The Novel Post: Delving Deep into Warcraft Lore, Starting with The Well of Eternity

Yeah, I’m only, like, a few years late. After buying the War of the Ancients trilogy months ago, I finally actually picked it up and started reading, and now have finished the first book in the trilogy, The Well of Eternity. You’ll hear my thoughts on the writing style in this week’s WoWCast, but for the purposes of this post, I thought it’d be fun to talk a bit about the lore I’ve picked up so far.

As a preface, you should know that this was my first time reading a novel based in the Warcraft universe. Some of you reading may be thinking, well, of course you’re going to pick up lore and back story when reading Warcraft-themed novels. And I did. But it was more than that — at least, much more than I expected.

The telling of this story has a beautiful way of interweaving the past and the (relatively) current eras of Azeroth. The story is told through the eyes of some characters whose names you’ll at least recognize, and some who you’ve probably even encountered in-game, either in World of Warcraft or earlier iterations of the story — Illidan Stormrage, Korialstrasz / Krasus, Tyrande Whisperwind, Malfurion Stormrage, Broxigar, Cenarius, Rhonin, Mannoroth — all play significant roles in the telling of the tale that leads up to the first coming of the Burning Legion.

But I would argue that, when you truly allow yourself to be taken in by the story, it becomes a matter much greater than just knowing the detailed lore surrounding the events. Author Richard Knaak allows readers the privilege of peering into the thoughts of each character. Not only do we see what they do, but we also learn the intimacies of their motivations, their secrets, the happenings that not even others in the story may understand.

We see, hear and feel the thoughts of the forest as does Malfurion, the first night elf druid; we see the splintering relationship of Malfurion with his brother, Illidan, as they choose different paths of magic yet both vie for the love of the same woman; and we see Tyrande’s internal struggle as she copes with the fact that she will someday have to choose one of her childhood friends over the other, and in the process perhaps ruin the twins’ relationship even further.

Having already heard of my fascination with dragons, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve most enjoyed getting to know Korialstrasz. In-game, you can find him atop Wyrmrest Temple alongside Alexstrasza. In The Well of Eternity, he comes face to face with his past self and struggles to keep the secrets of the future to himself, else risk the outcome of key world events. Now, every time I fly into Dalaran, “Krasus’ Landing” takes on a whole new meaning for me.  It used to be just a name — now it is more.

It used to be, Tyrande Whisperwind was little more to me than just another of the Alliance leaders I faced off with when running a For the Horde event. Not anymore. And Illidan — well, I haven’t yet come to the part of the story where his life takes a giant turn toward evil, but even before that, he’s a much more sympathetic character already.

Perhaps most relevant to now are the glimpses that I’ve already seen of the pre-Deathwing Neltharion — although he pretends otherwise, he’s already hiding his mad, cold and calculating plans from the other Dragon Aspects. I’m very much looking forward to continuing that story line as I keep on through the trilogy.

If you haven’t yet read any Warcraft novels and have some spare time awaiting Cataclysm, I would highly recommend delving into The War of the Ancients. The writing quality isn’t always the best ever, but if you’re already a Warcraft fan, then the lore will more than make up for that.