Welcome to the World of Warcraft Readthrough where I am diving into the lore of Warcraft chronologically. For a running list of characters, look here. If you’d like more information on the specifics or the why, head over to the starter post. You do not have to have played World of Warcraft or have any previous knowledge of the world, but please note, since this is an in-depth read, there will be spoilers.
We begin with World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, which was recently published in March of this year (2016). It is written by Chris Metzen, Matt Burns, and Robert Brooks. The trouble with kicking off our readthrough with this book is that is starts with the beginning of time and works it’s way to the First War. In order to try and remain as consistent as possible chronologically, I will be reading sections and stopping at the point of the next novel on my list. I was able to read around 20 pages before hitting the point of our next novel, Dawn of the Aspects. That being said, those 20 pages contained a lot of information, and I will break it all down. There will be several posts over this section since it is the backbone of the creation of the world and introduces many key players.
Since this is my first interaction with this book, I’d like to talk about it a little. As the title implies, this is a factual accounting of historical events, or as factual and historical as they can be for a fantasy world. Therefore, it doesn’t read like a novel. It really does read like a history book, if that history book contained magic and demonic beings. The artwork is beautiful. I have always loved the detail Blizzard puts into their concepts and books, and this is by far the best example. But due to the content, this book would really only be for a Warcraft connoisseur or a fantasy art lover. However, it will give us some great perspective about the future novels we read. In addition to the amazing art, the book gives us many maps of the world, and so far, that has been my favorite part. It’s interesting to see it change over time.
Since this is not your typical novel, I don’t feel a typical review would work, not to mention I am not completing the book in one sitting. Instead, I plan on a more analytical style review, using previous knowledge I have of the world and game as well as other mythologies I have read. This book is packed with information, and while I’ll try and keep this post from becoming too dense, this is where we will truly set the stage and fill in gaps for future books. So, it’s got a lot of work to do. And so do we. Let’s dive in.
This world began with a clashing and blending of two forces. One was Light, which seems to have always been. As it expanded, Void formed in the areas where Light was stretched thin. The Void was “a dark and vampiric force driven to devour all energy.” As the Void grew in power and spread, it clashed with Light, and eventually caused the physical universe to be made, known as the Great Dark Beyond (GDB). The world we will come to know as Azeroth is just one of countless worlds in this universe. The unstable energies from the creation of GDB merged into an astral dimension called the Twisting Nether. While the two exist apart, they are still linked, meaning the energies of the Nether can break their way into the physical world, causing untold amounts of chaos.
This great clash also caused Light to scatter across the universe, giving birth to varying forms of life. The elemental spirits were found on almost every world (fire, air, earth, and water), but they relished in turmoil. The Naaru were beings composed of holy energy who wanted to “spread hope and nurture life wherever they could find it.” The Titans, also called “world-souls,” formed in the core of a world and would eventually wake and walk the universe in enormous forms. In this section of our reading, the most important by far were the Titans. One named Aman’Thul was the first to wake, and he went out in search of others. This group of Titans would become the Pantheon, composed of seven.
- Aman’Thul: Highfather of the Pantheon
- Sargeras: Defender of the Pantheon
- Aggramar: Lieutenant of the Great Sargeras
- Eonar: The Life-Binder
- Khaz’goroth: Shaper and Forger of Worlds
- Norgannon: Keeper of Celestial Magics and Lore
- Golganneth: Lord of the Skies and Roaring Oceans
The one we need to pay attention to here is Sargeras. He’ll be vitally important much later and plays a pivotal role in much of the game and a lot of the lore. The Pantheon traveled the GDB, building and protecting worlds they encountered in order to bring forth a fellow Titan.
Remember that Twisting Nether? Well, it spawned demons, including ones known as dreadlords and pit lords, who made their way into the physical universe, of course causing some chaos with some shadow and fel magics. The Pantheon sent Sargeras to deal with them. He eventually got some help from another Titan, Aggramar, but Sargeras was the one who did most of the work. He realized that when a demon was killed in the physical world, it just returned to the Twisting Nether and would eventually remanifest. So, he created Mardum, the Plane of Banishment, a pocket dimension prison within the Nether.
