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starcraft: legacy dark templar saga twilight

 

WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers for the novel in question.

StarCraft: Twilight is the final book in The Dark Templar Saga, and it is easily the most engrossing of the trilogy. As with the entire trilogy thus far, this book focuses on a mercenary named Rosemary Dahl as well as the archeologist Jacob Jefferson Ramsey and the Protoss preserver, Zamara, inside his brain. Twilight diverges from its predecessors in answering a significant number of questions that many StarCraft fans have pondered. What is not directly answered is at least implied. These answers include the fate of Adun, the truth about Samir Duran, and the ominous meaning of the “cycle” so often alluded to in the lore.

As Jake and Rosemary attempt to flee through the Warp Gate, the Protoss on Shakuras are forced to alter the gate’s destination to prevent another Zerg invasion (which occurred in the Brood War campaign). Rosemary ends up on Shakuras in the care of the Protoss, while Jacob is sent elsewhere. Ethan, Valerian, and Ulrezaj are all weakened, but the three commanders retreat to regroup their respective forces and begin the search for Jake. Valerian is forced to turn to Mengsk for help and accompanies the fleet himself, while Kerrigan and Ethan follow Ulrezaj's search.

On Shakuras, Rosemary must deal with Protoss politics and prejudice. Kerrigan was the only other Terran female the Protoss have known personally, and thus Terran women are held in low regard. Rosemary must stand her ground negotiating with Selendis and Artanis, as well as an assembled Protoss council of tribal representatives, in order to convince them to help Jake. Vartanil, a young Furinax Protoss who is a survivor from Aiur, bonds with Rosemary during this time. He pledges himself to her and Jake’s service to avenge his servitude to Ulrezaj.

Although now on Shakuras, Zamara quickly comes up with a new plan; the pair take a shuttlecraft to a small world that Zamara tells Jacob is the private sanctuary of Prelate Zeratul. Compared to previous novels, the memories Zamara shares with Jake take up a small part of the novel, but they do reveal quite a bit. The memories are those of Zamara herself as a crewmember aboard the Gantrithor beginning from the destruction of Chau Sara and including Tassadar’s journey to Char. They find Zeratul, plagued by pity and doubt, who is a shadow of his former glory. He is especially distressed by the murder of Raszagal. Though it takes many failed conversations and a physical altercation, Jake and Zamara help Zeratul overcome these barriers; a large amount of information is imparted in the process.

Zeratul begins by revealing that many believe Adun did not die, but rather ascended to a higher plane of existence. He will reveal himself again when the Protoss are imperiled. Zeratul believed this ‘second coming’ was heralded by Tassadar destroying the Overmind, and says that the upcoming threat may cause Adun to save the Protoss again. He refers to Adun as the “anakh su’n”, the Twilight Deliverer.


In addition, Zamara reveals much about the Xel’Naga experiments. The Xel’Naga, though powerful, were still mortal beings; they needed a way to extend their lives using a method that Jake crudely compares to needing “host bodies”.  The Xel’Naga sought out to engineer two species: one with purity of essence; one with purity of form. Throughout the natural course of their growth, the two species would come together and merge. The Xel’Naga would be reborn in this perfect combination. They did this successfully for eons, and this time the Protoss and Zerg were chosen. However, the Zerg became aware of the Xel'Naga and destroyed their fleet; this distorted the cycle of rebirth, and Samir Duran capitalized on this disruption. The Protoss/Zerg Hybrid Duran has engineered is not the intended result the Xel’Naga would have been reborn as, rather a twisted perversion of this, which would unleash horror upon the galaxy while preventing the Xel’Naga from returning.

With these revelations, the trio go to “Ehlna”, a place where the Dark Templar use augmented Khaydarin Crystals as mystical data banks to store memories. It is here that Jake and Rosemary are reunited, and Zamara is extracted from Jake’s mind into a Khaydarin Crystal. However, during the separation, Ulrezaj, Ethan, and Valerian arrive and attack; though Ethan temporarily sides with the Protoss to keep Jake safe while the ritual completes. Eventually, Zamara uses the energies around them to draw Ulrezaj into the Crystal with her, Ethan is killed, and the Dominion triumphs. Using Devon Starke, a Ghost, as a decoy, Valerian manages to conceal Jake from Mengsk. He finally realizes his vision of sharing a glass of alcohol with Jake while listening to his stories.


In terms of answering questions, this novel is perhaps the most critical of all StarCraft novels. The truth of the Xel’Naga is finally revealed, and Adun’s return is prophesied to happen once again. Samir Duran remains an unknown factor; the reader isn’t told who or what he is. What is confirmed, however, is that the Hybrid is not what the Xel’Naga intended for their experiments. It’s the exact opposite, and thus whatever Duran is, his work is in direct conflict with the Xel’Naga’s rebirth. Ulrezaj’s past is also revealed. He was a scholar at Ehlna, responsible for storing the memories of dead Protoss, until he tired of simply storing memories and aspired to learn from them. This forbidden knowledge is what allowed him merge with three other Dark Templar to form a Dark Archon, and then later merge three more Dark Templar into a new form. Though his appearance in the  “Enslavers: Dark Vengeance” campaign, as well as the Protoss expedition to Aiur, are mentioned, Eredas is not mentioned (although a survivor from a stasis cell is).


starcraft: legacy dark templar saga twilight


StarCraft: Twilight is weakest in its climax. Somehow, Valerian, Ethan, and Ulrezaj all find their way to Ehlna and a replay of the battle from the second novel, excluding the massive psionic storm, occurs. The battle feels tacked on and implausible, though it is required for the three factions to have their respective story arcs completed. Ethan is shot down by the Dominion, Ulrezaj is contained, and Valerian defies Mengsk in denying him Jake. Valerian also manages to sneak a small crate of memory-laden Khaydarin Crystals away from Ehlna, though he says it sarcastically that it is surely something of importance.

The characters are given final fates that let the trilogy have a sense of a true ending even though StarCraft II continues the tale. Ethan is injured by the Dominion and killed by Selendis while Kerrigan willingly allows him to die as his purpose has been fulfilled. Valerian’s Ghost, Devon Starke, enters Jake’s mind and takes much of the knowledge Zamara imparted; he offers himself as a sacrificial decoy to keep Arcturus busy while Valerian hides Jake disappear from the emperor’s eyes. Zeratul is sent on a private mission from Zamara, and bears witness to dozens of energy beings from the Xel’Naga temples opening a wormhole to an unknown world, which he enters. A handful of other important details are given: there is a new tribe of Protoss, the “Nerazim”, made up of the original outcast Dark Templar; Zamara and Ulrezaj are in the hands of the Protoss; Kerrigan learns of the caverns on Aiur, intending to explore them at a more convenient time. Some other inconsistencies are cleared up, such as the events of “Enslavers: Dark Vengeance” and the presence of Khaydarin on Shakuras, where it is naturally occurring but different in nature from the Khaydarin of Aiur.

Many mysteries of the Protoss and the Xel’Naga are at long last revealed; it’s difficult to imagine how any StarCraft fan could not be engrossed by it all. Though StarCraft II will likely reiterate many of the events of the novel when necessary, the novel still gives a great deal of insight into the events of the coming sequel as well as helps prepare fans for what they can expect in its storyline. StarCraft: Twilight appears to be both an end of the trilogy and a novelized prequel to StarCraft II itself. For this reason - as well as being as well written as the first two novels - "Twilight" should be near the top of any StarCraft fan’s reading list.

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WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers for the novel in question.

“I, Mengsk” is the latest book in the StarCraft series of novelizations. “I, Mengsk” is, simply put, the Mengsk story – the story of three generations of Mengsk family members and how they strived, suffered and persevered against the Confederacy and their own character flaws to come to where they are now. As the novel opens, Arcturus meets with Valerian, and the two quickly erupt into argument when Valerian says that he doesn’t know what “home” means anymore, he’s moved about so much. Arcturus admits he knows the feeling himself, and offers to tell Valerian the story of Korhal, and in doing so, the story of the Mengsk family. So begins the first part of the novel: Angus. In Part 1, Arcturus is a seventeen-year old child with a smart-alec mouth and a deep-seated sense of rebellion towards his father. Angus wants Arcturus to be his heir, while Arcturus doesn’t care for politics and wants to be a prospector. As Part 1 opens, Arcturus sneaks away from his prestigious academy and infiltrates his family’s villa, just to irritate his father and prove he could overcome the security systems. However, at the same time a team of Confederate assassins attack, and the family narrowly survives with the help of the Mengsk family security organizer, Achton Feld. Angus and Ailin Pasteur, the leader of Umoja, discuss ways to strike back at the Confederacy’s growing oppression, and Angus rants that with the Old Families controlling the Confederate government, the corruption will only grow. Ailin agrees to secretly fund Angus’ planned terrorist efforts, but will not support him publicly. When he catches Arcturus spying on him, Angus tries to treat his son as an adult and explain what is happening to him, but when Arcturus repeatedly voices his inability to understand why his father wants to kill people, Angus dismisses him as a child. During the attack, Arcturus meets Ailin’s daughter Juliana, and woos her with the intention of eventually bedding her. When the Confederate Marine Corps visits Arcturus’ academy, he finds the idea of collecting prospecting experience while seeing the galaxy appealing, and eventually signs up for the Corps. On the day Angus is to give his Closing of Session speech to the Korhal senators, denouncing the Confederacy, Arcturus reveals his enlistment to his mother and walks out of the auditorium in the middle of his father’s speech, leaving his mother sobbing behind him.

