Saturday, July 26, 2014

Starcraft: Twilight, the Dark Templar Saga and Trilogy Summary

It's official.

I no longer care anymore.

Hey y'all.  So you may have noticed that I didn't put "nitpickery" in the title of this blog.  It's because this isn't a nitpickery.  I don't care enough to go into that level of detail anymore.  This book ruins whatever interest I might have had in commenting on this series.

Why?  Because it's boring.

Book summary real quick: Because Jake spent too long trying to see if Ulrezaj died when the Tal'darim and Shel'na Kryhas used Adun's trick on him (see: Shadow Hunters), he doesn't get to go with the others to Shakuras when he gets through the warp gate.  Rosemary and a bunch of Tal'darim make it to Shakuras, while Jake and the 'Toss in his brain get trapped on a random ice world -- the Protoss on Shakuras are worried that if they leave the gate to Aiur open, Zerg'll come through.  Rosemary then spends several pages trying to convince the Protoss around her to go back and save Jake.

Jake and Zamara use the warp gate to track down Zeratul, who is living on a secret DT world.  They nag him for help, but since Zeratul is too busy pouting, it takes several obnoxious pages of trying to convince emo Zeratul to try.  He brings them to a "library" of Dark Templar crystals where their own history is stored, because they don't have preservers.  Zeratul then runs off to investigate a mystery Jake mentioned slightly in the first book, which turns out to be another cuccooned Xel'Nagan creature.  This is never followed up on.

So as Jake finally is in the process to get Zamara ripped out of his brain, the Zerg show up, then Ulrezaj shows up, and then Valerian shows up.  A boring battle commences.  Zamara ultimately zaps Ulrezaj into the crystal she now lives in.  Jake and Rosemary go off with Valerian.  Val Val was forced to tell his pappy everything that was going on so that he could get the forces necessary to go storm the Protoss library, and now he has to turn Jake in to Papa Mengsk for interrogation.  Devon Starke, a ghost who I haven't mentioned before because he's one of Val's boring lackeys, conveniently volunteers to let himself be interrogated instead, despite it meaning his death.  Jake and Rosemary live happily ever after.

I'm so done.  Thing is, I can talk all the crap in the world about the questionable lore in the previous two books, but the fact of the matter is that those books tried.  Even bad lore is more interesting than no lore/no action, because bad lore starts discussions.  This book spends almost 300 pages going over things that the readers would already know, either from playing Starcraft themselves or from reading the first two books. Characters argue on and on about all of this, while ultimately nothing is happening, and the questions readers have from the last two book never get answered.

*sigh* But it wouldn't be fitting to go over two of the books and not cap it off.  I've got to update each Saturday with something, after all.

Sure, the book didn't start off as an exercise in tedium.  The prologue is an explanation of Dark Templar memory keeping.  They use crystals to store memories, not preservers. There's no explanation for why, but hey, everyone's different.  So the DTs have students of these crystals, studying their content for historical purposes.  One student, however, has grown impatient with the more rudimentary crystals, and wants to move on to some that contain hidden knowledge that most DT don't access.  He plans to sneak at night to find these out.

It's actually a nice little prologue.  Easily the best of the trilogy.  Chapter one starts out sort of okay, also. While on the one hand it's annoying that Jake didn't make it to Shakuras, the reader is supposed to feel that way.  It's a workable way to create tension.


And the compliments end there.  When you spend over two hundred pages having people talk about things we already know, your book sucks.  Sure, stories with little action have worked, as plot is only one of the three aspects of a story, and slow action can be made up for using rich characters or a detailed world.  Well, this trilogy never had rich characters, and skimps on explaining fully its own lore.  There's nothing left.

