Publisher: Pocket Books
Author: Mel Odom
Release Date: 4/1/2002
MSRP: $7.99 (Paperback, Digital)
Recommended Audience: Young Adult
Continuing my Diablo craze from Diablo III we have Diablo: The Black Road. This book mainly feels good in parts but ultimately fails to really feel like a Diablo anything. The main villain here is the demon Kabraxis that uses the power of healing and miracles to create a church and new religion that brings thousands of followers to the city of Bramwell. Meanwhile, a sailor is stuck with the fate of bringing down this demon, but also has internal demons of his own to deal with.
The overall premise of the story is neat and creative. It all flows well and makes sense, but Mr. Odom drives me nuts with his style of writing. The first 8 chapters have nothing to do with Diablo at all and just feel like a really boring pirate novel. Darrick Lang is sent to save the king’s nephew, but after getting past this part you see that this whole part was kind of unnecessary and pointless because it breaks off to Buyard Cholik trying to open the door that has Kabraxis sealed off. After that, it starts getting good, but Mel tends to wander off during conversations between characters to explain and it breaks focus. This became very irritating and I got bored through several parts of the book.
The way everything else is constructed is great and entertaining, it’s just the way the author puts it on paper that can be either boring, pointless, or out of focus and off track. I also felt the ending was a bit rushed and the battle with Kabraxis was quick and unsatisfactory. There isn’t really much action here and when there is it’s quick and brief and not done very well. Mel’s writing style for fight scenes is sloppy and rushed and I didn’t really like it at all. His strong point is conversations between characters, but he breaks that up with flashbacks and backstories right in the middle.
If you can stomach these issues then The Black Road is a great fantasy novel even if you don’t like Diablo or know anything about it. The irritating mid-conversion flashbacks, poor fight scenes, and unsatisfying end battle make the book less than what it could have been.