, though one doesn’t have to have read either to follow the story. I would still recommend Stormrage to any fans of Warcraft lore, since it provides answers to a lot of questions regarding Malfurion Stormrage and the encroaching Emerald Nightmare. WoW players will also be treated to a whole slew of appearances by well-known NPCs including Tyrande Whisperwind, Hamuul Runetotem, and the duplicitous Fandral Staghelm who may or may not have some crafty tricks up his sleeve, plus many, many more.

Oh, and that last part isn’t really a spoiler, since everyone knows Fandral Staghelm is batshit crazy anyway.

What’s Next?

I don’t usually read video-game-tie-in novels back-to-back, but I am very much looking forward to the first book in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO universe, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams.

It actually releases tomorrow, so I’m glad I was able to wrap up my last book to prepare myself for it. Now let’s just hope Amazon will have a Kindle edition available, because if my recent change of residence has taught me anything, shelves of hard-copy books are a real pain in the ass to move.

Other Recently-Read Books:

Edit: I wasn’t going to delve too deeply into these novels since this post was intended to only be about game-related books, but since Longasc requested it, I will provide a little more commentary. I don’t mind at all, since these are indeed some great reads:

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

A historical fantasy set in far-away Kitai, a land inspired by Tang Dynasty China. One of my favorite books of all time is The Lions of Al-Rassan by Kay, so this fact along with my interest in imperial Chinese history made this book a must-read. Under Heaven tells the story of a middle son of a Kitan general who spends two years in the mountains burying the bones of soldiers from a war that took place there, and is given 250 “heavenly” Sardian horses for his honorable deed. This extravagant gift immediately thrusts him into a world of palace intrigue and political drama, and the result is a beautifully written “history-based fantasy” that’s sometimes tragic and sometimes suspenseful, but filled with memorable characters and intricate plots throughout. As always, I appreciate the immense detail Kay puts into his books, which makes the world of Kitai come to life. The characters are believable — not perfect but definitely “human”. Anyway, I don’t want to spoil too much of it, just know I highly recommend this.

Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Sexy sequel to Naamah’s Kiss, tells the story of a god-touched young woman’s journey across a continent in search of her wandering lover/soulmate. I first got hooked onto Carey’s writing due to her original “Kushiel Legacy” books featuring Phedre no Delaunay, and I’ve followed all her work ever since, though my preference is still for her novels set in the Terre D’Ange universe. With these books, Carey has created a world and a mythos behind it that really can’t be beat. Anyway, I liked her second trilogy featuring Prince Imriel well enough, so I was quite excited when I heard she was going to be writing another series focusing on a new character in a different time, but still set in the same world. Naamah’s Curse is the second installment in this series, which I feel is progressing nicely. The characters, though not as well-written (especially Moirin, who I feel is more of an air-head and a Mary Sue than all of Carey’s other protagonists), still shine in their own way and the stories continue to interest me.

14 comments

  1. Woot, thanks for the heads-up for the new SW:TOR book. Ima gonna wait for the Kindle edition, however.

    I really liked the War of the Ancients trilogy, though I agree that Knaak’s writing is often juvenile and simplistic. I do have to credit him for making me fall in love with Illidan, though. Too bad Blizzard mistreats their villains so in game.

    Other than that, I’m done with WoW, and done with the fiction that goes along with it. I find Warhammer lore to be much more satisfying, even though a lot of that does make me roll my eyes too due to lack of shades of grey. 🙂


    • I’ve never read anything by Sean Williams, but I’m optimistic about the SWTOR book 🙂 If anything, I’m guessing it should be on par with the quality of other SW books, some of which I’ve enjoyed immensely.

      After Stormrage, I’m probably done with WoW books myself, at least for a while. The problem is, they’re usually really good when it comes to story, but the writing in them is generally mediocre.


  2. I will probably pick up a tree edition when i get the Ghosts of Ascalon novel. However, I’m not sure what I’m going to be reading the next few weeks. I’ve just started Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor (old school title) and I have Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss which is the book I most want to read right now, but I should maybe wait and read GoA first…. fatal alliance is probably last on the list to be read.

    don’t know anything about knaak but through some of the conversations we’ve had and this post I doubt I’ll ever try out much by him


    • I understand, your priority is GW2 😀 That’s a lot of books on your plate.


  3. Under Heaven and Naamah’s Curse deserve some more praise, give your readership some credit, some might have read both novels or should read them now. 🙂

    I can also recommend Wolfsangel & Santa Olivia. Right now I am reading Watcher of the Dead, but it is the 4th book in a longish series and thus hard to recommend.


    • p.s. though Naamah’s Curse is a bit too generic for fans of Jacqueline Carey. Even the frigid Prince had a cooler plot. 😦


    • Well, I didn’t go into them so much because this is technically a game-book post, but since you asked, I will put in some more commentary later on! 😀

      I enjoyed Santa Olivia, but nothing can beat her works set in her Terre D’Ange universe. The entire original Kushiel trilogy was fantastic but for Prince Imriel’s trilogy my favorite was the second book. This current Naamah’s series is okay, but I’m waiting for the final book to ‘wow’ me.


  4. Stormrage was really so-so for me, too. I haven’t really been a fan of the writing styles of -any- of the Warcraft Novels, so like you said, I just treat them as overly verbose comics.

    Fandral was probably the most entertaining of all the characters; his story was the most interesting, and surprising. Even though his characterization at first seemed off / confusing in regards to his in-game persona, I guess in the end it doesn’t matter at all.

    I’m interesting in seeing how they will tie in the obvious changes in-game.

    And omg..Lucan Foxblood. Worst. Character. Ever.


    • LOL yeah, Lucan was pretty bad. Though his powers themselves are pretty neat; they just don’t make much sense, especially given the way Knaak tells it.

      It was nice to finally see Malfurion/Tyrande together, I hope we see that reflected in the changes in-game somehow.


      • Yeah, his powers -were- kinda neat, just the way he used them…completely accidentally and unwanted.

        And I’m sure Mal will be standing next to Tyrande in the temple from now on. I have a feeling she won’t let him out of her sight. :D!


  5. Have you read any of the other Star Wars books? The X-Wing Series, Thrawn Trilogy, Jedi Academy, etc? Just curious.


    • I’ve read 2 books of the Thrawn trilogy (never got around to finishing the third), some of the X-Wing books in the series, don’t recall if I ever read the Jedi Academy stuff (I’ve been reading SW books for years, I get mixed up sometimes and can’t recall all the specific titles and I don’t have a list in front of me 😛 ). All I know is I’ve read the stuff with the Yuuzhan Vong and a crapload of other stuff involving the Solo kids and Luke and Mara Jade, also there were some stand-alones in there, like Courtship of Princess Leia (loved that one!) as well as some of the short story collections (bounty hunters, etc)…


      • Courtship of Princess Leia is one of my favorites too. I thought it’d be lacking on action but was dead wrong. I’m finishing up the Thrawn series right now, then I’ll begin the Jedi Academy series followed by finishing the X-Wing series.

        Chronology ftw!


      • Nice, I think I would have had a much easier time remembering if I’d read them in chronological order like you 😀



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