Expanded universes are... interesting things. While they cut some room for creativeness and originality, they give you a nice head-start by covering setting, characters, and sometimes plots.
Indeed, some expanded universe novels are nothing more than the video game storylines put on paper.
Fortunately and unfortunately, that is the exact situation with Arthas: Rise Of The Lich King.
Let me get one thing straight – I loved the book. Not once, not even in parts where I will express concerns, did I put the book down. And you shall all see why.
The book is divided into 3 parts. The 1st part (and the shortest one) takes place before the game (WarCraft 3) and is taken from WarCraft lore. The second and third parts are re-tells of the main campaign from Arthas’s point of view (for the most part), complete with actual quotes from the game, and completely deprived of anything new. Is that good or bad? Well, I can’t answer that. This really varies from person to person, and you choose for yourself what you like.
Now, to analyze the writing itself.
The prose – a.k.a. the writing style was flawless--for the most part. I am emphasizing it so, because there are a few random parts in the book where it just gets weird!! Like, the first 60 pages of the book take place over 10 years. No, it’s not a prologue. And some unusual changes in POV, timing, more and less descriptions, all that pops up at times and makes you go “huh?” This is called inconsistent writing: something I hate and will punish severely!
Fortunately, there wasn’t nearly enough to make me put down the book and only served minutes of frustration next to hours of enjoyment.
I really don’t know how to analyze characters in this book.
They are deep, developed, likeable, interesting, and easy to relate to.
Of course, none of that is shown in the book.
How did I know it then? Because being the hardcore WarCraft fan that I am, I know all those characters inside out. I know their backstories, motivations, secrets, and I know exactly what’s going to happen. My guess is this book is aimed and WarCraft fans, it expects you to know how the characters look, act, etc. Arthas himself is the sole exception, but there are many secondary supporting characters that are of paramount importance, and a lot of times they just do things. For reasons we are supposed to know.
If I had no idea what WarCraft was, I would have no idea as to what’s going on in the book. It may or may not have made me put it down, but either way, I would not have enjoyed it to the max. Which means that it’s not worth reading. But here some may disagree.
So just to summarize what I’ve said in my brief recommendation. For all those WarCraft lore lovers out there: must read. For those who generally like expanded universes, even if they don’t know them: must read. For those that like good prose and plot and don’t mind a little (or a lot) of confusion here and there: must read. For anyone else: stay away from Arthas as if it was an armed, touch-triggered nuclear bomb.
Write you later,