Last week was quiet for posting. To be honest, aside from running Tol Barad dailies, I really wasn’t on WoW all that much. Instead, I was indulging in WoW, and I’ve done that a lot recently. I had gone back and read Shadows of the Horde because the last time I tried picking it up I just could not get into it. I think it was because I had read the fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire and I just had my fill of slow reads for a while. But this time around I got through it (last week actually).
I then realized I hadn’t read Arthas, which has also been sitting in our catacombs. Conveniently enough I was in the final third of the book when War Crimes came out on Tuesday. Needless to say, it’s done too. So three of the books in two weeks gave me an opportunity to switch gears in writing and instead provide my thoughts on each book. I’ll do so, over the next three days, beginning with Voljin: Shadows of the Horde.
The only one of the three not written by Christie Golden, Shadows is a very…interesting book. That’s not to say Michael Stackpole did anything wrong with the book or the characters. It’s just something very different than perhaps what I was expecting from a Warcraft novel. I think we’re just accustomed to a great deal of war, specifically the action and physical/magical side of it. In Vol’jin’s story, there isn’t a lot of that. It isn’t to say that it’s not there, it just builds later in the book and subsequently arrives even later.
The story picks up with someone calling on Chen when a body show’s up in the river. It’s that of Vol’jin, essentially detailing the events following the Dagger In The Dark scenario that players would be familiar with. He ends up at the Shado-Pan Monastery and the book chronicles his recovery, which includes a Human Hunter he not only befriends, but eventually fights alongside. The story really involves the two of them (and Chen as a secondary layer) and focuses on the emphasis of balance in one’s life. Yes, there is some combat in the book as I eluded to before. A Zandalari invasion tied in with the Thunder King is countered by Vol’jin, Tyrathan (the human), and many of the Shado-Pan. Throughout the story, though, Chen, Vol’jin and Tyrathan deal with balancing their spirituality as well as carving out their true identity. The idea is who you were prior to the moment isn’t as important as determining who you want to be from that moment forward.
The reason I said Shadows of the Horde is an interesting book is because it takes the reader through an interesting story but leads one to do some reflecting on our own life. The moments of battle do deliver in the proper Azerothian sense, but there’s a long journey to get to it as it is part of Vol’jin’s journey towards his physical and spiritual recovery. And it’s not just his either. It was refreshing to see an angle of Chen where he isn’t just the happy-go-lucky Pandaren all the time. You see a different side of him during this adventure, though it’s still second to Vol’jin. And yes, there are some great “buddy cop” moments between Vol’jin and Chen, and Vol’jin and Tyrathan.
If you’re more of a Tides of War and The Shattering type of reader, this may be a slower style and story than what you prefer. If you want something a bit different or even just want to know more about what happened between the attempt on Vol’jin’s life and him becoming Warchief, this paints a solid window of that. While I think it’s the weakest of the three books I’m talking about this week, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s more of a testament to how good the other two are.