"Diablo Archive" is a collection of three novels and a short story, set in the world of Blizzard Entertainment's "Diablo" franchise. Although the tales feature some of the locations and characters from "Diablo I" and "Diablo II", they are on the whole unrelated to the source material, and therefore fully understandable to people who have never played the games.
Legacy of Blood - 2.5 Stars - written by Richard Knaak, this novel starts off with an interesting premise, but soon gets buried under a huge number of cardboard characters, idiotic plot developments, and terrible writing. It didn't suck per se (I've read much worse), but one thing's sure; I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
The Black Road - 5 Stars - written by Mel Odom, this is by far the best novel in this collection. Writing style is just right, the plot is interesting, and the story on the whole is excellent. The characterization in particular is far beyond what we regularly see in fantasy novels. The protagonist is a complicated young man with a troubled past and an uncertain future, whose internal struggle is no less important then his campaign against the forces of evil. Buyard Cholik, a priest who has sold his soul to Hell, suffers from all of the human doubts and uncertainties, and has understandable motives for his actions. Even the demon Kabraxis possesses a genuine personality, with his own unique understanding of humanity, as well as motives that go far beyond the mindless bloodthirstiness that is so often the trademark of fantasy devils. The ending of "The Black Road" is particularly enjoyable, as it pits moral pragmatism against moral absolutism, leaving the reader to decide whether the ending was good or bad. A quality book, indeed.
The Kingdom of Shadow - 4 Stars - this novel proves that even average/bellow-average writers like Knaak can occasionally churn out good fiction. "The Kingdom of Shadow" combines elements of horror, mystery, and adventure to create an entertaining story that goads the reader into a page-turning frenzy. Writing style isn't nearly as bad as in "Legacy of Blood", and while protagonists have no depth whatsoever ("noble mercenary captain", "grumpy old wizard", "cheerful giant", "heroic necromancer", etc. are all exactly what it says on the tin), a lot more thought was invested into villains this time around. The bad guys actually have motives that go beyond what's usual for Knaak (just evil for the sake of being evil, or evil for the sake of taking over the world, or similarly childish stuff), and one of them is even redeemed at the end. "The Kingdom of Shadow" still has plot holes aplenty, but they are nowhere near as glaring as in other Knaak's works. Overall, a fun fantasy novel.
Demonsbane - 3 Stars - written by Robert B. Marks, this short story follows Siggard, a warrior whose only goal is to take his revenge on the archdemon responsible for the death of his family. It's well written, fast-paced, and not long enough to become boring. Characters aren't very convincing, and emotional reactions are almost non-existent despite all the horrible things that are happening. The finale, though predictable and anti-climatic (Siggard strides head-on into the demon base of operations, and murders the archdemon faster then you can read this sentence), is sort of redeemed by the slight twist in the end. "Demonsbane" is an amusing story that works as a fit finisher to the "Diablo Archive".
DISCLAIMER: I've given "Diablo Archive" four stars not because each novel in the collection is a four-stars fantasy novel, but because the collection itself is a four-stars fantasy collection. Its overall quality is above-average for a game-based book series.