Part 2 is titled “Arcturus”, and opens on Arcturus as a Confederate lieutenant roughly a year and a half later entering his first combat mission with his squadron, whom he calls “Dominion Section”, a name he feels is grand. Under the command of Captain Angelina Emillian, the same officer Arcturus met in his academy years prior, Dominion Section is part of a force meant to attack an illegal mining operation and take control of it for the Confederacy. When Emillian is injured, Arcturus takes control of the attack and forces the miners to surrender, although the Confederate forces suffer casualties. When Arcturus discovers the miners’ claim to the site was legal after all, he voices protests but is shut down by Emillian, who tells him to follow orders. Many of his subsequent missions follow similar guidelines, and Arcturus begins to work towards his goal of prospecting by overseeing the Confederate mining teams sent in to operate in the aftermath of the battles. Arcturus returns to Korhal see his family, but tensions are high and he walks out in the middle of the night following an argument with his father. He also takes Juliana on a date, and the two consummate their relationship after a failed attack on Arcturus’ life, though now that he has slept with her Arcturus’ interest in her fades. Eventually Arcturus rises to the rank of Captain and is assigned under the command of Edmund Duke and Alpha Squadron, the hope of their commanding officer being that Dominion Section will meet Duke’s expectations in the field and join Alpha Squadron, a prospect that Arcturus doesn’t care for. Their attack on a Kel-Morian mining operation goes horribly awry when heavy firepower and eventually Battlecruisers arrive to back up the Kel-Morians. Arcturus and Duke retreat and the Guild Wars begin. Several years later, Arcturus, now in his late-20s, resigns his post admitting to his commander he doesn’t believe in the Confederacy’s reasons for fighting, and begins prospecting on his own. As he strikes a massive mineral field, enough to keep him rich for the rest of his life, Arcturus is contacted by Ailin Pasteur, who urges him to come to Umoja. Arcturus does so and meets Juliana who introduces Arcturus to his seven-year old son, Valerian.

 

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The final part of the book is titled “Valerian”. Arcturus is stunned by the idea of a son, and once Valerian is taken from the room he has an argument with Juliana, but ultimately does not find the idea of fatherhood unappealing. Ailin also tells Arcturus that his father has been causing trouble on Korhal, undermining Confederate law, and the planet is practically under martial law. Arcturus spends time with Valerian, although he finds the boy’s interest do not meet what he considers normal “boy” behaviors. Arcturus tries to feign interest in Valerian’s hobbies, but their time together ends badly when he offers to let Valerian fire his rifle, and the boy fails horribly and bruises himself. Arcturus argues with Juliana that Valerian is a “bookish, effeminate weakling”, and Juliana accuses Arcturus of being just like Angus. Their argument is interrupted by a real-time communication by Achton Feld, who tells Arcturus his family has been killed. Arcturus declares he will burn the Confederacy to the ground, and tells Juliana and Valerian they must flee before the Confederacy targets them as well. As the novel continues, Valerian and his mother flee from place to place as Arcturus forms the Sons of Korhal and strikes at Confederate installations. Valerian idolizes his father and exercises and takes fighting lessons, determined to prove himself a strong and worthy heir to the Mengsk name. Eventually Korhal is destroyed, and as the years pass Valerian’s idealized vision of Arcturus fades, and his mother is stricken with a cancerous tumor and slowly slips into death. Eventually Mengsk comes for them, and although Valerian is angry with him for not being there for his mother and forcing them to flee the Confederacy, Arcturus admits he was wrong and that his son has become a fine man worthy of his name. He wants Valerian to become his heir, but Valerian asks Arcturus what he would say if he said he does not want to be his heir; Arcturus’ reply is that he once told his father the same thing.

The Confederacy falls, and Arcturus comes to retrieve Valerian and Juliana, now on Umoja again in the care of Ailin Pasteur. However, there is an assassination attempt planned by Samir Duran, and led by Angelina Emillian. The attack on the Mengsk family echoes the attack at the start of the novel, and they barely survive. Arcturus guns down Emillian, who declares the UED will destroy him as she dies, although Arcturus does not understand what the term means. As the novel closes, Valerian and Arcturus share a drink after Juliana’s funeral, a funeral Arcturus did not speak at and was not asked to. Arcturus tells Valerian he is proud of him and that he has greatness in him, but Valerian warns he will not live in Arcturus’ shadow. Arcturus does not expect him to, and tells Valerian that many of their words together remind him of his own conversations with Angus. Arcturus voices the concern that destiny has put them in position to repeat their father’s mistakes, and Valerian says he will not repeat Arcturus’. Arcturus agrees; he says Valerian will make new ones instead. Valerian does not find such words comforting, but they were not meant to be.

The sheer scope of the novel ensures that the story of “I, Mengsk” will be epic, and it is. The story encompasses virtually the entire timeframe of StarCraft lore, from the rebellion of Korhal up to and including the beginning of the Dominion-UED conflict. The Guild Wars, the formation of the Sons of Korhal and the fall of the Confederacy are some of the events shown. Jim Raynor is only mentioned once and Sarah Kerrigan not at all – the story is the Mengsk story, not theirs. It is truly intriguing to read about how Arcturus changes from a smart-alec teenager to a self-righteous emperor, and how the Mengsks truly have had their hands in the fate of the galaxy for decades. Seeing Arcturus as a child also shows that despite his words, or perhaps because of them, Valerian truly is his father’s son in more ways than one. Many allusions to other events and novels are given – Chuck Horner is mentioned, presumably Matt’s father, a reporter named Michael is shown, Jake Ramsey is mentioned, several critical figures from StarCraft lore like Ailin Pasteur appear, and at one point, the novel echoes, word for word, a conversation between Juliana and Valerian that occurs in “Firstborn”. The continuity between different novels and the games is amazingly fluent and the book is made all the better for it.

“I, Mengsk” fits solidly and perfectly into many of the holes in the StarCraft lore. It is a story of the Mengsk family, a description of the wars of the galaxy, a glimpse into the mentality of Arcturus Mengsk, and is an excellent read for any StarCraft fan.

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WARNING: The following review contains major spoilers for the manga in question.

StarCraft: Frontline Volume 2 delivers the same close-up look at the StarCraft universe as volume 1. Volume 1 set the stage for the StarCraft comics, therefore SC:L reviewed it extensively. The following short stories from volume 2 continue the momentum that has been established:

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Heavy Armor Part 2

Synopsis

"Heavy Armor Part 2" continues where Part 1 left off. Captain Jon Dyre was ransacking a colony on Dylar IV in his Viking, and Wes Carter stepped into his inferior “Wyrm” mech in order to save the colonists. Jon Dyre is a man with a history. Having “written the book on ground combat” and once eradicating a Zerg infestation almost singlehandedly, Jon Dyre has had an eminent military career. However, his inner demons, the horrors he witnessed when forced to kill infested colonists as well as infested members of his own unit, combined with his increased intake of Stim Packs, has instilled a paranoia inside him. He now believes that colonists are being infested, yet no signs of their infestation is visible upon death. Carter lured Dyre away from the colony and on top of a natural gas field, which he then targeted with a missile, doing damage to Dyre’s Viking. The fight ended when Carter again lured Dyre away into tempa, a terrain feature like both quicksand and wet concrete. Carter’s Wyrm was destroyed, but Dyre’s Viking was trapped in the tempa. Dyre then entered the self-destruct sequence for his Viking, and died with it.

 

Review

Heavy Armor Part 2 contained the same awesome mecha action as Part 1. Even though the Terrans are using sophisticated mecha, there is still the feeling that these machines are nothing but rickety contraptions that the Terrans have forged to survive on the galactic rim – the same feeling present in StarCraft. However, the entire story felt a little cliché, reusing many common elements such as “battling inner demons”.

Story - 7/10
Art - 8.5/10

 

Creep

Synopsis:

The narrator in this story is a Protoss scientist named Gruu. The story begins with a Shuttle emerging from the at the Protoss Advance Experimental Facility, PAX, for short. PAX has a history of unethical and unconventional scientific experimentation, with one of their scientists, Nubas, deciding to experiment on himself by supercharging his genetics. The experiment went wrong, with Nubas transforming into a globular monstrosity and dieing shortly thereafter. Three Protoss Zealots, Golarath, Ruom and Akam brought a sample of creep to Protoss scientists at PAX. The Zealots have been charged with overseeing the experiment to ensure that previous “mistakes” would be avoided. The creep sample was injected with an experimental viral agent that was supposed to infect and destroy creep, effectively committing genocide against the Zerg.

However, the Protoss are plunged into a nightmarish predicament; when Ruom and Golarath go in to extract tissue from the creep they are instead surrounded and infested by it. Golarath fell on his Psi Blades in order to protect the other Protoss from infestation. Ruom’s mind turned into a torrent of nonsensical and contradictory imagery and he was sent to be placed in isolation. Due to the virus injected into the creep sample, the creep itself metamorphosed into a type of psionic predator, attacking the Protoss mentally via their nerve appendages, foggint the khala for them and trying to lure them into madness. False and eerie images were implanted into the Protoss’ minds, such as Protoss skeletons and Protoss crawling on their bellys through a corridor.

Afterwards, the only warp gate at PAX was destroyed. Another Khalai scientist, Wa'Rak was also infected by the creep, who the remaining Protoss theorize was the one to destroy the Stargate. Wa'Rak cut off his own nerve appendages to prevent the madness from continuing and to protect the remaining Protoss. The Protoss then started blaming the events on the deceased scientist Nubas, who they believe reached a form of ascension after his death and has mentally returned to make the Protoss pay for allowing him to be experimented on. However, this is probably not the case – the creep is most likely the culprit. The Protoss themselves were confused about the true circumstances of brother Nubas’s death – probably an effect from the creep.

