This is another book in the Warcraft universe, books which I’ve read quite a few of, and which I always love to review. If you want to check it out, my favorite is right here, and boy is it good.
I’m not going to get into too much detail about Warcraft, so if you don’t know what that is Google is your friend, but it’s based on some video games from the 90s, and the online game World of Warcraft has been one of the world’s most popular for a few years now. The gist of is that there’s two factions, The Alliance and The Horde, both composed of different races like humans, dwarves, orcs, and elves, and they fight each other.
This book is centered on the troll character Vol’Jin, as the title probably gives away, and his stay in Pandaria after being mortally wounded and left for dead. He makes it by a hair, and is cared for by the Pandaren, a group of Panda-like warriors who center their life around a lot of philosophy, meditation and marital arts. (No, it’s not based on Kung-Fu Panda).
There’s also a human character called Tyrathan who is very prominent, but I’ve never heard of him outside of this book, so I doubt he’s a big player (but then again, I don’t know everything about the Warcraft universe).
Vol’Jin however is a big player, being the leader of the troll faction, and for some time (after this book though), warchief of the Horde. The books dives deep into his being, his backstory, his personal history, upbringing and daily life, and if you’re a fan of him or the trolls, you’ll probably love this. On the other hand, there’s a lot of philosophy going on here, both because of the Panderan, but also because Vol’Jin spends a lot of time pondering his existence, which in my opinion makes the book a bit slow. Stackpole’s writing is great, it’s healthy mix of beautiful prose and detail, and witty dialogue and action, and I was pretty much into it from the start. But then it took a while to build up, and though the ending was great, it felt a bit drawn out.
Also, if you’re not already versed in the Warcraft lore, this book isn’t going to give you any of that, in my opinion. It’s very much a book served to players and readers of the other books, and I’d bet that if you picked this as your introduction to Warcraft you’re going to feel left out. A lot of backstory is taken for granted, and much of the great fighting and action between all the factions is left out. It is very much a book about Vol’Jin alone, and with him being away in Pandaria, it doesn’t give you a good overall picture of the rest of the world.
But that’s not to say it’s not a great book if you’re into Warcraft. I loved reading and learning more about Vol’Jin, and particularly the history of the Pandaren. You’ll enjoy it a lot if you know what you’re getting yourself into, and I think I can say that Michael A. Stackpole is my second favorite Warcraft author, right after Christie Golden.