Let me explain my statement on not explaining its own lore.  I touched on this during Firstborn and Shadow Hunters (note that the term "shadow hunter" as a reference to the Dark Templar is only used in this book, and only once, without being clarified), that certain things didn't make sense or were left unexplained.  Until I read this book, I had to hold off on asking too many of those questions, because I might find out what the answers were in this finale book.  Here's some of the stuff I wondered about:

- The nature of the Khala as pertains to government development -- who/what decides which Protoss gets to be Templar, Judicator, and Khalai, and why the Conclave exists.
- The origin of the term "Dark Templar" as a reference to the anti-Khala dissidents.
- The nature of what it means to be Dark Templar.
- What the Khala came from exactly and how it related to the Xel'Naga.
- Why is Val Val so obsessed with archaeology, to the point where he's hiring spies, sending squadrons, and manipulating black marketeers?
- Whittier's role in undermining Valerian.
- The origin of sundrop.
- Ulrezaj's plans once he kills the preservers.
- The point of the Tal'darim.

Now, I'm not looking for a history text or anything, but some of these questions really should have been touched on.  I can go without an explanation of sundrop, if they at least hint at why Val risks so much for Jake. And if this is the supposed "Dark Templar Saga," then maybe there should have been some DT characters outside of the flashbacks well before the third book.  Seriously, the only Dark Templar in this book who get any lines of significance are Zeratul and Mohander.

So does Twilight explain any of these things?  No.  On Jake's end, he gets told a little of how the warp gates work, and ultimately he and Zamara end up more or less luckily on the very planet that Zeratul happens to be on.  Also, for some reason no other Protoss survivor from Aiur makes it through the warp gate after Jake.  Was he really the last one through, or did the gate send each survivor to random locations?  I really hope someone looked for them.

So what is Zeratul doing on this planet?  He's moping.  He's very sad about everything that's happened to him (accidentally leading Zerg to Aiur, not being able to save the planet, causing Aldaris' death, doing Kerrigan's dirty work, killing Raszagal, etc), and now he wants to sit in a peaceful place and cry about it. And then when Jake and Zamara show up to ask for help, he refuses. Apparently because he's so hurt about everything.

Don't cry, emo 'Toss.  By Namingway-Regret.

There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to start.  For one thing, why was Zamara's first thought to go after Zeratul?  If all she needs is a Dark Templar who can separate her mind from Jake's, then any Protoss willing and able to bring her to such a DT is equally helpful.  Also, why is Zeratul telling his deepest, darkest secrets to a stranger (Jake) and a near stranger (Zer met Zamara when she served aboard the Gantrithor)?  Zeratul was never a very open person, not even with his own friends.  Even if he were, it's hard to believe that a casual topic of discussion would be his association with the deaths of millions of Protoss.

Moreover, what is Zeratul doing on that dumb little planet anyway?  I don't know about you, but if I discovered that my race was being mutated with the DNA of a mutant killer race, that's something I'd investigate.  Why isn't Zeratul doing something about Duran? He's always been the sort of guy to take action, not sit around and ponder all the sad times of his life.  He wouldn't do that unless he were utterly incapable of doing anything.  Besides, if all Jake is asking for is to be brought somewhere, how hard can that be?  Surely Zeratul would want to help a man who is potentially dying when the effort to do so isn't by any means difficult.  Zer has a ship.

So you know what Jake does until he finally gets Zeratul to help?  He spends half his time trying to convince Zeratul, then the other half witnessing flashbacks from Zamara.  The convincing is iffy for reasons already mentioned, and the flashbacks (as well as Zeratul talking with Zamara about the past) added absolutely zero to Protoss lore.  They went over Zamara's service aboard the Gantrithor (how convenient), and how she was there when Tassadar was told to destroy infested human worlds.

Okay.  This means we're going to hear new details, such as when Tassadar met Raynor, or when he first sensed that infested Kerrigan was on Char, right?  Nope.  All of the gaps that existed in original Starcraft were left alone.  We don't see when Tassadar changed his mind about humans, or when Tassadar met Zeratul, or when he made friends with a human, or anything.  Zamara shows Jake only things we already know -- besides a moment when she first met Zeratul, back on Char.  There's also a recap of how she ended up crashing into the temple where Jake first found her, but since Jake had already supposed how she landed and painted a message with her own blood, the information isn't really pertinent.  It's easily imagined by a reader already.  Besides Ulrezaj chasing her, I suppose.  His motives still remain unclear, though.

