After I have finished reading Thrall in Hong Kong, I said to Cynthia, “Drop everything you are reading now and start to read this!” It is that good. Rewind to the day when we were at the airport. On several occasions, I struggled if I shall read another book written by Christie Golden. Price is a factor (S$44 in Singapore while you can get a Kindle copy from Amazon for merely US$15). I have been camping at our library website for quite some time but the book is nowhere to be seen in the catalog. Christie Golden does not strike me as a great writer, in the genre of fantasy. Hence that added to my hesitation. But hack, it is a holiday trip. On the day of my holiday, Blizzard has announced a new expansion for the World of Warcraft online game: Mists of Pandaria. On top of that, Cynthia and I have committed for a one year subscription and will get the upcoming Diablo III free. There were many reasons to celebrate. So I bought Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects.
The story is epic, even for those who may have no knowledge of the Warcraft Universe. The book has told the story well, assuming that the readers may not have any background. In the beginning, Titans (or creators) have entrusted their power to five dragon Aspects (leaders of dragonflights) and these Aspects – together with their respective dragonflights – are tasked to protect our world. The green dragon Aspect is bound to the waking Dream of Creation. She touches all living beings, and sing to them the songs of creation and interconnections. The blue dragon Aspect regulates, manages, and controls all magic that must be appreciated and valued, and not hoarded. The yellow dragon Aspect keeps the purity of time. The red dragon Aspect is gifted with compassion for all living things, to protect and to nurture. Heal those others cannot, birth what others may not, and love even the unlovable. And the black dragon Aspect is offered the earth, the basis of all things, to manage time, life, dreams, and magic. Prior to Cataclysm, Neltharion the Earth-Warder (black) was corrupted by the old gods and has become Deathwing who now destroys life instead of protecting life. Malygos the Spell-Weaver (blue) was destroyed by the dragonflights led by Alexstrasza the Life-Binder (red) due to his genocidal crusade against all magic users in Azeroth. Since then, the blue dragonflight is left without an Aspect. Ysera the Awakened (green) has recently come out from the Emerald Dream after thousands of years of dreaming and she is still somewhat dreamy, somewhat confused. Nozdormu the Timeless (yellow) has gone missing and no one knows where he is in time and space.
In short, Thrall is a story set against the dragonflights and the unique situation the dragons are now at. For those of you who are mesmerized by the stories of the dragons since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, this book is going to fill in so many lore gaps that are not featured in a gaming environment.
The world event Cataclysm was launched on December 7, 2010. In less than a year, Blizzard has transformed one of the key lore character Thrall from a leader of one faction into a protector of Azeroth and more. Some may or may not agree on such a special treatment of a Horde character (the Alliance certainly is not happy). But given the unique background of Thrall – an orc who was raised by humans and learned to befriend with and trust other races – is a pivot to the general theme of Cataclysm: The healing of a wounded world. Christie Golden has done a great job in intelligently describing Thrall’s life history without making this book reads like a history scroll. Her strength is her story dialog and it remains powerful and moving. In more than a few counts, I was moved to tears. To be frank, I rarely cry reading books or watching movies. But I do have a few soft spots here and there.
Unlike some of her other books, I feel that the plot of Thrall is tighter. There is an overall build up to climax and a conclusion to a subplot less likely to be seen in the game. Now that Dragon Soul patch 4.3 is at hand whereby adventurers will be able to experience first hand in aiding Thrall and the Aspects to battle against Deathwing, Thrall is a must read.