The Warcraft Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition is a hardcover book that compiles all books of the Sunwell Trilogy written by Richard Knaak and illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim. In addition of being a hardcover, the book itself much larger, allowing the art to truly shine on the enlarged pages. It also contain quite a few goodies: a full-color prologue, Jae-Hwan Kim’s early sketch of the characters, full color art gallery including the original manga’s covers and alternate covers, afterword by Chris Metzen (VP of Creative Content for Blizzard Entertainment) an Upper Deck World of Warcraft trading card and a full-color, unbound Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy pin-up.
Considering that each individual book sold for $9.99 and the hardcover trilogy sells for $29.99, this is a pretty good deal. There’s really no reason not to buy the Ultimate Edition if you’re interested in getting the entire trilogy.
The story takes place during the three years between the end of Warcraft 3 and the start of World of Warcraft. It centers around Kalecgos, a young Blue Dragon, on quest to find what happened to the energy of the powerful Sunwell after its destruction. On this quest he’ll meet up with Tyrygosa (his future mate), Jorad Mace (a paladin plagued with doubt) and Anveena (a mysterious human girl) and they’ll take on vengeful bounty hunters, traverse Lordaeron and engage in fights against the Scourge to get to the bottom of the Sunwell treachery.
But how’s the actual story? To be honest, it could have been better. The story moves at a breakneck pace and while the book is huge, the speech bubbles are pretty small. You can read the whole thing from cover to cover fairly quickly. This make for a light and easy read but the story itself suffer for it. The characters lack depth and many interesting angles are simply not explored – for example, it is hinted at that Jorad finds Tyry attractive, and he keeps saving her… but it doesn’t go any further. I understand that this is a manga and not a novel, but still, it wouldn’t hurt to know a bit more about the characters than the basic stereotypical personality each is given so that the story can move forward.
Which is also the problem of the general plot – it has to move forward. There are quite a few occasions where the characters do things that are quite extreme on what seems to be a whim and it’s hard not to see the heavy hand of the author push the characters in the direction that will advance the storyline, rather than the direction they would themselves have chosen. Then again, who’s to say? The characters’ lack of depth makes it hard to really gauge what they would do in a given situation.
But it’s not all bad. The story is original in many ways. While this is definitely a Warcraft story, it goes away from the typical Horde versus Alliance skirmishes and shows us there’s more to Warcraft then orcs and humans. It does include the Scourge of course, but it also explores the machinations of the dragonflights and gives us more information about the fall of Quel’thalas. Lore buffs will be quite happy the additional information concerning Sylvannas, Arthas and the fact that there’s more to the fall of the Sunwell then Arthas’s army simply overpowering the High Elves as seen in Warcraft 3.
Jae-Hwan Kim does a wonderful job here. The art is superb. It might not be the perfect fit for Warcraft, but it’s very well done. And despite Kim using his own style, the Warcraft ‘core’ characters are easy to recognize and so are some of the trademark monsters. The one drawback is that it’s in black and white. Yes, it’s a manga and those are always in black and white… but the bonus prelude is in color and it’s stunning. Sadly, it does heighten the fact that the rest of the book is black and white. The art still makes up for a lot of the storyline’s flaws, since it looks so good you can’t wait to see what’s on the next page.
In short, the Sunwell Trilogy is a good story idea with good characters… but it could have been told better and the characters should have been given more room to grow, rather than be thrown from dangers to dangers. The story would have been more meaningful for it. The art is top notch and will please any Warcraft fan.
The art however, doesn’t make up for the story’s shortcoming. It could have been great, but instead it’s just ‘ok’.
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