World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal continues the story of World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness. These books are novelizations of the world-acclaimed RTS games Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and its expansion pack Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal.

World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal serves as a backstory for fans of the World of Warcraft MMO who wish to know more about Khadgar, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Danath Trollbane, and Kurdran Wildhammer. You can also learn more about Teron Gorefiend, Ner’zhul and their twisted plans to create portals to other worlds. The Burning Crusade expansion sets the stage for what is to come in future MMO expansions. Chris Metzen revealed at BlizzCon 2005 there are plans to add four more portals besides the three already found in-game.  These are the portals created by Ner’zhul in the RTS Game.  These portals were the cause of Draenor’s fate into what is now known as Outland.

Both novels—published by Pocket Star Books and co-written by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden—are available at a bookstore near you and online.

Blizzplanet and the Warcraft lore community had the opportunity to ask Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden a few questions about their latest novel, World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal.

1. I’m interested in the relationship the two authors have in regards to this work. The community has guessed that Christie Golden will handle the Horde side while Rosenberg handles the Alliance. Is this accurate? —by Nephalim

Christie: Actually, it worked out so that we both got to play with both sides, something that was refreshing to me. I play both Horde and Alliance in-game, so it was quite fun to be able to write for Khadgar, Turalyon, Alleria, Muradin, and so on. It was also rather nostalgic to get to revisit Ner’zhul and Grom after working with the characters in Rise of the Horde.

Aaron: As Christie said, we both got to deal with both sides, which was great—I really had fun alternating between Horde and Alliance on Tides of Darkness, so I was pleased to continue that habit here. I’ve gotten fond of several characters on both sides!

2. Have either of you collaborated with another author on a single book before?  – by Nephalim

Christie: Yes, I’d done so once before, with author Michael Jan Friedman. It was similar, in that I was not involved with the book from the beginning, but was brought in because of a time crunch issue. I think something like that can only really work if the author being brought in is deeply familiar with the world. In that case, it was Star Trek, and I had done Trek novels before; in this case, it was World of Warcraft, where I spend a lot of my time these days—both for work and for pleasure!

Aaron: Yes, Glenn Hauman and I cowrote a pair of Star Trek S.C.E. (Starfleet Corps of Engineers) books: Creative Couplings Book One and Book Two (famous for being the first depiction of a Jewish-Klingon wedding). That was a very different process, though—there, Glenn and I worked out the plot for both books together, then we each took one of the two major storylines as our own but sent the other our sections to read over and clean up if necessary. Here it was more a matter of me starting the book and then Christie graciously stepping in to help finish it. In both cases, though, I’d say the books were stronger for having twice as much authorial attention!

3. Do you find writing a collaborative project to be more difficult, or is it easier to have someone else to bounce ideas off of? —by Nephalim

Christie: I don’t know that it’s harder or easier per se, just different.  It offers its own challenges and also offers ease—you don’t have to be responsible for every single word; someone’s got your back. But I’d have to do more collaborations to really get a sense of it. It does take an ability to “play well with others,” but I think you already have demonstrated your ability to do that if you are writing in a shared world to begin with.

Aaron: It is more difficult because you’re not the only one working on the project. But it’s easier because you’re not handling it all on your own. And as Christie said, if you’re writing licensed books at all, you’re used to working with others on your projects in some capacity, so it’s something you’re already comfortable doing. Especially on a book like this, which is so much fun and has so much room that we both had space to play!

4. There were no draenei in the Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal game. However, World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde introduced the draenei as the very reason the Burning Legion corrupts and transforms the noble orc race. Omacron asked: How will the existence of the draenei be handled in this book?

Christie: Hmm, well it’s kind of fun how we handled that, so I’d hate to blow the surprise. Suffice to say that I’ve always thought the draenei could be pretty intimidating and that it was always a good thing they were on the side of the Light. *grin*

Aaron: You’ll definitely meet the draenei, that’s for sure—and you’ll see them in an interesting light, as well. I wouldn’t want to give anything else away!

5. Aaron, the StarCraft enthusiasts have read StarCraft: Queen of Blades and know how close to the game’s missions you stick in the book. Kenzuki asked: How close to the Beyond the Dark Portal RTS game’s missions is the novel, and are there any changes or retcons to the story?  – by Kenzuki

Aaron: I always do my best to follow the missions in books like these, to keep the novel accurate to the game. Having said that, it’s not always possible—sometimes you have to change details to keep the story cohesive, sometimes to match newer details and histories, and sometimes just because covering every mission as established in the games would produce a novel over 700 pages long! So there are some changes, but I think we’ve kept all the important missions and the general feel of the game.

6. Will you include more cameo appearances of characters from The Burning Crusade, such as Captain Auric Sunchaser, who was Alleria’s second-in-command, or Archmage Vargoth of Dalaran?  – by Timolas

Aaron: I don’t want to give anything away, but yes, you’ll definitely see some people you’ll recognize.

