If you've been dismayed by the delay of the Book of Adria: A Diablo Bestiary, fear not! We've got you covered. I recently received a review copy courtesy of Blizzard, and suffice to say, if you enjoyed previous Diablo source books like the Book of Tyrael or the Book of Cain, you'll love this one. Read on for the full review.
The Book of Adria is written as an in-universe guide and collection of records helping to detail the denizens of the world of Sanctuary, the High Heavens, the Burning Hells, and beyond. The book spans a wide time frame, with it being started by Adria before the events of Diablo I during her time in the Coven, with later entries and footnotes being added during the events leading up to the Reaper of Souls. Adria's original intent for the book was to be a record of knowledge that the members of the Coven could use to further the goals of the Burning Hells and throughout it she constantly reinforces the mantra that knowledge is power, and power is the key to victory in the Eternal Conflict. Every page is dripping with details; tips for organs to use during summoning rituals, how to best harvest the stomach acid of a dune thresher, or which season is best for harvesting poisons of local fauna. Adria also added notes to her older entries with knowledge she gained after leaving the Coven and becoming a direct agent for the Lord of Terror, Diablo himself.
Materials and Construction
Like the other books in the series, no expense was spared in the construction of the Book of Adria. From the embossed cover to the heavy, high quality stock used for each page, the book is amazing from beginning to end. The book is a more coherent collection of thoughts than the Book of Cain before it and, fittingly, lacks its predecessors roughened edges. Adria also forgoes the gilded filigree that adorned the Book of Tyrael. This book serves a simple purpose; it's a collection of knowledge. A collection of power. Despite this (very fitting) pragmatic approach to the design of the book, the quality of the construction and printing of the book lives up to standards set by the Book of Cain and Book of Tyrael and will fit right along these previous entries.
Art Design and Production
Almost every single page in the Book of Adria is adorned with magnificent drawings, rough sketches, scribbled notes, or diagrams for magical formula to summon forth the Lords of the Burning Hells. The book is designed as an ever growing catalog of the creatures Adria has encountered during her travels roaming Sanctuary and notes on how to use, or avoid, all of them. Continuing in a theme set by the Book of Tyrael, this book is more cohesive than the Book of Cain and is divided into logical categories, such as the nature of the Coven itself, the undead, the native creatures of Sanctuary and of the realms beyond, her limited knowledge of the angels, and a very in-depth look at the minions and rulers of the Burning Hells. One of my favorite touches is Adria's constant notes on how best to make use of the information contained within. For example, an entry on ghosts and possessions notes that a mild poison will weaken the body of the host and allow you bring the possessing spirit to the forefront. It's little touches like this that really draw you in and for just the briefest of moments allow you picture what it must be like living the world of Sanctuary.
Whether you're a new fan to Diablo or long time lore nerd, this book has something to offer for everyone. It felt like many entries in the book started from the in-game journals detailing the beasts within Diablo III, but were further fleshed out from there. The beginning starts off before the events of Diablo I with Adria's notes on the history of the Coven, detailing its origins during the Sin Wars. She continues with notes on how best to use the information contained in the book to acquire power and to prepare the Coven for the coming of the End of Days and the final battles of the Eternal Conflict. Adria also offers warnings that the reader must always be cautious. It's complacency, she writes, that spelled the doom for the prior leaders of the Coven. Should she ever fail in her duties, she expects the next in line for her position to kill her, just as had been done in the past. Spread throughout are also notes from Adria many decades later, having left the Coven and now working for Diablo directly. She offers insight into the shortsightedness of the Coven and why she took her findings with her. It is also in these sections we get our first hints at the rituals needed to cast spells, the protections used for communing with those not of our realm, and how to harvest reagents. One of my favorite parts of the book is within this first chapter, detailing the months of Sanctuary. In that same section is the only retcon I noticed within the book. An included map of Sanctuary has shifted the placements of some of the cities and geography of Sanctuary, most notably the moving of Westmarch and Bramwell.
Next comes the "Dead and the Damned", a look at the undead that inhabit Sanctuary and those that control them. This section touches on one of the focal points of Reaper of Souls, the power of the human soul. Described as an almost infinite power source, the constant struggle of the human soul to simply survive after its mortal body has passed away drives souls to replenish themselves and explains why they are so sought after by demons or used to power occult rituals. This need to continue on is also used as an explanation for ghosts and possessions, as the souls of the wrongfully dead feel an overpowering need to return to the places they once lived. Brief accounts of Witch Doctors and Necromancers are also given, alongside some insights into their worldviews. Adria notes that various cultural beliefs are shaped by the Eternal Conflict, whether they know it or not.
