Review: Diablo: Legacy of Blood:
“Legacy of Blood” by Richard A. Knaak is the first novel in the “Diablo Archive” anthology, which was another of my prizes from Blizzard’s writing contest. With my mixed feelings on the Diablo franchise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Diablo literature.
While “Legacy of Blood” is far from terrible, I’m glad I kept my expectations low. This book is like having nothing to eat for dinner but bread. I like bread; there’s nothing wrong with it. But I want more in a meal.
The story follows an unfortunate tomb-robber named Norrec Vizharan. In search of easy riches, Norrec and his friends stumble across the tomb of Bartuc, the legendary Warlord of Blood, whose demon armies slaughtered countless innocents in the ancient past and who bathed his armor in their blood until it was permanently stained a grisly crimson.
It is Bartuc’s blood-stained armor that the story focuses on. A piece of the Warlord’s power remains in the armor, and it latches itself onto Norrec like a parasite, taking over his body and spelling doom for his little band of treasure-hunters.
The rest of the book mostly depicts the armor’s journey — with Norrec as its unwilling passenger — as it tries to resurrect the Warlord of Blood. At the same time, the armor is pursued by two other characters: General Augustus Malevolyn, who seeks the armor for his end wicked ends, and Kara Nightshadow, a necromancer who seeks to end the threat of the armor.
It’s not a bad story, certainly. There’s nothing about “Legacy of Blood” that I can point to and say, “This sucks.” As is usually the case with Richard Knaak, the prose is rather crude, but not intolerably so. But yet I found myself struggling to keep turning the pages.
Ultimately, the book does have one fatal flaw. For the vast majority of the book, Norrec has no control over his own actions. It’s simply not an interesting story when your nominal main character is just a bystander who can only watch as the suit goes around killing folks.
This is further compounded by the fact that the other protagonist, Kara, ends up in much the same situation. She’s not enslaved by a suit of armor, but she does spend much of the book as a prisoner or in the thrall of various nasty critters. So both our main characters are being led around by the nose most of the time, and it just robs the story of drama. A character needs to be able to take action and make decisions to be compelling.
I’m a relative newbie to the Diablo franchise, so I don’t know if I’m qualified to judge this, but this doesn’t really feel like a Diablo book to me, either. Aside from being a little more gory than a Warcraft novel and the places having different names, this could have been set in Azeroth for all the difference it would have made. Kara is so obsessed with the balance of nature that she seems more like a Night Elf druid than one of Rathma’s grizzly faithful.
It’s not an awful book. I didn’t hate it. But I wouldn’t recommend it, either.
Overall rating: 5/10 Just mediocre.
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