Reviews: The Warcraft Chronicle, Vol. 1, and The StarCraft Field Manual

Following the success of Diablo’s Book of Cain and Book of Tyrael, Blizzard has began producing similarly lavish lore books for their other franchises. Warcraft gets the Chronicle, which will be spread out over several volumes, and StarCraft so far has only been given the StarCraft Field Manual.

Cover art for the Warcraft Chronicle, volume oneOf course you just knew I’d be on these like stink on a monkey.

The Warcraft Chronicle:

The Warcraft Chronicle represents an attempt to streamline, clarify, and unify all of Warcraft lore to date — an ambitious effort considering what a morass of retcons and scattered storylines Warcraft has become over the years.

Volume one covers the entire history of the Warcraft universe from the beginning of time up until just before the opening of the Dark Portal, and much of it covers periods of history we have previously had little to no knowledge of.

All this is helped along by some incredibly beautiful and detailed artwork depicting major events and locations, many of which we have never seen before, such as the Black Empire, ancient Zandalar, and Zin’Azshari at its height. The art of the Warcraft Chronicle is absolutely fantastic and probably the best reason to get the book.

As for the story content of the book… well, I’m still digesting it.

There are a lot of very big revelations in this book. Some are retcons, others just new info. A lot of what the Chronicle talks about is epic, thrilling, and fascinating in the way Warcraft lore is at its best, but it does change a lot of things, and it will be a while before I fully decide how I feel about it all.

The Black Empire, as depicted by the Warcraft ChronicleIt is good to finally get a clear and ordered history of things and try to clear up the vagaries and contradictions that have cropped up over the years. This will likely benefit the story going forward.

On the other hand, sometimes a little mystery is a good thing, and having an answer to (nearly) every question can rob the universe of some of its mystique. I do think knowing exactly where the Old Gods came from and what their goal is robs them of some of their intimidation factor. They’re not these terrible, incomprehensible enigmas anymore.

Still, even with my mixed feelings, I’d consider the Chronicle a must have for Warcraft lore fans.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

The StarCraft Field Manual:

Unfortunately StarCraft’s lore tome proves less impressive.

The Field Manual is presented as an actual manual given to Dominion marines to help them understand the threats of the Koprulu Sector.

The entire manual is “enhanced” by comments scribbled into the margins by the manual’s original owner. This is a clever idea in theory but fairly annoying in practice. Terran marines are not known for their wit or insight.

A page from the StarCraft Field ManualAnd unlike the Chronicle, the Field Manual does not offer any major new insights into the lore. Mostly it’s just a series of blurbs describing the backstories of the various units and buildings, similar to what they had in the old game manuals. Which is all well and good, but I’m not sure it quite justifies the book’s relatively high price tag.

The artwork is nice, but nothing compared to that of the Chronicle. Really my favourite part of the book was a chart offering to-scale size comparisons of most units. Turns out the Spear of Adun is seventy-four kilometers long.

Them Protoss don’t mess around.

Overall rating: 5.5/10 Only worth it for collectors and extreme super fans.

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