Even if this information was relevant to Jake -- which is an arguable point -- it's not relevant to anyone who has actually played the game.  And who else is going to pick up a Starcraft novel?  Or did Blizzard do some sort of marketing trick to get non-fans to check the series out?  Certainly it's not the best way to show information that's better told in the game itself.  Why not add to it?

You might argue that if they had added a new scene of, say, Tassadar meeting Raynor, or him learning DT philosophy with Zeratul on Char, then fans would complain that it's contrary with what they know about Tassadar.  Well, given that this whole trilogy is making up lore for the SC2 era, there's no reason why not to go ahead and add something to Tassadar's adventures.  It's not like Starcraft ever went into detail about that.

For all my ranting and raving, Zamara actually does have something new to say.  It's about the Xel'Naga, their creators.  Apparently these mofos have a strange life cycle, where despite living long, they can't procreate like normal beings.  They have to create two races (purity of form, purity of essence) which will then end up merging into the new Xel'Naga.  Things went wrong when the Zerg killed their masters (oh crap, technically their parents...) and now it's all screwed up, and things are going wrong.

A Xel'Naga.  You are one ugly bug, friend.

You might expect me to complain about this, but no, it's an interesting bit of science fiction.  Well...I think it's a silly idea for reproduction, but hey, weird species, weird habits.  The Starcraft wikia states that the Xel'Naga don't approve of killing, so it's weird that some of their creations, the Zerg and the phoenix being from Shadow of the Xel'Naga, are so deadly.  That's not mentioned in this book, so it's not a problem.

The problem is how Zamara would know this.  For one thing, it's already been established that Zamara can only hold the memories of Khalai Protoss, not Dark Templar or different species.  For another, the Protoss never heard from the Xel'Naga again.  Who told Zamara the Xel'Naga's ultimate fate?

Besides this, the story would have been way more exciting if Zamara shared this information sooner. That way, we could see other Protoss reacting to it, maybe being horrified by it or desiring to become Xel'Naga. Maybe the Protoss decide on a course of action together.  But it's mentioned once, and then never again. Also, the difference between the Xel'Naga life cycle with them present and the cycle with them gone is never fully explained.  Is the violence of the Zerg something that resulted from a mistake on their part?  An act of Amon?  Can't be, as the wikia is what mentions the Xel'Naga's uber peaceful philosophy, and Amon isn't revealed until HotS.  We're left confused as to why things are so different, and what possible solution Zamara could have to the problem.  She doesn't appear to have any, and the life cycle itself could just, y'know, be told to other Protoss.

The idea of Dark Templar keeping information on crystals is really starting to sound a lot better than the whole preserver thing.

What is Rosemary doing during all this?  She's been captured by the Protoss on Shakuras, who are understandably caught off guard by the sudden presence of a human and several Aiur survivors. They imprison these newcomers temporarily until they figure out what's going on, but not before blocking the warp gate.  Then they de-addict the Aiuran survivors, because, for whatever reason, none of the Protoss that made it to Shakuras belonged to the Shel'na Kryhas.

My first instinct was to be suspicious, as this could prove to be a sinister twist.  Maybe the Tal'darim arranged to be the only ones to reach Shakuras in the attempt to pull off some kind of scheme.  Nope. Witnessing the bodies of their comrades in the caves during the previous book was apparently enough to make a bunch of emotionally and chemically dependent guys fight for good and take their rehab without complaint (and also without interesting struggle).  One of them goes off to the temple on Shakuras to go study, because he was formerly of Shelak.  This character was not previously developed, and his part at the end of the story is minor.