Ruom then emerges and takes Akam's head off with Psi Blades. Protoss normally cannot be infested due to the nature of the Khala, but the creep has evolved, and if it spreads beyond PAX, all Protoss are imperiled. Ruom continues hunting the remaining Protoss down as their heads are filled with horrific images from the madness being propagated by the creep. Eventually, Gruu takes control of a laser found in the lab, and psionically guides it to shoot the creep and the cooling crystals that were keeping the creep sample at an optimum temperature. With the cooling crystals broken, the rest of PAX freezes over. Later, a group of Terrans find the creep sample, hinting that the story might be continued in the future...

 

Review

"Creep" was a story replete with macabre and horrific imagery, a perfect choice for the subject matter. However, it’s hard to follow, and readers will most likely not make sense of it during their first pass through. Some of the art is unidentifiable, and it requires nothing less than detective work to discern who the narrator actually was. The overuse of pretentious jargon doesn’t help readability either. The Protoss were drawn just plain weird in this short story, with their mouths being much too thin. It seemed kind of strange that the Protoss have never put creep up to the microscope in all this time, and that a sample is really that hard to get. However, seeing a Protoss science facility was extremely interesting. And the Infested Protoss was eerie, cool and scary all at the same time.

Story - 8/10
Art - 7/10

Newsworthy

Synopsis

Kate Lockwell is a star UNN reporter who recently acquired the chance to accompany a Dominion Marine battalion on a mission to Candore, and interview Emperor Mengsk shortly after. The opportunity was one that could make her career. Aboard a Battlecruiser, Major Hawkins probes Kate’s loyalty to the Dominion, and ensures that she won’t betray them, like the last embedded reporter the Dominion allowed – Michael Liberty. Aboard the Battlecruiser, Kate’s old cameraman, Zack Oliver, whom she fired months ago, unexpectedly showed up as her replacement cameraman. Kate reported on pre-arranged events which made the Dominion look good, until the Marines had to leave for an unexpected mission, which Kate could not accompany them for. The Marines captured rebels and put them into the brig of the Battlecruiser. Zack however, implored Kate to get both sides of the story.

Then late at night, Kate and Zack couldn’t resist heading down to the brig and seeing what’s what for themselves. To their shock, they found humans in the brig, who were locked away for simply speaking out against the Dominion. Kate interviewed a rebel, but was later caught with the footage. Major Hawkins then shoved Zack out the airlock, and later shot Kate through the chest while he was chasing after her. Michael Liberty and a band of rebels called the "Knights of Freedom" boarded the Battlecruiser and attacked the Dominion Marines onboard. They took a copy of the disk containing the interview footage from Kate, leaving Kate with another copy so that nothing else would be suspected. Kate was later seen on UNN reporting that Michael Liberty and the Knights of Freedom massacred Dominion troops and colonists. She was either resocialized or simply playing along to protect the footage she gave to Liberty. Michael Liberty decided that he would air Kate's footage next month, when Kate interviewed Arcturus Mengsk himself.

 

Review

"Newsworthy" was one of the better stories in Frontline Volume 2. It introduced us to the tense political scene within the Terran Dominion, and showed the extent that the Dominion takes to cover up its tracks. The story and art were crisp and clear, but if anything made the story hard to follow, it was Kate's unproportionally large chest. Nonetheless, it was good seeing Michael Liberty in this story and hearing about where he is now. We never got a chance to see his appearance in Liberty's Crusade, but his appearance and dialog in this short story certainly did him justice.

Story - 8/10
Art - 8/10

A Ghost Story

Synopsis

A down-on-their-luck Kel-Morian salvage team arrives on a fringe world in search of valuable technology. The team was made up of Luke Keegan, an engineer, Uriah Cyris, the Salvage Commander, Macy Clift, the information officer, and Chuck Tyorsine, the Combat Specialist. They find an abandoned complex and turn on the power generator. Macy gains access to a computer where she finds the work of Pelagius, some so-called “hybrid chem./bio/neuro-research” that nevertheless points to something big. Uriah however is only concerned with making a copy of the valuable information and selling it for credits.

On the computer, the crew finds vid-footage of the “Church of Besainted Brother Pelagius”. Pelagius managed to convert a Confederate Ghost into his fold. As one of his high brothers rambles onboard the computer screen, strange noises and voices begin to come from nowhere, scaring the crew. Other than Macy, the rest of the crew is mysteriously killed or has disappeared. As Macy begins to leave, Pelagius himself appears before her, and his Ghost pilots the crew’s ship away. Pelagius’s cohorts then emerge from their holes, including the newly-converted Luke Keegan. Pelagius discusses how he predicted the cleansing of the fringe planets by the Protoss, and further prophesises that he and his followers will be the only ones left as the rest of the universe is scoured. Macy is then grabbed by the followers, and the story ends…

 

Review

The most noticeable thing about “A Ghost Story” is the dark, but goofy art style. Despite the fact that some characters look like straight-up clowns, a few panels were exceptional – such as the incineration of a planet. It's clear that Pelagius, his Ghost and his machine-controlled followers have been in isolation for a long time. How exactly Pelagius made his prophecies or what his ultimate goal is is anybody's guess.

Story - 7/10
Art - 7/10

 

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StarCraft: Frontline Volume 2 was a satisfying read for any StarCraft fan. Comics bring the universe alive in a much different way than the novels do, so every StarCraft fan should definitely pick them up. These comics also have better re-readability, as there are many details that might not be picked up during the first read through. The series has been expanded into four volumes now. Chris Metzen will contribute his Jim Raynor story to the last of them, volume 4. In the meantime, here is what's in store for volume 3:

 

The sadistic Dr. Burgess, from volume one's "Why We Fight," gets his bloody hands on Muadun, a recently captured protoss High Templar...


A lounge singer on a backwater planet brokers an unlikely peace between the Kel-Morians and the Dominion, until the zerg arrive...

To save her race after the zerg attack on Aiur, a protoss teacher learns to embrace the fearsome powers of the dark...

Senator Phash's innocent young son from volume one's "Weapon of War," is hunted by a government that would turn him into a killer...

 

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WARNING: The following review contains major spoilers for the manga in question.


StarCraft: Frontline Volume 1 has some interesting stories to tell, and more planned for the second volume. It has some moments that help to give a good feel to the StarCraft world, and might add a little depth to those who are a bit less familiar with it.

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Why We Fight

"Why We Fight" is actually three stories in one. It offers a good look at how each of the three races build up their armies, how they fight, and their reasons for doing so while trying to take control of a Xel'Naga Temple at Artika - located in the outskirts of the Koprulu Sector. However, this story is replete with cheesy one-liners – most of them derived from StarCraft. "Why We Fight" provides a general insight into the basics behind the three races, and works very well as an introductory story, though it's a little difficult to understand if you try to take it all in with one read. Though a little confusing, at each story's core is the basic goal that each race strives for, the means they use to achieve that goal, and how that goal affects the individuals fighting for it. During the course of this story, many units from Brood War and StarCraft 2 appear, suggesting that this takes place during a transitional period between the games. There are several one liners, most notably the lines thrown from the Marines or Zealots such as "For Aiur." or "Jacked up and good to go." There's even a Starship Troopers reference, which isn't surprising, since StarCraft makes so many sci-fi references, it's almost expected to see it in the manga. It's a little tough to read because of the layout, so we'll break it down into three storyline sections that unravel concurrently.

Terran

This story begins with a protest on the Dominion world of Tyrador IX at New Canaan. There is a large group of people protesting the Dominion before the Marines step in to ensure order. One of the protestors named Jin-Ho Lim tries to reach his fiancée Anna before he gets taken down. Jin-Ho Lim is taken away to become resocialized, but instead of being subject to the less invasive, standard method of Resoc Tanks, the sadistic Dr. Burgess has him undergo brain surgery and a procedure reminiscent of the Ludovico technique from A Clockwork Orange. After the procedure, Jin-Ho Lim has changed to the point where he is ordered to execute another protester - his fiancée - and shoots her in the face without a moment's hesitation. He's conscripted into the Death's Head Legion of Marines and sent into combat. Their Dropship sets down on Artika, as Wraiths and Valkyries push back a large group Mutalisks, Scourge, and Devourers. As the Marines pour out of the Dropships, Hydralisks attack the Marines, while a clutch of Zerglings come swarming down on a Goliath. A Queen then shoots spores at the Terrans. The Terrans are overwhelmed, but manage to secure the landing zone, though they lose their commander. Jin-ho Lim takes charge, and takes the remaining ground forces to occupy the temple. The Protoss had arrived a little while back, but had only been fighting the Zerg until now. As the Marines move towards the objective, they get attacked by Dark Templar. Most of them get sliced down before the Marines get any information relayed to them from a Comsat scan to be able to return fire. A squad of Wraiths flies by firing at the remaining Zerg as Jin-Ho Lim enters the temple. Here he encounters the new Protoss Zealot Khastiana who peers into Jin-Ho Lim's mind, and sees the damage that's been done to him from the resocialization process. She attempts to help him by repairing the damage, forcing him to remember the things that he did. Jin-ho loses control at the flood of the painful memories gushing back, and guns down the Protoss for making him remember as a scar-faced Zergling leaps from the darkness and impales him. Arcturus Mengsk then explains the reasons that the Terrans fight – to accumulate power and protect humanity from alien races.

