Disclaimer: Due to my busy schedule, I have yet to finish the actual book. As of writing this, I’m up to Chapter 26 out of 35, and according to the author, it’s a 90,000-word book (Plus it came out later in the month). I should have this done by the end of the week and immediately get into August’s book. Instead of delaying it like I said, I’ll give my brief thoughts on it and then make a follow-up post next week (there’ll still be a short story review, don’t worry) discussing the whole book, as well as the ending. For now, enjoy my (mostly) spoiler-free review.
Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Warcraft: Before The Storm by Christie Golden.
Fiction Friday: Warcraft: Before The Storm Review
I figured for this Fiction Friday, I’d review a book for an Expanded Universe series. These types of stories don’t get reviewed that often, likely because those that enjoy these franchises will read them. I’ve talked about Expanded Universe books previously, but aside from the Star Wars anthology, I haven’t reviewed any others. So let’s review something from an upcoming World of Warcraft expansion.
Today’s story is Before The Storm by Christie Golden. You can find it here. This is the prelude to the upcoming World of Warcraft Expansion, Battle for Azeroth. I’ll be sure to get in on the action when it comes out and maybe talk about it, but for now, let’s get into how this war starts.
A Tale of Two Leaders
To get everyone up to speed, I’ll give a brief primer of what’s going on in WoW, story-wise. The world of Azeroth dealt with the invasion of the Burning Legion. A demonic force that seeks to wipe out Azeroth. To do that, they bring the world of Argus to us and we go there to end the Burning Legion once and for all. Lead by the fallen Titan Sargeras, he seeks to create a new Titan from a dead world and use it to wipe out all of existence. We stop him, but in one final act of evil, Sargeras plunges a massive sword into the world and with it, a new type of power is revealed, one that could trigger another war between the Alliance and the Horde.
If you followed all of that, then good for you. If not, don’t worry about it that much. It can easily be read as a standalone, although you’ll have a lot of catching up to do. The book itself revolves around the Anduin Wrynn, whose father, Varian Wrynn, was killed in the aforementioned war, and Sylvanas Windrunner, a banshee queen who has become undead and seeks to protect her people, the zombie-like Forsaken.
This is a story that goes deep into the diplomacy side of the two factions. After a brutal war, the two need to focus on rebuilding the world or else they would no longer have one. Yet considering both sides have bad blood with each other and would rather continue fighting until one side is wiped out.
It’s an admirable plot, considering that Anduin is one who doesn’t want to fight anymore, and will do anything to seek peace. Despite being a king, he’s also a Priest, meaning he can mend wounds and restore people using the power of the Light, and otherworldly power kind of like a prayer.
That said, it does tend to be a bit straightforward at times. We see little action and it’s mostly diplomacy. Anduin isn’t one for combat, but he does have the ability to fight back if need be. Most of this is between both Anduin and Sylvanas, plus the side plot of discovering what this mysterious Azerite is, which plays a huge role in the plot.
I feel there are too many POV characters, some are minor characters who lead directly into other characters, Such as Elsie Brenton, who is a Forsaken undead, and the daughter of Anduin’s servant, Wyll. I feel that this story should have been from only Anduin and Sylvanas. We hardly see Sylvanas and her character development, and although she had her moments, Anduin was the star of this book.
And granted, Anduin needed a larger role now that he’s the King of Stormwind. He’s been relegated to minor roles in the past but is now getting a huge role to play here.
But let’s talk about these two for a moment.
Anduin Wrynn’s story
Anduin has always been that kind of naive, yet caring character. His desire for peace is a motivator throughout the book and meeting a long-dead character was one that set the book in motion. This time, he seems more mature, and he’s kind of growing on me as a character, but he still has that issue of being naive to trust Sylvanas with open arms.
If you recall from Game of Thrones (mostly spoilers), Tommen Baratheon was the successor to the evil King Joffrey. He at first reminded me of Anduin a bit, until I realized that he lacked any sort of backbone, giving in far too easily. I’ve never seen that with Anduin. His heart was in the right place, and he’s not so naive that he can’t see evil (he is a priest, after all). This is only the beginning for him.
Seeing him grow throughout the book, I felt more appreciative of him. His first steps into the Netherlight Crucible (the Priest order hall in Legion), was a touching moment. It’s an area where Priests from both Alliance and Horde can mingle and do quests and what not. Having such a moment was something worth mentioning because it showed him that peace between the two factions was possible.
Before, I didn’t have an opinion on him one way or another, but he’s becoming someone I can look up to. A leader who wants to end the eternal war between the Alliance and the Horde, even temporarily. Whether or not he succeeds is another matter, but we’ll see how that turns out.
Sylvanas Windrunner’s Story
Explaining Sylvanas for a moment, in a previous life, she was a high elf, one of three sisters that made fame for themselves. One day, Arthas, under control of the monstrous, undead Scourge, she was killed and brought back as a Banshee. When she came back, she was changed. Now, she suffered a heart of darkness, one torn between life and death, hope and agony.
She’s now Warchief of the Horde, after Vol’jin, the Troll leader, was slain in combat. She’s always been one where she cares deeply about her own people and little of others. Being undead, she hopes to find some solution to her new people’s survival. Of course, that means killing humans and resurrecting them through fallen Valkyr, angelic beings. A feat that made the previous Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream, angered enough to call her out.
She’s never been one for abuse, but she has made some dirty tactics against the Alliance. Here, she’s fully plotting to take down the Alliance and starting war again. I felt her goal was too clear from the start and felt it was foolish to fight while their world was dying. But Sylvanas was never one for peace with the Alliance, and she thinks little of the other races.
I fear she could end up like Garrosh where she embraces the power of an Old God and goes mad. I hope it doesn’t turn out like that because Sylvanas is such an interesting character that I’d hate to see her turn full villain. We’ll see when the expansion takes place, but I want her to be the villain I’ve always thought she’d be. I love villains who care deeply for others, yet their actions are inherently evil. It shows a good and evil side to them, and I’d hate to see Sylvanas lose that. She’s been the most interesting character so far, so I hope she turns out to be one of the best Blizzard has to offer.
I did enjoy this book overall and while it could have been a little more battle-heavy, I do like seeing these two adapt to their new leadership roles. We see their true mentalities come to light and I feel it’ll be interesting to see how they evolve in Battle For Azeroth. I know this book won’t be for everyone, but I would give it a chance even if you have no interest in the game. And if you’re looking for books in the Blizzard Universe, then I’d recommend (not all of them are Warcraft Related)
- Rise of the Horde
- The Dark Templar Trilogy
- Lord of the Clans
- War Crimes
Just to name a few.
Anyway, that’s the review. I’ll be back with a YA fantasy this time around, so be sure to check back.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.
If you have any suggestions for future topics and reviews, hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond. Your feedback is what keeps me going, so thank you for supporting me.
My Japanese Mythology-inspired short story, Do Not Stare Into The Eyes Of A Kitsune, is finally available. You can buy it on Amazon or wherever ebooks are sold. Help a debut author make his debut worth it.
My next work will be titled “City of Kaiju,” a tale about an unlikely alliance between a young girl and her giant dog monster, as they survive chaos and disaster from a gigantic invasion. Part of a new Short Novel initiative, intended to fill in the gap between releases. Set for release within the Fall 2018/Winter 2019 period. Read more about it here.