Rosemary tells her story to Selendis (convenient main character meeting #3), who responds that they won't take her word for it until the Tal'darim are rehabilitated and can confirm her story.  Which means Rosemary has nothing to do but complain about it to Selendis.  When the Tal'darim make their relatively quick and smooth transformation into upstanding Protoss citizens, Rosemary is escorted into a room full of old 'Toss bureaucrats and Artanis (convenient main character meeting #4), who continually discuss with her the things that the reader already knows through reading the first and second books.

The only new information is what we get from Mohander, the only other DT of consequence besides Zeratul in the entire "Dark Templar" saga.  He brings up the Dark Templar library of crystals as a possible place where Zamara would choose to go.  After much inane deliberation, the Protoss agree to go there and look, where by complete luck they happen to arrive at the same time emo Zeratul got over himself and agreed to put actual effort into helping a dying man.

(Also note that during the meeting scene, Artanis reveals that he has never at any time looked for survivors on Aiur since its fall.  What happened to the foolhardy justicemonger we all knew and loved in BW?  Artanis is not the kind of guy that abandons his people because it's "risky.")

So on the one hand, you have three characters sitting on a planet talking mostly about stuff we already know, and then one MC with several barely relevant characters talking about stuff we already know.  How long does it take for something to actually happen?  Over two hundred pages.  That's right, Twilight is nothing but people talking to each other until page 232.  Out of 328 pages.   Yep, 232 is where Jake and Rosemary conveniently meet again, and it takes about 20 more pages of fluff for them to stand around and talk a little more (as well as a pointless Ulrezaj flashback) before they actually start to help Jake.

Finally the psionic process begins to get Zamara out of his head and into the shiny crystal they plucked from the caves of Aiur.  For a brief time, Zamara feels that she will die -- her memories will live on in the crystal, but her personality will disappear entirely once separated from Jake.  Strangely enough, this conflict is settled only a little later, and she ends up more or less fine living in it.  So why bother mentioning Zamara's potential death in the first place?

Of course, before the process can be completed, the library gets surrounded by Zerg, who want Jake for their own purposes.  In an act that would never happen ever, infested Ethan negotiates with Selendis, agreeing to leave Jake alone while the separation goes on.  This works because Ethan and Kerrigan want Zamara alive, for some reason (see: previous DT saga rant).  Then Ulrezaj and Valerian show up.  There's a fight, and Zamara traps Ulrezaj in a crystal, then fight fight fight, and I don't care enough to talk about it. Don't even get me started on the frequent 'Toss comments saying how spunky the human characters are.

Well, except there's one thing.  Ethan dies in this fight, and well, like many things in this story, he serves no real purpose.  Sure, I guess it means something that he's Rosemary's former lover, but since she hated him with unqualified hatred since he was going to turn her in to Valerian in the first book, this old relationship has no emotional impact on Rosemary's actions.  She just hates him, never missing his company or feeling sorry that he's infested.

Think about it, though.  Ever since the beginning of the second book, narration describing Valerian went out of its way to show that he means Jake and Rosemary no harm.  Ethan "betrayed" her by attempting to send them both to Valerian.  Ethan didn't hurt her or allow anyone else to hurt her, and he treated her like a royal when she visited his mansion.  This is the man that saved her from a life of drugs, and, as a lover, should have developed a deep emotional attachment in Rosemary's mind. Seriously, sex changes brain chemistry.  And for one simple act, she wants him dead?

Oh sure, a betrayal is a betrayal, but at the end of the story when Rosemary ends up in Valerian's custody anyway, she's sure to find out that Val just wanted to talk archaeology.  Just imagine it. You're face to face with a person you feared, a person you killed your love just to avoid, and this fearful somebody turns out to be just a guy who likes history, besides having saved your life twice. Rosemary has got to have lost sleep over that.

Come on, Valerian, it's time to save the day!

I really don't understand why all the talking took so long in the beginning/middle of Twilight.  The ending, when Valerian has custody of our MCs, is all that has any interest whatsoever.  How will Valerian save them?  Can he really defy his father and get away with it?  What's Mengsk's interest in Jake, especially now that Jake no longer has a Protoss in his brain?

