It’s no wonder. The novel is a World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion tie-in. A prequel.
In this novel, Deathwing has not yet emerged from Deepholm. However, most of the story setting seen in the expansion is mentioned in the novel. Thus, the novel reveals how things came to be the way they are in-game.
For example, the main topic of the novel revolves around Thrall. What led him to vanquish his title as Warchief. The elements are in distress, and at times don’t listen to the call of the Shamans.
The earthquakes, storms, tsunami, and fires keep increasing as weeks go by with no definite source to what’s causing the worldwide problem.
Not much of a spoiler because most of players already experienced the pre-Cataclysm world event and its phases.
Remember that scene when Thrall goes to Nagrand to learn at the Throne of the Elements? We see all the story prior to Thrall arriving there unravel.
Grandmother Geyah wasn’t able to teach her grandson Thrall, err Go’el, but her right-hand: Aggra, obeys her wish to take the task.
Thrall learned shamanism from Drek’Thar long ago, as seen in the novel Warcraft: Lord of the Clans. However, Drek’Thar didn’t have the necessary tools to do the rituals and tests Thrall required.
The ritual should have been done surrounded by a community of Shamans while Thrall enters a deep trance to face his trials before the element spirits.
The relationship between Aggra and Thrall is a tempest during his training. It’s revealed why she is so angry at him. However, I can say Chris Metzen kept his word that Thrall would be falling in love, as stated a few BlizzCon ago.
It wasn’t Garona as he joked, but now we know he wasn’t able to talk about Aggra yet without spoiling certain things about Cataclysm. Christie Golden is a legend when it comes to bringing forth the emotive feelings in her writing style. You won’t want to miss this interesting hate/love interaction between Thrall and Aggra.
The Shattering is not just about Thrall, however. For the first time in a novel, Prince Anduin Wrynn takes most of the spotlight. We have seen Anduin and his mindset in the World of Warcraft comic book under the hands of Walter Simonson, but Christie Golden had the opportunity to really polish and dye-finish what Walter clay molded.
A comic book has a bit over 20 pages, while a novel has 352 pages.
There’s a broader approach with the nearly mother-like relationship between Lady Jaina Proudmoore and Anduin throughout the novel. Anduin also grows gradually in maturity. At the end of the novel, the child Anduin we know ends up more like an adult teenager understanding and executing the concept of politics, and diplomacy as he would once he becomes King. We see Anduin falling in … love?, for the first time.
King Varian Wrynn decided to let Anduin stay in Ironforge for a while, hoping he would be trained to be a glorious warrior the way he was trained as a child himself. His primary reason for this decision was to keep his boy away from him, while he deals with his Lo’gosh personality and inner-demons.
In the pre-Cataclysm world event, we helped a courier that was under attack by the Twilight Hammer to take from him a tablet from Ulduar. This is further explored when one of the tablets reach Ironforge.
King Magni wishes to lead the tablet ritual himself hoping to commune with the earth to understand what’s so wrong that the elements are in disarray, and to help. Things go wrong. So wrong.
King Magni Bronzebeard transforms into pure diamond before the astonished eyes of Anduin, High Priest Rohan, Belgrun and Magellas.
This later leads to a coup in Ironforge when Moira Bronzebeard comes to claim her heritage as Empress of Ironforge, leader of two kingdoms.
In this novel, we see how the Council of Three Hammers is formed, which is composed of Moira (Dark Iron Representative), Muradin (Bronzebeard Representative) and Falstad (Wildhammer Representative). This is what triggered the whole Red Shirt Guy thing during BlizzCon 2010. He read The Shattering a few days prior to BlizzCon, and noticed Kurdran Wildhammer was in Ironforge’s Throne Room instead of Falstad.
Another aspect of the pre-Cataclysm world event is seen with Garrosh taking the mantle of Warchief when Thrall assigns him to watch over the Horde while he goes to Nagrand to learn how to help Azeroth’s elemental spirits.
Cairne saw things that alerted him of how dangerous it was to let Garrosh loose with too much power.
Things get really bad when Thrall decides to appoint Garrosh as Warchief. However, a misunderstanding caused Cairne to call upon an orcish duel to strip Garrosh from his position. Garrosh in turn bluffs to force Cairne to retreat his challenge by asking the duel to be the old way: to the death.
Everyone wishing to learn how Cairne died would love to read it through the mind-eye of Christie Golden.
We see a very unusual alliance surfacing when Baine Bloodhoof seeks help to retake Thunder Bluff. One that really makes no sense unless we play the low level quests in Dustwallow Marsh.
Overall, World of Warcraft: The Shattering is one heck of a rollercoaster ride jam-packed with action on both sides: The Alliance and the Horde. Lot of emotional moments. Intrigue. Conspiracy. Betrayal. Love. Anger. Revenge. Uncertainty.
Most, if not all the characters, are characters that already exist in-game. That’s a nice touch.
It’s a must-have in your collection of Warcraft novels, and it does add to your knowlege of the game lore and quests by revealing to you how the status quo in the Cataclysm expansion came to be.
Once you read World of Warcraft: The Shattering, your feeling toward the Cataclysm will be widen up several notches, and you will hope the upcoming World of Warcraft: Thrall, Twilight of the Dragons is released soon enough to keep reading.
Christie Golden is a known World of Warcraft gamer, and she has helped build the lore and content that developers pour into the game.