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Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 Review

I acquired a copy of Starcraft: Ghost Academy from Barnes & Noble to review this product. For a soft cover, I really like the texture and feeling of the material. Volume One contains 192 pages full of action and it’s divided into a prologue and five chapters.

Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1The manga starts out strangely from the point of view of yourself as the one receiving a letter from Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. In this letter you are required to volunteerly submit your son/daughter to the Psi-Ops Division of the Terran Dominion (Ghost Program) and how proud you should be for making this step for the defense of the Dominion from alien threats.

The prologue is a follow up to the events of the Starcraft: Frontline manga concerning Colin Phash and Corbin Phash. Corbin has started to feed the media with accussations against the Ghost Program, requesting people to rise against the taking of their children for underground experimentation.

Kevin Bick (Director of the Ghost Program) appears on the UNN to respond the accussations and displays video of what happened at Maltair IV, blaming ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Phash for refusing to volunteerly bring his son to the Ghost Program for proper training of his abilities. If he had done as requested, the events of Maltair IV wouldn’t have happened in the first place – said the director.

We do know from Starcraft: Frontline that it was the Dominion command who authorized the wrangler Randall to use lobotomized zerg units as psi-hounds to track down the telepath boy: Colin Phash. Thus, the Dominion is simply covering up their lies with false info to the UNN, making it look like the boy is a threat to himself and everyone around him without proper training — blaming the kid for attracting zerg to planet Maltair IV.

CHAPTER ONE: It’s all over now, Team Blue

We learn that the entire UED squadron was not decimated by Kerrigan’s zerg in Starcraft: Brood War. In this volume, we see the Team Blue led by Gabriel Tosh and composed of Nova, Kath, and Lio. They are here on a mission to inflitrate a planet-hopper ship overtaken by UED Pirates — you heard it, UED Pirates. Their goal is to rescue a senator and three aides on board.

Nova doesn’t look like a team player who likes to follow orders. She takes off ahead of the team and doesn’t even listen to Gabriel Tosh’s instructions. Her cockiness puts her in harm’s way jeopardizing the mission once she figures out the UED pirates are wearing psi-screens.

I found difficult sometimes to differenciate one marine from another, as they lack any serial number, marks or logos. For example, I found it helpful in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4: Fear the Reaper to identify who was who among the Reaper squad. Not much of an issue, really, due to the nature of this specific mission.

Things in this first chapter are not what you think, but we get to see how the Ghost trainees get to learn, hone and improve their skills the hard way. I could see a bit of a Star Trek influence here, and it’s no surprise with the large track record of Star Trek novels written by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

There’s a curious shadow in the complex’s hallways that resembles a child, and Nova did see the shadow, but dismissed it as something she thought she saw. Considering Nova is PI 10 and the child Colin Phash is PI 7.5, it makes you wonder how the kid got to fool Nova. In the Starcraft: Frontline series you learn that Senator Corbin Phash taught his son how to project his thoughts with false leads (repeating something in his mind to be picked up by telepaths, while doing something else), and the kid has a special gift described as “Quiet Voice” — which sorta cloaks his presence from the Zerg with the power of his mind, even when he is at plain sight. And another ability described as Astral Projection or relocation of his mind. (Paul Benjamin & Dave Shramek read X-Men, alright). Colin probably used this ability to evesdrop on Nova, while remaining out of sight from her own telepathic abilities.

CHAPTER TWO: Taking Care of Business

This chapter introduces Director Kevin Bick and Superintendent Angelini Sarco who talk about the insertion of Aal Cistler into team blue. We get to see Preceptor Soohoo teaching Terran history through the eye of the Terran Dominion, or like a yawning Kath Toom describes: propaganda. The story of how the Confederates fell in Tarsonis with the Zerg and how Kerrigan joined the Zerg was taught wrong. Therefore, the ghost trainees are instructed with the same lies the Dominion feeds the media and the people.

As the story progresses, you kinda start feeling back at college with all the drama, name-calling and angry students stepping on your patience. The interactions between students feel natural. Conflicts arise, while others try to keep things under control — like Gabriel Tosh, leader of Team Blue.

