Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arthas review

I just finished reading Arthas by Christie Golden and here's a short review. Before that, you should know that about a year ago I read another of Golden's Warcraft books, Lord of the Clans, and I really loved it. I'm a man, dammit, and I have a heart of stone but that book literally brought tears to my eyes in a couple of instances.

Arthas, however, was meh. I'm sure Christie Golden is a great author and capable of a lot more but this book felt like reading a few Wiki entries on some of the main featured characters. If you haven't picked up this book yet and still want to, do yourself a favor and just read Wowwiki.

I won't get into details why I didn't like this book, but I will say this: before that, I read the first three books from the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. If you know what I'm talking about, then you'll realize that there's simply no comparison. Perhaps I'm a bit biased from reading those books but Arthas is light years behind them. Maybe I'm into more mature fantasy...

I'm not that big on WoW lore but I have at least some knowledge of the various major characters and some of the history of Azeroth. For the lore junkie, there might be something redeeming here as plenty of famous characters make a cameo. And "cameo" is the right word. Apart from the expected culprits such as Arthas, Jaina, Terenas, Uther and Magni, there's a host of others that only briefly make an appearance. Unfortunately there's no time for getting into details so I was left with a sour taste in my mouth every time I read about one of these characters.

The dialogue between the various characters is childish and stunted. For example, very often characters (especially Arthas) use the expression "What the hell?" I don't mind the swearing, in fact I would like to see more of it, but this expression seems so modern, so part of our present culture that it seems misplaced in a fantasy novel of Azeroth.

Another example of ridiculous dialogue (to me at least) was the piece between Arthas and Mal'ganis, when they meet the first time. Arthas is rightfully pissed at the demon so, before kicking his ass, he gets into some verbal sparring that seems to be never-ending. Arthas goes something like this: "Yo biatch I hate yo' ass, I'm gonna kill you!" Mal'ganis responds: "Lemme see you try that, you punk-ass loser!" And so on. Eventually Mal'ganis just teleports out before Arthas can get to him, probably just as bored by the dialogue as I was. Of course, I exaggerate, but you get the picture. I mean, come on, why waste time throwing useless jibes back and forth when they could just go straight to business and trade some real blows?

At least I found out two things from this book (but I won't spoil it for you), that I was curious about: what really happened between Arthas and Jaina and how did Arthas get his hands on that awesome armor.

In conclusion, I just wasted a few hours reading Arthas, when I could have gained more information just by reading some Wiki entries or someone's blog. I really don't know what happened to Christie Golden and this book, considering that Lord of the Clans moved me emotionally. Perhaps she didn't have complete freedom from Blizzard, perhaps she wasn't allowed to expand too much on the story or who knows what else. My recommendation is to save yourself a few bucks and pass on this book.


Celebrandil said...

Play Warcraft III, the best way to learn much about Arthas, Thrall and many more. Just a very great game and you'll see almost the entire background of WoW, how everything started.

Rades said...

It seems like Golden was forced to (or chose to) shoehorn a ton of already-established Warcraft lore and dialogue, making it seem very jarring and unnatural. Lord of the Clans was great, but it seemed more like an original story. With Arthas, there were entire passages that were lifted straight out of WoW, and while that makes sense, I couldn't help but roll my eyes as Sylvanas recited verbatim all of her "sayings" from the game.

SirFWALGMan said...

Comparing a leader of Fantasy novels like Martin vs a Warcraft Novel is kind of unfair.. but I take your point that the Arthas novel is not very good.

Darth Solo said...

@Celebrandil I actually thought about suggesting that. I remember back in the days when I played W3, the story was awesome. It made a lot more sense than this book.

@Rades I think you hit the nail on the head. In Lord of the Clans I think she had more creative freedom while for this book she was probably constrained to simply use whatever was already written about Arthas and "pretty" it up a bit.

@SirFWALGMan I know it's unfair but dude, I had just read those books prior to that! Martin's awesomeness was still in my brain!

Unknown said...

You might enjoy a really hilarious rant/review about this book at Ferretbrain:

"Fail of the Litch King"

(Disclaimer: No, I didn't write the review or anything. I just thought it was really funny!)

Darth Solo said...

Ha ha thanks for the great read and even greater laugh! That guy said it much better than I ever could.