Shadows Rising by Madeleine Roux
Verdict: What a disappointment. It was exhausting. It took a long time to actually get going, and then concluded in a sort of underwhelming hurry.
Recommended: Not really
Not recommended because the story was hard to keep track of, too many character changes (and this from a girl who handled all of George RR Martin with no problem), a slow story, and not much that really adds to the lore
Struggling to shoulder the crushing weight of leadership, King Anduin entrusts the void elf and High Exarch Turalyon to uncover Sylvanas’s whereabouts. The various factions of the Horde form a council, leaving the mantle of warchief to rest. But the threats are numerous, and the distrust runs too deep. When the council is derailed by a failed assassination attempt on Talanji—the Zandalari queen and a key ally—Thrall and the rest of the Horde leaders are forced into action. They empower the young troll shaman Zekhan with a critical mission to aid Talanji and help uncover the rising threat against her. Meanwhile, Nathanos Blightcaller and Sira Moonwarden have been tasked by the Dark Lady with a terrifying gambit: to kill the troll loa of death himself, Bwonsamdi. As Zekhan and Talanji work to save Bwonsamdi, their journey will be a key turning point in bolstering the Horde against the coming darkness and finding themselves along the way. Failure to save their allies and the trickster god will surely doom them—but through success, they may rediscover what makes the Horde strong.
What do I love about this book? The Horde perspectives. I am roped into playing primarily Alliance because my S.O. and the guild tend to lean that way, but my heart is with the Horde. So getting to read about Zekhan made me melt because he’s so cute and sweet!
But, then, the problems start. Because I only get maybe fifteen total pages from his perspective? And the rest are a neck-breaking whiplash of variety. There were WAY too many character perspectives in here!!!! Look, I can handle a nonlinear story, I can handle a lot of character changes, but it just did not work in this book.
The chapters were short, so you didn’t spend much time with one person. The location and focus on the story changed with every chapter, and though the plot of each is related eventually, it was different enough to be jarring. There were some characters who frankly didn’t matter at all. We could have done without Flynn Fairwind or Mathias Shaw entirely, I’d say. Sira, the random angry moonwarden-gone-rogue? Definitely not needed.
So the characters were rough. Too many means not enough development of any. Unfortunately the story itself didn’t hold it together much for me either. Of course I already more or less know how things end, since I know the lore for the upcoming expansion and some story already. Without suspense of the unknown, this book needed to capitalize on lore and atmosphere, and didn’t do much of either. Nothing very critical was added with this book; you can easily skip it and still have a quite complete view of the world of Azeroth as we dive into the Shadowlands.
One other small thing I did appreciate was the links back to the games, other books, and lore that were included. In the author’s note, Roux mentions working with the loremasters and other holders of all WoW knowledge to write the book. Kudos for that, because it does show, and those little nuggets warmed my heart! But I wish there had been more of that. In short, this felt like it needed to be more concisely focused. Do a smaller thing well instead of trying to show us everything and stretching it too thin to do anyone justice.
Then again, it’s damned hard to compete with the glory of Arthas: Rise of the Lich King. 😍