We get to see Lio Travski in action hacking into computers to bypass the Ghost Program’s security sensors in order to buy and consume Hab.

CHAPTER THREE: Seven times fall down, eight times get up

In this chapter, we see another training scenario in the shape of a maze full of booby traps, and robots. Each member of Team Blue is tested to the limit, and their mistakes and pros are measured by percent. The next class is with Sergeant Hartley who trains them in the way of martial arts. All students must wear a psi-screen and must rely on their instincts and physical prowess.

I was pleased to see Keith DeCandido bring up some scenes from the Starcraft: Ghost Nova novel such as Nova’s experience at the Gutter serving Fagin as a slave for six months.

The martial art trainer is a butcher and the training of ghosts in this class look like the harshest boot camp you have ever experienced. A bonus martial match between Gabriel Tosh and Aal takes place. Later, the team vents on Nova for not been a team player.

Nova finds a young telepath girl at some kind of library. Nova reads into her mind to learn her story, and it turns out this girl is the one Wrangler Randall captured in Starcraft: Frontline while searching for Colin Phash. It’s really nice to see continuity treats throughout the manga.

At the mess hall, there’s an informative and amusing interaction between Aal, Kath and Gabriel Tosh which help you flesh out their background, and their personality. There’s another training test to assemble a C-10 rifle within a minute and a half or less. It seems Nova listened to what Gabriel Tosh told her about her lack of a team work, and we see her caring more about her teammates, by teaching them.

CHAPTER FOUR: All I have to do is dream

This chapter shows how much Nova has accomplished earning the companionship of her teammates. Here we also get another flashback from Starcraft: Ghost Nova. The scene where Nova and Morgan Calabas are aboard the yacht en route to the Tyrador IX resort and the moment she finds her parents dead, Her experience at the Gutter for six months as a slave of Fagin, and her rescue by Wrangler Malcolm Kelerchian.

If you read this novel (pocket book), it will be nice for you to see a brief summary and these characters as images. Gabriel Tosh and Nova get closer as friends at the end of this chapter.

CHAPTER FIVE: Redemption

There are some twists at the end, and the entire story has brief hints of Colin Phash been able to eavesdrop his way around the Ghost Program undetected, unless the Ghost Program is using him as their way to eavesdrop on the trainees? I guess we will confirm or discard that in the upcoming volume 2.

While some readers new to Starcraft will feel a bit lost on what’s going on, they don’t necessarily need to have read Starcraft: Ghost Nova, as this manga briefly summarizes some of the most important scenes that shaped Nova’s life.

For a intro, volume one did a good job at showing us how the ghosts are trained, while at the same time exploring each character’s personality and past. Some characters are more caring and friendly than others. The exceptions of course are Aal, and Lio. Aal because he only cares about himself, and Lio because of his addiction to Hab and his continuous efforts to prevent his friends and the preceptors from discovering his addiction.

If you are a lore nerd like myself, collecting all Starcraft novels and manga — you will no doubt appreciate all the continuity nods and mentions.

Did you read Starcraft: Ghost Nova? Then you will love reading Starcraft: Ghost Academy as it’s written by the same author: Keith R.A. DeCandido — who participated in the shaping of the main character and its world. Awesome job, Keith! Fernando Heinz Furukawa is the artist of this manga. The artwork is very enjoyable and consistent. Rich facial expressions really help to transmit each character’s emotions throughout the plot. I am not into manga, but I truly dig Furukawa’s style.

Overall, a good read, as expected from the writing-calibre of Keith R.A. DeCandido. The Starcraft: Ghost Academy will only span up to three volumes, but after reading this first issue, I really wish Blizzard and Tokyopop published them as an ongoing series every three-or-four months without a defined end.

The Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm is heading to the Graphic Novel format, so I would welcome an ongoing manga series based on Nova and the Ghost Academy with the same author and artist.

Check out the preview scans and the recent teaser trailer. You can order Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 here. The story continues in the second part, Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 which hits bookstores on August 3, 2010.

Slang

You will see some slang used often throughout the manga:

Teek: Telekinetic
Teep: Telepath
PI: Psi-Index (a PI 10 is a powerful telepath/telekinetic)
Chaneed: short for “What do you need?”