Also, how does Valerian get off nearly declaring war on the Protoss?  He threatens them over getting Jake back, when really he could have easily said, "Hi there, Protoss, we've come to rescue some humans, be a doll and send 'em out, okay?"  Granted, Valerian's army (well, really Mengsk's army, I guess) causes more tension through a violent response, and is thus more interesting for the reader.   However, since Valerian shows up on page 289 out of 328 pages, there isn't enough time left to go over it.

It really is a missed opportunity for Val to try and develop friendly relations with the Protoss, though. Wait, wait, this planet is in Protoss territory.  How did Valerian's fleet get there without the Protoss noticing?

I guess I should talk about Devon Starke before I quit.  Devon was a guy who worked for Valerian, and he happened to be present at the end of the first book for Jake's mini-Khala.  This changed his life, apparently, and he attempted to convince Jake of Valerian's good intentions at the end of the second book.  He's really nothing more than a lackey that Valerian happened to save from death. Maybe if we learned some personal life details about Devon, or had him attempting to negotiate with the Protoss to ask where Jake was (seriously, Val didn't think to ask?), or just plain had a real personality, I might have cared about the guy when he offers up his brain for some serious interrogation for Jake's sake.

Thing is, his story sounds great on paper.  He was saved from the brink of being executed, and then discovers the philosophy of the Protoss, which tie into his telepathic power.  The failure for him lies in execution.  Golden's characters are weak (in this trilogy, anyway -- maybe she does better non-franchise work), because she is the single biggest violater of "show, don't tell" that I have ever seen. And I've read high schoolers' stories.  Every backstory she tells isn't through character dialogue, cause and effect, or even a flashback.  It's just her going "this character is a person who does such and such."  It's like those newbie writers who constantly describe what their characters are wearing, only Golden constantly describes their personality traits.

Thing is, why does Devon even substitute himself?  Forget it, I don't care.  It's really just a convenient way for Jake and Rosemary to live happily ever after.  And Devon joins the Shel'na Kryhas, Alzadar, other Tal'darim, DT "librarians," and countless men in the Terran Dominion army who sacrificed themselves purely out of absurd devotion to get Jake out of his various bad situations alive.

I dunno, what about a protagonists whose own decisions make a difference about his fate?  One who isn't told by a strange voice in his head what to do at every single moment?

I'm not going to take this out on Christie Golden.  Though it may seem like I'm hating on her, I don't have any emotions about her personally.  It's creepy to get angry at people for flawed writing.  That, and I don't blame her for the weakness of this trilogy nearly as much as I blame Blizzard.  A bit of the Starcraft wiki mentioned that Twilight was "co-authored with Blizzard" and judging from other Blizzard official novels, Blizz has trouble telling stories.  That, and a lot of my problems with this trilogy stem from the odd lore choices, and given that Starcraft is not Christie Golden's franchise, a lot of decisions about this book clearly couldn't have been her idea.

Dark Templar Saga my butt.

Alright, moving on.  Since I couldn't really judge the first two books properly without finishing the third, I'll go ahead and summarize how I feel about them now.

Firstborn:  Easily the best of the three, unfortunately.  The prologue was meaningless and the first one hundred pages were tedious, but this is the only book in the trilogy where the plot actually serves the premise.  Sure, there are no actual Dark Templar in this book, but we have Jacob Ramsey actually learning the parts of Protoss history that Starcraft players wouldn't have heard before, all while trying to escape people that would do him harm.  Granted, a lot of the Protoss flashbacks make them look like dumb apes and are hard to imagine developing into the Protoss we know from the games, but effort was made.

Shadow Hunters: The flashbacks are far less insulting, but still fail to explain what most fans would consider the most interesting part of Protoss history -- how they went from warring tribes to united castes on the one hand and dissidents on the other.  It's never explained where the caste system comes from or why the Dark Templar would go to the extreme of amputating parts of their body to resist the Khala.  As for the rest of the plot, it had some good ideas, particularly in the matter of sundrop. However, the Tal'darim went mostly unexplained, and converted too quickly into good guys. Including Kerrigan and Ulrezaj just distracts from learning more about the Protoss, especially since no Dark Templar appears outside of a flashback.

