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Review: World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King

I finished reading the book and I am ready to tell fans my experience without spoiling much. At least nothing you haven’t already seen in Warcraft III. For those catching up, we got some World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King galleys to giveaway to fans—courtesy of Simon & Schuster and Blizzard Entertainment.  A galley is an uncorrected proof (a special advance reader’s edition not-for-sale).  The advantage is that you get to read the book nearly two months ahead before they hit bookstores.

On to the review, Christie Golden has done an excellent work researching many previous books by other authors, and playing Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its Frozen Throne expansion. We get to see Arthas at age 9 and how his life and experiences shaped up what one day would be a Prince sacrificing everything zealously for his people, to be able to claim Frostmourne in order to defeat the dreadlord Mal’Ganis.

We see Sir Anduin Lothar, Khadgar and a young Prince Varian Wrynn arriving at Capital City to inform about the fall of Stormwind—an exact scene from World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness by Aaron Rosenberg—but from the point of view of a young Arthas hiding on the upper gallery to witness the scene. We see how Varian and Arthas play together, except Varian had been trained since childhood, while Arthas was overprotected from such trainings by his father.

The love triangle between Kael, Jaina and Arthas is explored in-depth throughout two chapters and a half. Christie works her usual magic here developing feelings and passions. We get to briefly see many characters of the Warcraft universe, and various scenes from the point of view of Arthas.  We get to see that scene in Day of the Dragon when Lord Daval Prestor (Deathwing) was chosen to marry Calia Menethil when she was age 16. A scene from World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal when Muradin walks in into Capital City to find a young Arthas playing make-believe attacking illusory orcs with his training sword. This leads Muradin to volunteer to train him.

Something I found quite refreshing was the use of World of Warcraft festivities throughout the length of the book. Noblegarden, the Midsummer Fire Festival, the Hallow’s End, and the Feast of Winter Veil to develop the relationship between Arthas and Jaina together as years go by. As some people know, Christie Golden has been a World of Warcraft player for the past years on a RP-server. She knows the game with a passion.

Arthas visiting Durnholde Keep on behalf of his father, as he starts taking bigger responsibilities as a Prince. Meeting Thrall fight other adversaries at the Gladiator Arena. His induction ceremony at the Cathedral of Light where he was ordained a Paladin of the Order of the Silver Hand.

You will love how accurately Christie depicts the scenes from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos word by word as things are said either in the mission briefings or the in-game engine’s cinematics—fleshing out those parts in between to connect with the next campaign maps.

For example, remember that scene where Arthas awaits Jaina? The soldier asks Arthas if they should help Jaina. Enter Jaina …. fleeing from Ogres. She turns around and handles them on her own with the help of a Water Elemental.

That scene when they find the plagued silo, find two elven priests and even a dwarven mortar team.  Then arrive to the granary and find an Abomination.

Jaina: “By the Light—- that creature looks like it was sewn together from different corpses!”

Arthas: “Let’s study it after we kill it, okay?”

The scene where Arthas calls Uther a traitor and disbands the Order of the Silver Hand. The Cunning of Stratholme. The search for Frostmourne and the apparent demise of Mal’Ganis. Walk the halls toward the throne room of Lordaeron Capital City. Find out what went through Arthas’ mind when touching the rose petals with his gloved fingers.

For continuity’s sake, we see Jaina Proudmoore and Magna Aegwynn (Medivh’s mother) in Theramore (from the pages of World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred by Keith R.A. DeCandido and the current DC comics / Wildstorm World of Warcraft Comic Book). As well as various scenes from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion with brief cameos of Tuskarr and Taunka races.

The book goes as far as Warcraft III: Frozen Throne’s Undead Campaign from start to end. There is only two major omissions that I have to acknowledge may have been due to space just 25 pages away from the last page. The lapse between fighting Sapphiron to entering the gates to the Inner Kingdom was completely skipped. And the major turn off is that the Forgotten One is not even mentioned as even happening.

The epilogue presents what happened these past four years with Arthas. He is been dreaming. And he awakes leading to the invasion to Orgrimmar and Stormwind and the events of Wrath of the Lich King. But what happened during those four years of dreaming? There has been an inner conflict within Arthas the Lich King’s head … between three minds striving for control: Ner’zhul, Arthas, and … who we are familiar with as Matthias Lehner (the ghost child). The end is shocking to say the least. And unexpected.

Except for those two events omitted, the book is accurate and loyal to the events of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: Frozen Throne. And offers much more with extra spice from Christie Golden. I can only say one thing about this. I (beep) love this book !!!

This book is an overdosed cocktail of lore and continuity that will numb your senses.

If you are a die-hard WarCraft lore fan you can’t miss this book.  If you are a World of Warcraft player who didn’t get to play previous Warcraft games—this book will be your best chance at catching up with Arthas’ past pre-Third War and it covers both: Warcraft III and its expansion accurately. Pre-Order World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King … on sale: April 21, 2009.

Watch our interview with Blizzard’s Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson at the 2009 New York Comic Con for details of World of Warcraft: Arthas and the World of Warcraft: Stormrage book.

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003 posting news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Next-Gen MMO, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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