Blizzplanet Review: Diablo III: Book of Cain

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Gallery

Diablo III: Book of Cain is the official Diablo universe lore source book written by Flint Dille (The Transformers) with the collaborative assistance of Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson and Matt Burns from the Blizzard Entertainment Creative Team.

Blizzplanet got a copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain, courtesy of Insight Editions and its publicity manager, Carlie Demelo. Special thanks to her for the giveaway copies for our visitors.

I'll begin the review of Diablo III: Book of Cain. Take a seat, and buckle up.

Materials

Insight Editions took very special care of the publishing process, production and appearance aspect of Diablo III: Book of Cain.

When you hold this book on your hand, you will notice the excellent care to details over its materials. The cover has the Diablo skull and all the stylish ornamental embroidery. All the outer-edge of the skull and the ornamental images are embossed. Embossing is made by letterpress machines which raise the level of the image using pressure and heat. The eyes and mouth are debossed causing a recession or hole appearance. You can feel the lines and holes with your fingers making the Diablo skull design sort of 3D, both visually and tactile. The cover treatment is a matte finish with both embossing and debossing.

The red rectangle with the Diablo III: Book of Cain logo is actually not part of the cover itself. It's a separate removable paper, or belly band, wrapped around the cover flaps. The belly band is loose on the front cover, but it's firmly held on the back cover.

What's holding the belly band tight there? An envelope glued on the interior of the back cover, with a sticker in the shape of a candle seal. The candle seal resembles the image shown in page 145, which I'm guessing is the symbol of the Great Families of Xiansai (I might be wrong).

"What's in this envelope?" -- you ask. Within the envelope is a folded poster of the Sanctuary Map. The map itself is a die cut with irregular edges along its border -- obviously a real-life old scroll replica.

When you see the side of the book where all the pages are, and pass your finger through its thickness, you will feel a sandy texture on your fingertips. It looks like rugged cardboard to give it a old paper feel of ancient scrolls.

Taking a single page between my fingers, I could see what gave that texture. The edge of each single page has been cut in irregular shapes giving it a feathered appearance. If you slide your finger along the edge of the page you won't feel the straight line cut of normal pages, it's a rugged surface. I'm told this is known as deckled edges.

Each page has a yellow-orange 2D texture to resemble papyrus or ancient scroll paper.

Insight Editions wanted this book to delicately resemble a real world replica of the in-game Book of Cain item. I'm completely astonished with the material and printing processes of Diablo III: Book of Cain. This is a book leaking design excellence, as you would always expect from a Blizzard licensed product.

Quick Look Inside

Usually, books have a page with the name of the publisher, the writer and all the credits, the publishing year and copyright notices, and even a introduction message or dedicatory. Blizzard licensed books, in specific, usually have a glossary and/or reference list telling you all the books where determined topics originate from in continuity in the last pages.

Insight Edition went in a different direction.

The first page says: "Take heed, and bear witness to the truths that lie within. For they are the last legacy of the Horadrim."

There's no credit page, or copyright notices nor a content list in the initial pages.

You will see the title ... Diablo III: Book of Cain in the initial pages; where the only thing written is: "text by Flint Dille" and "Insight Editions".

After that page comes the letter addressed to Leah by Deckard Cain which she is meant to read after his death. This is the page Insight Editions recently shared in public during the 12 Days of Diablo III: Book of Cain. That was only page one of three. The letter offers more details.

At the end of the book you will see another letter to Leah. Finally, the last page contains the copyright notices and credits.

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Review

Reading through the Diablo III: Book of Cain, fans can find an extensive chronological history of Sanctuary starting with the origin of the universe (The Dawn: Anu and the Dragon), and the Eternal Conflict. The stories are written from the point of view of Deckard Cain, and each story begins with the source of the story.

For example, the Eternal Conflict is from one of the scrolls of the Church of Zakarum. However, Deckard Cain says the validity of the story is questionable because the event happened milennia prior to the Church of Zakarum's foundation.