Zerg

The Zerg start out with two Zerglings hatching from an egg on a Hive Cluster on Char. One of the Zerglings is more pale than the other, and they leap and tear at each other, one taking a slash across the face, but eventually killing the lighter hued Zergling, and then turning towards a larger group of Zerg and heading off. The action then shifts to a massive swarm of the Zerg all around the Xel'Naga Temple at Artika fighting the invading Terran forces. The Zerg have creep-like terrain around the temple's base, and the Terran are fighting against them to gain access to the temple. Our 'hero' Zergling with a scar over its left eye (which we'll call Scar for identification purposes) leaps up at Firebats, and stabs its claws into a Terran's chest. A larger overall battle is shown before cutting to Marines fighting Hydralisks. Scar leads some other Zerglings, killing another Terran before charging onboard a Dropship that's preparing to lift off. The Zergling sneaks through the hatch, tears the pilot's back open through the seat, and the ship crashes. Scar leaps out through the wreckage and continues on. A group of Immortals fire upward, blowing away an Overlord as Scar and its swarm charge forward. Scar tears into one of the Immortals, revealing the Protoss inside before killing it. As the Protoss tear through a group of Zerglings, Hydralisks, and Ultralisks to gain access to the temple, our scar-faced Zergling swiftly burrows into the ground, barely avoiding fire from a squad of Wraiths passing overhead. Scar eventually makes his way into the temple, and appears again leaping out of the darkness at the frightened Jin-Ho Lim, impaling him through the chest, while the wounded Khastiana cuts Scar down with her Psi-Blade. The scene then cuts back to Kerrigan speaking about the weak being culled while the strong are reborn again and again. Kerrigan then explains why the Zerg fight – in order to consume everything in the universe so that all of creation will bow before her, the Queen of Blades.

Protoss

The Protoss story begins at the Templar Archives on Ash'Arak with the young Protoss Khastiana talking with the Templar Muadun about serving as a Zealot. She completes her combat training against a Dark Templar on Shakuras, struggling with the fact that she must peer into a sentient being's soul, and still kill it, even to save the lives of others. She outmaneuvers the Dark Templar through her precognition ability – which is shown through her vantage point. She is then given her Zealot armor in a ceremony at the Citadel of Adun, and joins the forces headed for Artika. The fleet that arrives contains the new StarCraft II units along with Arbiters and Scouts. The Protoss Zealots are shown outside the Warp Gate on Shakuras before they are transported to the ground outside Artika by a Phase Prism. Khastiana cuts through Zerglings and Hydralisks, her shields protecting her from fire as she moves forward towards the Temple. One of the High Templar casts a Psionic Storm on a group of Hydralisks, and tells the Protoss that they must take the Temple. A group of Ultralisks charge at the Protoss. The Zealots leap to incredible heights in order to gain a better vantage point from which to fight the Ultralisks. Khastiana kills an Ultralisk by jamming a Psi Blade into the Ultralisk's soft spot behind its head. Inside the temple, as Jin-Ho Lim comes out of the darkness, Khastiana leaps out slicing through his weapon, but hesitates to kill him. As she peers into his mind, she sees the damage done by the resocialization, and she fixes him. He goes mad, gunning her down as a scar-faced Zerling comes out of the darkness and impales him. She slices the creature down as it falls, and her body is recalled back to Shakuras. The Praetor Muadun asks Artanis if it was worth the cost as Khastiana is placed inside an Immortal. He assures his comrade that she has not surrendered to despair, and neither can they.

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Impressions

Terran

This story gives a look into how various criminals are taken and "resocialized" for combat. The Terrans have a very small percentage of willing participants in the front lines of their military, which isn't surprising given the high death rate of the average Marine. Having seen the resocialization used to control criminals, like the Marine who was a serial killer in Firstborn, it's interesting to see how it's also used on relatively harmless people, like the Marine from the planet Bountiful in Shadow of the Xel'Naga, and now in the protester Jin-Ho Lim. The section showing how Detector units or a Comsat scan reveal cloaked units to the Terran was very interesting in giving a small bit of realism to the mechanic. The mix of both old and new units shows that this story takes place at a mid point between the two games, and that the new units and evolution of combat was a gradual process. The Terran have a large difficulty in the StarCraft universe that the Protoss are only recently overcoming with the Dark Templar. More so than either of the other races, the Terran have internal power struggles. The Dominion seeks to unify the Terran by any means necessary, and to force them to fight for the same goals.

Zerg

It's easy to miss the Zerg having a role in this story, instead of being an aggressor, especially if it's read all in one take. This is because the idea of following an individual Zergling isn't common like following the story of a Marine or a Zealot. The Zerg send waves of forces, and their deaths don't shake morale, or hold the same value, and they have no ulterior motivations. Nor do they have a past, as they are spawned, and exist solely for the purpose of living to destroy and assimilate their opponents. The idea of a stronger individualism still existing in the Swarm, like the cerebrates' reincarnation process, but to a lesser extent is very interesting. The Zerg are still said to serve the original purpose of the Swarm, until every living thing will bow before the Queen of Blades or die. It makes the Zerg seem like they're capable of individualism, but not at the expense of the will of the Swarm, and this even applies to Kerrigan, although she is the figurehead for the pinnacle of Zerg Evolution. Since the Overmind and the cerebrates are now gone, the fact that the motivations of the Swarm have not been lost under Kerrigan's control of the Zerg is reassuring. Kerrigan is more like a careful tactician, carrying out the will of the Swarm. It's always been known that the loss of a unit isn't a loss to the Zerg, but the idea that when a unit is struck down, everything they learned is carried on by the Swarm to help perfect their design makes them a truly frightening enemy.

Protoss

This story gives an interesting look at combat taking place on the ground via Warp-In for large Protoss assaults. The air units arrive early to secure locations for the ground forces, allowing the Phase Prisms to deploy, and bring them in from wherever the available ground forces are. It also shows how Protoss are transported from their homeworld (or where they are trained) to a battlefield. In this case, the Warp Gate acts as the conduit that sends the warping Protoss to the Phase Prism.

This story also offers some more insight to the inner workings of Protoss society, being the more peaceful of the three races, and how the Protoss train from civilian to warrior. It's also one of the first times that the unification of the Protoss has been seen with the Dark Templar and the Zealots training together. It shows how the Protoss are now working together to strengthen themselves and overcome their enemies. One confusing aspect is that Khastiana somehow ascended from an untrained Khalai Protoss to a so-called "5th level Khala Adept" Templar in a very short time. This quick ascension did not do the Protoss justice, as it normally takes the Protoss years or decades of training to reach those levels.

The fact that the Protoss peer into the minds of those they attack, and that even after being shot down trying to save one of her enemies, Khastiana still won't give up hope is central to the new Protoss, and their goals and feelings towards retaking Aiur.

Art

The art style remains very close to how the generic units and buildings look from concept art, and what they've been shown as in game. This holds true for the close up shots of all the old units as well as those from StarCraft II. There are lots of spectacular epic scale battle scenes, and for the most part, the units all manage to stay fairly clear despite the mayhem, and destruction. On top of this, the Protoss give a good look at both the male and the female Protoss Zealots, and the differences in their facial features. However, there are some issues. The Ultralisks are incredibly massive. Far larger in scale than they have ever been shown before, as an example they're probably five times the size of the ones seen in the "StarCraft: Ghost" trailer. The Protoss warp-in artwork looks like wisps of smoke and nothing like the data warp from StarCraft II - which wouldn't be as bad if the panels were in color. When Khastiana is warped back to Shakuras it appeared that she was casting a Psionic Storm. The Roach makes its appearance in a single tiny panel, and it's almost impossible to tell what's being shown because of the coloration and awkward view. The Carrier still appears to look just like the old Tempest, and without the color, it's really impossible to tell what it was intended to be. If it was a Carrier, something matching the newer artwork would have been preferable. Though they only have a brief appearance, Mengsk and Kerrigan differ from their StarCraft2.com artwork, and Artanis's features are vastly different from his Brood War incarnation.

 

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Thundergod

This story centers around three main characters on Mar Sara. Sandin Forst - nicknamed "Thundergod" because he's the top Thor pilot with over twice the kills of the next top pilot. He often finds illicit ways to earn money on the side with a little bit of help from his friends Rieff and Garth. Rieff is the closest thing Sandin has to a friend. Rieff is an SCV pilot/hacker, and has remained so because Sandin's side jobs pay better than he'd make as a high-level computer ops. Garth is an obedient Crucio Siege Tank pilot who always gets the job done. Sandin and his friends leave during an assault on the Zerg to plunder the remains of the Jacobs Installation. The firepower they're using will go unnoticed amongst the vicious fighting occurring farther away. The story discusses the rumors about what the Confederacy used the Jacobs Installation for, and that it still remained after the planet was bombarded by the Protoss (shown to be executed by Motherships). Next, the resettling of Mar Sara is explained:

 

Ever on the hunt for new resources to exploit, the Kel-Morian Combine had quickly set up several facilities on Mar Sara the moment that it had been deemed at all habitable…The result of so many miners with little else to do on their free-time had created shanty-towns with almost no law. The Dominion had sent in forces to ‘keep the peace,' but they had also been interested in other activities.

