The Last Guardian

the-last-guardian

The Last Guardian is part of the Warcraft franchise and primarily tells the story of a wizard and his apprentice during the events of the First War. Unlike Harry Potter, this tale of wizards takes place in the more familiar realm of fantasy inhabited by elves, dwarves, and orcs. However, this is not a war story between humans or orcs. Nor is it an adventure or coming of age story of a young apprentice becoming a wizard. Instead it’s a look at power, responsibility, and the sinister taint of reality. All good plans run into Murphy at some point, and in The Last Guardian, readers get to enjoy a story that explores just that.

The story revolves around three things: Karazhan, Medivh, and Khadgar. Karazhan is the place; a lonely tower in a mountainous landscape and a focus of magical power. It is also a haunted place and the primary setting for the novel. Within it’s halls is the reclusive Lord Magus Medivh. Medivh is not just a powerful wizard, but possibly the most powerful wizard. All across the land he is known and feared for his magical abilities. Wizards and kings seek him out for assistance and knowledge. Yet Medivh is shrouded in mystery. Despite such circumstances, the Kirin Tor send one of their student scholars to Karazhan in hopes that Medivh will take him on as an apprentice. This lucky individual is Khadgar.

Khadgar’s journey is no simple affair. In becoming an apprentice, he learns things about Medivh that changes the way he looks at the rest of the world. He is also influenced by the haunting visions he receives in Karazhan, and those glimpses lead him to many questions with answers he will have to pursue. Yet there are some mundane ordeals that round out the story. Tasks such as sorting Medivh’s library may appear dull on the surface, but it subtly makes the character more relateable. Other issues like friendships and mentoring add to the real world factor and the investment in Khadgar. Later the mundane tasks get elevated into battles with orcs and demons, so a healthy balance is maintained between character development and action. A good chunk of lore also spins an extra degree of intrigue and mystery to the tale with ancient dragon hunts and future battles on far off worlds.

Between visions and learning to be a wizard, Khadgar’s adventure spirals around Medivh’s story. Slowly through the book, more and more details are revealed on who Medivh is and who he was. Overall it’s a fairly good story up to the near end of the book. However, that’s when Grubb changes things up and throws the proverbial monkey wrench into the well oiled gears of the wizard’s apprentice story. The twist is so jarring that it’s plain confusing and as the story wraps up, it leaves the reader trying to figure out what’s happening and how this changes everything that’s happened in the book. Most importantly, it leaves the reader wondering where the book will head from here. Without spoiling it, the book wraps up with an interesting ending with an unclear lesson in morality.

This is the third novel in the Warcraft Universe, and it is also the first Warcraft novel I’ve ever read. I’ve also never played any of the Warcraft games, so it wasn’t a setting I was familiar with. This was also the first novel I’ve ever read by Jeff Grubb. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the novel and had a good time reading it. It’s not an epic tale and it won’t be the best thing you’ve ever read, but for fantasy readers, it won’t be waste of your time either. If you’re thinking about jumping into the Warcraft novels, or would just like to get an idea of what to expect with the upcoming novel Star Wars: Scourge, then The Last Guardian may be the book for you. I give it 3 out of 5 metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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