Other stories are known by fans of Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction: The Sin War, The Dark Exile, The Hunting for the Three and others. However, if this is what might make you not wish to buy the book, I have to inform these have been remastered to fit in the new lore from Diablo: The Sin War and Diablo III stories and NPCs (i.e. Zoltun Kulle).

For example, the Eternal Conflict mentions the Worldstone, better known as the Eye of Anu, was controlled by the High Heavens and by the Burning Hells on and off over eons. Certain amount of years, one side controlled it. Another length of time, the other side controlled it.

This is how one of the more current lore enigmas in Diablo: The Sin War by Richard A. Knaak is finally revealed in the remastered version of The Eternal Conflict: In Diablo: The Sin War trilogy, Trang'Oul was about to teleport into Sanctuary to stop the carnage between Inarius, Uldyssian, the Angiris Council and the Demonic legions when suddenly he was halted by a group of guardians who identified themselves as the guardians of other worlds, same as Trang'Oul guards Sanctuary. These guardians told Trang'Oul the fate of Sanctuary would seal the fate of those other worlds, and it rested upon the edyrem's hands. The enigma ever since that book came out in 2007 is ... what are these other worlds from? The answer is finally resolved. These other worlds were created during the Eternal Conflict, before Sanctuary was created. A sign of what Blizzard Entertainment's plans are for Diablo III expansions? Maybe. There are more evil to deal with after the Prime Evils and the Lesser Evils are forever vanquished -- it seems.

When the High Heavens controlled the Worldstone in the Pandemonium Fortress, they used it to create worlds based on their beliefs. When the Burning Hells controlled the Worldstone, they also created worlds that spawned destruction, hatred and terror.

The book offers details about each of the Prime Evils, Lesser Evils and each Archangel of the Angiris Council as well as locations within the High Heavens and the Burning Hells that will most likely appear in Diablo III and/or its future expansions.

Another section tells new lore about the Rise of the Nephalem mentioning Bul-Kathos, Vasily, Enu, Rathma and which groups are descendants -- such as the Barbarians descending from Bul-Kathos, the druids, the mages of Kehjistan and the necromancers. Deckard Cain even hints about thousands of other Nephalem with unknown powers no one might know of.

Inarius and Lilith (from Diablo: The Sin War) are mentioned very often throughout Diablo III: Book of Cain. Diablo III: Book of Cain is partially Diablo: The Sin War 2.0 summarizing some of the events from that trilogy, and merging and updating previous lore with the new lore in a more coherent story.

The original lore of the Mage Clan Wars was to our taste very vague. Diablo III: Book of Cain explores more that era. Blizzard Entertainment also mentions briefly Zoltun Kulle and the true nature of the Black Soulstone.

The Rise of Zakarum section talks about Akarat, whose name you hear often in Diablo III Act 1 from NPC dialogues. It is hinted Uldyssian might be contacted under a certain level of meditation, and that Akarat -- who inspired men to found the Church of Zakarum -- talked with Uldyssian during his trip to Xiansai. Interesting.

A truth about Archbishop Lazarus is revealed (where he came from). Those who play Diablo III Beta might remember some of the lore books found throughout the game mention how Archbishop Lazarus was who convinced Leoric to travel west to found his kingdom there -- which puts Lazarus on the spotlight as a pivotal figure for the events that transpired during the Darkening of Tristram. There is more than meet the eye here.

The Dark Wanderer is always referred to as Aidan throughout the book. Another enigma that always bugged me was why Andariel and Duriel were in Diablo II if the Lesser Evils were who exiled the Prime Evils in the first place. Apparently, Andariel and Duriel were fed up of Belial and Azmodan and sided with the Prime Evils.

I found something peculiar in the retelling of the events of Diablo II from the point of view of Deckard Cain. When players kill Mephisto, what the canon lore says happened is that the five heroes were who defeated Mephisto and imprisoned him once more within the sapphire soulstone and set to destroy it at the Hellforge. The heroes are also referenced to have defeated Diablo. When Diablo's essence was captured back into the ruby soulstone, the husk of his corpse reverted back to that of ... Prince Aidan.

It might be my memory, but I don't remember going back to the Hellforge to destroy Diablo's soulstone after defeating him in Diablo II. The new canon lore says the heroes went back to the Hellforge to destroy it.