Twilight: Too much talking, not enough action, in both the flashbacks and main narrative.  It may have been a better idea to get Zamara out of Jake's head in an earlier book or earlier in this one, so that the more interesting aftermath of Jake's misadventures could have time to develop.  There is almost no substance of any kind here, which is especially disappointing when considering all the unanswered questions from the previous two books.

It's time to do my final list.

----- Ten Ways the Dark Templar Saga Could Have Been Improved -----

It would have been nice if something like this happened.

1. Do some actual research on the established characters.  Sure, Selendis gets a pass because her appearance in SC2 was brief and unremarkable (and these books may have come out first), but Zeratul, Kerrigan, Raszagal, Artanis, and Arcturus have set personalities, with distinguishing characteristics that easily set them apart.  They are not emotional, petty, rebellious, more political than heroic, or flat, respectively.

Golden also gets a pass on Valerian, because his characterization in SC2 is pretty confusing anyway. If you think about it, Val's character has the same progression in WoL and HotS that he does in Firstborn and Shadow Hunters.  In the first of both trilogies, Val is an earnest but somewhat shadowy figure who could go either way as far as good and bad goes.  In the second of each, the writers are extremely eager to portray him as a definite good guy.  Huh.

2. Distance the Mengsk family from the plot.  Because his motivations are never fully fleshed out, Arcturus has little relevance to the plot at all.  Sure, maybe an appearance here or there could give some flavor, but this is Valerian's story.  Pappy needs to let the princess be a big boy.  Valerian himself shouldn't be so obvious. Not knowing everything about who he is or why he's behaving the way he is makes him a more mysterious, interesting character, and makes the MCs' escape from him all the more tense.  Alternatively, Valerian could stay in the story, but his servant Whittier should do more as Arcturus' hands in Valerian's life, thus making Valerian's subplot about shaking off his father's control, and giving Devon Starke more to do.

Or Valerian could just be an evil mofo, but I doubt that's the direction Blizzard wanted.

3. Solidify the original characters.  Jake is boring.  Zamara is boring, and also too powerful (seriously, she can un-drunkify Jake?).  Rosemary might as well be called Rosemary Sue.  Set limits on these characters, both in terms of mental/physical powers, and also in terms of patience.  They should bicker more with each other, like real people would if they were a cranky scientist with a 'Toss in his brain, a disembodied historian, and a former druggie turned mercenary.  Normal people freak out when aliens get sucked into their mind or are forced to leave their traitorous lover.   For her part, Zamara goes from letting innocent humans being horribly murdered to being BFFs with Jake, all with no perceivable change.  She needs to not be so soft if she's willing to murder for the sake of her mission.

4. Put Dark Templar characters in the story.  Not just in flashbacks, but taking action and meeting with Rosemary and Jake to do stuff.  This is the Dark Templar Saga, after all.

5. Let the Tal'darim be true antagonists.  They do very little that's evil in the second book, beyond forcing an addiction on Rosemary.  Their turnaround is too quick, and also too complete.  No group of people reacts exactly alike to the same stimuli, so if some choose good, then others need to be reluctant or remain with Xa'vator out of choice.  Alternatively, the Tal'darim can be written out completely, and the Khala vs. DT conflict can reign the day.  Just give us some dang antagonists that aren't Judicator so stupid that the Templar are even more stupid for listening to them.

6. Remove Ulrezaj from the plot.  Sure, he's an all powerful, scary archon, but he has no storytelling purpose, besides being a threat during the ending battle scenes in the second and third books.  His motives are unclear, he doesn't change the actions of the main characters, and he doesn't get to do anything worthy of the legacy his fans have for him.  That Enslavers campaign was pretty popular. It's not fair to Ulrezaj's fans if his appearance is short, boring, and leads only to his death.

