Ever wonder how the various Diablo books relate to the actual game storyline? Did you even know that there were fantasy books written around the Diablo storyline? Well now you do. 😉
In fact, there have actually been quite a few books that have been published with stories that vary from loosely based, to tales that paint scenes and images directly based upon actual in-game content and storyline.
As far as which novels are most accurate in terms of Diablo lore… Those would be the books in The Sin War trilogy. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best, or the most worthwhile books to read.
Quote from Bashiok
The Sin War trilogy was really the beginning of what is now considered canon for the lore of the series. While the previous books certainly have a lot of great stories, information, and even bits and pieces that may indeed hold true in the series as it is now, they aren’t held as canon and thus the events in them may not always hold true moving forward.
In no way would I consider the books prior to The Sin War trilogy false or not worth reading, I think Diablo fans can still get a lot of pleasure from them, but you can consider them to be… tales, and not necessarily reference material.
For those of you interested in boning up on your Diablo lore, or just wanting to immerse yourself in the world of Sanctuary, the following list contains all of the Diablo fantasy novels which have been published to date. (Source)
As you can see based upon Bashiok’s comments, the Sin War books are really the only ones that abide by strict guidelines in terms of staying true to Diablo lore and storyline. As he’d mentioned though, that isn’t to say the other books aren’t worth reading if you’re a die-hard Diablo fan. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite. Most hardcore fans actually prefer many of the novels that were more loosely based on the Diablo universe and world of Sanctuary. This is largely because the author(s) had more creative freedom when crafting their own image of a side quest in the Diablo universe.
For a complete rundown of which Diablo-based books have been published, here’s a list… Enjoy!
Diablo Fantasy Novels
by Robert B. Marks, published in 2000
Diablo: Demonsbane was the first book ever written about the world of Sanctuary. At just over 100 pages (115 to be exact), this work is actually more of a fast-paced novella. The story moves along pretty quickly, with enough action and in-game nods to keep most fans engaged from start to finish. Demonsbane is not a direct tie-in to the Diablo storyline, but it does reference characters and locations which fans of the series will be most familiar with.
The story is about a hero named Siggard, who fought bravely in the battle of Entsteig, only to emerge as the lone survivor. His memory of the final few hours being totally blanked, he is driven to hunt down the army of darkness responsible for the atrocities and avenge the souls of his fallen comrades. As his quest for vengeance unfolds, Siggard begins to discover the haunting truths behind that terrible battle. It is then that his own nightmare starts to be realized.
The story may be a bit short, and the characters a tad underdeveloped, but all in all Demonsbane is well worth it. After all, it is the book that started it all, not to mention that one can rip through it in one long lazy afternoon.
Lastly, although the book is short, Robert Marks did leave the story wide open for the possibility of a sequel. Being that ten years have passed since the book was first published, it’s a longshot to think that a sequel could be in the works, but who knows..? Mr. Marks may become seduced by the upcoming sequel and be compelled to write a follow up story to 2000’s Demonsbane.
Diablo: Demonsbane is available as part of the Diablo Archive paperback (recommended).
Diablo: Legacy of Blood
by Richard A. Knaak, published in 2001
The Legacy of Blood was the first Diablo novel written by the esteemed New York Times Bestselling fantasy author Richard A. Knaak. The story takes place during the events leading up to Diablo II, as well as during the storyline of Diablo II.
The primary protagonist is a hero named Norrec, who discovers a cursed set of armor while on a quest to find magical treasure. This accursed armor, once donned by an evil warlord named Bartuc, is infused with powerful enchantments, as well as the spirit of Bartuc himself. Norrec struggles with combatting the will of the armor’s previous owner, and with the aid of his fellow adventurers, tries to break free of its wretched control over him.
Along with the chronicles of Norrec’s struggle to break free from the armor’s curse, the story also follows the sinister plight of General Augustus Malevolyn, an evil Warlord who seeks to obtain Norrec’s armor and continue Bartuc’s evil bidding. Malevolyn already has in his possession the helmet of Bartuc and believes that acquiring the armor will imbue him with even more dark power, furthering his ability to continue Bartuc’s legacy of blood.
The other main character in the story is Kara Nightshadow, a necromancer who has journeyed to Bartuc’s tomb only to discover that the armor has gone missing. Knowing what sort of evil it possesses, Kara sets out to find the armor’s new owner in hopes that she can save them before it is too late.
This book is very highly regarded by fans of the Diablo series and fantasy fiction enthusiasts alike.
Diablo: Legacy of Blood (Diablo, Book 1) is available on its own as a paperback, or as part of the Diablo Archive paperback (recommended).
The Black Road
by Mel Odom, published in 2002
The story follows the adventures and struggles of Darrick Lang, a sailor in the Westmarch army, who begins his dark journey while on a mission to rescue the king’s nephew from a group of pirates. During the escape, an evil Zakarum priest unlocks a gateway by which a demon is allowed access into the world of men. This encounter sends Darrick’s life into a downward spiral, leading him to wallow in despair and drunkenness.
Odom does a good job of painting the picture of Darrick’s character, as well as describing events from his troubled past which help fuel his hopeless descent. Ultimately, Darrick regains the strength to triumph over his inner demons, and sets out to destroy the hellspawn that had nearly spelt his demise.
