Tokyopop has upheld a strong tradition of providing quality stories in the World of Warcraft extended universe. The second in a series of class-focused “Original English-Language” manga is based on the Mage. In World of Warcraft: Mage, written by Richard A. Knaak with art by Ryo Kawakami, there is a good balance of exploratory dialog and strong action sequences.
The story follows Aodhan during his training to become a mage. Through flashbacks, we can see that the nascent spell-flinger actually comes from a line of strong Warriors and Paladins, but is considered physically weak, and thus desires to prove himself as a Mage. Trouble rises, of course, as soon as the story begins, where Malygos and the Blue Dragonflight are laying siege to Dalaran. The situation turns dire for the Mages of Dalaran, unaware of the danger young Aodhan is venturing into when they send him to the Violet Hold.
What unfolds is a story of treachery, family history, as well as a deeper understanding of Malygos and the Blue Dragonflight and why some Mages have joined their side. We also learn a bit of the history of the Violet Hold, and the story gives a more detailed understanding of how it came into existence. Even a couple of monsters show up that you just might recognize.
The story written by Knaak is solid as always, but if you’re not a fan of his writing, this isn’t about to change your mind. Leader of the Kirin Tor and patriarch of Dalaran, Rhonin Redhair, also plays a key role in the proceedings. Kawakami’s art work holds its own as the character designs really fit into the Warcraft lore and in certain places his armor designs really shine. The action sequences are equally as good and it’s easy to follow exactly what is going on.
I think this is a great purchase for nearly every fan of Warcraft lore. The story is solid and provides some extra background information on Dalaran and the Violet Hold, while introducing a few new minor characters into the story. For fans who are not necessarily big on the lore aspect, it is still worth checking out. The read is brief and fun, but also a great introduction to the expanded Warcraft universe. The only major complaint I have with the manga is that it tends to drag a bit in the middle as one of the characters talks at great length (nearly half a chapter, of six) about Aodhan, his past, and his family ties. Other than that, it is a fun, light read that I recommend to any WoW fan looking to get a little bit more from the series outside of the game.
World of Warcraft: Mage is the second in a series of class-based manga that Tokyopop has planned. You can read DJTyrant’s impressions of the first volume, called Death Knight, on About.com. Next up is Shaman, slated for October 2010, coinciding with BlizzCon and most likely hitting shelves after the release of Cataclysm.