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 September 17, 2005

Review: BIONICLE Encyclopedia
Mark: At 8" x 10" and 128 pages, the new BIONICLE® Encyclopedia by Greg Farshtey is a big book. But then you have to have a big book to fit in everyone from AHKMOU to the ZIVON. And, just as you would expect from an encyclopedia, everything and everyone is in this book.

The vast majority of the information in the Encyclopedia is necessarily old hat to those of us who have followed BIONICLE all along. Some of the lore that has been passed around from person to person for months or even years now finally becomes canonized in print here for the first time. For those that jumped into the story somewhere in the middle, this is an excellent quick reference. The comics and novels might have a little bit more to offer you, both in terms of information and entertainment, but if you want to find some particular piece of information fast, this is the book to do the job.

Completists will be pleased that the Encyclopedia offers up additional new information by tacking on the short story "Birth of a Dark Hunter". The story provides more back story for NIDHIKI, detailing his fall from TOA to Dark Hunter. There are some interesting revelations within, such as the one-time existence of more than 200 TOA. Curiously, Lariska (a female Dark Hunter featured in the story) does not appear in the Encyclopedia proper.

And just to add more value to your purchase, there are thirty stickers of TOA and TURAGA in the very back. Like the graphics in the book, the stickers are not very big, but they do look nice. Most of the pages of the book do include at least one small previously-published graphic image.

My quibbles are few and far between. I have not seen any outright mistakes yet, although the reference to TURAGA DUME ordering the "seaways" closed (rather than "portals") strikes me as revisionist. Some of the pronunciations seem a little off. KOPEKE = "KOH-peek" is particularly egregious. Some of the material is necessarily repetitious.

If you are looking for information on the sets or the collectibles of BIONICLE, it is not here. This book is strictly dedicated to the story of BIONICLE. The only reference to the outside world is in the conversions of bio, kio, and mio. (Who knew TOA were so tall?)

All in all, the Encyclopedia is an enjoyable and worthwhile reference to the storyline universe of BIONICLE. Perhaps someday there will be a market for a book which encompasses the entirety of BIONICLE, both inside the story and out in the real world.

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