 

The Dominion had apparently been very adamant that the Kel-Morians were not to excavate the remains of the Jacobs Installation, and had done quite a bit to cover up that any interaction between them ever happened. Sandin had discovered that there was a stash of Ardeon Crystals of very high value within the Jacobs Installation, and he intended to recover them. Sandin used the Thor to break through the rock and walls into the complex. Garth went in the complex to investigate, but was destroyed by sentry guns which managed to easily destroy the Crucio's tough armor. Rieff became cautious, as part of the installation has had painstaking care put into it to ensure that it remained running. Sandin urges them to continue, the uneasy feeling growing especially when Rieff learns that Sandin plans to leave with his new-found riches and become a deserter. They continue on, using Rieff to spot the activity, and the Thor to take out the guns before they get in range. They manage to reach a door that even the Thor can't bypass through brute force, so Rieff hacks and gets it to open. Seconds after the doors open, Sandin shows his true colors and shoots Rieff's SCV into rubble. He continues down to the crystals, and gets out to load them. In doing so he notices a viscous liquid clinging to his hand. He starts hearing voices, and an urge to kill rises. A look at his hand reveals everything; the Zerg spores that had remained on the crystals are infesting him. His madness quickens, and spines emerge from his body as he climbs back into the Thor becoming consumed by the urge to kill. He attempts to destroy the crystals, as the facility locks down around him. Unable to escape, he fires until he breaks through the floor, going mad and still firing, and finally fatally crashing into the ground below. It ends noting that greed and the most minute of weapons can combine to bring down the most gargantuan of war machines, and the greatest of empires, even "Thundergods", are destined to suffer their downfall.

 

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Impressions

In "Thundergod", the extent of the Confederacy's and the Dominion's efforts at secrecy were revealed, and the lengths they went through in order to cover up what experiments had been done at the Jacobs Installation, even though they literally had to bury a fortune to do so. The extreme value of the Ardeon Crystals begs the question of whether these crystals and the yellow crystals that we see in StarCraft II are one in the same. Seeing an SCV perform more complicated tasks gives the little workers a little more credit, and helps show that it's not only a grunt job. As a showcase for the Thor, this story works very well. Nothing like the Siege Tank's long bombardment, the Thor is almost always standing within the smoke of its own destructive power. The story also showed the Wild West type feeling to the world of Mar Sara that has been seen with the Starcraft2.com Mar Sara update. The fact that the Jacobs Installation remains intact even after the Protoss razed the world through their Motherships' orbital bombardment may account for the continued or renewed presence of the Zerg. It introduces the Kel-Morian Combine setting up small mining towns, and the Dominion's presence there to regulate the law, keep the peace, fight the Zerg, and make sure nothing gets uncovered that should stay buried.

 

Art

Thundergod's art seem to change based on what's being shown. While the characters have a slightly more sketched look about them features being vague, and tending to look more stylized, the Thor and the other vehicles are rendered with careful, realistic precision. The cockpits are shown in detail, and seem correct for the pilots. It was interesting to note though, that the Thor is operated with a joystick. There are small details like, when the Thor fires, bracer pads extend from the rear of its feet for support. The lighting showing high contrast when its guns annihilate whatever lies in front of it. The scenes of the three vehicles moving across Mar Sara, and making their way into the Jacobs Installation are crisp, and display the scale of the SCV, Siege Tank, and Thor. The top-heavy Thor's movement looks a little odd at one point, with one of its feet pulled way back as if it was in the middle of a sprint, but overall it's very well done.

 

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Weapon of War

This story takes place on the Maltair IV Vespene Gas Facility. A six and a half year old boy named Colin is with his father Senator Phash and a squad of Marines - Captain Veers, Piett, Jenkins, Rivera, Paolilli, and Chavez. They're visiting a facility under the control of Mr. Dagget that is mining for hidden pockets of Vespene gas in the crust. The facility is a key location in the Dominion's current supply of Vespene. The workers' morale is low, and Dagget is trying to secure more money from the Senator for his men. Captain Veers takes a liking to the boy, commenting that he would have had a son the boy's age, but his child and wife died on Tarsonis. Seconds later, a massive swarm of Zerg descends on the facility. The Senator, Marines, Mr. Dagget, and the remaining survivors are forced deep inside to secure cover. 70 hours later, Colin senses that the Zerg are close again, raising suspicion from Mr. Dagget as the Zerg come pouring in, and they are forced back again. While firing from cover, Jenkins breaks rank, and gets killed by the swarm of Zerg. As they continue back into the corridor after the firefight, Piett brings up the topic that no one's brought up – using the kid as a weapon against the Zerg. Veers says that Piett of everyone should understand, because his brother is a ghost. Piett screams that his brother is a freak, and was taken away when he was younger than the kid, and turned into a weapon. Mr. Dagget comments back that that's how things should be - and would be if the Senator didn't pull strings to keep his kid safe. Phash responds by punching Dagget in the mouth, and confirming their suspicions. Dagget stands and knocks the Senator unconscious, and Colin rushes to his father's side. Veers pushes Dagget into a wall insisting that they stop fighting or everyone's going to end up dead, and tells Dagget that he's responsible for carrying the unconscious Senator. There's a bunker about a half a day from their current location, but with the Zerg everywhere he doesn't think they'll be able to reach it.

Piett suggests that they leave Colin behind with explosives, and continues on - addressing the rest of the survivors. Since his psionics are completely untrained, and not kept in check through inhibitors, they attract the Zerg and are giving away the peoples' location. Aside from the fact that if it weren't for the boy's father, he'd have been trained and put on a proper leash a long time ago. Veers disagrees, stating that that's not how it works, and the boy's warnings have saved them on several occasions. Veers goes on to say that the boy is a human being, and is now under his protection. Veers tells everyone to rest, and that they'll be moving out in a few hours. While everyone is sleeping Piett knocks out Veers and captures Colin, taking him off into the facility and leaving him trapped with explosives. Veers awakens, and knocks out the other two Marines. Confronting Piett, Veers tells him to move out and protect the civilians on route to the bunker, before going after Colin. He finds the boy, and unties him as two Zerglings descend on him from behind. He fights them off, but takes a severe blow to the chest. Colin's panic blows one of the creature's skulls open, and Veers manages to stuff the explosive into the other's mouth. The explosion clears, and Colin asks Veers if he's alright, completely unaware that his abilities kept the two of them from being harmed. Veers is fatally wounded however, and tells Colin that they're going to play a game of hide and seek, and that Colin has to get to the bunker to press the distress beacon before he hides. The boy runs off as Veers starts counting, swarms of Zerg gather behind the wounded Veers in the darkness as he runs off.

Meanwhile, the other Marines and survivors move out with Mr. Dagget leaving Senator Phash unconscious on the ground behind them. As they continue through the corridors, Piett thinks he hears something and turns to face a Hydralisk, guns blazing. The Zerg continue to pour in from all directions, descending on the Marines and the other Terrans, shredding them to pieces. One of the Marines dies, coating Dagget's face in blood. Dagget backs up pleading with the approaching Zerg, and staring in fear before a Hydralisk swings its massive scythed claws and decapitates him. Piett continues firing until he runs out of ammunition, and then uses another explosive to kill himself and the surrounding Zerg. Senator Phash wakes up, Colin running to his side. They're in the Bunker and the distress beacon has been activated, Colin apologizes if his father's hurt, since he had to drag him. Upon wondering why they're alone, Colin replies that the others weren't very good at Hide and Seek.

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Impressions

This story shows the feeling of fear that the Terran have of the Zerg, and of all psionics. Ghosts are a very interesting and key element in StarCraft's storyline. There's a lot of unknown potential, and misunderstandings involving psychic powers from the Terran. It's interesting exploring the powers of a boy who hasn't been put into the Ghost program, and how most of the time, he isn't even aware of what he's doing or how to control his abilities. Keep in mind that blowing up the head of a Zergling shouldn't be easy for Terran psionicists. Either the boy was an extremely powerful psychic or the authors are too liberal with their representation of a Terran psionic powers.

This story also helps show the strong feelings of the Terran towards resocializing and controlling their troops. Especially when looking at the Zerg, and knowing that Kerrigan herself was once a Terran Ghost, their comments are easily understandable. There's a well portrayed dark, treacherous atmosphere that StarCraft is known for. The whole comic feels like the cinematic "The Amerigo". While it doesn't really show anything new about the Zerg, it does let them be the creeping monsters in the darkness again, descending to rip apart Terran, innocent, guilty, armed, and helpless alike without mercy or hesitation. This story holds another possible sci-fi reference: Piett and Veers are both Imperial officers on the Super Star Destroyer Executor in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Art

The artwork is much more heavily stylized than the other pieces. It has a painted look, lacking defined lines and shadow, with the characters' faces being more anime-like, and the Zerglings being a little lankier and spidery-looking. Some of the art looked plain ridiculous (i.e. the drawing of some faces and Dagget punching Senator Phash six feet into the air).

The painted style often causes the Zerglings to appear as little more than dark spikey blurs with eyes. That being said, the style works in helping this piece to achieve the dark, creepy feeling that it would be missing with clearer images. It helps to make the swarms of Zerg in the darkness a frightening mass of eyes and claws, and gives them the appearance of stretched out monstrous silhouettes of what they really are. However, when the art does display something in detail, it has some spectacular panels. Kerrigan standing at the invasion and Dagget being decapitated by the Hydralisk are excellent for any Zerg fan.

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Heavy Armor Part 1

On the Dominion world of Ursa, Wes Carter is preparing his Wyrm (a precursor to the Viking) for ground combat step-off. As it slowly warms up, his former commanding officer, Captain Jon Dyre, is destroying civilians as well as anything else in sight with a Viking. In comparing the two machines Carter muses that the Wyrm moves with all the grace and finesse of a recently tranquilized Rhynadon, whereas the Viking is hell on wheels. He thinks about the report that's going to be filed, and the details it's going to list on the reasons for the events taking place, and how he doesn't think they'll even touch the main issue. Carter and Dyre then lock in combat. Carter narrowly avoids missile fire from the Viking, and rebukes Dyre for not being the same man who taught him everything he knew about piloting heavy armor, the codes to follow and firing on non-military targets, while questioning his motivation. Dyre turns to face Carter, and the story shifts back to where everything began.