Next is the "Creatures of Sanctuary and the Realms Beyond". This section details the more natural denizens of the world, such as spiders or Khazra, as well as creatures not from our world, Heaven, or Hell. These pages are littered with helpful tips from Adria on how to best make use of everything to their fullest. Whether it's noting you can substitute goatman blood for human blood or how you can prepare Lucani eyes for a ritual to see into the future, every page prepares the reader for the obstacles they may face if they truly intend to take part in the Eternal Conflict between Heaven and Hell. I found the details on the realms of Creation scattered throughout this section some of the most interesting aspects of the whole book. While realms beyond Heaven and Hell have been hinted at before, dating back to Diablo II and the Sin War Trilogy, these "other realms" have never been covered in any detail. While Adria's understandings of the working of Creation are limited, it's tantalizing to see hints that there might be more to the universe of Diablo than we originally thought and what that might mean for the future of the franchise.
The shortest section of the book is that on the "Angels of the High Heavens". This makes sense from the context of the book, as the Angiris Council had forbid any angel from interfering in the affairs of humanity, with Tyrael being a notable exception. As such, Adria could find little information on them. While she states she originally hated the Angels because of their opposition to the Burning Hells, as she learned more about Creation and the Eternal Conflict, she came to at least respect the Hosts of the High Heavens as they are bound by fate to their actions and see to their duties honorably. Adria expands slightly on our understanding of events during Diablo II and what Baal's ultimate goal at the Worldstone Keep truly was, as well as what affect his corruption of the Worldstone had on Sanctuary. She also makes notes of Malthael's transformation during the events of the Reaper of Souls and how his actions have changed the power dynamics in the High Heavens.
The final, and longest, section of the book, "Demon of the Burning Hells", takes up almost half of the entire page count. Great detail is taken in every section on how to prepare the reader for summoning or contacting each and every demon contained within. Special notes on what to look out for, how to draw your summoning circles, and even the days on which to attempt contact with the Burning Hells. As Adria was incredibly familiar with demonology and regularly consorted with demons, this level of detail makes perfect sense. This is the driving power behind the Coven and later her own plots to bind the Seven Evils into the Black Soulstone and create the Prime Evil. She carefully details her time in Tristram, her contact with Diablo, and her quest to better understand Zoltun Kulle's techniques of marking demons to bind within the Soulstone. It is within these pages Adria gives very detailed instructions on the creation of the summoning circles she used to capture the souls of the Lesser and Prime Evils and bind them within the Black Soulstone. If you ever wondered how exactly all the previous Demon Lords got trapped within the Soulstone instantly upon its completion, this section tells you. This section also concludes one of the themes throughout the book, Adria's relationship with her daughter Leah. It is a bit saddening to see Adria constantly refer to her own daughter as 'the vessel', but fitting with her character. The book drives home how Adria was ruthless in pursuit of her goals, in the process shedding any traces of her humanity.
The final section of the Book of Adria really out does anything in the Book of Cain or the Book of Tyrael. Blizzard has taken the concept of these source books and brought it to the next level. This isn't just a collection of notes, it's a history lesson and guidebook all in one. The attention to detail and level of care that went into fleshing out such minor details is a testament to just how much Blizzard cares about the future of the Diablo franchise. If you're like me, you'll finish this book in a single sitting because you won't be able to put it down. Every page not only gives you a more in-depth look at the world within the game, it also sheds light on the thought processes and motivations of the characters within the setting.
If you enjoyed the previous two source books, you will LOVE this book. If you're looking for a good jumping in point and ready to immerse yourself in the setting of Diablo, this is a the perfect place to start as it acts as a great companion to Diablo III and its connection to the previous games. The only things I would have liked to have seen included in this book are some insight from Adria as to what happened to Leah's soul after Diablo took over and maybe some thoughts from whomever found the book after Adria's defeat as to what awaits Adria's own soul in the Burning Hells.
Even for those who aren't fans of the lore, the Book of Adria is an amazing treat that deserves a place in the collection of every diehard Diablo fan. From the quality of the production, to the art that is just spilling off the page, this book makes for a wonderful coffee table piece — provided your guests don't mind the summoning circles for calling forth the Prime Evils, that is.
If you're eagerly awaiting getting your hands on a copy of the Book of Adria, don't worry, you'll be able to get one soon. The Book of Adria: A Diablo Bestiary is currently scheduled to be released later this year in December.
Neinball (@NeinballGamer) is a content creator for Diablo Fans and a horadrim in training. Whether he's relaxing on Zegema Beach, fighting servants of the Corpse-God in the 41st millennium, or quelling Rebellions in the Outer Rim, his passion always brings him back to slaying Demons in Sanctuary.