Characters

E.B. James – UNN Reporter

Director Kevin Bick: He is in charge of the Terran Dominion’s Ghost Program. Director Bick talked to the UNN to deny all accussations from ex-senator Corbin Phash and to convince the populace that Phash’s notion of the Ghost Program’s experiments on children is outdated info as that’s how the Confederates’s Ghost Program worked like, not the Terran Dominion’s. That’s of course a lie.

Preceptor Soohoo: History instructor at the Ghost Program

Superintendent Angelini Sarco – He monitors each of the Ghost trainees through Sparky — the computer that probes each area of the building as a surveillance system.

Jenni – assistant serving Director Kevin Bick

Dr. Gauthier – the Ghost Program doctor overlooking Colin Phash’s brainwashing process and he’s running experiments on Colin.

Colin Phash – ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Phash’s son. Colin is a telepath Psi-Index 7.5 with the innovative and unique ability to create a Quiet Voice mental cloaking field around himself to stay out of plain sight, and can cast an astral projection of himself.

Aldeo Cistler – He is the Terran Dominion’s Finance Minister and a valued member of the Emperor’s Inner Circle. He sent his son Aal Cistler to the Ghost Program to make a man out of him because throughout all his young years he has been an embarrassment to his family.

Kam – Hab supplier inside the Ghost Program. He provides the illegal narcotic to Lio Travski at blind spots where Lio can fool Sparky’s probe detection.

Aunt Yuku – Uncle Desi’s wife and aunt to Lio Travski.

Uncle Desi – Uncle to Lio Travski. Desi is a computer tech at the Kal-Bryant Mining Conglomerate in Pridewater.

Sergeant Hartley: Rude trainer who teaches martial arts to all ghost trainees and forces them to do fifty push ups on one fist.

Preceptor Appelbaum – Overlooks Delta’s training.

Delta Emblock – a very young telepath girl at the Ghost Program. She was born in New Sydney. Her mother died of a lung infection acquired at the factory she worked at. Delta had to work at age seven after her mom died and never learned to read. Wrangler Randall captured her and dispatched her to the Ghost Academy.

Preceptor Lagdamen – a trainer at the Ghost Program who oversees the training of Team Blue.

Preceptor Ryke – he teaches PI 7 and higher index telepaths how to supress thoughts. A P10 can’t control to read memories on people with strong thoughts or memory imprints.

Dr. Neall – She attended Lio’s health at the infirmary when he had a overdose of Turk, and found out traces of Hab in his bloodstream.

Team Blue

Gabriel Tosh – He grew up in the streets of Haji. He is been in the Ghost Program for at least two years and the leader of Team Blue. Gabriel Tosh plays an important role in the Starcraft II single player campaign. He is who gives you the mission titled MINING YOUR OWN BUSINESS at Redstone III [alias the lava planet].

Lio Travski – He can hack into machines using telepathy. Lio can create blind spots where Sparky — the preceptor’s sensor probe can not spy on him or detect that he is sending email to his family. Biometric sensors and cameras can’t pick him up, and he can easily infiltrate and hack into Sparky’s mainframe. He is addicted to Hab — an illegal narcotic.

Kath Toom – She gets bored in history class, yawns often. The pessimistic and complaint girl of team blue. She is the daughter of one of the executive vice-presidents of the Kal-Bryant Mining Conglomerates on Pridewater.

Aal Cistler – Age 25. He is a PI 4.5 — which catalogs him as not a telepath. An opportunistic playboy. An Intelligent and superb martial artist. He got black belts in three different disciplines. He is the son of Aldeo Cistler (the Terran Dominion’s financial minister). His father used his influences to place Aal into the Ghost Program even not being a telepath merely to make a man out of him. Aal has lived a playboy life, surrounded by luxury, lazyiness and bedding many women.

Nova Terra: November Anabelle Terra was the daughter of an industrial robotic manufacturing executive. One of the Old Families of Tarsonis. Her abilities manifested in full at the sight of her parents’ assassination. She lashed out at her would-be executioners and the telekinetic outburst destroyed the top of her family skycrapper and its anti-nuke dome, along with three hundred civilians. After six months in the Gutter, she was rescued by Wrangler Malcolm Kelerchian and brought into the Ghost Academy to hone her PI 10 abilities.