One of the many things I like in this book is that Marius continues to be part of canon lore. Deckard Cain was able to document Marius story through writings he found on the sanitarium. It is here that Blizzard reveals how the Worldstone was corrupted by Baal. The answer lies within the Amber soulstone shard that served as Baal's prison for milennia.

The events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction are also documented by Deckard Cain, explaining what exactly happened with bits of theories of his own. The sword of Tyrael is finally named: El'druin. Book of Cain also mentions Jacob and the Sword of Justice (from DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice # 1-5 by Aaron Williams & Joseph Lacroix).

The Sanctuary: Lands and Cultures section talks about the lands of Diablo III classes, and some known locations from Diablo II, giving the reader a background lore on the new classes. Quite interesting. The new lore says the Valley of the Ancient Kings is originally the burial ground for the patriarchs of the Monk class, the civilization of Ivgorod.

Conclusions

As the owner and editor of a Blizzard Entertainment registered fansite, it's my job to post breaking news, previews and to review Blizzard licensed products since 2002 to inform fans of the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo video games.

I think I was the first site to report Diablo III: Book of Cain was in development -- I check nigh everyday for any new products and new info, and have kept in contact countless of times with the Insight Editions marketing manager and publicist. I can tell you Insight Editions is always helpful providing the latest updates and responding via email within a few minutes. That passion is difficult to find nowadays. I just emailed the publicist the link to this review and within a few minutes she sent me new images approved by Blizzard Entertainment, just hot off the oven. Ain't Insight Edition's staff the best?

I got a copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain to review. It was everything I was expecting, and more. I have witnessed online the Diablo III: Book of Cain panel held during the 2011 San Diego Comic Con, and the Diablo III Lore Panel held at BlizzCon 2011 discussing the contents of this book. Note: Those two links ain't for show. Those are the actual transcripts I wrote of both panels along with photos.

I have read the Diablo: The Sin War back in 2007. With all this cornucopia of information, I engaged into reading Diablo III: Book of Cain. The experience was mind-blowing even for someone who obsessively already knew enough info. For those who haven't experienced the Diablo: The Sin War trilogy, the BlizzCon 2011 panel, and the SDCC panel -- this Book of Cain will be all-new to you.

This is the official Diablo universe lore source book. All the old lore, and the new lore, and the retcons are all merged together to create a single cohesive history of Sanctuary since its genesis up to the destruction of the Worldstone at the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2002, videogame expansion). There's even a brief mention of Jacob, the main character of the DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice 5-issue mini-series.

You won't see Diablo 3 spoilers, but the information will help you assimilate and understand all the elements spinning around the Diablo III in-game story.

After reading Diablo III: Book of Cain, I realize it's very important for our readers to check out our BlizzCon 2011 Diablo III Panel Transcript.

In that panel, Chris Metzen, Leonard Boyarski (Senior Game Designer) and Kevin Martens (Lead Content Designer) summarized the key topics of Diablo III: Book of Cain. I added their slideshow images. On next pages you will see the content list of Diablo III: Book of Cain, the press letter that came with the review copy, and the credits page.

Don't forget to read our recent Diablo III: Book of Cain interview with Micky Neilson (Blizzard Publishing Lead).

If you are among the thousands of fortunate Diablo fans to own a copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain, and you wish to shout and reach out Insight Editions for this awesome product visit their website, sign in, and post a review comment of your own.

Buy these Diablo books to expand your lore and prepare for what you will find in Diablo III:

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Insight Editions Press Letter

The review copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain, provided to Blizzplanet, came with a press letter providing further information about the book. I'd like to share the contents of this letter with our visitors:

Diablo III: Book of Cain

New illustrated book explores the lore of Sanctuary and the war between angels and demons in Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo® Series.