Visiting dignitaries came to the Dominion planet of Ursa to view the new Viking technology. Captain Jon Dyre was chosen to demonstrate the Viking Ground/Air Combat Facilitation System. Carter is talking to his Chief, saying that Dyre's been on edge ever since they arrived, and he advises against letting him pilot for the PR Display that the Dominion's putting on. The Chief tries to shrug him off, as Jon Dyre's one of the most highly decorated officers in the Dominion Fleet. Carter states that he's known Dyre for six years, fought with him in 29 campaigns, and the man saved his own life on 3 occasions, so it's not something he can just let go. The Chief gets Carter to agree to let Dyre perform the demonstration, and afterward he'll be scheduled for a full evaluation. Carter approaches his friend just before the dome asking if he's alright, because he just saw him use a stimpack and he doesn't think that the occasion warrants the need for one. Dyre says that the enemy never sleeps, and goes to start the demo. As the demonstration starts, Dyre turns the Viking and fires missiles at the base, destroying rows of Crucio Siege Tanks and Banshees, thus crippling any sort of tactical response that the base may have been able to put up. The civilians run towards a Dropship to get shuttled off to safety as Carter mentions that this was just a move to prevent anything from stopping Dyre from completing his objective whatever it may be. He gears up for combat, climbs aboard the Wyrm, and begins to start it up. The rest will be concluded in Part 2.

 

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Impressions

This story did a nice job of showing off the Terran Viking mecha, and establishing the evolution of the Terran's vehicles. For example, in "Why We Fight" there were Wraiths, and Valkyries dominating the air, now we see the Banshee, Crucio Siege Tanks, the Wyrm, and the Viking being shown off by the Terran military. It provides an interesting look into the inner workings of the Terran military structure, and showing off their new technology as well as the development process. We get to see a branch of the Terran military that's not placed in the front lines, and where the individuals make a career out of what they do. It was also nice to see how Terran soldiers suit up and interact with each other. The information about using Stim Packs when they're on edge, and the so far unrevealed motivations for the actions of Jon Dyre are all quite compelling, and help to build the characters in the story towards a conclusion in the next installment. The story does have a small issue. Since it begins with the battle between Carter and Dyre, and then flashes back to where everything began (the pages turn black at this point) the story feels like it's cut a bit short. Just when it finishes explaining everything, the reader has to wait for the completion of the tale during in Volume 2. At first, rather than building tension and excitement for the next installment, it's rather confusing as you reached the chronological ending midway through. After having "Why We Fight†cram three stories into one it's difficult ending things with a story that's half finished even though it's an interesting tale it seems like the most compelling bits of the story are yet to come in Volume 2.

Art

The style in this story is crisp and clear. There's never too much going on in a single panel which allows for rather dynamic and personal shots of the characters and vehicles. It feels very similar to "Why We Fight" in many ways but is focused in on a much smaller scale.

 

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Conclusion

StarCraft: Frontline had some enjoyable artwork showcased a few different styles and told some new stories. It definitely immersed the reader into the StarCraft universe. Though short the stories each served their purpose. However they left something to be desired and could arguably have been expanded into a work that felt slightly more complete or spanned a greater amount of pages to avoid cramming so many details in such a short space. Their length belies the amount of detail that's been put into the book so even though it's a quick read it may not be sufficient to fully grasp the storylines and Frontline definitely benefits from a second pass through. Frontline's weakest point however is that was hard to follow - especially when trying to keep track of the characters. The stories themselves were sub-standard; little to no characters or events were truly interesting or memorable - given the length of the manga though this isn't really a surprise. Hopefully the sequel will help to generate a more involved feeling with the storylines and make them seem less small-scale. Since StarCraft: Frontline was pretty short and can probably be read in one sitting most people will just give it a quick pass through rather than buying it. Nevertheless if you're a serious StarCraft fan you'll still want this manga in your collection. Keep an eye out in November and see where StarCraft: Frontline Volume 2 takes things.

 

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Upcoming Releases

Here are some of the upcoming adventures in Volume 2:

  • "Why We Fight" by Josh Elder: The story continues when the sadistic Dr. Burgess gets his hands on the High Templar Muadun who has been recently captured. The doctor seeks to test his theory that mankind's adaptability makes them inherently superior.
  • "Newsworthy" by Grace Randolph: Reporter Nora Colby gets the interview of a lifetime during her duty with the Marines but what she discovers is so horrifying she may not be able to report it.
  • "Creep" by Simon Furman: The Protoss begin experimenting with Zerg creep with fascinating and disastrous results!
  • "Just Another Ghost Story" by Kieron Gillen: On the decimated fringe-world of Antiga Prime Kel-Morian soldier-scavengers uncover a deserted compound which appears to be haunted.
  • "Heavy Armor: Part 2" by Simon Furman: Wes Carter and Jon Dyre's confrontation reaches its exciting conclusion.
  • Chris Metzen himself may contribute a Jim Raynor story for Volume 3.

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WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers for the novel in question.


Introduction:
StarCraft: Queen of Blades is a book by Aaron Rosenburg set in the StarCraft universe. This book novelizes the StarCraft Zerg Campaign by following Jim Raynor. It highlights Kerrigan's rebirth into the swarm and Tassadar's involvement with the Dark Templar on Char.

Synopsis:
The novel begins with a description of the Battle of New Gettysburg. The swarm makes its exit from Tarsonis, while inside the Chrysalis Sarah Kerrigan’s body and very cell structure are being twisted and rearranged. Meanwhile, aboard the Hyperion, James Raynor, our favorite Marshall-turned-rebel, views a broadcast by Michael Liberty who is attempting to inform the general public of Mengsk’s treachery. To Raynor’s amusement, Liberty also refers to Jim Raynor as “The Hero of Antiga Prime”. However, Jim Raynor is in a slump. Since breaking off from the Dominion and hijacking a fleet from the Dylarian Shipyards, Raynor has been branded as a criminal by Mengsk, who wants Raynor captured in order for him to be made an example of those who defy his authority. Jim has a fleet and many loyal people at his disposal who are waiting for orders. Unfortunately he has none to give.

Sarah Kerrigan, back on Char, sends a telepathic cry for help to both Jim Raynor and Arcturus Mengsk. Jim receives frequent dreams from Kerrigan, detailing all the various things that are happening to her. Jim decides to send his crew on a rescue mission. He tells his younger and more optimistic second-in-command Matt Horner to set a course for Char. Upon arrival, some of Duke’s ships are sighted and Raynor exchanges banter with the old general himself before heading down to the planet’s surface and setting up base. Raynor and his team make their way to an underground cavern in search of Kerrigan. After fighting his way towards the main cavern, Raynor sees Kerrigan make her escape from the Chrysalis:

 

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This figure was not human. Yet its face, its features-they were Kerrigan. Or at least they still bore traces of the woman she had been. It was Kerrigan if she had been twisted, remade as a parody of herself. Kerrigan, transformed. Into Zerg. “By your will, father,” the figure in the Chrysalis remains said proudly, head raised high. Her voice was deeper, more resonant, and it echoed in his ears and in his head as if each word carried layers of meaning and emotion, too much for him to catch all at once. The words rolled across and through him, sending shivers down his spine. “I live to serve.”

 

Kerrigan let Raynor escape with his life and return to base. He continued receiving dreams and visions from Kerrigan, detailing her involvement with the Overmind and its Cerebrates. Raynor also witnessed Kerrigan’s raid on the Science Vessel Amerigo. The Zerg boarded Raynor’s ships, which were then destroyed by the Protoss, inciting rage from Raynor. However, Raynor ordered Matt Horner,who was aboard the Hyperion, to make an emergency warp-jump so that the Hyperion could be saved. Unfortunately, the Hyperion would take a long time to return, and Raynor and his men were stranded on Char. Later on, Raynor made his way towards the location where the Protoss landed their ships, to ask for passage off-planet. The Protoss Executor Tassadar stepped out of a ship and apologized to Raynor for destroying his ships, claiming that they were already lost. Tassadar then mobilized his warriors and went searching for Kerrigan in order to ascertain her strength.

When Tassadar found Kerrigan, they each introduced themselves, and traded off threats. Tassadar then did something unexpected: he fled, sending Kerrigan on a chase across the barren dunes of Char. Raynor returned to his base and was assaulted by more dreams of Kerrigan showing Raynor how their lives could have been different if she wasn’t infested. After watching the Protoss fend off another Zerg attack, Raynor saw new Protoss ships land. These ships however, were Dark Templar ships. He saw their leader, Zeratul, emerge and lead his brethren down into the caverns.

Raynor followed close-by until he got to the cavern that housed the Cerebrate Zasz. Zeratul introduced himself to Zasz, and obtained permission to come close to the Cerebrate. Zeratul then jammed his Warp Blade into the Cerebrate, and Raynor watched as the Garm Brood rampaged across the caverns. Raynor then ran back to base where he was subjected to another dream stemming from Kerrigan's psionic link to him. In this dream Daggoth, the Overmind’s right hand, explained to Kerrigan the death of Zasz. Daggoth ordered the nameless Cerebrate to exterminate the Garm Brood. Kerrigan however, refused because of her penchant for hunting Protoss, and the Tiamat Brood ended up having to perform the extermination. Kerrigan also ordered Daggoth to destroy the Protoss’ craft so that the Protoss could not escape.

After waking up from his dream, Raynor went to track the Protoss again. He saw a fight between Tassadar and Kerrigan, where Kerrigan got the best of the Executor. While Tassadar was trapped in Kerrigan’s blades, Raynor shot at the nearest Overlord which ran into a Scourge, creating a powerful plasma explosion that freed the Executor. Kerrigan continued chasing Tassadar until she ran into Zeratul. Zeratul fared better than Tassadar, but was unable to beat Kerrigan in combat and ended up escaping Kerrigan’s grasp using shadows.

