Thursday, 27 July 2017

REVIEW: "Warcraft: War of the Ancients #2: The Demon Soul (Book 2)" by Richard A. Knaak

Book Review by Sapphire Ng

Warcraft: War of the Ancients #2: The Demon Soul (Book 2)
by Richard A. Knaak 
Pocket Star 
Copyright November 2004
Mass Market Paperback, 384 Pages

A vivid tale of extraordinarily fantastical magic and of forebodingly apocalyptic tones, this novel is an absolutely impressive and commendable sequel to the War of the Ancients series. The epic climactic battle of the narrative masterfully brings together themes of loss, revenge, betrayal and most of all, the irreverent desecration of the sanctity of life. This is yet another heart-thumping masterpiece by the author, fast-paced and filled with welcomed narrative surprises.

I recommend that readers peruse the first book of this series before moving onto this book. The author doubtlessly laid out the narrative backdrop that would allow readers to enjoy this book without necessarily having read book one of the War of the Ancients series. I nevertheless strongly believe that for those seeking a more enriching experience of the Warcraft franchise, and a fuller appreciation of the plot of this narrative would be well served by first devouring its prequel. 

For one, in reading this series in chronology, I appreciate the opportunity to grasp to the best of my abilities an accomplished author’s artistry at building up a series of such a famed franchise. Having read the prequel to this book, I appreciate the capacity for me to enjoy and further contemplate the narrative through a comparative lens. The refreshing change in mood, the maturation of events, and intensification of various facets of this narrative from that of its prequel enabled greater interaction on my part as a reader with this book. 

I loved an especially eerie set of scenes in the narrative that felt straight out of a horror story— a night elven scouting party’s venture into the spooky ambience of the demon-ravaged city of Suramar and the party’s freakish and spine-chilling encounter with and ambush by heavily bloodied and brutally lacerated night elven comrades. It was of literary perfection that the debut of such hauntingly macabre creatures in the series was in such befitting a setting. 

Another exceptional appeal of this book was the presence of characters of murky moral compass consequential to the narrative. The author’s dexterous depiction of the insidious formidability and ingenious evil of the colossal Neltharion captivated me immensely. It was equally riveting to be privy to the inner psychological world of the corruptible and morally-unanchored Illidan and the corresponding dark implications on the night elf’s practice of his craft of sorcery. I also welcomed the author’s treatment of Illidan’s theoretical and intellectual dedication to and rigorously cold practical outlook toward his sorcery work, an intriguing psychological angle for an area of proficiency that which transcends real life. It was also astounding when the novel brought to life the rather ubiquitous in-game phenomenon of the transmutation of creatures of a certain race or faction to that of another. Most of all, as the icing on the cake of the magnificent narrative was tinges of profound existential notions strategically integrated into the narrative at appropriate junctures.

The author’s wondrous flair for writing is in full display throughout the narrative, even more so in narrative circumstances that reward the utmost exercise of creativity and artistry. Yet again I’m wowed by the author’s mastery over, and descriptive prowess at conjuring vivid and rich visuals through, the medium of words, be it epic portrayals of battle scenes, the lyrical fabrication of fantastical environments, the delineation of magic in all of its gloriousness and artfulness as the author’s own boundless imagination dictates, or in generating anticipation in and titillating readers with what would follow in the narrative. 

As a finishing touch to this virtually flawless novel, the conclusion of the narrative on an elegantly enigmatic note also rather effectively spurs me onward onto the final installment of this trilogy.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to the publisher nor the author of the book. This book review is the result of my personal reading and honest opinion.

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