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  • Writer's pictureA.K. Lee

Lok'tar ogar!

All through March I binge-read World of Warcraft novels, tracking down as many titles in eBook format from my library (seriously, I love the e-catalogue available on OverDrive, though it is terrible at tagging Chinese books). It was nice getting back into the swing of reading.

tempted to get ALL THE BOOKS but alas, I am decluttering

I suppose why these made light reading was because they used characters already established in canon - the games - and expanded upon them. It gave these characters depth and enhanced my understanding of them as individuals, not just as a little figure on my screen to manipulate. (Yes, Reader, I was a fairly avid gamer once, but those were simpler times.)

By book two of the War of the Ancients trilogy (fantastic fun, chock-full of narcissistic elves, love triangles, and creeping dread, mingled with time travel and interspecies dynamics), it struck me that these media novelizations are essentially fanfiction written for profit. Such game novelizations are basically Extended Universe fics. Man, I wish I had such a gig, though the copyright owners would have to give me free reign to let the characters go completely off the rails once in a while.

(I like to write the occasional massacre, to be honest. It's liberating.)

However, these novels also mean that most of the world-building of the universe is already complete by the time we read the books. If you have ever played a game of Warcraft, you have an idea of what the different species look like, the sort of homes they reside in, the spells they can cast, etc. I think that is one huge advantage these Extended Universe novels have over original novels - you don't have come up with how the world functions. Almost all of the broad strokes are in place. You can quibble over whether there is such an ingredient as chocolate, perhaps, but you don't have to argue that mana is a vital resource for spellcasters. (Yes, there was a reference to chocolate cookies. That was quite jarring, frankly.) You definitely do not have to come up with names, and you know who will survive throughout the story.

This is not to say that such novelizations are easy to write! Keeping characters in-character is a huge challenge. Because so many people have played Warcraft before, they each have their own interpretations of the key characters. The authors writing these books have to stay consistent not only to the game, but also develop the characters in a logical way from novel to novel. To have so many cooks stirring the same pot without spoiling the broth is an accomplishment in itself. Kudos to the different authors. Do they pass their notes on from one to the next? If you have any experience in this, please enlighten me.

Do you enjoy any particular media novelizations?

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