Shadows Rising – Madeleine Roux
This one is for the fans, by the fans. Does it matter? Not in this case. As a life-long gamer, I’ve played World of Warcraft since its launch; this book is written for me. It’s not like a normal fantasy saga, though it is over sixteen years old, you need to know who everyone is to get the best out of this novel.
There is none of the expected character building, there is some, but they do not live long enough for it to come to fruition. The story takes place between the current Battle for Azeroth and game expansion and the forthcoming Shadowlands (mine’s on pre-order). Whilst I enjoyed the book, I knew nothing was going to be fully resolved, more of a positioning of pieces on the board waiting for the dice to roll. The story centres around Queen Talanji and the fight to protect the loa of death, Bwonsamdi, from the plans os Sylvanas Windrunner.
The story is simple enough, if not predictable. I only say this because, as a player, I know what is coming and therefore what must happen. In some ways this makes the storytelling follow a predetermined path. Much like following a questline in the game.
The book is enjoyable, in-keeping with the lore tied to its characters and previous events. If you are not familiar with this, you will struggle to get the most out of it. I would have preferred something deeper and soul searching. Something exploring the heart of the characters as every great fantasy does. The close ties to World of Warcraft limit this. After all, it is essentially fan fiction, and there are moments of this, which I enjoyed. Because of this, I am unable to recommend the book to anyone who does not play the game. It is not a standard novel, but still a good one, with the aforementioned caveats.
It’s a short solid read, sadly. But as I said at the start, for fans only.