7.  Remove Kerrigan from the plot.  She serves even less purpose than Ulrezaj.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, she has no reason to be interested in Jake and Zamara over any regular Khalai Protoss. Sure, there was that whole prophecy/Xel'Naga cycle thing, but since the reader doesn't know and can't guess how much Kerrigan knows about the Xel'Naga cycle, the reader can't reap any storytelling benefits from Kerrigan being there.  It's just an excuse to throw Zerg at the good guys.

8. Make it clear why everyone's after Zamara.  Because it's only explained very late in the third book why Zamara's knowledge matters, the reader doesn't understand why all these other characters want her so bad. Zamara needs to not only know about the Xel'Naga cycle, but also how to prevent it from messing up the K Sector.

Also, how would this knowledge change the activities of the people after her?  How would Valerian react to knowing this?  Does Ulrezaj have any clue what the Xel'Naga cycle is?  Will it help Kerrigan to know about the Xel'Naga?  Will she defend the Zerg or seek to become one of them, hoping to gain more power?

Well, I already suggested that Ulrezaj and Kerrigan be cut out, so the cycle would have to take on a different angle, in that case.  Basically, the cycle should be known earlier on, and the DT and Khalai 'Toss will have to decide how they feel about it, and what they're going to do about it.  Maybe the Khala itself could lead to an early stage of that cycle.

Whatever direction the Xel'Naga cycle could go, it should have gone in a direction where it's interesting, important to the plot, and creates natural reactions in the characters who hear about it.

9. There just plain needs to be more tension.  The arguing, inescapable situations, antagonists, and uncooperative characters all need to be upped.  It's been said that a story is the series of horrible things that happens to a character on his way to his goal.  You may or may not agree with that, but the point is, bickering between characters is generally far more interesting than the MCs always encountering those who have their best interests in mind.

Far too often the characters willingly aid and even die for Jake and Rosemary.   Valerian, Devon Starke, Marcus Wright, the Shel'na Kryhas, most of the Tal'darim (after their super-quick conversion), and Selendis all come to the aid of our human main characters without one qualm, doubt, bias, squeamishness, or other realistic reaction.  None of them are freaked out at a 'Toss in someone's head, or question Zamara's importance and their willingness to preserve that importance.

Conflict is a spice.  Spice it up!

10.  Don't write the books at all.

I'm serious.  One of the things about Starcraft and Brood War's plots is that they had natural gaps. Because a game is not a book, no part of a story can be told if it's not part of the gameplay.  For example, it's canon that Tassadar, Raynor, and Kerrigan interacted somehow during the first Terran missions, but that was never shown in the game itself.  Thus, the meeting becomes left to everyone's imagination, and all the better for staying there.  Fans love filling in the gaps for themselves with their own lore, and it endears them to the franchise.

You know which of the Starcraft official novels is my favorite?  Starcraft Ghost: Nova.  Sure, when you compare it to any novel published by those who aren't Blizzard, it's pure crap.  The narration is awful, some of the characters are wasted, and the formatting used to describe Nova's mental abilities can be off-putting. But there's a story.  Imagine if you were a publisher, and someone came to you with a story of a girl with wonderful powers who is left all alone, and then forced to use her powers for evil.  That's a great premise.

While SCG: Nova doesn't deliver well on that premise, I actually felt something while reading it, and Nova is a person that the reader can actually side with.  Plus, the entire book has nothing to do with Starcraft's main lore.  It's just a bit of fun fluff, a personal story with no consequences.  There's not even any consequences for Nova herself, as her memory of those events is gone.  A person can enjoy the games of Starcraft without reading the book at all.

So what I'm saying is, a trite piece of emotional fluff about a minor character in the Starcraft realm is far more fascinating than a half-hearted attempt at explaining things that were better left to the imagination.

Like I said, I'm done.  I'm not going to review any more Starcraft novels for a while.  We did get Devil's Due at work, but I have no interest in that.  It's time to move on to new and better things, and maybe talk about something that isn't Starcraft on my blog for once.

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