Lore Guide – Books

Warcraft lore isn’t the easiest thing to get into. Blizzard did a fantastic job of creating an MMO that had interesting stories all over the world, but the problem is that there are so many out there, its really hard to know where to begin.

The Warcraft novels are a great place to learn a lot about famous lore figures, and events that took place, but even they are written in a seemingly random order, and its hard to know just from reading titles and blurbs where books come in the Warcraft timeline. As someone who has read all of them, however, I feel it is my duty to help people step into the lore in the best possible way, so they can avoid the confusion that I often had. Continue reading below to enjoy my full list of Warcraft novels, in order that you should read them. I might even throw in a review or two. I know, I spoil you.

A quick note before I start. When looking to buy the books, there is a Warcraft Archive, which includes 4 of the books listed below (Day of the Dragon, Lord of the Clans, The Last Guardian and Of Blood and Honor). While its not the order I’d advise reading them, it can be easier and cheaper to pick up the archive rather than look for the 4 books seperate.

Rise of the Horde – Christie Golden

Rise of the Horde is a great book to start with, not only because it’s the first book in the timeline (kind of) but because its very well written. The book is Thrall telling the tale of how the original horde came to be on the planet of Draenor, and also heavily involves the Draenai. As well as give you a complete understanding about the origins of 2 races in Warcraft, the book also gives you an understanding of the biggest enemy in Warcraft, The Burning Legion (led by Sargeras). The very end of the book leads straight into the first war, which takes us to Azeroth.

The Last Guardian – Jeff Grubb

While there is no book that just chronicles the First War (which, if you were wondering, is what happens in the first Warcraft game) The Last Guardian works even better, as it includes all of the interesting parts of the First War, but mostly revolves around one of WoWs best characters, Medivh. With this book you get a full story of a lot of interesting WoW characters, get an explanation of what happens once Rise of the Horde finishes, and start the story of Varian Wrynn, our current King (or worst enemy, if you’re Horde). Even if it had no vital storyline in it, I would still recommend this book, as its a great read.

Tides of Darkness – Aaron Rosenberg

Tides of Darkness picks up almost exactly where The Last Guardian stops, and fully chronicles the events of the second war. It establishes some great new lore characters such as Turalyon (he’s the main statue at the front of SW) and brings back some you’ve already met. Another fantastic read, so well worth the effort.

Still with me? Good, because this is where it starts to get complicated. Basically, a lot of events happen at this part of the timeline quite close together, and while the books are good at describing them, they sort of overlap each other, so no matter which order you read the next 3 or so books in, you may be a tad confused at times. Stick with it though, and it will all make sense.

Day of the Dragon – Richard Knaak

This book takes a step away from the events of the characters in the second war, and introduces a bunch of new ones, and begins to tell the tale of something we haven’t come across yet, the dragonflights. In this book we meet Rhonin (if the name doesn’t ring a bell, its better to read the whole book before you find where he is in-game) as well as Deathwing. Knaak is an author that many in the Warcraft community really dislike, but I personally enjoy his books. He isn’t perfect, like all authors, but he has a real aptitude (I couldn’t say knack, I hate puns) for writing action, so its worth pushing past any slow start to get to some good stuff later. Deathwings story is described better in a later novel, but its definately better to read this one first (it was written first anyway) as you won’t be too confused. He’s got the word Death in his name, you don’t really need an explanation that he’s evil..

Beyond the Dark Portal – Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden

This book leads on from the end of Tides of Darkness, but the events of the Day of the Dragon mostly happen between the two, so its probably best to read this after Day of the Dragon. The book describes events of the main characters from Tides of Darkness as they travel through the Dark Portal to combat what’s left of the Horde on Draenor, and also involves Deathwing. Note that the ‘Death Knights’ found in this book are completely different than the class in WoW, they just unfortunately share the same name.

Lord of the Clans – Christie Golden

Its a few books later, but  now we finally get the tale of Thrall, the guy half-narrating Rise of the Horde, and current leader of the Horde. The book begins before the end of the second war (Tides of Darkness) but then leads onto the state of affairs after the war is over, what has happened to the orcs since then, and chronicles the rise to power of one of Warcraft’s biggest lore characters.  Like all of Goldens books, this is very well written and a great read.

If you’re still with me, well done. I’d like to be able to tell you that its nice and simple again after the last few books, but I’m afraid its quite the opposite. The next thing in the timeline is the third war, which unfortunately doesn’t really have a book written about it, but is referenced a lot from now on. There is one book, however, that talks abour one half of the war, and I’ll mention it now because there isn’t really a better time to do so.

Arthas: Rise of the Lich King – Christie Golden

RotLK is one of the best Warcraft books to date, and while the timeline streches from the start of the second war to the end of the third, it does a great job of explaining the events surrounding Arthas without getting you too confused, and also tells you everything you need to know about one of Warcrafts biggest bad guys. If you’re only going to read one Warcraft book, this should probably be it.

If you’d like a bit more info about the third war and what happens to Azeroth once Archimonde is summoned (the bit RotLK doesn’t talk about), you can choose to play through Warcraft 3, which chronicles the events of the war (and is quite a good game) or you can read the paragraph below to give you the general gist of what happens.

