This review of Vol’jin: The Judgment by Brian Kindregan is of the spoiler-free variety.
I’ve always been a fan of the Darkspear Trolls, a bond that was strengthened further late in Wrath of the Lich King, in Patch 3.3.5 when Horde players got to participate in an epic event leading to Zalazane’s Fall and the retaking of Echo Isles.
But long before then, before Zalazane went crazy with power and betrayed his people, he and Vol’jin — who would eventually become Darkspear Cheiftan — were friends setting out on a journey to First Home. Their aim: to convene with the voodoo Loa spirits and receive judgment on their worth to become Shadow Hunters.
Blizzard recently posted Vol’jin: The Judgment as the newest edition of its ongoing Leaders series of short stories. At 22-pages long (in PDF format), it’s a quick read that gives some great, although tragic, context to how both Vol’jin and Zalazane were aimed down their respective paths. Personally, I prefer the web version over the PDF for the illustrations and easy-to-read colors — pick your pleasure. It’s no novel, but it is a good extension to the lore and fits well into our The Novel Post heading.
As I already mentioned, this was a quick read. The first couple of pages, I was skeptical that something with such a small amount of space would be able to draw me in, but I was happily proven wrong by author Brian Kindregan. I also was a tad worried about the Jamaican accents playing too ridiculous of a role in the dialogue to the point that it would be distracting and throw me out of the story — which is a problem I sometimes face when heavy accents are portrayed in dialogue — but I also did not have that problem in this story. The author provides the characters with a good voice that is both authentic to the WoW universe and also easy to understand, therefore making for a more immersive read.
The story was well-paced; giving just enough detail to remind readers a little about the Darkspear Trolls so that you don’t have to be a lore expert to understand what is going on. At the same time, someone with zero previous exposure to the WoW universe would probably be a bit confused.
The story shows, through dialogue and anecdotes, the kind of relationship that Vol’jin and Zalazane share, and it gives us context regarding their environment through an action scene early on that seems well representative of the Darkspears’ home.
Then, onward to the trials that the pair must face if they want to survive. Each time the Loa possess Vol’jin, he sees future events that will come to pass and must make a decision about how he would react. The author uses this mechanic both to show the character of Vol’jin and to show us his interpretation of key events that we may see from a very different perspective.
As the title suggests, this story is told entirely from the perspective of Vol’jin. Although it hints at the very different experience that Zalazane sees in his journey, we do not get to see it directly. Once again, this is one area where those familiar with the lore of Zalazane will be able to learn volumes from the small tidbits that are presented.
Overall, I think this is a story that any Lore Hound would enjoy. And it’s quick enough to get through that there’s really no reason not to. Give it a shot, and let us know how you liked it!
“One thing the Darkspears can’t lose, loa, we can’t ever lose, is our soul.”