Available:

December 13, 2011 - US / Canada February 7, 2012 - International

Blizzard Entertainment and Insight Editions announce the December 13, 2011 launch of Diablo III®: Book of Cain, a lavishly illustrated tome that chronicles the origins and history of the demon-plagued world of Sanctuary as told by the scholar Deckard Cain, one of the key characters in Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo universe. Filled with breathtaking art commissioned exclusively for the book by some of the world's most renowned fantasy artists, Book of Cain serves as Diablo player's ultimate guide to the dark mythology and sinister mysteries surrounding Sanctuary and the Eternal Conflict.

Designed to look like an in-world artifact from the Diablo universe, Book of Cain conveys the games' rich lore through an exciting first-person account. The story begins as Cain leaves his journal to his adopted daughter, Leah, passing along the tale of Sanctuary's creation and the eternal war that rages between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. Book of Cain chronicles the rise of the Zakarum, the traditions of the Horadrim, the genesis and geography of Sanctuary, and the key moments in the world's history -- such as the destruction of Tristram -- that set the stage for the events of Blizzard's upcoming action-RPG Diablo III. Containing dozens of sketches, Cain's footnotes, and a hand-drawn map of Sanctuary, this comprehensive tome promises to give readers a deeper understanding of the mysterious Diablo universe.

"We're super geeked up about Book of Cain. What's really cool is that after fifteen years of developing the Diablo franchise, we can finally share the definitive look at this world and its rich history with our players." -- Chris Metzen, Senior Vice-President, Story & Franchise Development, Blizzard Entertainment.

Back Jacket Copy:

Since the dawn of time, the Eternal Conflict has raged between the High Heavens, and the Burning Hells. If the Prophecy of the End Days holds true, mankind will soon find itself trapped in the middle of this never-ending war.

Here renowned scholar Deckard Cain has combined excerpts, illustrations, and firsthand knowledge to pen a history of the world of Sanctuary. His writings depict the insidious Prime Evils (Diablo, Mephisto, and Baal), shed light on Tyrael and the other archangels of the Angiris Council, and illuminate humanity's hope and enduring heroism in the face of overwhelming terror. Revealed also are the untold mysteries, from the origins of mortals and the secrets of the nephalem to the gathering darkness of the End of Days. So take heed, dear reader, and bear witness to the truths that lie within.

International Publication:

On February 7, 2012 Diablo III: Book of Cain will be published and available in multiple languages and international markets including:

  • French, Panini France

  • German, Panini Germany

  • Italian, Panini Italy

  • Korean, Jeu Media

  • Spanish, Panini Spain

For more information on foreign language publications or international press inquiries, please contact:

Charles Gerli, Rights & Marketing Manager -- c.gerli@insighteditions.com (415) 526-1386

Artists Providing Exclusive Art for the Book of Cain Include:
  • Brom

  • Mark Gibbons

  • Jim Gurney

  • John Howe

  • Alan Lee

  • Iain McCaig

  • Jean-Baptiste Monge

  • Adrian Smith

About Insight Editions

Insight Editions is an award-winning independent illustrated book publisher focused on creating superlative books about pop culture, photography, art, and music. Insight books combine the highest production values with rich subject matter. Elegant, informative, and visually stunning, Inisght's titles are exquisite examples of the bookmaker's craft.

About Blizzard Entertainment

Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft, and the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry's most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment's track record includes thirteen #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company's online-gaming service, Battle.net, is one of hte largest in the world, with millions of active players.

Diablo III: Book of Cain Hardcover, 7.25" x 10" 148 pages, $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60887-063-0 Available wherever books are sold: December 13, 2011 Press Contact: Carlie Demelo / c.demelo@insighteditions.com / (415)526-1382

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

Content List

Not many reviews will tell you exactly what Diablo III: Book of Cain has to offer, and the book itself has no content list. I find this info is usually what makes an undecided fan to decide to make the next step -- to actually own and make reality what his/her heart desires. I'll post below what the content is.

