We haven't posted about books for a while, so what better way to get back into the fray than by writing about the Book of Cain? This is the ninth book in the Diablo universe and the first book that is based on Diablo 3. It also relatively recent, having been published in 2011.
If you don't want to bother reading the review, this book is currently available at Amazon for just ~$20. Grab this opportunity and buy the book before the price skyrockets.
If you have a tendency to read Blizzard literature, you may already know the author from his other work which includes World of Warcraft: Ashbringer, World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen, War of the Shifting Sands, and Unbroken. He is also the Senior Writer and Voice Director at Blizzard.
Can't guess who is he is? No?
Ok, it's Micky Neilson.
Although the real author of the book is Micky Melson, the book is portrayed as being an "in-game" diary belonging to Deckard Cain that was written for Leah. The book is not only meant to fill the gap between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, but also cover the vast majority of Diablo lore as well as provide many new additions. A great example of this is that the book was the first to explain how the Burning Hells and the High Heavens were created, thus introducing Anu and Tathamet.
This book is definitely my favorite so far, and I will explain why. First off, you should know that this book has no story whatsoever. It is actually a collection of lore about the many elements of the Diablo universe including the Sin Wars, Mage Clan wars, the Dark Exile, etc. It also accounts for all retcons (changes to Diablo lore), so it is a great read for both people that already know the story and for people who want a quick (but comprehensive) introduction. Of course, quick is a relative term here as the book is actually 148 pages long filled with interesting information and great artwork.
Artists that worked on the Book of Cain include:
- Gerald Brom - Provided illustrations for Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft.
- Petar Meseldzija - Has worked on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Children of the Lamp, and others. He posted about his experience on his blog.
- Mark Gibbons - Also known as Red Knuckle, is a senior artist at Blizzard and has worked for many great companies such as Eidos Interactive, Games Workshop, Welsh kid's Tv, and others.
- James Gurney - Is the artist of Dinatopia and illustrator for the National Geographic Magazine. A short video featuring him drawing the artwork for this book can be found here.
- Adrian Smith - Created illustrations for Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Forge, Warhammer 40k, and more.
- Jean-Baptiste Monge - A french author that won the 10th edition of the International Science-Fiction Festival's 2009 Art and Fact award (that's a mouthful!).
- John Howe - Worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Dang!
- Alan Lee - Same as above. Double dang!
- Iain McCaig - Has worked on 3 Star Wars episodes, Terminator II, Harry Potter, and more.
- And others.
With so many top artists working on this book, the artwork must look good right? It looks more than good, it looks fantastic! The artists made a very good job of making the book look like an actual tome. Here is a look at some of the art found in the book:
Besides the amazing artwork you will find in the book's pages, Blizzard has also placed another gem in the last page. Here you will find a small, circular red seal:
Which when opened, reveals this wonderful map of Sanctuary:
When reading the book I couldn't help but feel nostalgic as it reminded me so much of the time when games came with glossy introduction manuals filled with artwork. With all my rambling about the book's artwork, you may be left thinking that the actual writing is not up to par. You couldn't be more wrong however, as the text is both entertaining and easy to read while providing just the right amount of detail on each subject. It doesn't ramble on too much as to get you bored, but at the same time provides enough detail to not keep you guessing. The book is also laid out very well, and although it doesn't have a table of contents other than an introduction letter for Leah (remember that the book was written by Cain for Leah), it does have a heading for each topic it covers.
Another nice feature is that each page has rough cut edges to enhance the "old tome" feel. A small touch but adds greatly to the overall effect.
They also made a good job of making the text look scribbled (just like any old tome looks like), with notes written in the margin to draw attention to important elements of the text. These notes are also used by Cain to highlight retcons.
This book is great, and I am not the only to think so. It has a 4.7/5 overall score on Amazon with the vast majority of reviews giving it 5 stars, has a 4.18/5 rating on GoodReads, and a host of other positive reviews scattered all over the internet.
If you want your very own database of Diablo lore, as well as one of the prettiest game books to ever come out, trust me and get this book. I am not joking when I say that this will be the best money you will ever spend on a game book, even if you just use it to look at the artwork!
As of writing this post, this book is available on Amazon for a mere ~$20. What are you waiting for? Click here to get the book.
Here are two interesting videos I found on the subject. The first one is an interview with Micky Neilson, and the second is book signing event.
Hope you enjoyed this review. If you missed the Amazon links above, here is a final chance for you to buy the book while it's cheap: