Author: Greg Weisman
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Length: 336 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
An epic action-adventure series set in Blizzard's popular World of Warcraft® game franchise. Features a young cast of characters discovering the mysteries and majesty of the world around them.
It's been years since twelve-year-old Aramar Thorne, a clever boy who is never without his precious sketch book, has seen his father. So when Captain Greydon Thorne comes ashore and asks his son to join him at sea, it feels as if someone has redrawn Aram's entire world. At sea, Aram struggles to get along with the Wavestider's crew--especially second mate Makasa, a tough teenaged girl who has been reluctantly placed in charge of him. Just as Aram starts to get his head above water, a band of vicious pirates attack the Wavestrider, turning his world upside down once again. As Aram and Makasa try to find their way home, they encounter creatures both terrible and wondrous, and Aram will seek to understand Azeroth's denizens as he draws them in his sketchbook, forming unlikely friendships along the way. But the journey is hindered by Greydon's compass, which never points north. If the compass isn't leading Aram and Makasa home--to safety--to what destiny is it leading?
Characters: Even though Aramar Thorne is the main character of this tale, the point-of-view for this story is more of the omniscient third person narrator that can move from the inner thoughts of one character to another seamlessly. So while Aram is the main character we do get to see and learn about a whole cast of characters. Of course, we have our protagonist Aram, a boy who is practically forced to join the crew of his long-absent father for a year, Aram has a very complicated relationship with his father, for half or Aram's life Greydon Thorne was a loving and attentive father, but for the other half Greydon wasn't even there having just vanished with no word. Then there's Makasa Flintwill, the second mate of Greydon Thorne's ship and the bane of Aram's existence. Makasa is begrudgingly put in charge of her captain's son, a sulky boy who doesn't take his role on the ship seriously and disrespects her captain every chance he gets. Makasa has a deep sense of loyalty and will use whatever skills she has to follow her captain's orders. On their journey, Aram and Makasa not only meet fascinating denizens of Azeroth who help them along the way, but they are pursued by dangerous foes who will stop at nothing to uncover the secrets that Aram protects.
World-Building: I've tried to write this section many times. Let's be honest, the author didn't come up with this world, but that's not the point. In fact, one of the things that drew me to this book was the fact that one of its main goals is to introduce the World of Warcraft to a younger generation is a fun and exciting way. The lore associated with Warcraft games is extensive and can be at times very confusing due to (arguable) retconning. That being said, I believe the author did a fantastic job at not only bring the World of Warcraft to life on the page but introducing a number of fundamental races and creatures of this world in an easy to follow yet comprehensive way. This is by no means a full guide to this world, in fact, if you go in with next to no knowledge of this world there will be things that either confuse you or pique your interest but I urge you to persevere and after you finish this rich story to either do some more research on things like wikis, or to journey into the world yourself. I was a bit worried at the beginning of this story when it was hard for me to remember that this is a WoW branded novel, but not too far into it, due to the immaculately described world, beautifully illustrated pictures, and colorful characters our heroes meet, it became hard to forget.
Predictability: My biggest warning to you is that you do not flip through the illustrations before getting to them in the story. On the whole, they don't really spoil anything too huge, but it's those small bits that can the catalyst to spoiling something huge. Now that being said, there were still many times that I was caught off guard by where this story was going. In truth, it wasn't until towards the end that most of the really juicy twists came out, but I'll get to that in a bit. On the whole, this book did a fantastic job of not only foreshadowing things to come but keeping large secrets in the dark until the right time for a very surprising reveal.
Ending: The end of this book was nearly cinematic. Since the author employed an omniscient narrator to tell the story he was able to easily move between various parts of a scene and show the reader this very comprehensive view of just what is going on. The final climax of this story is rather incredible. It happens a bit earlier in the story than I anticipated but it's totally worth it. After all the fuss goes down here comes the twists. Obviously, I'll keep tight-lipped on just what exactly happens, but I will say that if you didn't know this was a series, you'll know it way before the end of this book. This story is just beginning there's still so much left to explore and so many mysteries to still unlock on the way.
I LOVED this book, I cannot fully articulate to you just how much. If you're a fan of action, adventure, mystery, and/or fantasy I cannot recommend this book more. If Middle Grade isn't your thing I urge you to recommend this book to someone who you think would enjoy it. This book is too underhyped and that seriously needs to change.