7. How far do you intend on ranging the book’s timeline? When will the story start and roughly how long a story will it tell? Is it limited to the events of Warcraft II, or shall it go beyond to shed light on how Outland is as we know it today?  – by Timolas

Christie: It will definitely be familiar, as we have a lot more understanding of Draenor now than when Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal came out. Do bear in mind, though, that Outland became the way it is now after some of the events you’ll see depicted in the book.

Aaron: The novel hews closely to the events in the game, so it covers the Second War. You do get some insight into Outland just because of the events that take place near the end of the war, however.

8. Will you include goblins and gnomes in this book? If so, will you give a valid reason why they were apparently absent in the World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness Pocket Star Book? Or will you change the lore so that one or both of these races never took part in Tides of Darkness or Beyond the Dark Portal?  – by emperium

Christie: Having gnomes and goblins in the book was something Blizzard specifically wanted to see. I do think they get a little forgotten sometimes, yet there are so many who choose to play gnomes, and I think we all like the goblins. It was a lot of fun to largely “introduce” these characters into the world of the novels. They also added a bit of humor and whimsy, I felt.

Aaron: You’ll definitely see them here. As to why they weren’t in Tides of Darkness, well, it’s tough to follow everybody when two whole worlds are at war!

9. Christie, what can you tell us about the romance between Turalyon and Alleria?

Christie: *grin* I always envied Richard Knaak the chance to deal with the one of the great love stories of Azeroth, so I was very pleased to have a chance to work with these two characters. Everyone loves a lover, right? All joking aside, I’ve always enjoyed being able to put a little romance into my writing. People are people, and in the middle of all that action, if they find time to hate, plot, scheme, and fight, they’re going to find time to fall in love. What was challenging to me was how to keep these characters true to their kick-butt heritage while also giving them gentler sides and making their romance believable. Turalyon is a paladin, and I loved getting to emphasize the more spiritual aspect of him. That’s what draws Alleria to someone of another race who is much, much younger than she is. He’s young, but he’s got something truly great in his heart, and she responds to that. As for her—she’s beautiful, intelligent, and one heck of a fighter. What’s not to fall in love with?

10. Can we expect any new info or revelations on the story? Or is it a tell-about of a game plot? —by Lon-ami

Christie: It’s much more than just a recapping of the story. The Burning Crusade expansion was obviously not yet out when Warcraft II was created, and there was so much that went into Burning Crusade that Aaron and I got to play with and put in. We talked about the draenei a little earlier—well, to those of you who’ve played Burning Crusade, this world will be the one you’ve gotten to know and love.

Aaron: There’s certainly more here than just a straight recreation of the game plot. Any time you get to see deeper into character motivations that’s true, and of course you also get to see things that occurred between game events and led to actions both there and elsewhere.

11. Will the book have the same kind of “spot your favorite World of Warcraft location” theme as in Rise of the Horde? Which Azeroth and Outland locations will be mentioned in the novel? —by Kerrah

Christie: Goodness yes! It’s almost like a tour. It should be even more fun for readers because the book was written after The Burning Crusade came out, and Rise of the Horde was written while the expansion was still in development.

Aaron: I don’t want to give things away by naming specific locations, but you will definitely see a lot of places in both worlds that you already know and love.

12. Will the origins of the Mag’har be alluded to, since Rise of the Horde seemed to make it pretty clear every last orc turned green? Will Greatmother Geyah play any role?—by Kerrah

Aaron: Greatmother Geyah does indeed appear, as do the Mag’har.

13. In the Warcraft II expansion, Teron Gorefiend was sent by Ner’zhul to Azeroth to retrieve four artifacts of power. Will Teron Gorefiend and relics like the Eye of Dalaran, the Jeweled Sceptre of Sargeras, the Book of Medivh, and the Skull of Gul’dan feature prominently in the story? —by Timolas

Aaron: Absolutely—and I hope we help resolve questions about those items and their involvement and eventual disposition.

14. The Skull of Gul’dan seems to have somehow ended up first in possession of the Bonechewers, then Khadgar, and finally the Burning Legion in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos; though in Warcraft II it is last seen abandoned by Khadgar in the final cinematic. Will it be explained how the Skull of Gul’dan ended up in possession of the Horde in Outland and finally in the hands of the Burning Legion? —by Timolas

Christie: Gul’dan’s skull certainly did bounce around a lot, didn’t it? Don’t worry; you’ll see plenty of its travels in the book.

Aaron: We do indeed explain it. That’s one of the fun things about doing books like this—we get to answer questions like “How the heck did that get all the way over there?

Special thanks to Marco Palmieri (Pocket Star Books), Nethaera and Blizzard Entertainment. Stay tuned to Blizzplanet news for the second part of this interview.