Team Red

Dylanna – She was the highest rank (68%) in the planet-hopper scenario simulation until Nova broke the record with a 70%. Nova’s team died in the simulation, while Dylanna’s lived. Yet Nova was rewarded with a higher score. This makes Dylanna angry at Nova, and a nemesis.
Winlaleah

Locations Mentioned

Lio Travski mentions two locations while emailing his uncle Desi. Desi lives at Pridewater. Both formerly lived in Nidhogg.

Nidhogg – Unknown location where drug addicts consumed Hab [illegal narcotic]. Smoky air and plagued by bugs.

Canis – One of Ursa’s moons. The Hab dealer gets supplies from here to distribute off-world.

The Gutter – a criminal activity and drug traffic zone in Tarsonis where Nova spent six months as slave of its kingpin Fagin.

Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3 Review

Tokyopop provided us a copy of the StarCraft Frontline Vol. 3 to review.  It will be officially on a bookstore near you, or online on Tuesday, July 14th. This volume contains four stories: War-Torn, Do no Harm, Last Call and Twilight Archon.

I really dig and enjoy War-Torn by Paul Benjamin and Dave Shramek. Not only it has a very good and immersive dialogue going on, the artwork is one you will like right away.  Hector Sevilla should be brought often to spice up the series.

In War-Torn, for those who have been following the storyline of Corbin Phash’s telepath son, the story sets some cliffhangers that might or not be explored in the StarCraft II episodes.

A wrangler is sent by the Dominion to track the telepath boy.  He uses murderous means to find the boy at all costs. Those who aren’t acquainted with what a wrangler is, they were introduced in StarCraft: Ghost Nova by Keith R.A. DeCandido back on 2006.

A wrangler has a Psi-Index (PI) 3.5.  They aren’t telepaths, but are psi-sensitive. In short, they can sense when a telepath is nearby by the headache they get.  They are sent by the Dominion to track and hunt down telepaths, specially children, to be trained in the Ghost Program Academy.

The Dominion Senator is hiding in the Umojan Protectorate, and promises he will not rest until he recovers his boy and spread in the media the truth about the Ghost Program.  It seems Emperor Arcturus Mengsk has turned the Ghost Program into something more evil than it used to be with the Confederates.

I recommend all StarCraft fans to read StarCraft: Frontline Vol. 3.  It has some interesting stories there that makes you wonder exactly what Blizzard Entertainment is going to spotlight in the single player episodes.

Read more of this review after the break.

This wrangler has Zerglings at his disposition. They have been lobotomized to break their link with Kerrigan.  Yup, exactly what you are thinking.  This wrangler uses them as bloodhounds to search for the telepath boy. The Zerglings have a tech-collar to control them; and if they go nasty against his master, the collars have explosives for auto-destruction.

Basically they set Zerg loose upon these telepath boys to cause mass hysteria among the population. This way the people think the untrained telepaths are dangerous for civilization because they attract zerg like magnets.  The people then cooperate with the Dominion authorities and sell out volunteerly any info they may have about the kids.

Any zerg incursion must look like it has been a natural thing, and no traces that they have been deployed by the Dominion must come to the public nor the media networks.  A very dirty tactics there in the Dominion.  Makes you think the Confederates were saints in comparison.

The conclusion of War-Torn reveals what I reported recently.  The Tokyopop editor confirmed a few days ago that the telepath kid named Colin Phash will end up in the upcoming StarCraft Ghost Academy Vol. 1 by Keith R.A. DeCandido (on sale Jan 5, 2010).

The second story in StarCraft: Frontline Vol. 3 by Josh Elder left me in shock.  The Dominion scientists have secretly captured Protoss to conduct experiments for a whole year. They are known as Project Gestalt.  They created a prototype codenamed Gestalt Zero.

It is a … protoss-human hybrid created by the Dominion. He has a Ghost suit partially similar to the Ghost shown in the BlizzCon 2009 logo.  His face looks semi-human with a nose, and mouthless like a Protoss.  He is a Psi-Index 7.5 and has double the combat effectiveness of a normal Ghost.  It has Zealot psi-blades and equipped with guns.

