Posted January 23rd 2012 by Frankie Aguilar.
Now, before any of you start Googling my address in order to come steal my advanced copy of Diablo III, understand that this is indeed a book review. Yes, another book review on a gaming site. But this is no ordinary codex, as a matter of fact this is one of the most badass pieces of gaming literature I've ever had the pleasure of getting my hands on. The Book of Cain is an encyclopedic analysis of the world of Sanctuary in which the Diablo series takes place. It chronicles heavenly and hellish forces' eternal battle for humanity, the origins of man, and so much more. Although this book was technically written by veteran novelist Flint Dille, you can be certain this book will echo subconsciously with the grizzled dictations of Deckard Cain himself.
For starters, this book looks and more importantly feels fantastic. The publisher set out to create an "in-game artifact," attempting to bring us something that we might stumble across in the game itself. The pages are thick, weighty and uneven in width, giving it a handmade look and feel. The cover, too, gives the appearance of hand craftsmanship, adorned with a raised image of a diabolic skull. With faux-handwritten script, and stains speckling the aged pages of this tome, the only thing that would have made this book feel more real would've been parchment paper.
My favorite parts of the Book of Cain are undoubtedly the drawings. Some of the illustrations done by artists Brom, Alan Lee, and Jean-Baptiste Monge continue to display the complete excellence and production value that I've come to expect from anything related to Blizzard. If these are supposed to be the sketches of Deckard Cain himself, that dude had a lot more skills than simply identifying objects and greeting you in every new locale. The depictions of the various characters appearing in the Diablo universe verge on sketch and concept art, and brings the idea of Cain himself creating this book full circle.
So what can you expect from a book written by the only human character that has appeared in every Diablo game to date? How about some of the most obscure and detailed information about the Angelic Host and the Burning Legion?. Want to know more about the Prime Evils? Why not stay a while and listen to the man descended from the Horadrim who trapped Diablo in the original soulstone. This book is filled to the covers with an abundance of information from every corner of the Diablo universe and will satisfy even the most hardcore of fans. If you're into lore and backstory, and you love the world of Sanctuary, the Book of Cain is a must have.
The Book of Cain has me so far beyond stoked for Diablo III that I'm ready to promise my first born son to Blizzard for an early copy of the game. Not that I wasn't before the book, but seeing the badass imagery of the Prime Evils and reading about the prophesied armageddon has me prepping for the end of all but my financially rooted human interactions. And I can't say enough about all the little intricacies sprinkled throughout the book. Highlighted phrases with liner notes attached, scrap pieces of paper superimposed on top of pages; the level of detail is amazing, and serves as a tantalizing (and thankfully spoiler free) appetizer to Diablo III.
Honestly, I remembered perusing those owners manuals they used to stick in the front of game cases when I was younger. Trying to glean some pertinent information about the enemies I was facing and the world I would be exploring bled into a curiosity about why the events of the game were unfolding. With the transition of those manuals to an online medium and the ascension of game-specific wikis, a book like this is a fantastically crafted breath of fresh air. This book is just cool, in the most nerdy way possible. Gotta hand it to Flint Dille, the publishers at Insight Editions, and the bevy of artists attached to this book. There's not many companies that allocate the kind of resources to ancillary products the way Blizzard does and the Book of Cain might be the best example of that endeavour I've ever seen.
This review was based on a copy of the book received from publisher Insight Editions.
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