Insight Editions, $39.99, ISBN 978-1-60887-279-4
Diablo III: Book of Tyrael is a follow up to Diablo III: Book of Cain, and both books are “behind the scenes” look into the lore of Sanctuary, the world in which the Diablo video games are set in. While the previous book was published to tease the release of Diablo III, this one is a prologue of sorts to the upcoming Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls.
Unlike the previous book, this book is surprisingly coy on the events that would take place in the expansion. However, it offers many spoilers for Diablo III, so if you haven’t played that game but wish to, you may want to put off reading this book until you’ve played the game.
So, this book. Its concept is this: Tyrael has collected the writings of Deckard Cain, who died early in Diablo III, and added a random scrawling here and there to pass the whole thing off as “his”. Hey, it’s Tyrael. He has never done anything to its completion without needing someone to bail his useless rear end out, so it’s not like he’s going to change anytime soon. Tyrael is now presenting “his” book to a member of the newly revitalized Horadrim, so that the fellow is well-prepared to face the upcoming drama in the expansion.
Let’s pretend that the trailer for the expansion – also known as Tyrael Gets His Ass Kicked… Again (Someone Call the Nephelem!) – doesn’t exist. Therefore, all the reader will know from reading this book is that the newly revitalized Horadrim – sprung from the wells of a magical place called Deus Ex Machina, I hear – is charged to proect the Black Soulstone. The Black Soulstone is like the super version of the soulstones in the previous games. Well, let’s hope this Horadrim does a better job than the last batch, but I doubt it, not when they are being “guided” by Tyrael.
If that seems like déjà vu, well, it is. It’s same with the Crusaders, introduced here because that class is going to be playable in the expansion. The problem with the Crusader is that, at this point, that class seems like a redesigned version of the Diablo II class of Paladin. I’d expect the people behind the lore to come up with a different origin for this class, but no. Just like the Paladins, the Crusaders are a bunch of militant folks from the Church of Zakarum that broke off when the founder felt that the Church had become too corrupted for its own good. Are they even trying anymore?
Content-wise, this one has far more substantial lore than the previous book. It covers some of the materials present in the previous book, only in far more detail. I like that. There is a section on Adria, and the authors take pains to mention that she and Maghda are very close, to the point that they even wear the same type of clothes. Now, you can say that maybe the Coven is just like McDonald’s, where everyone wears a uniform, but the accompanying illustration begs to differ. And then there are some more in-depth look at the history of Sanctuary, including events in the previous Diablo III game, and a short glimpse of key NPCs and organizations that showed up in all Diablo games up to this point.
The writing is fine, much more readable and less flowery than the previous book, but this book is far less attractive than the previous book. I love how Book of Cain was printed on paper that looked and felt like old worn parchment. Here, the paper used is… shiny – really shiny, like modern day pages liberally soaked in gold glitter. Some pages are so dark that the words are hard to read. I find it odd that the content is better here, but everything looks worse. The occasional full-page illustrations can be hit or miss. The ones that focus on a single subject are gorgeous, but those portraying an event are often too busy for their own good – it’s hard to figure out what is happening in them even when I squint and peer closely at the page.
Oh, and after all these years, they finally gave a canon name to the Rogue and Mage in the first Diablo game.
I have a much more pleasant experience reading this book compared to the previous book. This one feels more like a “real” book compared to the banal fluff present in the previous book. I just wish it is as pretty too. At any rate, this one is worth a look if you’re a fan of those games and have some money to burn. Like most media tie-ins, though, it won’t be of much relevance to people who are not familiar with those games.