The Dominion wants to mass-produce this prototype for their war against the Protoss and the Zerg.  You really want to read this story completely.

The next story is titled Last Call.  It is about a singer named Starry, who worked on Tarsonis city. Her left cheek is disfigured.  She was a survivor of the Zerg invasion on Tarsonis.  A Zerg Queen attacked her, and now she lives in shame for her scar, and the nightmares of that encounter have continued on and on, tormenting her.

She moved on and now works at a Sour Moon Bar in the Meteor Station. Without spoiling too much, we get to see two diplomats arranging a deal.  The Kel-Morian have found during their digging a Xel’Naga artifact.  The Dominion wishes to buy it from them.  We get to see the tension between both factions, and the thin threshold holding them from diplomatic catastrophe.

If anything, this story will show us the next evolution of the Zerg.  Let’s leave it at this: the Terran Dominion’s scanners can’t detect parasites anymore.  Kerrigan may have unwilling eyes and ears on high spheres of the Dominion Command. Trust no one.

The last story is titled Twilight Archon.  We get to see the final moments of the invasion of Aiur. A female Protoss Templar sacrifices and invokes a mother of a Psi Storm that decimated many Zerg before losing consciousness.  She awakes, and is welcomed back by a Dark Templar. He informs her she’s been out unconscious since her brave display in Aiur.

The Aiur Protoss are now in Shakuras, as guests of the Dark Templar.  She can’t bear the silence, and the emptiness. He informs her, a Hydra cut her appendages. She is no longer in the Khala, and can’t hear her brothers’ psi-union anymore.

She fears her students won’t trust her anymore. She is now unwillingly a dark templar in a way without her appendages.  Without going too deep into the story, you will see the origin of the first Twilight Archon, and how they were able to merge this way.  I really liked the artwork on this story.

It would be hard to compare or decide on which is best from all four stories.  Actually, Hector Sevilla rocks, but I liked pencils and inks by Noel Rodriguez.

To be sincere, I have never collected manga, nor like the style.  However, I do enjoy the StarCraft: Frontline series.  I purchased volume 1 and 2 last month. All I got to say to Tokyopop is: “Please, keep them rolling.”  I would like this series to be ongoing beyond the three-years deal.

The stories are thrilling, and you will quickly grow addicted to this manga.  If at least Tokyopop could publish these monthly as an ongoing series. It is definitely a worth read.  It expands the Starcraft universe and your perception of it.  I would like to see some of this stories branch out into some of the Starcraft II single player missions.

WoW TCG: Blood of Gladiators New Epic Loot Items

Upper Deck just informed us of their new upcoming WoW TCG: Blood of Gladiators Loot Cards and more importantly the code you can use on PTR 3.1 Servers to have a live sneak peek of what they look like.

Upper Deck Announces The Latest World of Warcraft

Arthas Carries A Burden Deep In His Soul …

The Balnir Farmstead has a past mystery … a place that holds a dark secret that no one but Prince Arthas Menethil knows. A secret that would be dragged within for years. A secret that would forever damn his soul.

  • Read our preview of World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King.

  • Watch our video interview with Chris Metzen & Micky Neilson about Arthas, Rise of the Lich King and WoW: Stormrage
  • Participate on the World of Warcraft: Arthas Galley Giveaway.

Warcraft Legends Vol. 3 Preview

Blizzplanet acquired 30 preview scans of Warcraft Legends Vol. 3 courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and Tokyopop. You can view them after my impressions.

Warcraft Legends Vol. 3 will be available at bookstores on Tue 10 March 2009. A manga composed of four stories based on the Warcraft fantasy setting. Tokyopop provided me with an advance copy of this book. The manga has stories based on World of Warcraft quests and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

The first story Fiend—by Richard A. Knaak (writer) and Hae-Hwan Kim (artist)—is about Trag Highmountain (from the pages of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy).  Trag has risen with the curse of undead unable to control his mind and will. Seeking help in Kalimdor he is betrayed by his people. Only with the help of Thrall, he regains his free will and departs to Borean Tundra to pursue a special goal. To enact vengeance against Arthas the Lich King. He meets the Taunka’le Village inhabitants and protects them from the Anub’ar. That’s one of the quests you face in the expansion. Seeking a powerful weapon to face the Lich King, Trag accompanies a Taunka to Galakrond’s resting place. Galakrond has not been digged out by the Scourge yet in Dragonblight at this point. Volume 3 and 4 will be a must-have for fans who wish to learn this new lore, and to find out how the story will affect the Arthas the Lich King dungeon event.

