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Blizzard Entertainment has released a second companion book to its hugely popular action-RPG title Diablo III. Published by Insight Editions, The Book of Tyrael, it is a sequel of sorts to 2011’s The Book of Cain.
Like its predecessor, The Book of Tyrael provides fans with more of rich lore from the world of Sanctuary. Since perennial Diablo loremaster Deckard Cain was killed off by evil butterfly queen Maghda during the events of Diablo III, his duties as the game’s resident know-it-all have been taken over by Tyrael, the former Archangel of Justice who has taken up a new portfolio as the Aspect of Wisdom.
The book purports to be a guide for the Horadrim, an order of mages that has been mentioned throughout the series. Although the original order was said to have fallen into desuetude well before the events of the first game, it has apparently experienced something of a revival.
The first part of The Book of Tyrael focuses on Adria, the turncoat NPC who almost doomed humanity by turning her own daughter, Leah, into the Prime Evil. We get some nice backstory about her life and motivations, as well as some more tidbits about Zoltun Kulle, a rather hammy evil sorcerer that players get to kill in the second act of Diablo III. There’s also some material about Adria’s relationship with Maghda, though sadly the book doesn’t do much to give Madame Butterfly a developed persona.
The second part is essentially a summary of the events that took place immediately after Diablo III ended. We learn how the Black Soulstone was brought back to Heaven and soon its malevolent influence started to corrupt the Angiris Council, the panel of archangels that governs the High Heavens. Tyrael also gives us some new information about Malthael, the former Archangel of Wisdom who will be the main villain of the Reaper of Souls expansion pack. The section concludes with a brief historical survey of the Kingdom of Westmarch and the Crusader Order, both of which will also feature in Reaper of Souls.
The third section is called “Miscellanea,” which seems odd considering the other two sections have not exactly been homogenous. To be honest, a good portion of it feels like padding. Several pages are devoted to rehashing material from The Book of Cain, though there are a few new morsels tucked away amid the old stuff. There is also an entire page dedicated to retelling the events of Diablo III, which seems superfluous since most of the book’s readers will have witnessed those events firsthand. There is also a section dedicated to the “Factions of Sanctuary” which provides a paragraph-long description of many of the major groups that players have encountered throughout the series, from the Rogues of Diablo I to the Coven of Diablo III. Finally, there is a sort of ‘biographical dictionary of Sanctuary’ that covers both game NPCs and a smattering of characters from the tie-in novels. It is really quite comprehensive: they even include Hadriel, an angel NPC from Diablo II whose sole function in the game was to remind you to complete a quest (there are some strange omissions though, such as King Leoric’s unfortunate wife Asylla).
Like “Cain,” The Book of Tyrael is an aesthetic treat, and it is filled with high-quality artwork. The two-page spread depicting the disgraced Barbarian elder Nihlathak before Baal, the Lord of Destruction, is particularly impressive. While “Cain” was written by entertainment legend Flint Dille, The Book of Tyrael was scribed by two of Blizzard’s own, Matt Burns and Doug Alexander. The writing itself is rather workmanlike, but it gets the job done without irritating the reader.
The main downside to the book is that there is a fair bit of regurgitated material. If you have read The Book of Cain or the Diablo III tie-in novel The Order, you are going to see a lot of familiar stuff. The other potential downside is that The Book of Tyrael continues its predecessor’s tradition of retconning material. Many fans were annoyed when Blizzard decided to turn the nameless Warrior from Diablo I into “Prince Aidan,” and now the Rogue and the Sorcerer also have names and new backstories, though admittedly their new details are not quite as game changing as the Warrior’s were.
Overall, The Book of Tyrael is an entertaining read and a must-have for any Diablo fan.
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