After receiving the Diablo Archive, boasting 752 pages, just recently, I decided to read through it backwards starting with Diablo: Demonsbane by Robert B. Marks (of Garwulf’s Corner fame).
I am sure the Diablo Archive will be a jewel among my Blizzard novels collection. Better to have four Diablo novels on a single tome, than have invididual books all around the place unable to find them at times. There is one thing I disapprove from the Diablo Archive however. For such a big tome, and quiet heavy in weight, the cover designer Richard Yoo or whoever chose the cover material should have gone for thick cardboard material. This huge archive is no pocket book. It is about two inches thick. The cover material is made of the same material as any other pocket book with the same thin thickness. The result is a jellyfish-effect when you handle the heavy book around. I usually read on my bed. At times when I am uncomfortable, I usually lie on my back and rise the book above me in the air. The weight is almost unbearable after 20 minutes, but the material doesn’t help. Enough with the material rant.
What can be found inside is worth the nuisance. For years, I have heard of Diablo: Demonsbane. A lecture painted in myth. Something I knew existed, but couldn’t reach. It was a few years ago, when I first heard of its existence. It was released on 2000 in ebook format. I have a lot of Warcraft RPG books in ebook format, and even purchased Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor as an ebook. But for some odd reason I never got around reading Diablo: Demonsbane, even when I craved it more than any other book. Curiosity compels one’s craving. I have never read a review of Demonsbane, or heard what it was about. I just knew it was the first of the Diablo stories ever released.
I reported about the first printing of Diablo: Demonsbane on paper two years ago on July 2, 2006. It was titled Blizzard Legends Vol. 1. It contained a printed version of three ebooks from each game franchise: Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor (by Chris Metzen), Starcraft: Uprising (by Micky Neilson), and Diablo: Demonsbane (by Robert B. Marks).
However, it is now with the release of Diablo Archive that fans have the opportunity to get this craved story more broadly as it comes bundled along with Diablo: Kingdom of Shadow, Diablo: The Black Road, and Diablo: Legacy of Blood.
Personally, I was expecting something different in Diablo: Demonsbane. More of a dark fantasy meets Lord of the Rings with some fancy Shakesperian old-english language accent. Part of the myth I envisioned for lack of any knowledge of a Demonsbane’s summary.
I started reading on Sunday evening and couldn’t stop reading. It caught my attention. It is a short novella spanning through page 685-738. According to the epilogue, these events take place on year 302 and seem to happen during the Sin War. Right at the end when I read the epilogue, it made me wonder. Did Diablo: The Sin War somehow retconned Demonsbane? I have no idea. What I do know is that none of the events of the Sin War trilogy seem to be mentioned in it. Nor did the main character in Demonsbane show up in the Sin War trilogy.
Which book comes first in the timeline is also a mystery to me. One thing does gets mentioned that might help those who have better knowledge of the timeline than me. Sarnakyle the Kejistan mage of the Spirit Mage Clan mentioned he was among the party of mages that killed Bartuc the Warlord of Blood at Viz-jun two years earlier.
The story is centered around Siggard, a warrior who fought at Blackmarch with the Entsteig’s army. They had fought demons there led by the favored archdemon of the Lord of Terror: Lord Assur. This archdemon has a peculiar glyph of invincibility that makes him feared by the Vizjerei Mage clans. There is however one thing that may kill him, and that would be spoiling it. I did see it coming when I read what could kill him, but was unsure as the requirements for it to happen were not clear at sight, specially with the interaction of Siggard with the other characters.
Ever since the Night of Souls through the events in Brennor, it kept bouncing around my mind why Siggard can’t remember anything about Blackmarch until certain point as if he had magically forgotten. As I was reaching the last pages of the story, it was more evident my suspicions were right, but the idea resulted contradictory. Making me doubt. Robert B. Marks wrote here a very nice story, and wrapped up with a surprise few could have seen coming. It keeps a fast pace, while adding elements of suspense. I enjoyed the read and don’t regret it. One well-known character appears a couple of times, but heavily weights on the outcome of the story: Tyrael.
I will be reading through the Diablo Archive in upcoming days. One thing I am glad of doing, however, is to have started backwards, reading Diablo: Demonsbane first. It is a pity this story was brought as an ebook and as a short novella. As an ebook, it didn’t get the attention it deserved in 2000. And as a novella, it was too short. The story was worth an entire book of 378 pages. I hope the author writes a continuation of Siggard’s adventures. Otherwise, I would like to read a new story from him again. Take note Blizzard. Cheers, Robert B. Marks.
Go grab your copy of the Diablo Archive.