Shadow Wing: The Dragons of Outland by Richard A Knaak and Jae-Huan Kim (World of Warcraft)

In the sequel to the successful Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, Jorad Mace and Tyr work together to overcome the Scourge, whose quest it is to get their hands on the sunwell as they know the objects energies can help them. Outland is where travellers Jorad and Tyr are heading for, where they meet nether dragons.

But Ragnok Bloodreaver, one of the original Death Knights and undead terror, has his own plans for the nether dragons and if he has his way, Jorad and Tyr will be dealt with as well.

Tokyopop has teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment to provide a manga graphic novel of epic proportions. As many know, World of Warcraft is a video game that has plenty of followers, mostly teens who are hooked on its slick fantasy scenarios. Richard A. Knaak uses his skill at writing World of Warcraft novels to set the characters against each other in this first volume of what looks to be a successful series. An author of forty novels, and lots of short stories, he is most known for his bestselling World of Warcraft: Stormrage, and such novels as The Legend of Huma and The Minotaur Wars for Dragonlance, a series made popular by writers Weis and Hickman.

The artist alongside him, Jae-Huan Kim (a Korean whose previous manga novels include Rainbow, Combat Metal HeMoSoo and King of Hell) is the perfect man to bring out the look of the manga. His art has been in Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, and in Richard A. Knaak’s short story featured in Warcraft:Legends Volumes 1-4.

As well as a graphic novel, readers will get to see special sketches by Jae-Huan Kim of the various characters, creation bios of the writer and artist, an exclusive interview with Paul Benjamin, the author of World of Warcraft: Shaman. There is also a sneak peek at World of Warcraft: Shaman, showing the cover art too. For those who can’t get enough of WoW, there is also a World of Warcraft: Mage preview to feast their eyes on. Jae-Huan Kim’s Korean manga art is a wonder to see. He has used all his expert knowledge and skills to depict a dark world in the grip of
great danger from Bloodreaver who wants to take it over.

Richard A. Knaak and Jae-Huan Kim make a perfect team as the story gets the reader to see how dark the future is for elves and humans. Elements of the way the manga looks will remind readers of the Dragonlance series, such as the characters, the breastplates and desolate backgrounds. The characters have a great depth that can be felt in the book. Jorad Mace has failed in his mission in the past, and wishes only to make amends, hoping he can have his men trust him in any decisions he must make, but Trueblade isn't’ so sure he can be trusted with a whole band of men. At first he looks like a man who has a lot on his mind, and heavy burdens to bear, but taking up a mission on his own without Trueblade’s authority might give him the motivation he needs until he can trust him again. Tyri remembers Jorad from another place, and never expected to see him again, and now tells him he shouldn’t even be there. Jorad enjoyed her company before, and it is possible he has a great affection for her, but as a human he is never likely to win her heart as she only knows her own kind so intimately. Knaak reminds readers of what happened in the previous novel by mentioning certain events through the characters, which read as very exciting as the reader will feel a part of the story.

The novel is a gripping one, but World of Warcraft purists might find they don’t warm to the Knaak manga art as it bears no resemblance to the characters and how they would have looked in the novels. Manga of every kind is popular at the moment with children and young adults alike who enjoy such novels as Naruto, Bleach and Deathnote, and this transition from written novel to a manga graphic novel will either make or break it for the readers.

8/10 A gripping novel but WoW purists may not warm to the manga art.

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