Friday, August 27, 2010

World of Warcraft: Mage by Richard A Knaak and Ryo Kawakami

Aodhan is very much unlike his family, from whom many of Azeroth's finest paladins and warriors spring. But Aodhan simply isn't strong and powerful enough to stand toe to toe with foes like the rest of his family. To his father, that meant that Aodhan was useless- better to be a simple farmer than anything other than a warrior or Paladin. When he found out that Aodhan wanted to take up magic like his uncle, Crevan.

Though Crevan was something of an outcast in his own family, he saw the spark of magic in Aodhan, and when Crevan passed away, the mages who had taught Crevan had heard of Aodhan and sought him out for training. His father didn't like the idea at all, but neither could he refuse Aodhan the same chance to serve that Crevan had sought, and so sent Aodhan off, without his blessing.

Now Aodhan trains at Dalarann, the Mages' city in the sky. But during an attack on the city by Dragons, Aodhan is drawn off from the other apprentices to undertake a special mission in the Violet Hold, given to him by Archmage Rhonin, leader of the Mages of Dalarann.

Aodhan crosses the mage's city to the Violet Hold, where he finds that this is mages' prison, and imprisoned within is his uncle, Crevan! Crevan has been bereft of his magic by the mages, and needs to regain it to help them- or so he tells Aodhan. Aodhan must cross to the mages' library and retrieve a special spellbook to bring back his uncle's magic, and bypass the traps on it, then bring it back to his uncle, who he had long thought dead.

But unbeknownst to Aodhan, his uncle is in league with the Dragons attacking the city, and his job is to take out the magical crystal holding up the city and allowing it to fly. Now, with his Uncle's magic back in full, and Aodhan still a mere student, how can he overcome his uncle and prevent him from destroying Dalarann, while staying true to the lessons his teacher, Master Simeon, taught him?

I liked this book a lot, as it was a stand-alone story with characters and motivations you could understand without having to be steeped in World of Warcraft story or legends. While some may argue that makes it barely a WoW story to begin with, it's nice to see a story that might get people interested in WoW from reading these manga.

That being said, aside from the setting, there really is very little to tie this story to WoW. Not having played the games (or the MMORPG), I was unsure of how many of these characters are actually part of the WoW universe. In the end, I don't know, and I don't know if any of Aodhan's family is likewise prominent in actual WoW characters.

But there isn't much that really needs to be said. Mages use magic. and they can be heroes just as much as warriors and paladins in Azeroth. This story is limited in scope- it only takes place in Aodhan's family home and Dalarann- both above and inside it, and for Aodhan, it's all about choice. How will he use his magic? For an entertaining story that takes you into the WoW world without drowning you in details, it's a good start. Recommended.

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