After a day of chasing around Protoss, Raynor returned to base to recuperate. He set out the next day to find the Protoss again. This time, he saw Tassadar marshaling his troops not to fight Zerg, but other Protoss - the Dark Templar that had landed on Char. Though Zeratul came in peace, Tassadar was far too fearful and disgusted of Zeratul and attacked him. The two Protoss forces began sparring until the Zerg arrived. Zeratul then saved Tassadar’s life by jumping in front of him and taking the blow from a Mutalisk’s tail. Kerrigan, who was close by, told Tassadar that the extended Zerg Swarm had gone to Aiur, and that the blame was Zeratul’s to bear. Though Tassadar was enraged at this, necessity forced him to flee once again.

Both of the Protoss leaders, now seeing Raynor as an ally, decided to help Jim Raynor and his men. The subsequent days were spent running from the Zerg. Tassadar slowly overcame his prejudices against the Dark Templar, as his regard for Zeratul only increased. The Protoss and the Terrans made a great team. Day by day they became more efficient at killing Zerg, and the Protoss would also help the Terrans pack up supplies during relocation. Raynor sat with Tassadar and Zeratul learning many things about Protoss culture. Eventually, Tassadar asked Zeratul to teach him the secrets of the void, which was a big step for Tassadar personally. As a gesture of friendship, Tassadar let Jim Raynor stay to watch him learn.

Tassadar was then ready for the Shadow Walk, which included traveling in the darkness under a plateau while being attacked from the shadows by Dark Templar. Tassadar overcame Zeratul and the rest of the Dark Templar, but unfortunately the onlookers all let down their guard while being mesmerized by the Shadow Walk, and the Zerg ambushed them. However, the Protoss and the Terrans managed to evade Kerrigan’s grasp yet again using Raynor’s psionic link to Kerrigan to intercept the Cerebrate's orders.

The next two days were spent devising a plan to destroy Kerrigan and her broods. Raynor once again used the telepathic link to trick Kerrigan and her broods into bringing their full force to the bottom of a canyon. Meanwhile, Tassadar assailed the nameless Cerebrate, and destroyed it using his newly-learned void powers. The brood then went into disarray at the bottom of the canyon. The Zerg were easily killed by Raynor’s men, who were firing their Gauss Rifles from the top of the canyon as the Zealots tore the raging Zerg apart. Kerrigan however, managed to regain control of a few Zerg and went to face Tassadar and Zeratul. Once again, she got the best of both of them, until a new Protoss ship fired its weapons and freed them. The Protoss barely escaped Kerrigan’s wrath yet again.

Zeratul informed Tassadar that he and his brethren were not ready to return to Aiur, so Zeratul returned to his hidden ship, The Void Seeker, which prompted a surprised response from Raynor because Zeratul could have gotten off-planet anytime he wanted. Raynor also received a transmission from Matt Horner, who reappeared in Char's space with the Hyperion. Tassadar and Raynor went over to the newly arrived Protoss ship and saw the Judicator Aldaris and the new Executor Artanis step out from the ramp. They came there under the purpose of arresting Tassadar for consorting with the Dark Templar. Artanis however, linked with Tassadar, learned that Tassadar's intent was only pure and refused to arrest him. Aldaris was enraged at this blasphemy, but Artanis held his ground.

Tassadar then decided that the only way to defeat the Zerg was to retrieve the Dark Templar and bring them to Aiur. The story ends with Artanis, Tassadar and Raynor going off to find Zeratul and the Dark Templar.

Accuracy and Canon
The plot of StarCraft: Queen of Blades is a significant departure from the events as they were depicted in the StarCraft campaign. The events surrounding Zasz’s death are different. The final battle itself turned out differently, where the Protoss and Terrans won instead of the Zerg. The events of StarCraft: Queen of Blades do not correspond with the events of StarCraft. Some dialog is dispersed throughout the book in a different order than in the game, while other parts of dialog are taken out, and others are added.

Nonetheless, this book is fully endorsed by Blizzard and should ,for all intents and purposes, be treated as part of StarCraft canon.

Chris Metzen:

These books specifically are kind of the definitive take in my mind, which means we got a chance in Queen of Blades to show you a lot of scenes we could not show in the game. When does Raynor actually meet these guys? When does Tassadar and Zeratul actually hook up and meet? That's a huge part of the game that we never show. How does Tassadar, this Executor of the Protoss, this really talented, driven guy, get jumped into this whacked cult that his bosses hate and by the end of it become this Twilight Messiah and take down the monster alien of the galaxy. How did that all happen? We never actually touch any of it in the game. I don't even know if it occurred to me that we didn't when we published it... talk about a galaxy-sized hole..

There are a few things that this book ended up predicting correctly however.

 

  • Zeratul’s eye color
  • Artanis’s role as the new Executor
  • The character of Matt Horner
  • The "bulky" armor of Dark Templar

Metzen most likely sees this book as an opportunity to fix up the story with retcons. From that point of view, certain discrepancies should be seen as an asset, rather than a problem. For example, in StarCraft, it made no sense for Tassadar to be on a space platform during the game if he was trapped on Char. But in this novel Artanis and Aldaris rescued Tassadar on the planet’s surface instead of a space platform. Presumably there was a feedback loop between Metzen and Rosenburg as Metzen developed the StarCraft II storyline and Rosenburg authored this novel. More than likely, more things from this book will make an appearance in StarCraft II.

Conclusion
I felt that Zeratul and Tassadar, two of the most highly regarded and powerful characters in the StarCraft universe, were both given poor treatment in this novel. Tassadar was depicted as somewhat rash and inexperienced, which contrasted with his regal image from StarCraft. Both Zeratul and Tassadar each got beat by Kerrigan and were later beaten again 2 on 1; It seems as if this was done only to improve Kerrigan’s image at the cost of Zeratul's and Tassadar's. However, it is important to keep in mind that both Protoss seemingly did not wear armor or have any shields in this book; in fact Tassadar was forced to create psionic blades without the aid of bracers. Tassadar also did not use his signature Psionic Storm ability, which was perhaps his most powerful skill.

The scene where Tassadar taught Kerrigan a lesson by employing illusions was badly handled. Tassadar escaped Kerrigan's grasp using illusions, but they ended up fighting anyway. In the original game, Tassadar only used illusions because he was distracting Kerrigan so that Zeratul could destroy the Cerebrate Zasz.

It would also have been better to avoid destroying Jim Raynor's ships i.e. having all of the ships initiate an emergency warp jump instead of just the Hyperion. Raynor hijacking all the ships from the Dylarian shipyards made sense, because this would have put him in a much better position to aid the Protoss on Aiur. Whereas now he only has a few men and it's difficult to imagine him making a difference.

The book's ending seemed somewhat contrived as well, with Tassadar leaving Zeratul to return to Aiur and suddenly changing his mind in order to go find him again. StarCraft: Queen of Blades took many liberties with rearranging the events and dialog, seemingly for the purpose of facilitating the book’s writing.

With all that being said, this book was still an enjoyable read, and stands above many of the other StarCraft-licensed books. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it back down. The main attraction of this novel is that it is not about some obscure event that might/might not have happened. Rather, it is about some of the most important events in StarCraft, the events of Episode II. Also, this book has already made some correct predictions regarding StarCraft II, as mentioned earlier. Not only does Rosenburg skillfully capture the gritty feel of the StarCraft universe, but he also excels in his characterizations of Raynor and Zeratul. Anybody who calls themself a StarCraft fan should buy this book. We highly recommend it.

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WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers for the novel in question.

StarCraft: Shadow Hunters is the recently released 2nd book in the Dark Templar Trilogy that has been confirmed to tie-in to the events of StarCraft II. The book picks up immediately where the first book, Firstborn, ended, with the rogue archeologist Jake Ramsey and the mercenary Rosemary Dahl escaping from the Dominion due to the Protoss Zamara – a Protoss Preserver possessing the memories of every dead Protoss – forcing her consciousness into Jake’s mind.

Many familiar characters appear in the book, including Fenix, Raynor, Mengsk and Kerrigan. New characters return, including the Heir Apparent of the Dominion, Valerian Mengsk, the above-mentioned protagonists, and new characters are introduced. Among them is Ladranix, a Templar who fought alongside Raynor and Fenix during the evacuation of Aiur, and also returning is the malevolent Ulrezaj of Enslavers infamy, a Dark Archon composed of seven of the most powerful and deadly Dark Templar assassins ever known.

The book continues the events of book one, with Zamara relentlessly pursuing her mysterious mission by returning to Aiur to explore the caverns in which Khas and his apprentice, Temlaa, discovered the Khaydarin Crystals in thousands of years before. However, this trip is not without benefit for Jake, as his own life is in danger and can only be saved with technology found in the caverns.

Upon arriving on Aiur, they meet the Protoss survivors, led by Ladranix, and learn that other Protoss have rejected the Khala and taken refuge in the caverns, ignoring the age-old Conclave edict that the caverns are sacred and are not to be entered. This second group is in service of Ulrezaj due to his possession of the Sundrop, a powerful topical cream that is a literal drug, giving the Protoss a euphoric high with severe withdrawal symptoms when applied to the skin, although unbeknownst to all but Ulrezaj, using the Sundrop denies the user access to the Khala. Despite being able to sway dozens of Protoss to his cause using the Sundrop, Ulrezaj’s motives are still shrouded, although he is clearly using some sort of technology he has found in the caverns.

