While we've had hints and suggestions as to how the Aspects and the varying dragonflights came to be, it's never been truly defined. And when we made our trip to Northrend in Wrath of the Lich King, the proto-drakes found roaming the peaks and valleys of the continent were an intriguing puzzle. How did dragonkind make that leap from proto-drake to dragon? Who was Galakrond, and how did his existence tie into the existing dragonflights? Was he the father of all dragonkind in a literal sense, or in a far more figurative fashion?
Perhaps most importantly, at the dawn of the Age of Mortals, does any of this information really matter at all? If you're at all interested in the history of Azeroth, the answer is a resounding yes.
Part one of the tale is a confusing cavalcade of visions witnessed through the eyes of Kalecgos, the final Aspect of Magic who barely began his career before it met an untimely demise at the moment of Deathwing's defeat. It's an almost dizzying blur of visions that don't quite make sense, given what we know of dragonkind so far. But I found myself just as easily pulled into the tale as I have with any other Warcraft novel, if not more so -- frankly, the promise of finally seeing some of the oldest events in Azeroth's history is something I've been waiting for, for a very long time.
But we really have to begin at the beginning of the book, which is also an end, in a way. Kalecgos has been struggling with the definition of the dragonflights and how, exactly, the flights fit in with the rest of the world ever since Deathwing's defeat. Part of this struggle was highlighted in Tides of War, but we really begin to see it come to a head in this novel. And within that first chapter, several questions that have been brought up time and time again since Dragon Soul's end cinematic are finally addressed.
Given that, what is a world without dragons like? Kalecgos seeks to answer that question even as old draconic traditions like the Wyrmrest Accord come to an end. Yet that answer really isn't a simple black and white, and before it can even begin to be addressed Kalecgos discovers an artifact buried beneath the skeleton of Galakrond, one which sends him on a vision quest through the eyes of Malygos at the dawn of time -- but Malygos and his fellow Aspects are not Aspects at this point in time.
The book may seem confusing, but I suspect it's because we've only seen part one of the tale so far. The journey has only just begun, and the significance of what Kalecgos has yet to witness has not yet been wound into the tale as a whole. As with any time Knaak has written a tale involving dragons, the characterizations of the Aspects and their kin are excellent. You really get a sense of the enormity that Kalecgos, that all of the dragons are facing -- the enormity of their eventual extinction.
But even more interesting is the development of the proto-drakes from mounts we happened to obtain in Wrath of the Lich King to a full-fledged species. Yes, they are primitive, but they are primitive in the ways of the vrykul, the kvaldir, or any of the other ancient species roaming Northrend. Seeing their existence in primordial Azeroth is fascinating, as is the promise of seeing how they came to be the dragons we saw today. We're getting the story of a missing link, and I couldn't be happier about that.
Does this merit addressing in the game itself? Not really. Everything we needed to be told was addressed at the end of Cataclysm; the future of the dragonflights after that point in time doesn't really merit definition at this point in time. Mists of Pandaria is that first step into the Age of Mortals, and as such we should concern ourselves with mortal matters -- the duty of the dragonflights is over, and doesn't really factor into in-game events.
That said, while I did not have any problems with the book itself, no qualms about character development or the validity of the tale, I wasn't entirely happy with Dawn of the Aspects. Part of this is because the book is only available in ebook format at this time. This means that instead of curling up on a couch with a few pillows and the satisfying feel of pages in my hands, I have to read it at my computer -- unless I'd like to go out and spend the money on a Kindle or a Nook. Needless to say I am settled in my ways and I'm not even remotely interested in such things.
More jarring, however, is the fact that this is a multi-part series being released over time. I'm not sure what, exactly, led to this decision, but I'm not a fan of it. The fact is, part one ended on a cliffhanger and now I'm really wanting to read the next chapter -- but I can't until part two is released in March. Instead of being delightfully frustrated until the next section is released, I find myself simply frustrated, the wait tinged with irritation rather than eagerness.
Even though I find myself annoyed by the format and the release schedule, I'd still recommend purchasing part one of what is shaping up to be a fascinating story. Those that had questions about the Aspects, those that are interested in exploring Azeroth's unique history, those that still wonder where the dragons fit in in today's Azeroth will be more than satisfied with what's been presented so far. And even though Dawn of the Aspects part one has raised a multitude of questions, it's answered many, many more in those first 90 pages. I can't wait to see what the rest of the story holds.
Dawn of the Aspects part one is available in several different ebook formats for a wonderfully low $1.99. For Kindle users, head to Amazon -- for all other formats, including PC, iPod, Nook or Android, head to Simon & Schuster. Part two should be available on or around March 18.