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Review of Dawn of the Aspects, part four

Review of Dawn of the Aspects, part four
It is absolutely official, now -- I have no idea how the Aspects actually came to be Aspects. For that matter, Tyr's purpose seems to be just as mysteriously vague. However, there was far more light shed on both questions in part four of Dawn of the Aspects, now available for a variety of e-readers. Despite the muddied waters of draconic origins, it is apparent that more of these mysteries will be answered in full by the time the fifth and final installment rolls around.

What did we know, to date? We knew that the Aspects were empowered by various Titans and charged with watching over the world. But that's about it -- the process of how that empowering came about is by and large a giant unknown and has been for years. What surprises me is just how willing I was to let the origin of the dragonflights slide as something that wasn't terribly important, in the long run. But when one considers that their origin appears to be tied to the fate of Tyr, it suddenly bears far more interesting implications.

Review of Dawn of the Aspects, part four
But let's go back and think, for a moment, about what we do know. We know that Galakrond is supposedly the progenitor of all dragonkind. We know that he died in Northrend, and his skeleton was of incredible interest to the Lich King back in Wrath -- the Lich King was attempting to resurrect the skeleton into what would presumably be the world's largest frost wyrm. We know that the Aspects and dragonflights were empowered by the Titans to watch over and protect Azeroth -- to prevent the Hour of Twilight from coming to pass, supposedly. And we know with absolute certainty that the location and fate of the Keeper Tyr, namesake of Tyr's Hand, has been a mystery since the days of vanilla WoW.

Now let's go back to Dawn of the Aspects. For all of his brief appearance in part three of Dawn of the Aspects, Tyr has taken a much more decisive and active role in part four. The Titans, supposedly the creatures that empowered the Aspects and the dragonflights and gave them their mysterious charge, are completely absent. As for Galakrond -- the threat that Galakrond poses to dragonkind, and even more so to the rest of the world, seems to be expanding in just as much scope as Galakrond himself.

What I tend to forget while I'm reading this novel is that all of the events are taking place long, long before Azeroth became what it is today. Before the Sundering, even -- which means that the continents are still merged, and have not yet split into the configuration we're far more familiar with. And that seems to be the most trying aspect (no pun intended) of Dawn of the Aspects -- the act of trying to reconcile Kalecgos' dizzying visions with actual history, and placing them in the actual timeline of Warcraft.
Review of Dawn of the Aspects, part four
And perhaps that's a testament to Knaak's writing, in its own way. I find myself so concerned with the story and caught up in it while I am reading that I really don't think to ask any of these questions until I've put the book down and given myself an hour or two to think before going back to the material. Oddly enough, all of the facts that we know about dragonkind are, in their own way, true -- it's just the methods in which they are true that have been disguised and changed over the years. The artifact that Kalecgos has found is finally filling in all of those details, and it seems to be either a secret that the Aspects have kept to themselves, or something that they've simply forgotten over history.

What I tend to forget is exactly how old the dragonflights and the Aspects are. They're older than almost any race on Azeroth. They pre-date the night elves by who knows how many years -- their creation, according to what we know of history, pre-dated even the existence of the Well of Eternity. So there's a puzzling conundrum to be had in the middle of all of this knowledge -- why is Tyr around? We know from Wrath of the Lich King that Tyr was supposedly one of the Watchers present at Ulduar; the Temple of Order was apparently his home.

This is where the confusion comes in. Ulduar was created as the prison of Yogg-Saron. Presumably, this means that it did not have a purpose for existence until after the Old Gods were defeated. If this is the case, then it means that the war between Titan and Old God already occurred -- and it also means that Galakrond's peculiar transformation has nothing to do with the Old Gods or their existence. It may very well have something to do with the Curse of Flesh, but we won't really know for certain until part five of the story -- if part five clears up that particular conundrum at all.
Review of Dawn of the Aspects, part four
However, given what I've seen of Knaak's multi-part works before, I'm expecting that we'll see these questions answered. While his first book in the Shadow Wing series, The Dragons of Outland, was ridiculously confusing, the second and final book, Nexus Point, not only answered all questions raised in the first book, but answered many, many questions regarding Malygos and his presence in Wrath of the Lich King as well. Knaak has some tremendous skill at writing material that is a puzzle in and of itself, and neatly wrapping up that puzzle by the end of the story, so I'm not too worried about unanswered questions in the fifth and final installment of Dawn of the Aspects.

As for part four of the series, it's just as good as any other installment, and in some ways far better. The action is heating up in a significant way, both in and out of Kalecgos' mad visions of the past. Jaina takes more of a role in part four, but it's still very much a supporting role. She's not presented as some sort of master magician that has all the answers, and she definitely doesn't appear to be leading up to some sort of implausible deus ex machina that will suddenly save the day, which is appreciated.

Instead, the action focuses on Kalecgos, helpless to do anything but watch the story as it plays out before him -- and the much more interesting struggles of the proto-drake versions of the Aspects as they contend with what is turning out to be an incredibly major threat. I'll say again that it seems odd that none of this history was documented or shared by the Aspects, but I suspect we'll see the reasons for that in part five of the book.

Regardless, my opinion of the series has done nothing but go up as each installment is released. If you've been waiting to pick up the series, I'd suggest doing so, particularly if you're interested in Azeroth's history or the ultimate fate of Tyr, which I believe we'll see fully revealed by the book's end. Dawn of the Aspects part four is available in several different ebook formats for a wonderfully low $1.99. Head to Simon & Schuster to purchase the installment in ebook format -- and if you're looking for a different format for your e-reader, the website has links to several different retailers on their listing page. The fifth and final installment of the book is due out on June 17.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore

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