For hardcore hypercritical fans of the Diablo world, this book may not be for you. Odom’s “The Black Road” is a very nice piece of fan fiction, but apart from the story taking place in the world of Sanctuary, not many other references are drawn from the game. Still… all in all, a very nice piece of Diablo fan fiction. Not to mention, it’s included in the Diablo Archive paperback, so why not read it..?!
The Black Road (Diablo, Book 2) is available on its own as a paperback, or as part of the Diablo Archive paperback (recommended).
The Kingdom of Shadow
by Richard A. Knaak, published in 2002
Kingdom of Shadow is the third installment in the Diablo series of books, and the second one penned by best selling author Richard A Knaak. Kingdom of Shadow takes place in and around the region of Kurast — following the adventures of a band of mercenaries led by a powerful sorcerer in search of an ancient lost city known as Ureh.
The group of adventuring treasure seekers is headed up by a Vizjerei sorcerer who seeks to unlock the vast knowledge and arcane secrets held within the city, while his band of hired mercenaries have their sights set on the immense riches contained therein.
Ureh was believed to have left the mortal realm when its inhabitants made their journey to heaven. Mysteriously… it has reappeared, only things aren’t as they once were. When the sorcerer and his hirelings discover the lost city, they are suddenly engaged in a battle versus an ancient evil in order to free the city’s inhabitants.
The Kingdom of Shadow is a suspenseful and horrifying page-turner. This book is considered by many to be the best piece of Diablo fan fiction ever written.
The Kingdom of Shadow (Diablo, Book 3) is available on its own as a paperback, or as part of the Diablo Archive paperback (recommended).
Moon of the Spider
by Richard A. Knaak, published in 2005
Along with The Kingdom of Shadow, Moon of the Spider is regarded as one of the best Diablo novels to date. For Moon of the Spider, Knaak brings back two of the most entertaining and endearing characters in the series – Zayl the necromancer and his comical companion (aka skull in a sack) Humbart.
Moon of the Spider is in a sense, a sequel to Knaak’s earlier book, Kingdom of Shadow, where Zayl and Humbart were first introduced. Once again, the duo find themselves battling against an ancient evil set loose upon the mortal realm.
The monsters in this tale are horrifying, the story is superb, and the entertainment value – top notch.
Moon of the Spider (Diablo, Book 1) is available as a paperback or Kindle Edition e-book.
The Sin War Trilogy
The events in The Sin War trilogy take place approximately a thousand years before the events that took place in the original Diablo. The main character in the trilogy is an unwitting farmer named Uldyssian, who one day discovers that he possesses abilities beyond that of mortal men. He unlocks these powers whilst defending himself from attackers who wish to prosecute him for a crime he was falsely accused of.
Birthright (Diablo: The Sin War, Book 1)
by Richard A. Knaak, published in 2006
This book tells the story of Uldyssian, a simple farmer who one day awakens amazing powers within himself. Unfortunately, his powers are ultimately realized as he’s struggling to save his life after being accused and then hunted for a crime he did not commit.
While on his quest for survival and truth, Uldyssian sets off a chain of events enabling hundreds of human mortals to suddenly discover similar powers they hold within themselves.
Birthright is about a simple man turned extraordinary, and his struggles in Sanctuary against the forces of good and evil, both trying to either destroy or possess him. The two opposing forces being led by Inarius, the former angel who abandoned the heavens to create Sanctuary — and the demon Lucion, son of Mephisto and leader of the Church of the Triune.
Birthright (Diablo: The Sin War, Book 1) is available as a paperback or Kindle Edition e-book.
The Scales of the Serpent (Diablo: The Sin War, Book 2)
by Richard A. Knaak, published in 2007
Unbeknownst to him, he is being subtly aided in his plight by Inarius, the secret prophet of the Cathedral of Light. Inarius plays Uldyssian against both the Cathedral of Light and the Triune in an attempt to topple both religions and restore Sanctuary to its former glory.
Mephisto’s daughter and Inarius’ former lover, Lilith, seeks to also use Uldyssian as a pawn in her own plot to turn humans into an army of godlike beings, with her as their supreme leader.
Scales of the Serpent (Diablo: The Sin War, Book 2) is available as a paperback or Kindle Edition e-book.
The Veiled Prophet (Diablo: The Sin War, Book 3)
by Richard A. Knaak, published in 2007
With the evil Triune crushed and out of his way, the only thing left between Uldyssian and his goal to free humanity is the Cathedral of Light and it’s leader the Prophet. Unknown to Uldyssian, the Prophet’s true identity is that of Inarius – rogue angel and creator of Sanctuary, who’d just assume destroy what he believes is his rightful kingdom, rather than let another assume control over it.
With Uldyssian entrenched in his battle against Inarius, the High Heavens and Burning Hells both begin assaults on Sanctuary, stopping at nothing to claim control over it.
The Veiled Prophet marks the beginning of the events which lead into Diablo I.
The Veiled Prophet (Diablo: The Sin War, Book 3) is available as a paperback or Kindle Edition e-book.