Gallery Books sent me a review copy of the World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde by New York Times best selling author Michael A. Stackpole.
I have been waiting for this book for about 8 months. On October 13, 2012, Michael A. Stackpole, Micky Neilson and Dave Kosak revealed plans to publish this book. You can watch later the video I posted of that Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Panel to learn more about the story from the writer.
I had many expectations for this book. I have played the PTR and the live realm for months, experiencing the Patch 5.1 Landfall and the Dagger in the Dark Scenario where Vol’jin is betrayed. His throat slit by an assassin sent by Garrosh to eliminate the Darkspear leader from the chessboard.
I enjoyed later Patch 5.3 Escalation, and of course look forward to Patch 5.4. This novel covers all the bases, all what Vol’jin experienced after we gathered the ingredients in Binan Village to save Vol’jin’s life. The story we missed in between the Dagger in the Dark scenario and Vol’jin’s return to Sen’jin Village in Patch 5.3 Escalation.
(Information here may be considered Spoilers — Read at your own discretion)
Vol’jin is taken to the Shado-Pan Monastery to be tended by Chen Stormstout and the monks. In his fevered dreams, Vol’jin stands before the Guardian of the Dead Loa Bwonsamdi and Sen’jin. Bwonsamdi is pretty pissed off at Vol’jin for the lack of sacrifices these past months, and for anchoring himself to life so fiercely rather than embracing death, tended by his Loa master. Vol’jin has so much to do for the Darkspear, for the Horde.
Bwonsamdi releases his claim over Vol’jin with a warning about his future. Vol’jin shall wish he had embraced death now instead of what Vol’jin will endure in the future.
Vol’jin wakes up a month after the events of the Dagger in the Dark scenario. Lord Taran Zhu and the Shado-Pan have been afflicted by unbalance lately. He sees in Vol’jin an enigma. He is Tushui, in contrast with Garrosh’s Horde. The Shado-Pan must teach Vol’jin the pandaren ways, and in return they must learn from Vol’jin and his vision of the Horde. However, there’s a twist. Two months earlier, the Shado-Pan Monastery harbored an injured human hunter. Both the human and the troll leader must learn to live together and tend to each other while on sacred ground.
Taran Zhu knows that once these two enemies heal and depart, they will be back to their old ways and kill each other. Taran Zhu seeds in them the pandaren ways, and the strength to defeat the emotions of the sha. In this way, bringing up a sliver of hope for the Alliance and the Horde.
I completely loved all the wisdom lines and elaborate parables poured in by the author Michael A. Stackpole. At times it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood TV series: Kung Fu.
It’s clear that Vol’jin will leave the Shado-Pan Monastery eventually as a different person. He will find a balance in his soul, he didn’t have before. He will return home to lead his people to victory with courage, determination and a complete domination over his fears and doubts.
He’s going to be the leader his people, his family needs. The Horde must safeguard its sense of family and unity.
Among the supporting characters readers will find Li Li Stormstout and Yalia Sagewhisper. Looks like Chen Stormstout has finally found someone to give meaning to his wanderer life.
If Yalia Sagewhisper rings a bell, you are right. She can be seen in the Shado-Pan Garrison (Townlong Steppes).
There are many interesting scenes in this book. The action is very quick paced to the point one can get overwhelmed taking everything in. By page 50, so many things had happened I couldn’t figure out where the story was heading to. I was just hooked wanting to learn more.
Vol’jin manages to have some dreams during his sleep, communing with the Loa, or receiving their visions. In one of them there is this scene of ancient Zandalari trolls making sacrifices on their altars. The sacrifices were … Aqir. Sacrifices feeding Hir’eek the Bat Loa.
Better yet, the story shifts to present time Zandalari in Pandaria, those harbored in the Isle of Thunder probably before the Alliance and Horde got there. Readers will get a brief glimpse how the first troll and first mogu united forces, and why they were later separated. The mists and the Sundering. Note: The mists were lifted by Shaohao in an attempt to protect Pandaria from the coming destruction as per the portents of the Jinyu 10,000 years ago.
The Zandalari are worried. They had planned in advance. They were confident with the support of the Loa spirits. They accounted for the Alliance and Horde presence, however the full attention of the Loa was now shared. This is something they did not expect. They don’t know who the troll be, but he is a wild card to their plans and their portents. They must eliminate this wild card, this shadow hunter distracting their power sources: Vol’jin.
The Zandalari fear this unknown troll occupying the Loa attention. The storm, the curtain disconnecting the Zandalari from the Loa might herald the birth of a troll destined to greatness. And in fact, this is no longer the old Vol’jin. Through the Shado-Pan conditioning and training this Vol’jin is reborn a new troll.
Chen Stormstout has his share of screen-time in the story, and the author alternates between both points of views. At one point, Chen Stormstout leaves the Monastery with Yalia to go in search of Li Li at the Temple of the White Tiger, but learn she has traveled to the Zouchin Village — Yalia’s family live there.
After the novel, players can find Yalia Sagewhisper at the side of Lord Taran Zhu in the Bleak Hollow (Isle of Thunder).
This review is just the tip of the iceberg within the first 90 pages. Looks like the novel will go into the Patch 5.2 Isle of Thunder campaign — as hinted in page 106. I have so much to read and learn in this 301-pages novel.
Order the World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde (July 2, 2013).
Check out the World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects Part V review also available.
If you haven’t played World of Warcraft in a while, Blizzplanet has you covered. Check out the Patch 5.1 Landfall, Patch 5.2 Isle of Thunder and Patch 5.3 Escalation quest/dialogue transcripts and videos.
Li Li Stormstout
Bwonsamdi (Loa, Guardian of the Dead)
Lord Taran Zhu
Tyrathan Khort (human)
Gyran’zul (youngest Zandalari shaman)
Tswen-luo (Yalia’s father at Zouchin Village, master of the fishing fleet)
Brother Kwan-ji (Shado-Pan monastery monk)
Brother Xiao (Shado-Pan Monastery monk)
Captain Nir’zan (Zandalari)
Lieutenant Trag’kal (dead Zandalari)
Master Gadrin (Witch Doctor trainer)
Bolten Vanyst (human)
Yenki and Chinwa (Yalia’s marriage candidates in her youth)
Vilnak’dor (one of the darker Zandalari Loa)
Akil’darah (Eagle Loa)
Elortha no Shadra (the Silk Dancer Loa)
Larsi (female hunter following Tyrathan’s orders, dead)