Christie Golden has written several World of Warcraft novels by now, including my favorite, Tides of War, about my lady Jaina Proudmoore. (I should mention my main is a human mage, so I am obviously biased toward the Alliance, and Jaina is my girl.) So when I heard she was writing the newest one, I was quite excited. Before the Storm was released in June, as part of the lead-up to the newest expansion of World of Warcraft, which drops in mid-August. It covers events that happen after the storyline of the current expansion, but before the storyline picks up in the next. There is not, however, much of an introduction, so if you’re not familiar with the video game, this book will lose you pretty much immediately.
Anduin became the King of Stormwind in the beginning of the last expansion, when his father died fighting the Legion. (RIP, Varian, you were pretty awesome.) As prince, Anduin often advocated for peace, often sneaking around and finding backchannels to communicate with like-minded people among The Horde, most notably Baine Bloodhoof, the high chieftain of the Tauren. As King, he’s continued to advocate for peace, but a bit more openly. Unfortunately, the leader of the Horde doesn’t necessarily feel the same way.
I loved Anduin’s scheme to foster understanding between the Forsaken and humans. I especially loved that it included Old Emma, who has been wandering around Stormwind in game for years. That’s actually something I love about the novels in general; often they’ll take those small, flavorful NPCs and actually give us the backstory, or use them in some new manner.
I also really loved the Goblin/Gnome pair who were tinkering with the Azerite, and I’m a little upset at the cliffhanger we left on in regards to them! Hopefully that will be resolved in the game itself.
I thought it interesting that the book still showed the priests working together as one, and the shamans and druids doing similarly. The shamans and druids have always done that to a point; not every shaman was part of the Earthen Ring, but the druids have always worked together regardless of faction. But if the classes are still being cohesive, why are the factions fighting? That’s 3 out of 12 classes still working cross-faction. Mages, also, have a strong cross-faction tradition. If a quarter to a third of the populace are working together, why are we still fighting? I suppose it’s probably technically smaller than a quarter; civilians and NPC soldiers don’t have classes, so they probably outnumber those with them. So perhaps it’s still a small minority, despite what we see as players. Sylvanus goading her own people doesn’t exactly help.
Anyway. I loved this book, I thought it set us up for Battle For Azeroth quite nicely, I’m eager to see what a certain surprising character from the book ultimately does, and I’m looking forward to release day!
From the cover of Before The Storm:
Azeroth’s reckoning has begun.
Azeroth is dying.
The Horde and the Alliance defeated the demonic Burning Legion, but a dire catastrophe is unfolding deep below the surface of the world. There is a mortal wound in the heart of Azeroth, struck by the sword of the fallen titan Sargeras in a final act of cruelty.
For Anduin Wrynn, king of Stormwind, and Sylvanus Windrunner, warchief of the Horde and queen of the Forsaken, there is little time to rebuild what remains, and even less to mourn what was lost. Azeroth’s devastating wound has revealed a mysterious mineral known as Azerite. In the right hands, this strange golden substance is capable of incredible feats of creation; in the wrong ones, it could bring forth unthinkable destruction.
As Alliance and Horde forces race to uncover the secrets of Azerite and heal the wounded world, Anduin enacts a desperate plan aimed at forging a lasting peace between the factions. Azerite jeopardizes the balance of power, and so Anduin must gain the trust of Sylvanus. But the Dark Lady ever has her own machinations.
For peace to be possible, generations of bloodshed and hatred must be put to rest. But there are truths that neither side is willing to accept and ambitions they are loath to relinquish. As Alliance and Horde alike grasp for the Azerite’s power, their simmering conflict threatens to reignite all-out war – a war that would spell doom for Azeroth.