The subject of Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, is probably the deepest and most intense in the entire universe Starcraft is set in. I can't think of anyone I've talked to who has played through the game's campaigns and not both loved and hated her. She inspires awe and fear, passion and disgust; her dual nature makes her a fascinating subject. I will elaborate on it no more... on to the book.
Mr. Rosenberg did a good enough job piecing together the events of what happens between Kerrigan's capture by the Zerg and James Raynor's trip to Char to save her, finding himself in the company of the new Dominion forces and the Protoss. This is all very interesting and a good story to tell, but Mr. Rosenberg really just puts glue between the cracks from the original campaign and does almost no elaboration. Raynor feels protective of his troops and repeatedly "announces" it through narrative, but there is no development to really establish this on a firm ground--it's just something we have to accept. Even his relationship with Kerrigan feels held up only by the video game: Rosenberg's prose about their relationship resorts to cliches about love combined with cheap horror. He repeatedly cites Kerrigan's in-game line, "You pig!", as if that completely explains the sexual tension Raynor and Kerrigan experience before her abduction and transformation.
Truly, the best parts of this book--the parts that allow it to have at least two stars from me--involve the Protoss, who really don't develop into full characters until the last third of the book. That Raynor manages to repeatedly find them by wandering off into Char's vast desert is incredibly hard to believe (never mind that Char has edible, easily harvested flora, fauna, and water), but thank God he does, because they are the most interesting things on the drab planet Rosenberg has presented us with. Tassadar's initial skepticism of the Dark Templar and Zeratul's confrontation of Zasz and then Kerrigan work to develop what finally turns into a decent plot in the book, and the months the two Protoss factions and the Terrans spend together avoiding Kerrigan are the most exciting, as we see juxtaposed the merging of minds of Zeratul and Tassadar and the constant engagement of and retreat from Kerrigan's brood.
The climax of the book occurs with a "final battle" that truly is engaging, as the Protoss devise a way to lure Kerrigan's entire brood into a trap using Raynor as a conduit of their mental trickery. Kerrigan is nearly killed by the heroes, but all the same she flexes her muscles and puts them each in their places. Afterward, the inevitable recovery of Tassadar and the others by Judicator Aldaris is explained, and the plot is left to thicken.
If it weren't for so much going on in the latter third of the book, there would be nothing to read here. The writing remains elementary throughout, but at least the story is engaging and new towards the end rather than constantly regurgitative.
Still, the book's greatest failure, its lack of development of Kerrigan's character, its thrust forward into her transformation without dramatic pause (we only see glimpses of this in the prologue and Jim's dreams, and they, like many of the emotions in the book, are written in heavy cliche), is inexcusable. The next book featuring Kerrigan needs a writer who can develop her emotional conflicts in a mature and captivating way.
Two out of five stars for the decent plot at the end and the elucidation of Zeratul and Tassadar's first encounter. Otherwise... a deep disappointment.