The Novel Post: World of Warcraft: The Shattering – Prelude to Cataclysm Review

World of Warcraft: The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm by Christie Golden has perhaps the longest name of any WoW novel to date, and definitely the largest amount of colons. The Shattering tells the story of the events leading up to “the shattering,” the event where Deathwing emerges from Deepholm and causes mass destruction across Azeroth. This is the first time a WoW novel has been released to advance the story in preparation for an expansion (namely Cataclysm), and seeing the events of The Shattering occurring in parallel with in-game events is quite exciting.

The Shattering is the first of three novels describing the events of the Cataclysm. We learn about the politics of the Alliance and the Horde leading up to Cataclysm and how the Twilight’s Hammer cult and other evil organizations seek to cause havoc in preparation for Deathwing’s arrival. The story alternates between Horde and Alliance events, intertwining them at times when the events happen to overlap.

As the Horde withdraw from Northrend, Garrosh is welcomed home as a war hero and celebrated by all the orcs an Thrall, but Cairne and Eitrigg have their doubts about the young hero. As Thrall feels the unrest of the elements, he takes leave from his seat as warchief to investigate and appoints Garrosh to lead in his absence. Meanwhile, skirmishes ignite Varian Wrynn, and his son Anduin and Jaina Proudmoore try to cool his temper. Anduin discovers his fate in Ironforge and helps mediate some heated discussions.

I have to say, this is one of the few Warcraft novels that really compelled me to keep reading it. Some of the other novels have felt slightly dry and arcane, but WoW players who are eager to transition from worrying about Arthas to Deathwing will find this content extremely relevant and exciting.

Many heroes from each side that players have interacted with or read about in other volumes play big roles in The Shattering. Golden makes each of the characters real and compelling while driving forward a cohesive narrative. There are a couple new characters introduced that really don’t feel relevant except to advance the plot, but I felt right at home in the world painted by the novel.

Much like Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, this is a must-read for WoW fans, especially those who will be picking up Cataclysm at release. You can pick it up from Amazon for $16 for the hardcover, or $8 if you don’t mind waiting until May for the paperback.

If you are rusty on your WoW lore and want to refresh before Cataclysm, consider picking up some of the other recent tomes:


  1. Dear reader,

    My review of The Shattering by Christie Golden (spoiler free).

    A well-paced book that unfortunately fails to deliver on the anticipation it builds.

    After a long hiatus from WOW, the pre-Shattering hype from Blizzard renewed my excitement for the game I had loved all of those years ago. But I had grown since then, it was over 4 years since I had played; this time, I told myself, I would need more than just the thrill of the game to keep me enthralled. The said hype from Blizzard made me curious, could the ‘lore’ be the missing something that would keep me interested?

    With this book, I found a new passion for WOW, in its lore, and for that I recommend the book as it may expand your appreciation for the story arcs shaping the game we all have come to love and hate. But the book does have problems.

    I felt disappointed on a number of levels that the publisher (or Blizzard?) chose to cut short the end -I am sure it was not the author’s choice -and in the manner it was done; the ending to this book leaves no cliff hanger and instilled no sense of urgency on my behalf to await the next chapter. I felt cheated, not for a complete story of course -the story is still being written in the game world -but cheated from a fuller ending, something that could go beyond the events that can be gleaned from the most basic of press releases and introductory texts to Cataclysm.

    I had hoped that the pace of the book, that starts quickly and then slows to build suspense and anticipation for the coming ‘Shattering’ but offers no reward; the ending is simply ‘play the game if you want to know more’.

    Heartbourne mentions that book is the first of three, which could well explain away my fault finding, but as a consumer, I would have preferred to be told that the book I was purchasing was one of three -a serialisation.

    For all of the faults with the end, however, this reader cannot forget some of the eventful and emotional scenes from the book; and whilst the writing style may be simplistic the story and it’s characters and their relationships are detailed sufficiently, but not overly, so as to keep the over arcing ‘event’ ever present, looming, ominous and omnipresent.

    And that is the triumph of the book, I say, that the coming ‘Shattering’, the breaking of the World that we [players] have all witnessed in game, is rendered as mysterious omens to the characters of the book and to the reader alike; and through well-paced storytelling, we are literally gasping for more by the end of the book.

    So please, Blizzard, and the publisher, allow the story to be told (in good time) and I hope that Hearthbourne is correct and that it is merely a matter of time until all is told.


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