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Review of Dawn of the Aspects

Review of Dawn of the Aspects
On Monday, the fifth and final installment of Dawn of the Aspects, by Richard Knaak, will be available for purchase. For those that have been waiting to download and nab the entire publication in one go, your wait is just about over. For those of us that have been reading since the beginning, it marks the end of what has been, honestly, one of the strangest tales to come out of the Warcraft stable in quite some time.

While I could simply review part five of the book, talk about my impressions and what the installment was like, to me it makes far more sense to talk about the book as a whole, now that I've finished the whole thing. After all, this was a different kind of experiment -- an entirely digital publication doled out in monthly installments for a small fee. Was the experiment worth it? Did the story hold water in the end? And perhaps most importantly -- was the story any good?

Review of Dawn of the Aspects
Let's talk about the book, first. If you put all five installments together, it's about 380 or so pages worth of reading material. For frame of reference, that makes it about a hundred pages longer than the paperback edition of Lord of the Clans I've got sitting on my desk. Each installment was $1.99, so we're looking at about $10 for the whole book. Is that a good deal? I think it is, when you look at how much the hardcover novels are currently going for.

Dawn of the Aspects is, however, only available in digital format -- which made reading a slightly less cozy experience until I downloaded a e-reader for my cell phone. I realize I may be one of the last bastions of people-who-enjoy-putting-things-on-bookshelves, however -- so those of you that are fans of taking a Kindle or a Nook or a tablet wherever you go will find it incredibly convenient. I miss having a book to smell. I'm weird that way.

As for the book itself, part five manages to wrap up every loose end presented by the end of the installment, even if some of those resolutions had me raising an eyebrow. The Aspects and their creation was not the simple matter that was suggested in prior written lore. It was something a little more complex than that -- and the fact that there is such a vast difference between what we thought we knew, and what was actual fact, makes me wonder how much of that set-in-stone history we'd taken for granted is actually correct.

Review of Dawn of the Aspects
Obviously we've got an obligatory happy ending, of sorts -- if Kalecgos had ended up stuck back in time, or altered events in any significant fashion, it would have created a whole host of problems that I doubt even the craftiest lore-writers at Blizzard could write around. I was pretty certain this was the case when I began reading Dawn. Yet even though I knew full well that things would come to some sort of happy ending, it didn't really stop me from getting concerned about the characters as the story progressed.

It's a pretty good indicator that a book is good when you're worried about the characters while reading, even though you're certain it's all going to end well. And as always, Knaak managed to handle the dragons and their exploits with flawless precision. No ancillary characters, here -- it's all about characters we are incredibly familiar with, and they're all written perfectly.

Did it end the way I expected? Absolutely not. Dawn of the Aspects didn't just resolve the creation of the Aspects, it also resolved where, exactly, dragons fit in on Azeroth, now that Cataclysm is over. And the answer to that question was definitely not what I'd expected at all. In fact, Dawn managed to raise just as many questions as it answered -- but they aren't questions of any immediate urgency that need to be addressed. They're just fodder material for more tinfoil-hat theories down the road.

Review of Dawn of the Aspects
In fact, the only minor complaint I have of the last installment was just how swiftly everything was wrapped up. It seemed like I'd only just begun reading when it was all over -- and the last installment was longer than any of the previous ones. I don't really think this is the fault of the author so much as one of those side effects of releasing a book in installments, rather than one lump product. Which leads to the next question -- Dawn of the Aspects was obviously an experiment in the way that Blizzard releases print material. Was it a successful one?

I have my reservations about it. On the one hand, it was incredibly frustrating to be left with a once-a-month cliffhanger that wouldn't be addressed for another 30 days. On the other, it gave me time to really think about what had occurred in the section I'd just read, and time to try and puzzle out what happened next before the next installment was released. This is the sort of thing that's right up my alley, as a reader -- I like puzzling out stories. But it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I'd be interested in seeing how the rest of the world reacted to the project.

Is Dawn of the Aspects worth the read? Absolutely. It's a fascinating, well put together story that manages to answer a lot of those loose threads left hanging by that final cinematic after Deathwing's demise in Cataclysm. It also explains a lot of those mysteries I never thought we'd see the answer to -- like Tyr and how he factored into the rest of the Titan keepers and watchers. It even answers the question of what happened to Tyr's hand, and why it was replaced by the iconic silver hand that inspired the Knights of the Silver Hand to take their name.

Review of Dawn of the Aspects
And, of course, Dawn of the Aspects addresses the question of the creation of the Aspects, and exactly how they came to be. The story is well worth picking up, if you're interested in any of that information -- it may not be pertinent to current events in Mists of Pandaria, but it's certainly something a lot of people have asked about for quite some time now. I'm also incredibly curious to see what the fallout from the novel will be -- it's likely that the end of the book is indicating we aren't quite done with dragons just yet.

Dawn of the Aspects part five will be available for purchase in several different ebook formats for $1.99 on Monday, June 17. 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. While there's currently no information on a print edition of the novel, I do hope we see one eventually -- that empty spot on my bookshelf is crying for a novel!


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore

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