World of Warcraft: Wolfheart Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, World of Warcraft News

The World of Warcraft: Wolfheart novel by Richard A. Knaak explores a few topics in the initial quarter:

  • Warchief Garrosh Hellscream is portrayed as a cunning opponent who plans and foresees ahead his enemy’s steps. The new Warchief has ordered the capture of fearsome Northrend beasts and plans to unleash them on Ashenvale to weaken the Night Elves — surely auguring a massive Horde invasion to the zone. This is not a simple agenda carried out by orders of the Warchief remotely. Garrosh is at the very forefront of his agenda in Ashenvale.

    It reminds me of the canon Leader Stories in the website … Baine Bloodhoof: As Our Fathers Before Us, where Garrosh spear-headed the invasion to the Quillboar den.

    Garrosh is bold here revealing his plan to seize Ashenvale, and to create a massive city in Ashenvale that will rival Orgrimmar. The timber and ore of this land shall be used to good use by the unstoppable war machine of the Horde.

  • As a response to fans who wondered how Jarod appeared out of the blue in Cataclysm without a proper lore background except he had been captured by the Twilight’s Hammer in Mount Hyjal, the return of Jarod Shadowsong is seen in the first pages. Not much of what has happened with him in the past ten milennia is revealed, however. Apparently not much considering he’s spent all this time in a secluded and happy life with his wife.

    The wane of immortality has affected the Night Elves, and Jarod’s wife seems to be the first sign of natural aging death. This definitely has made Malfurion and all night elves in Darnassus to become worried. This is a sign that the Night Elves will at some point become extinct except for the youth. Malfurion is already feeling the pain and twinges in his shoulder. Symptoms which Jarod described were shared by his wife leading to her natural demise due to aging.

    This leads me to speculate some sort of event might happen either in-game or in written media at some point to restore their immortality. Especially now that Nozdormu has been rescued by Thrall [as seen in World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects]. Otherwise, it won’t be long before Malfurion or Tyrande die of age.

    His return was a planned step by his wife, Shalasyr. While Jarod had brought her to Darnassus to be saved by Tyrande and Elune, Shalasyr knew she wouldn’t reach Darnassus alive. She silently wished to die among her people, and to make certain her beloved won’t remain alone in their self-exiled home.

    Jarod’s return is quickly noticed by Malfurion, and we see some bitter reunions with General Shandris Feathermoon and Warden Maiev Shadowsong. Maiev is, well, her usual sarcasm-sting-driven and hardened persona. Shandris, on the other hand, shows a softer side than expected.

  • The Worgen already reside in Teldrassil, and Jarod finds out in a close encounter of the third type while chasing Maiev into the wild. Hopefully, he was wearing his adult diapers.

  • In the last days of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard Entertainment introduced NPC dialogues hinting at the Tauren Paladin and Night Elf mage classes, later the Troll druid class (Patch 4.0.1: Zalazane’s Fall). Aside from Archmage Mordent Evenshade’s dialogue pre-Cataclysm in Darnassus, not much serves as a lore background. This book seems to change that by featuring the Highborne in Darnassus.

  • At the beginning of the novel, Tyrande thinks of the summit she invoked where the Alliance leaders will be informed of King Genn Greymane and the Worgen. She’s worried King Varian Wrynn won’t attend the summit, because the other leaders might as well decline to come. A vision from Elune shows Tyrande the final moments of Goldrinn during the War of the Ancients, as a sort of metaphor for King Varian Wrynn. Tyrande doesn’t understand the vision too well, but she’s now convinced that King Varian Wrynn is important to the future of the Alliance.

  • I was delighted to read a short rundown on the events that happened in Warcraft III: Frozen Throne as Malfurion and Tyrande tell Jarod some of Maiev’s history including the moment Maiev chose to hunt for Illidan over saving Tyrande. Sadly, just briefly. No blame to make considering how many plots were crammed in into this book, and how little that story fits with the general theme which focus on the Summit and the murder of the Highborne mage named Thera’brin.

  • The Summit takes place in Darnassus with the presence of the leaders of the Alliance, except for Moira and Lady Jaina Proudmoore who sent emissaries on their behalf. Even Velen appears. Everything is peaceful and diplomatic between the guests and Genn Greymane, but this doesn’t last long when King Varian Wrynn makes his entry into the banquet. No need to spoil how things go down between Genn and Varian considering past history. Gilneas retreated from the Alliance during the Second War, and not even during the Third War did the sovereign nation assisted against the Scourge and the Burning Legion. The last time Genn and Varian met, at least thus far in canon lore, was during Arthas’ ceremony welcoming him as a Paladin of the Order of the Silver Hand — celebrated in Stormwind [as seen in World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by New York Times Best Selling Author Christie Golden].

  • A comment from Velen causes me to think of Warcraft IV. Think of it. Warcraft II happened a few years after Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Warcraft III happens over a decade later. It makes sense Warcraft IV might happen by the time Anduin is an adult. It’s nonsense at the moment, but Velen acknowledges “Yes, I must teach him all I know, if that is possible. This one has a destiny with the Light …” (page 148).

At some point during the Summit, Knaak wraps up in a nutshell a brief summary of the events that led the Gilneans to become Worgen straight from the pages of World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen (by Micky Neilson and James Waugh).

There is a very hot and hairy discussion between Malfurion and Varian that’s certainly going to impress fans. Varian is a true jerk in capital letters. I have a feeling, this is only a part of the process, and at some point in the future Varian will come to terms with his past and change to a better person. In the meantime he’s spiraling out of control.