The second story titled Crusader’s Blood—by Dan Jolley (writer) and Heinz Furukawa (artist)—is a very cool tie-in with the early Horde quest in classic World of Warcraft … Fields of Grief. After reading the story, I found similarities with a quest from the Brill Inn. Upon visit of the premises in the game, the main character is the Innkeeper Renee. The deathstalker, the Captive Scarlet Zealot and Captive Mountaneer from this story are the same found in the basement. The story remarks the cycle of hatred and vengeance the Scarlet Crusade was victim of by the likes of its true master: Dreadlord Balnazzar, and much more.

The third story titled I Got What Yule Need—by Christie Golden (writer) and Carlos Olivares (artist)—doesn’t necessarily fits the lore; but it is a refreshing story with elements of the game such as the Feast of the Winter Veil celebrated in Ironforge.  It can’t be told without spoiling the purpose of the story. It has a very touching message. Those who are used to Christie’s Warcraft novels know her writting style when it comes to emotional situations.

The last story titled The Thrill of the Hunt—by Troy Lewter (writer) and Qing Ping Mui (artist)—let’s us explore a bit of Hemet Nesingwary’s background. At an Inn, Hemet overhears a hunter who brags about a questionable kill before his friends.  Hemet tells his personal experience to teach the amateur hunter a lesson.

Overall this manga is entertaining and some of the stories can be considered canon. I certainly liked the ones that tie-in with the MMO, and show promise to reveal more of upcoming MMO content. Below you can take a look at the preview scans of each of the four stories within Warcraft Legends Vol. 3 and its art. Pre-order Warcraft Legends Vol. 3 on sale March 10.

If you question the canonity of the Tokyopop Warcraft mangas, I recommend to watch our video interview with Chris Metzen (Blizzard Senior VP of Creative Development) and Micky Neilson (Senior Writer & Voice Director) who confirm they are involved in the project and make sure that the manga, comic books, and novels tie-in with the game and are canon.

FEAR

The exciting Warcraft: Legends adventure continues with this latest installment of stories set in the Warcraft universe. From the critically acclaimed team of Richard Knaak and Jae-Hwan Kim (Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy) comes part three in the continuing adventures of Trag Highmountain, the heroic tauren reborn as one of the undead.

CRUSADER’S BLOOD

In “Crusader’s Blood,” a blood elf mage and a forsaken warrior embark on a quest of vengeance against a ruthless Scarlet Crusade captain.

I GOT WHAT YULE NEED

From acclaimed writer Christie Golden comes the tale of a down-on-his-luck goblin named Krizz looking for a way to make some easy coin

Review: World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King

I finished reading the book and I am ready to tell fans my experience without spoiling much. At least nothing you haven’t already seen in Warcraft III. For those catching up, we got some World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King galleys to giveaway to fans—courtesy of Simon & Schuster and Blizzard Entertainment.  A galley is an uncorrected proof (a special advance reader’s edition not-for-sale).  The advantage is that you get to read the book nearly two months ahead before they hit bookstores.

On to the review, Christie Golden has done an excellent work researching many previous books by other authors, and playing Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its Frozen Throne expansion. We get to see Arthas at age 9 and how his life and experiences shaped up what one day would be a Prince sacrificing everything zealously for his people, to be able to claim Frostmourne in order to defeat the dreadlord Mal’Ganis.

We see Sir Anduin Lothar, Khadgar and a young Prince Varian Wrynn arriving at Capital City to inform about the fall of Stormwind—an exact scene from World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness by Aaron Rosenberg—but from the point of view of a young Arthas hiding on the upper gallery to witness the scene. We see how Varian and Arthas play together, except Varian had been trained since childhood, while Arthas was overprotected from such trainings by his father.

