The latest of the World of Warcraft novels, and one of my favorite so far. With the release of the Cataclysm expansion, Blizzard had indicated that the story of the game would be focusing more on the Alliance vs. Horde aspect, considering that the Wrath of the Lich King storyline had the Alliance and Horde working together. This book really takes that Horde vs. Alliance dynamic and runs with it. Garrosh Hellscream is the current Warchief of the Horde, and he couldn’t be more different from the previous leader Thrall. Thrall had been working towards peace with the Alliance with his friend and counterpart on the other side, Jaina Proudmoore. They had made great strides towards that peace, but Thrall decided to step down as leader of the Horde and follow his shamanic birthright following The Sundering of Azeroth and the return of Deathwing. Thrall appointed Garrosh Hellscream as the new Warchief, hoping that Garrosh would continue to strive for peace. Garrosh is a much more militant personality however, and he is not satisfied with the current shaky peace between the two factions. He wants nothing less than to kick the Alliance off the continent of Kalimdor and to eventually conquer the Eastern Kingdoms. To this end he uses some very brutal tactics. Lady Jaina Proudmoore, long known as a moderate and a the loudest voice for peace between the Horde and Alliance is on the receiving end, as is her city of Theramore. What we see is a complete shift in Jaina’s views and beliefs. She knows that peace is no longer an option with Garrosh Hellscream as leader of the Horde, and she prepares herself for war.
This complete turnaround is one of the great things about World of Warcraft. Many MMO worlds are static and unchanging. If an area of the world has snow for example, it will always have snow, there are no seasons. Blizzard decided to shake that up with the release of the Cataclysm expansion. They completely changed many of the zones in the original continents, and added lots of new content. Everything old was new again, and it was great to explore places and find new things, places that for many people they have visited for years. The changes Blizzard brings to the world don’t just manifest themselves in the game, novels like this one are an important part as well.
One of the reasons I enjoy the World of Warcraft novels so much is that while playing the game, I can actually visit the places in the book. When a building or area is described, I don’t have to try to build a picture in my head, it is already there because I have seen and been in that building. It helps to make Azeroth feel like a living and breathing place. With the Mists of Pandaria expansion set for release on September 25th, this book did a great job of getting me excited for the all changes we’ll be seeing in the near future.