Opening my mailbox the other day, I was greeted by an oversized enveloped. Assuming it was a game I tore it open, only to find a huge, hardcover book. "What is this?" I thought. "Paper? Words? What do I look like, some kind of nerd?"
Sighing, I cleared a space on my desk between the Street Fighter comic books and my oversized Metal Gear REX figurine, and cracked open the gigantic tome. "Alright, I like Diablo, but what does this book think it can tell me that I haven't already picked up in the hundreds of hours I've spent rapidly clicking on demonic jerks in the actual game?"
Apparently, quite a bit.
According to the official description the publisher sent along, the Book Of Cain was written as an "in-game artifact." The idea here is that this book could be the kind of thing that you might stumble upon while playing Diablo III. It's written from the perspective of Deckard Cain (the series' sole recurring non-demonic character who you probably know best as the old guy standing in the middle of town who offers to identify magic items for you), and the dude knows far, far more than he ever lets on during any of the games.
Granted, none of the information contained in the book is actually necessary to play the Diablo games. Millions of people have enjoyed Blizzard's games based purely on the tiny hits of dopamine to be found in collecting increasingly powerful weapons and armor. That simplicity is one of the hallmarks of the series. That said, there is also a surprisingly deep plot line in play there. That's where Book Of Cain comes in, and is specifically why I'm writing this official recommendation of the thing on a blog normally dedicated to indie rock shows and self-important stories about breakroom taffy.
This is a thing you should know about. Because it's good.
Obviously this kind of thing isn't for everyone. It's a huge, unwieldy book that wouldn't exactly fit on a bookshelf next to Hemingway and Chaucer (thematically, I mean — physically, it would be fine). That said, for those hardcore fans of the game who are counting down the days until Diablo III's release, or anyone who wants to know exactly why demons keep attacking otherwise sleepy post-gothic villages in the world of Sanctuary, there's no better source for backstory than the Book of Cain. Including the games themselves.
Plus, as with all tangential Blizzard merchandise, the production values on the book are top-notch. It's a very solid book, constructed of high-quality paper stock. Taken by itself it's gorgeous, and that goes double for the huge number of illustrations and random bits of concept art found within.
Given that the book can be purchased for less than $25 on Amazon, it's a solid purchase for dedicated fans of the series.
Still not convinced? Insight Editions, the book's publisher, has a website detailing the thing that offers an 8-page preview of the tome. That's where the image at top came from and it offers an excellent primer on what you'd be getting into.