The love triangle between Kael, Jaina and Arthas is explored in-depth throughout two chapters and a half. Christie works her usual magic here developing feelings and passions. We get to briefly see many characters of the Warcraft universe, and various scenes from the point of view of Arthas.  We get to see that scene in Day of the Dragon when Lord Daval Prestor (Deathwing) was chosen to marry Calia Menethil when she was age 16. A scene from World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal when Muradin walks in into Capital City to find a young Arthas playing make-believe attacking illusory orcs with his training sword. This leads Muradin to volunteer to train him.

Something I found quite refreshing was the use of World of Warcraft festivities throughout the length of the book. Noblegarden, the Midsummer Fire Festival, the Hallow’s End, and the Feast of Winter Veil to develop the relationship between Arthas and Jaina together as years go by. As some people know, Christie Golden has been a World of Warcraft player for the past years on a RP-server. She knows the game with a passion.

Arthas visiting Durnholde Keep on behalf of his father, as he starts taking bigger responsibilities as a Prince. Meeting Thrall fight other adversaries at the Gladiator Arena. His induction ceremony at the Cathedral of Light where he was ordained a Paladin of the Order of the Silver Hand.

You will love how accurately Christie depicts the scenes from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos word by word as things are said either in the mission briefings or the in-game engine’s cinematics—fleshing out those parts in between to connect with the next campaign maps.

For example, remember that scene where Arthas awaits Jaina? The soldier asks Arthas if they should help Jaina. Enter Jaina …. fleeing from Ogres. She turns around and handles them on her own with the help of a Water Elemental.

That scene when they find the plagued silo, find two elven priests and even a dwarven mortar team.  Then arrive to the granary and find an Abomination.

Jaina: “By the Light—- that creature looks like it was sewn together from different corpses!”

Arthas: “Let’s study it after we kill it, okay?”

The scene where Arthas calls Uther a traitor and disbands the Order of the Silver Hand. The Cunning of Stratholme. The search for Frostmourne and the apparent demise of Mal’Ganis. Walk the halls toward the throne room of Lordaeron Capital City. Find out what went through Arthas’ mind when touching the rose petals with his gloved fingers.

For continuity’s sake, we see Jaina Proudmoore and Magna Aegwynn (Medivh’s mother) in Theramore (from the pages of World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred by Keith R.A. DeCandido and the current DC comics / Wildstorm World of Warcraft Comic Book). As well as various scenes from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion with brief cameos of Tuskarr and Taunka races.

The book goes as far as Warcraft III: Frozen Throne’s Undead Campaign from start to end. There is only two major omissions that I have to acknowledge may have been due to space just 25 pages away from the last page. The lapse between fighting Sapphiron to entering the gates to the Inner Kingdom was completely skipped. And the major turn off is that the Forgotten One is not even mentioned as even happening.

The epilogue presents what happened these past four years with Arthas. He is been dreaming. And he awakes leading to the invasion to Orgrimmar and Stormwind and the events of Wrath of the Lich King. But what happened during those four years of dreaming? There has been an inner conflict within Arthas the Lich King’s head … between three minds striving for control: Ner’zhul, Arthas, and … who we are familiar with as Matthias Lehner (the ghost child). The end is shocking to say the least. And unexpected.

Except for those two events omitted, the book is accurate and loyal to the events of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: Frozen Throne. And offers much more with extra spice from Christie Golden. I can only say one thing about this. I (beep) love this book !!!

This book is an overdosed cocktail of lore and continuity that will numb your senses.

If you are a die-hard WarCraft lore fan you can’t miss this book.  If you are a World of Warcraft player who didn’t get to play previous Warcraft games—this book will be your best chance at catching up with Arthas’ past pre-Third War and it covers both: Warcraft III and its expansion accurately. Pre-Order World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King … on sale: April 21, 2009.

Watch our interview with Blizzard’s Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson at the 2009 New York Comic Con for details of World of Warcraft: Arthas and the World of Warcraft: Stormrage book.