***Medivh comes back from the dead and persuades the new Horde, under the leadership of Thrall, and humans, under the leadership of Jaina Proudmoore, to travel to Kalimdor, where they can join forces with the Night elves to band together and defeat The Burning Legion (which Arthas/Lich King helped summon). The final events of the Third War can be seen in the Caverns of Time: Battle for Mt. Hyjal raid, where Archimonde is killed before he can siphon the power of the world tree.***

Now after first meeting the Night Elves, we’re going to go back in time and explore their main history. How are we going to do that at this point in the timeline, you ask? With the help of a time-travelling wizard, of course.

The War of the Ancients Trilogy – Richard Knaak

This trilogy includes the three books The Well of Eternity, The Demon Soul and The Sundering. While the book starts off with characters from Day of the Dragon after the third war, we soon get launched back 10,000 years ago to a time when Northrend, Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms are all one continent, and there’s no such thing as humans yet. While these books get mocked quite a bit, as the story clashes with the events of Warcraft 3 slightly, and Fantasy nerds apparently draw the line at time travel, the full story that takes place is actually very well conceived. The writing when it comes to the action scenes is, as in most Knaak books, excellent, especially in the second and third books.

While the story takes place over 3 books and is therefore quite a lot to read, its well worth the effort, as it establishes the story of many key Warcraft characters and events, including: Malfurion Stormrage, Illidan Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind, Queen Azshara, Cenarius, The Sundering and the Naga. It also includes the full story of why Deathwing went all evil, and why Malygos and Nozdormu appear so mental in Day of the Dragon.

Take heart, champion, for the end is in sight! We’ve almost covered all of the Warcraft books now, and we’ve covered most of the major warcraft storylines that are in novel form. There are some key lore moments, found in other mediums, which I intend to write about in another post, but for now we have a few books left to note.

Cycle of Hatred – Keith R.A. DeCandido

This book details what happens after the end of the Third War and before World of Warcraft starts. I won’t lie, this book isn’t brilliant. The idea of the book was to explain why the Horde and Alliance are at full war in WoW when they had united together at the end of the third war. The main problem is that the book doesn’t do any of that, and instead goes on about a bunch of minor characters on both sides that no-one really cares about. The book only gets interesting when Medivh’s mother is found, at which point we learn a little more about the Council of Tirisfal we first heard of in The Last Guardian. A few interesting parts, but completely avoidable.

Night of the Dragon – Richard Knaak

This book takes place some time before Wrath of the Lich King, and brings back characters from Day of the Dragon. The book explains a lot of whats happening in Cataclysm with Deathwing, and also shows where the Twilight Dragonflight came from (the dragonflight found in the Obsidian Sanctum and the Ruy Sanctum in game). Unfortunately, this isn’t one of Knaaks best books, and rather than feeling complex and smart, it feels bloated and uninteresting. The book is perhaps too long for the story it eventually tells, but is still worth a read if you like to find out everything thats happening in WoW like me.

Of Blood and Honor – Chris Metzen

Tirion Fordring is a cool character in Warcraft lore because the bulk of his story is actually told in game. From a quest giving hermit in Eastern Plaguelands who wants to help his son, to the guy who liberates the Death Knights from the Lich King in the DK starter zone, and then founds the Argent Crusade to travel to Northrend and take the fight to the Lich King, in game we see the bulk of Tirions story. This book shows the very beginnings of Tirion Fordring however, and shows a character that was willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of honor. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the guy who helps you take down the Lich King, this book is a great read.

The other awesome thing about this book, apart from it being very well written, is that its written by Metzen, who is basically the creator of all Warcraft lore. While all of the authors above fleshed out the details, the general outline was all done by one guy, and so its quite cool to be able to read a story written by him.

Stormrage – Richard Knaak

We’re finally here – last one. This book takes place after the death of the Lich King, and before the Cataclysm, and basically explains where the hell Malfurion Stormrage has been since the start of WoW (he was there at the end of the third war, but ‘disappears’ soon after and is described as missing in the Night Elf starter quests). While the book isn’t quite up to standard of his War of the Ancients novels, its a huge improvement from Night of the Dragon and definately worth a read. It includes some great WoW references, and involves a lot of key Warcraft figures as the corruption of the Emerald Dream is finally explained.

There we go, thats all of them. As I said above, I’ll be writing more posts soon about other key Warcraft lore that can’t be found in novel form. As far the books go, the next Warcraft novel will be The Shattering: Prelude to the Cataclysm by Christie Golden, which with what we’ve seen from the Beta is likely to be very interesting, and you can be sure I’ll review it here as soon as I’ve read it.

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3 Responses to “Lore Guide – Books”

  1. Darth Roydz Says:

    Well m8,

    Im already grateful for this section as ive started on the books to catch up and understand the lore better.

    You could say that im starting to break the lore 🙂

    anyway i just wanted to say that when i started on this realm i had been with wow since the start and that this was my last attempt to get some satisfaction from the game beyond the lvl cap. drum roll for “Thw Spirits of Hellfire”

    If it wasnt for Toxic and fonz i would not of got into your Guild and i wouldnt be where i am now with my charachter without you and Pip.

    So all in all this reply is to say thankyou for restoring my faith in wow and just being a dam nice guy.

    • Your more than welcome mate. Its players like you, that appreciate what we do, that keeps me and Pip running the guild.

      And I’m glad the guide proved useful, reading the books really does open the lore up and make it much easier to understand whats going on.

  2. DarthRoydz Says:

    3 books down 🙂 moving onto Day of the Dragon now.

    I find myself looking at the wow map now thinking about the battles that took place and stuff.

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