While the Pantheon was concerning themselves with finding other world-souls and destroying demons, dark spirits that came from the Void grew jealous of their power. These Void Lords wanted to corrupt a Titan, but since the Pantheon was resistant, they moved to get one still deep in sleep. They threw out creatures into the GDB, referred to as Old Gods (gargantuan masses of flesh with numerous eyes, mouths, and tentacles), to contaminate other worlds in hopes of finding one containing a slumbering Titan.
While cleaning up the demon problem, Sargeras stumbled into one of these worlds. One that actually had a world-soul inside. He could sense the dark and evil dreams of the world-soul and learned from the dreadlords that once awoken, it would be a dark creature more powerful than anything ever created. In fear and despair, Sargeras knew the only way to stop it was to destroy it, and he cleaved the world in two, destroying the Old Gods, but also the world-soul. The rest of the Pantheon was shocked, to say the least. Despite not seeing the destruction and malice Sargeras had, they believed they could have saved their kin. For Sargeras, all it did was reinforce that the current world was flawed and needed to be reset. The others were horrified and refused, so Sargeras left, seeking to do it himself and wallowing in what he felt was betrayal.
As an avid reader of mythology and creation stories, I enjoy the thought put into this one. It could have easily been a throwaway copy of another. However, the play on the clashing of Light and Void mirrors what will happen throughout the history of this universe. There is a constant battle between these two forces, and I like the idea that the world began this way as well. In the same respect, the beginnings of the Twisting Nether don’t seem as well thought out. They state the demons spawned by the Light and Void bleeding together. However, looking at the other creations of Light and Void, we can see a pattern of innate good or evil, respectively. Even the elemental spirits have at least some good in them, even if it is just among their own kind. The demons that spawned from the Twisting Nether have no motivation other than power, no matter the cost. Did the Twisting Nether itself warp them? I would have liked to get more information surrounding the creation of what will come to be a persistent threat to Azeroth. They also gave no information on the actual creation of both fel and shadow magic within the Twisting Nether. It just was.
The Titans were also an interesting bunch, but they raised some questions for me. They traveled the universe, organizing and forging each world they encountered, even creating life, in order to awaken another Titan. However, each time they mention encountering a world-soul, they say that the power or dreams could be sensed. The book even states that most of these worlds that they forged and swore to protect proved to have no world-soul. They do not give a time frame for this discovery, but it begs me to ask the question, what would happen to these worlds if a Titan does awaken? These creatures have the forms of humanoids, literally walking the universe, does everything just go with it? Do they let all the creatures and life die simply for another Titan to walk among them even?
What gave the Titans those particular powers? Why was Khaz’goroth the Shaper, for instance? There was do detail given on why they had these specific powers, just a list of them. It would have been a great addition considering we come across these powers in multiple cases later. While on the subject of powers, I can’t help but notice that Eonar, the only female Titan, is the Life-Binder. While I appreciate that a woman is given the task of creating life in this mythology, I would have liked more. Unfortunately, having such a glaringly low percent of the total be women is going to continue. We get some powerful women in the game, and I look forward to discussing those in a greater context, but it is aggravating to have such small representation elsewhere, even among the evil creatures.
Speaking of evil creatures, I love the birth of the Old Gods. I just pictured these balls of goop and tentacles being flung across the universe, slopping onto a planet and digging in. At first, I thought that if these Void Lords attempted to corrupt a Titan, they would have known about the threat, but the book does a good job of explaining that the Titans knew the Void energy was there, but they did not know of the creatures. It must be a big universe indeed to not see these flinging globbules!
The best part of the section though, has to be Sargeras. Without spoiling too much for any non-players or newbies, suffice to say it’s easy to see that someone who wants to “reset” the world and start again can’t mean good things for the future of the GDB. And despite being a player and knowing what we will encounter, I found myself drawn to him. They did an excellent job of getting you to sense his courage and nobility, his desire to protect, and his fear and loss at the destruction of his kin. I understood his frustration with his fellow Titans when they could not understand why he did what he did, for they hadn’t seen it. The Titan who left the Pantheon was not angered and volatile, but full of despair, and that really puts a new spin on how I see him. I hope they continue with that process in future readings.
. . . . .
Despite only being a shortened reading, I feel full of new information. It was enlightening to learn something that even after ten years in this world I had never known. We will continue next time with the start of the Primordial Azeroth chapter in World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume One. What are your thoughts on the mythology of the world? Did you draw any comparisons to other mythologies? Tell me in the comments below.