2009 NYCC: New DC Unlimited World of Warcraft Action Figures

During my visit to the 2009 New York Comic Con, I visited the DC Comics booth to check out their World of Warcraft action figures and the artists. Chris Metzen had told me after the interview to return to the booth to see three new action figures: King Varian Wrynn (Lo’gosh), a Night Elf Huntress named Alathena Moonbreeze and a Scourge Ghoul named Rottingham. These look awesome. If you are a action figures collector, these will do great. Their armor, weapons and clothing are very detailed and colorful. Very accurate to the game, standing on impressive poses.

The DC Comics was packed with hundreds of people, the ambient was welcoming with tall posters of each franchise, especially the World of Warcraft comic book. They were showcasing video on big HD monitors of DC Online, DC vs Mortal Kombat, and even playing the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King cinematic intro. I got video of each DC Unlimited World of Warcraft action figure from different angles for your viewing pleasure. As well as close ups. Enjoy.

Review: Music of Blizzard Entertainment: Echoes of War by EMINENCE

EMINENCE unleashed two flavors of The Music of Blizzard Entertainment: Echoes of War.  The standard edition with retail price of only $29.99 and the Legendary Edition that goes up at $ 49.99. I received a copy of the Legendary Edition in order to experience what other fans will feel when this product is shipped to their home. That way you may get to find out what to expect, and whether it is worth. After two weeks testing this product, I finally have a verdict.

The Echoes of War Legendary Edition gives you some extra bang for your buck. I especially recommend the Echoes of War Legendary Edition for the type of fan that loves to find out more about the people involved behind the development of Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. When a company comes out of anonymity and shows you their face, express themselves on video, and allow you to listen to their feelings when developing a product—that’s such a great experience.

I remember a few years ago, when Blizzard Entertainment was all about seeing Bill Roper as the voice behind Blizzard. And the ocassional Mike Morhaime and Rob Pardo interviews on Gamespot and at other gaming sites. Nowadays, Blizzard is wide open in their Public Relations philosophy. You see Jay Wilson, Dustin Browder, Chris Sigaty, Jeff Kaplan, and so many other developers in video interviews. We get to know all these gaming developers at the personal level. At the naked core. Knowing a person at a social level allows you to better appreciate a product, the effort put into it.

This is in part why collectors love to buy the expensive version of a film that comes accompanied with a Behind the Scenes bonus including interviews, backstage footage, and such. You get to meet the person. The same feeling you get when watching the special edition or remastered edition of a blockbuster film, is what you feel when you get the Echoes of War Legendary Edition.


The Standard Edition comes with only two Discs of music containing 15 soundtracks … over ninety minutes of orchestral music, and an 8-page color booklet. Not bad at the price tag of 29.99. Considering some of the themes are over 5-7 minutes long. You get what you pay for: The music of Blizzard Entertainment contains a few medleys that include the most interesting themes from World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Starcraft II, Diablo III and Starcraft: Ghost played by the hands of the professional Eminence Symphony Orchestra.

This product is for the fan who loves to listen to classic music by a live orchestra and loves the music of Blizzard games (IPs). Whether you are at your office, at home, commuting by train or bus in a daily basis, and why not … while driving your car through the daily traffic. If you are expecting the whole theme collection of a specific game, this is the wrong product. You can find those at the official Blizzard Store. The Echoes of War is a collection of the best themes from each game IP, including the upcoming Starcraft II and Diablo III. You will be among the first to listen to some of the Starcraft II and Diablo III themes. Guaranteed sale, eh?


Two questions would come to fans’ minds: How involved is Blizzard Entertainment in this product? Is this an independent standalone licensed product? The answer is: No. This is not a standalone product created by a company on their own. Blizzard Entertainment is knee-deep involved in the development of Echoes of War. The Blizzard Audio and Video Director, Russell Brower, spent months working on the music sheets, talking back and forth with Eminence, taking a 29-hour trip to the other side of the world to meet Hiroaki Yura, Go Shiina and Phillip Chu. And viceversa. The Eminence team also traveled to the new Blizzard Entertainment offices in Irvine, California. They spent months organizing and preparing before bringing together the musicians to record the music. This product is a collaboration of Blizzard Entertainment and Eminence Symphony Orchestra.

Now that your mindset has been refreshed with information about the Echoes of War product, I will proceed to describe the content within the Legendary Edition box.

Next page: Legendary Edition Content > > >

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