The Dawn: Anu and the Dragon -- page 9 The Eternal Conflict -- page 13

The Burning Hells
  • Realms of Evil -- page 19

  • The Prime Evils -- page 21

    • Diablo, the Lord of Terror -- page 23

    • Baal, the Lord of Destruction -- page 25

    • Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred -- page 26

  • The Lesser Evils -- page 29

    • Duriel, The Lord of Pain -- page 31

    • Andariel, The Maiden of Anguish -- page 32

    • Azmodan, The Lord of Sin -- page 35

    • Belial, The Lord of Lies -- page 37

    • Conclusions -- page 39

    The High Heavens
    • The Angiris Council -- page 41

      • Imperius, Archangel of Valor -- page 42

      • Tyrael, Archangel of Justice -- page 45

      • Auriel, Archangel of Hope -- page 47

      • Itherael, Archangel of Fate -- page 48

      • Malthael, Archangel of Wisdom -- page 50

    • Monuments of Wonder

      • The Silver City -- page 53

      • The Crystal Arch -- page 54

      • The Diamond Gates -- page 56

    Sanctuary, the Mortal Realm
    • Inarius and the Worldstone -- page 59

    • The Creation of Sanctuary -- page 61

    • Rise of the Nephalem -- page 62

    • The Purge -- page 67

    Ancient History
    • The Birth of Civilization -- page 69

    • Sanctuary Revealed -- page 71

    • The Sin War -- page 76

    • The Mage Clan Wars -- page 82

    • The Dark Exile -- page 86

    • The Hunt for the Three -- page 88

    • The Hunt for Zoltun Kulle -- page 94

    • The Rise of Zakarum -- page 95

    Modern History
    • The Darkening of Tristram -- page 101

    • The Dark Wanderer -- page 111

    • The Lord of Destruction -- page 125

    Sanctuary: Lands and Cultures
    • The Deserts of Aranoch -- page 131

    • The Dreadlands -- page 132

    • Entsteig -- page 134

    • Ivgorod -- page 137

    • Kehjistan -- page 138

    • Khanduras -- page 140

    • Scosglen -- page 140

    • The Skovos Isles -- page 141

    • The Torajan Jungles -- page 142

    • Westmarch -- page 144

    • Xiansai -- page 144

    Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

    Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

    Credits

    Blizzard Entertainment

    Text by Flint Dille

    Additional Writings: Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson and Matt Burns.

    Art Direction: Glenn Rane, Doug Gregory, Jeremy Cranford

    Additional art: Trent Kaniuga, John Polidora

    Production: Joshua Horst, Kyle Williams, Skye Chandler

    Editing: Cate Gary

    Lore: Evelyn Fredericksen, Sean Copeland, Justin Parker

    Licensing: Matthew Beecher, Jerry Chu, George Hsich

    Insight Editions

    Publisher: Raoul Goff

    Design: Jason Babler, Chrissy Kwasnik, Justin Allen

    Editing: Jake Gerli, Jan Hughes, Mark Nichol

    Production: Anna Wan, Jane Chinn, Binh Matthews

    Art Credits

    Brom -- pages 34, 44, 107, 109, 133, 135, 136, 139, 143

    Mark Gibbons -- pages 8, 18, 20 (top), 31, 23, 26, 29 (top), 31, 32, 35, 37 (middle), 39, 40, 42, 45, 47, 54, 61, 62 (right), 63 (left), 68, 83, 97, 100, 130, 132, 134, 137, 138, 142

    James Gurney -- pages 17, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 60, 70, 71 (bottom), 88

    John Howe -- page 2

    Joseph Lacroix -- pages 127, 128

    Alan Lee -- page 4

    Victor Lee -- page 140, 145

    Christian Lichtner -- Cover

    Iain McCaig -- pages 27, 58, 62 (left), 76, 89, 98-99, 110

    Petar Meseldzija -- pages 93, 102, 117

    Jean-Bapstiste Monge -- pages 10, 12, 24, 28, 33, 36, 38, 46, 49, 64-65, 73, 74, 78, 90, 91, 104, 105, 113, 114, 120, 122-123, 129

    Adrian Smith -- pages 14, 22, 30, 43, 50, 63 (right), 66, 80, 115, 118, 119

    Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

    Few minutes after I finished this review, Insight Editions sent me new preview scans of Diablo III: Book of Cain, fresh-from-the-oven, approved by Blizzard Entertainment to be public. Enjoy!

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    Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery