Read Lately: World Of Warcraft – The Shattering: Prelude To CataclysmNovember 17, 2010
With the World of Warcraft expansion looming on the horizon, I thought it prudent to give this one a read before the cataclysm descends upon us all. As it turns out, my timing couldn’t have been better. Elemental invasions and other pre-Cataclysm events are unfolding on the live servers even as we speak. Since the novel deals with important WoW characters and their struggle to understand the increasingly unruly behavior of Azeroth’s elements, I felt it complemented my in-game experience nicely.
That said, if you’ve been following the pre-expansion coverage closely, nothing in this book should surprise you. Still, it’s worth the read especially if you’re a lore buff and wouldn’t mind further insight into the events of the game. For instance — Thrall in Nagrand. The quest line that went active recently will send you to see him and give you a general idea of what’s going on, but for more details and a deeper understanding of his role in Cataclysm, you absolutely have to read The Shattering. As for me, I don’t follow WoW news or play the game as much as I used to, so I only have a vague sense of why things are happening the way they are. Well, this novel was able to answer a lot of my questions.
The writing isn’t bad either…surprisingly. I say this because when it comes video game tie-ins, 4 out of 5 books are likely to give me a headache. These kinds of novels are often written for a wide age range, and are meant to be quick and easy reads — and I accept that. Still, generally when I pick up any gaming franchise novel, it’s for the story and not much else. I was also a little wary of Christie Golden’s writing after reading her last WoW book Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, because I found it too rushed and unconvincing.
But I have to say, as Warcraft books go, The Shattering was excellent. Some sections still felt rushed, but for the most part the book was well-paced. The quality of the writing wasn’t as consistent as I’d hoped, but there were a few parts that completely blew me away. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so let me just say towards the end of the novel is a chapter where Thrall goes on a vision quest, and I felt that it was one of the best characterizations of a video game protagonist I have ever read. Christie Golden has succeeded tremendously in fleshing out his character and story.
In the end, ultra-casual WoW players or folks who don’t have a Warcraft background probably won’t find The Shattering too compelling. It’s not a bad book, but it was clearly written for existing fans of the game with prior knowledge of its lore and characters. Without that background, I’m afraid the book may seem shallow and confusing. On the other hand, this book will serve as decent support material to anyone curious about what the Horde and Alliance are up to in the events leading up to Deathwing’s return. I would not hesitate to recommend The Shattering to anyone who has an interest in Cataclysm, or Warcraft lore in general.