There’s another brief summary of some scenes from the DC Comics World of Warcraft ongoing series by Walter Simonson.

I love how all these novels are cemented in continuity mentioning and acknowledging scenes and knowledge from previous novels, mangas and comic books. Makes the whole reading experience with the MMO continuity feel as one and the same.

I have read some of the feedback fans have in a couple of forums toward World of Warcraft: Wolfheart. I am amazed. I have heard over and over how Richard A. Knaak has been criticized for mary-sue characters, accusations of damsels-in-distress, and such.

Let me tell you. There is no Rhonin, Krasus, or dragon aspects in this novel. No superpowers either. Everyone is as normal as they can be. Personally, I do love Rhonin and Krasus and the gang; and I truly will miss Krasus.

I remember when I first reported Wolfheart was the next novel on schedule, some people hated Tyrande would be written by Knaak — all that nonsense damsel-in-distress complaint. In this novel, Tyrande commands the Night Elven forces against Garrosh Hellscream and the Horde who invade Ashenvale with brutality. I think this is the first time we see Tyrande perform this good since the days of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

Garrosh is his arrogant usual, cunning and a strategist. Knaak nails his personality down very well, and improves it several notches. King Varian Wrynn performs as known from the pen of Walter Simonson and Christie Golden, and as we usually see in those in-game cutscenes.

I have read feedback that praises this book in comparison to previous novels people have criticized — and that in my opinion is a redeeming force. To see some of the minority who despised Knaak’s writing, praise World of Warcraft: Wolfheart is stunning and surprising. I have read the book over the weekend, and I do agree this novel feels different.

Still, there are people who keep criticizing even when all the key complaints from Knaak’s previous novels are missing from Wolfheart. You can never please everyone. However, I think Knaak hit a very sweet spot here where even those who criticized previous works, or were skeptic on Wolfheart, now love Wolfheart. That’s a welcome change.

The forum thread (be warned, full of spoilers) over at MMO-Champion has over 12,000 views, and ScrollsofLore has over 34 pages worth of good and bad feedback. The book isn’t even on sale yet. I see World of Warcraft: Wolfheart becoming another New York Times Best Seller.

Order World of Warcraft: Wolfheart (Hardcover, or eBook). On sale September 13, 2011.

TIMELINE

This novel takes place some time after Deathwing’s emergence from Deepholme into the Maelstrom causing the Cataclysm. The Gilnean Worgen already live in Teldrassil, thus some time after the Night Elves rescued them. The novel ends likely at the point in time MMO-wise prior to the incursion of Alliance forces from Theramore into the Barrens. In short, the Alliance forces in the Barrens is a response to Garrosh’s invasion on Ashenvale.

CHARACTERS

  • Captain Briln – captain of a ship. Lost his eye in the battle against Admiral Proudmoore.
  • Tyrande Whisperwind
  • Malfurion Stormrage
  • Jarod Shadowsong
  • Sentinel Commander Haldrissa Woodshaper – Commander and overseer of Ashenvale forces.
  • Xanon
  • Sentinel Lieutenant Denea – Haldrissa’s second in command
  • Shalasyr – Jarod Shadowsong’s wife.
  • General Shandris Feathermoon
  • Maiev Shadowsong – Training students for a new Watchers force.
  • Neva – Maiev’s best student.
  • Aradria Cloudflyer – best expert hyppogryph rider among the Ashenvale forces.
  • Var’dyn Skyseeker – Eldre’Thalas Highborne
  • Archmage Mordent Evenshade
  • Eadrik – Genn Greymane’s messenger
  • King Genn Greymane
  • Archmage Tervosh (Theramore representative)
  • Thargas Anvilmar (Bronzebeard Emissary)
  • Drukan (Dark Iron Emissary)
  • Kurdran Wildhammer (Wildhammer Emissary)
  • Thera’brin (the assassinated Highborne)
  • High Tinker Gelbin Mekkatorque
  • Dwendel (gnome)
  • Prophet Velen
  • King Varian Wrynn
  • Prince Anduin Wrynn
  • Kara’din – druid emissary
  • Parsis – druid emissary
  • Ildyri – Shandris’ Sentinel Guard
  • Ha’srim – another murdered Highborne
  • Su’ura Swiftarrow – Silverwing Grove
  • Hutihu (Su’ura’s owl)
  • Illiyana Moonblaze

CHAPTERS

Prologue: Northrend
Chapter 1: The Wolf
Chapter 2: Incursion
Chapter 3: Jarod Shadowsong
Chapter 4: The Message from Ashenvale
Chapter 5: Bitter Reunions
Chapter 6: Storm at Sea
Chapter 7: Into the Forest
Chapter 8: Arrivals
Chapter 9: A Final Farewell
Chapter 10: The Banquet
Chapter 11: Darkened Hearts
Chapter 12: The Horde Strikes
Chapter 13: Jarod’s Hunt
Chapter 14: The Worgen
Chapter 15: Choices
Chapter 16: A Messenger’s Resolve
Chapter 17: Into the Forest
Chapter 18: The Chase
Chapter 19: Silverwing
Chapter 20: Departures
Chapter 21: A Line Drawn
Chapter 22: Ritual
Chapter 23: Purification
Chapter 24: Ashenvale at War
Chapter 25: Valor
Chapter 26: Maiev
Chapter 27: The Horde Ascendant
Chapter 28: The Sword and the Axe
Chapter 29: To Forge a Future

LOCATIONS

  • Maestra’s Post
  • Darnassus
  • The Oracle Glade
  • Ashenvale

Bonus:

Warchief Garrosh Hellscream’s Tusk shoulderpads are Mannoroth’s.

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