As the Protoss survivors plan a way to get Zamara into the caverns, Jake is subjected to more memories, the ones of Adun, recently appointed Executor of the Templar. When Raszagal is brought before him by the Conclave, he is ordered to kill her and all of the other Dark Templar. However, Adun finds Raszagal’s desires are not without merit, and spares the Dark Templar. However, the Conclave’s drive to exterminate the rogues escalates, and Adun is unable to hide them any longer. This leads to what could be the undoing of the species in a battle between the Conclave and the Dark Templar. Fortunately, through Adun’s intervention they are able to escape in a Xel’Naga ship. Jake experiences all of these memories through the eyes of Vetraas, Adun’s friend and comrade. The dogmatic leader of the Conclave, Kortanul, who is reminiscent of Aldaris in his blind zealousness, orchestrates the entire situation.

 

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However, during this, Valerian scrapes together a rogue fleet commanded by Devon Starke, a former Ghost under Valerian’s personal employ and one of the Terrans that experienced the idyllic joining of minds that concluded Firstborn. With the Heir Apparent’s fleet racing towards Aiur, Kerrigan also sends her minion. After attacking Dead Man’s Rock, Kerrigan retrieves and infests Rosemary’s lover Ethan Stewart, and he is reborn as a powerful Infested Terran with four arms, great strength, great intelligence, and also a deep love and loyalty to Kerrigan. However, despite his power, Kerrigan quickly squashes any hopes he may harbor of challenging her, and after a display of psionic might that Ethan lacks, he affirms his absolute loyalty to her and only her. Here for your reading pleasure in an excerpt of Ethan's rebirth.

Quote:

Kerrigan smiled. Everything about him pleased her, from the color of his skin, a browner green than her grey-green; to the shape of his body, fit and toned; to the limbs that did not challenge her own graceful bone-winged but complimented them. Beautiful...he was beautiful. She has chosen well, and had manipulated his genetic redesign masterfully. He opened his eyes, a glowing green hue, and looked down at his new form. She watched, her smile widening, as her child-consort beheld himself. He ran his fingers along his sleek, hard skin, turned his head to examine the new blades protruding from his sides, and stepped free of the cocoon.

"You-you are the one who has done this?" It was a statement, not a question.

"I am," she said, her own voice reverberating and strong and changed by her own transformation. "I am Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades. I have made you to serve me and be my companion."

 

After a successful foray into the caverns, Zamara acquires a powerful, pure shard of Khaydarin and plots to repair the damaged Warp Gate in the ruins Raynor’s base as a means to travel to Shakuras. With the reformed followers of Ulrezaj to assist them, the refugees escape to the gate, only to be met with Ethan’s Zerg, Valerian’s fleet, and eventually, Ulrezaj himself. After an epic battle between the four sides, the Protoss, Jake and Rosemary narrowly escape to Shakuras, leaving the fate of their enemies on Aiur a mystery.

Beyond the very enjoyable memories of Adun, clear groundwork for StarCraft II is set. The successful infestation of Ethan confirms what many previous novels have hinted, that if he is to be the first of many in a line of advanced Infested Terrans, then Kerrigan will indeed be a mighty force with such soldiers leading her former broods as her generals. Ulrezaj is also a villain if there ever was one, described as an Archon of pure dark energy with enough psionic power to kill a dozen Mutalisks in one psychic blast, and he effortlessly slaughters dozens of Zerg, Protoss and Terrans alike in his final attack. Both Ethan and Ulrezaj are devastated by a massive psionic storm from the combined powers of the Protoss at the end of the novel, but neither of them is confirmed dead and will likely return.

Also appealing is the return of classic characters fans know and identify with. Arcturus Mengsk returns and has changed little since StarCraft. Not even trusting his own son to not betray him, Mengsk’s brief appearance nonetheless conveys his character perfectly as ever: ruthless, intelligent and not afraid to utilize either quality to get what he wants. To this end, Valerian has his own agenda and deliberately keeps Jake’s powers secret from his father with the hopes of exploiting them for his own means. Raynor and Fenix are also shown during flashbacks of the evacuation of Aiur. But Kerrigan appears more often, and her motives are still shrouded in mystery. But at last she is given an equal in Ethan, and his thinly veiled, if obligatory, love for her clearly pleases her, as does his intelligence and loyalty.

Overall, the book is a fantastic read, and a must-have for any StarCraft fan. The book expertly weaves the events of StarCraft into the upcoming sequel and its related events as well as the universe’s history while filling in the four-year gap after the conclusion of the Brood War. The characters are enjoyable, the plot fantastic, and I eagerly await the conclusion in the upcoming third and final book, Twilight.

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WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers for the novel in question.

Firstborn is the first book in a trilogy of books titled the Dark Templar saga. The trilogy has been confirmed to take place in the same timeline as the events of StarCraft II, four years after the Brood War, and will tie-in directly to the game itself. The book’s main protagonist is Jacob Jefferson Ramsey, better known as Jake, famous, or rather infamous, for his laughable pseudo-scientific theories regarding some of the ancient ruins he has explored.

After spending several years on a backwater planet, Jake is contacted by Valerian Mengsk, secret son of Arcturus Mengsk and Heir to the throne of the Dominion. Valerian recruits Jake to go to the planet Nemeka and investigate a temple found there that is clearly neither Protoss nor Zerg. Faced with the opportunity to escape the rundown planet, Jake agrees. He and his teams are dispatched to Nemeka in the company of a mercenary squadron commanded by Rosemary “R.M.” Dahl, a beautiful and capable marine.

Once on Nemeka, Jake and his team are puzzled by a passage deeper into the temple that seems sealed. However, after many days of research, Jake finds the answer in the Golden Mean, a mathematical ratio that occurs naturally in nature and biology. Using the ratio of 1:1.6 as a code to unlock the doors of the temple, Jake enters its inner rooms and finds a Protoss corpse. The corpse awakens, however, and subsequently sends Jake into a coma.

Jake awakens to find that his mind is no longer his alone but is now shared by the consciousness of Zamara. Zamara is a Protoss Preserver, with the memories of all deceased Protoss inside her mind. After narrowly surviving to pass her power to another, Zamara is reluctant to give the gift to Jake, but has no choice. Unfortunately, it's revealed that Rosemary has been secretly working for Valerian and so she arrests Jake and his team, only for the two of them to be both captured by a second mercenary group. While in custody, Zamara uses her powers to undo the mental conditioning of a marine that was once a cannibal, and he allows Jake and Rosemary to get to an escape craft before self-destructing the ship and killing everyone on board.

 

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Rosemary flies the two of them to Dead Man’s Rock, a den of lowlifes outside of Dominion control. On the journey to the area, as well as during their stay there, Jake is subjected to the memories of a Protoss named Temlaa, a friend of Savassan. Savassan and Temlaa lived during the Aeon of Strife, and Savassan believes there is more to life beyond killing fellow Protoss. After teaching Temlaa such things as map-making, writing and art, the two abandon the Shiliak Tribe to journey to where Savassan senses a mysterious power.

On Dead Man’s Rock, Jake and Rosemary find shelter with Ethan Stewart, a former comrade of Rosemary’s and an on-going lover as well. Unbeknownst to Rosemary, Ethan is funded by Valerian and has agreed to hand Jake over to him. After agreeing to accept Zamara’s full power, Jake is subjected to a final memory of Temlaa. He and Savassan find an underground cavern of passages and caves in ratios of 1:1.6, and in the depths of the caverns find a massive shard of Khaydarin Crystal. Touching the crystal gives Savassan access to a far more profound mental connection to the Protoss than mere telepathy, allowing him to sense emotions and sensations instead of just thoughts. The two use these crystals to share this connection with others, and Jake realizes that Savassan is the mystic Khas who unified the Protoss people eons ago. Here is a sample of Khas' species-changing discovery.

He stared at Savassan. The older protoss' body was reversing the damage that had been done to it, and Savassan was now enveloped in soft blue light. Jake desperately tried to figure out what was going on. The best guess he could make was that whereas before the crystal was draining energy from Savassan, it was now starting to pour energy into him.

He felt Savassan's thoughts brush his own and trembled from the joy he felt there.

"Yes," sent Savassan, "yes, it is nourishing me like the sun...sharing things with me...Oh, Temlaa, Temlaa, so beautiful, so healing...I understand now. I understand!"

 

With the full force of a Protoss’ psionic power, Jake senses Ethan’s impending betrayal, and he and Rosemary narrowly capture him and plan to escape. After a battle between Stewart’s servant and bodyguard, Randall, and a psychically enhanced Zamara in Jake’s body, Rosemary shoots Ethan in the chest and flees into an escape craft. Pursued by several enemy fighters, Jake is forced to share the same revelation Savassan had from the Khaydarin Crystals. After a brief but very memorable psychic connection among the craft’s occupants, Jake and Rosemary enter warp space and escape.

The book introduces a large cast of new characters. Jake is a likable and very human protagonist, and his humanity stands in stark contrast to Zamara’s cool Protoss demeanor. Rosemary’s sex appeal is slightly exaggerated, but after a time becomes a welcome relief from the seriousness of the memories of Temlaa. Valerian Mengsk, despite his father’s attitude and actions, is a relatively likable young man with a greater sense of honor than Arcturus, although it’s clear he’s willing to compromise this honor for the right cause. The father/son dynamic is well demonstrated even in their brief scene together and the differences between them are made unmistakable.

Overall, the book is an excellent start to the trilogy, gripping the reader with one of the most significant events in StarCraft history while introducing and developing new characters. It’s very enjoyable and I highly advise any StarCraft fan to give it a look.

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