Rotating Header Image

World of Warcraft – Books Edition

So it’s been a pretty uneventful week in the game, just leveling up the Hunter mostly, and even that wasn’t super frequent.  I thought I’d take a minute to discuss some of the Lore related books I’ve read recently.  I think one of the aspects that really appeals to me with WoW is that the overall store, often called “Lore” is really tight.  Blizzard is pretty consistent on everything, more so the closer to present day you get.  There are other large universes but there are often contradictions. 

Star Wars is all over the place, and chances are the Star Wars timeline not wiped out by the Prequel Trilogy years ago is going to be wiped out by the upcoming new movies.  I tried to get into Star Trek after reading some really good post everything books about the end of the Borg, only to find out that the Borg have been wiped out several times in the fictions and in general, Trek novels seem to completely not give a crap about any sort of overall continuity.  Transformers is one of the worst and does a complete reboot every two or three years.  Hell right now Transformers has like 3 or 4 overlapping timelines.   The movie are all one, Prime/Rescue Bots/Next Show are another, TF Novels are one, that sort of relate to the others all at once, there are the video games which may be in movie or Prime continuity, I think, then there are the comics.  It’s a little ridiculous.

Then there are other worlds, like the Tolkien Lord of the Rings world which is pretty finite in it’s lore and not really expanding.

Warcraft has a whole mess of books that fill in details and gaps, to supplement the ten year old MMO title.  You can even roll back farther and pick up the three RTS titles previous to WoW.  There are some inconsistencies with the early Lore but it’s really pretty tight these days.

So I’ve been working my way through the books to help fill in some of my gaps.  Most of my interest in the Lore stems from the Warcraft 3 plot of Arthas and his fall from grace into the role of the Lich King.  Which is probably a place to start.

Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by Christie Golden

This was the first book I read through (and finished) in the Warcraft universe.  It’s a pretty close novelization of Warcraft 3, or at least, the Arthas story from Warcraft 3.  My enjoyment of the story was probably enhanced by having replayed Warcraft 3 while reading through this book.  The story follows Prince Arthas from his childhood days, and childhood friendship with Jaina Proudmore, through his rise to become a Paladin in the Knights of the Silver Hand, through the Culling of Stratholm and his decent into madness at the hands of Ner’Zhul and his total corruption by Frostmourne. 

Part of the reason I really like this story is that it’s not your typical redemption story.  You can empathize some with the hard choices Arthas must make as future king early on in the book as he desperately tries to save his people, but in the end Arthas is a villain.  There is no twist of fate or redemption, he’s just evil, and in command of an unstoppable army of undead. 

Probably the weakest part of the story comes from the few subplots, mostly the ones involving Illidan, which run throughout the book.  This is the story of Warcraft 3, but it’s only Arthas’ story.  Illidan shows up at one point and strikes a bargain with Arthas, then later shows up at the end, in his demonic form, in a weak attempt to give the book a villain that isn’t Arthas.  There isn’t a lot of good explanation of what happens to Illidan in the middle.  Those familiar with the Lore and Warcraft 3 will know he went off to battle Tichondrius and become corrupted by the Skull of Gul’dan.  If you aren’t already familiar with these sub plot stories, things may seem a bit messy near the end of the book.

Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden

Aside from Arthas, I’d put Thrall up there as one of my favorites among the “Main characters” in WoW lore.  Thrall is also, not coincidentally, a character originally from Warcraft 3.  Thrall was the first Warchief of the Horde in World of Warcraft and is the lynchpin to the creation of the Horde and the redemption of the orcs after the first to wars (Warcraft 1, and Warcraft 2).  Lord of the Clans follows Thrall’s birth and life as a slave gladiator in Durnhold, through his escape and return to his people. 

The story essentially ends just at the moment when Warcraft 3 would start and there is a bit of time overlap with the Arthas story since both characters would have been young at the same time period.  It’s a good foundation for the Horde mythos and somewhat relevant to current events in game since it involves Garrosh Hellscream’s father, Grom Hellscream. 

Rise of the Horde by Christie Golden

There seems to be a trend on the author here that I’ll touch on in a second as a wrap up…

Rise of the Horde is probably one of the two most important books to read for anyone interested in the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion.  The other being the recently released War Crimes.  Where War Crimes bridges the gap between MoP and WoD, Rise of the Horde is one of the earliest books made for Warcraft and follows the fall of the Orcs on their home planet of Draenor as they are corrupted by the Burning Legion.  It’s notable when it comes to Warlords of Draenor, as WoD takes place is an alternate timeline past version of Draenor set during the same timeframe as Rise of the Horde.  most of the main characters of Rise of the Horde ARE the “Warlords of Draenor”.  In WoD, Garrosh prevents the Orcs from becoming corrupted, hence, Alternate Timeline.  I am not sure on the details otherwise as I have been trying to avoid a lot of the details.

Rise of the Horde leads up to the start of the original Warcraft, when the Orcs came through the Dark Portal to Azeroth and the war started.  It makes a suitable companion to Lord of the Clans since Lord of the Clans essentially follows Warcraft 2.  It also touches on some of the origins of Gul’dan and Ner’Zhul from the Arthas story, though there are no details in this story about how Ner’Zhul became the Lich King.  It’s still a good primer for the world that will be present in Warlords and is definitely recommended reading on that note for anyone looking forward to the next WoW expansion.

Day of the Dragon by Richard Knaak

I wanted to give a quick mention of Day of the Dragon.  This si the first Warcraft book published.  It’s also the first book I started in my desire to read the Lore behind WoW.  I have not yet finished it, I hope to eventually, but I just find it kind of awful.  I have heard a lot fo people complain about the writing style of Richard Knaak, who writes many of the Warcraft books.  I didn’t care for the writing style myself.  It also didn’t help that this is early early lore.  I think it even predates World of Warcraft.  This means a lot of the characters are extremely flat nobodies that are based around RTS units who’s entire personality is based around a dozen or so voice clips.  This is part of why I am heasetant to totally write off Knaak, but I have written off Day of the Dragon a bit.  I also have waaaaay more interest in Horde Lore than I do Alliance Lore, and Day of the Dragon is definitely Alliance focused.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.