I finally got around to finishing this book last week. I bought it a couple of months ago and I’m a little embarrassed that it took me so long to read. I seriously need to quit playing WoW so much and start reading again. Hell, The Gathering Storm came out yesterday and I still haven’t read book 10 or 11 yet!
Anyway, this book was definitely a fun read. As someone who played Warcraft 3, albeit badly, it was kind of fun to experience the story again. In fact, it got me wondering how much like the game the book really was. Did they stay true to the story? Did they take a few artistic licenses?
So what I did was start looking around YouTube for answers and found one of the many various playlists available for Warcraft 3 videos. As I started watching, I remembered a few of the things surrounding Arthas, but found I had forgotten several other things like how Uther died. Yeah, I’m a paladin. Sue me! It’s been nearly 10 years since I last played and as Mikata is so keen to point out, I’m old! My memory isn’t as good as it once was.
What I began to notice as I watched was how familiar some of the dialogue was. In fact, it sounded spot on! Sure enough some of the exact dialogue was penned in this book. Actually a lot of it was. The book just expanded on it.
The book itself covers events from Arthas’ early childhood, before events in Warcraft 3, setting the stage for his eventual fall from the Light. The story continues through the events of Warcraft 3, including his growing relationship with Jaina Proudmore which is only hinted at in the game unless you actually read the Game Manual which flat out states there is one, and Arthas becoming a death knight for the Lich King.
Wait! What?! Arthas wasn’t the Lich King?!
Yeah, a lot of us know he wasn’t the original Lich King, but there are a lot of people that play World of Warcraft that have never played Warcraft 1-3. Shock! Awe! Sputter! No!!! Although I have no proof to back it up, I’d venture to guess that less than half of current WoW players have ever played Warcraft 3.
Anyway, the story continues and ends with events from Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, the expansion set to Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Although a lot of the game deals with other characters rather than Arthas, the book grabs a lot of those details and stays true to the lore already established by Blizzard. The book builds on the excitement as Arthas races to the Frozen Throne to become the Lich King.
Remember how I said I was bad at Warcraft 3? I wasn’t very good at it in single-player. I was abysmal in multi-player. Hot keys? Point-and-click is easier. Yeah…
Reading the book and watching the game videos got me really excited about lore. But after watching the videos of The Frozen Throne I began to realize something. I never finished the game. I was so bad at it that I now remember getting frustrated and quitting after the first couple of levels. No wonder Burning Crusade made little sense to me! Anyway, I was so intrigued about the lore that I went out and bought the Warcraft 3 Battle Chest and am slowly working through the game again.
It really is amazing how much more sense Burning Crusade makes now. Why was Draenor (Outland) in pieces? Who was the original Lich King? Who the hell was Magtheridon and why wasn’t he in the Black Temple? I’d already forgotten who Kael’thas was, if I knew who he was to begin with, and his relationship with Lady Vashj and Illidan. In fact, he’s now a much more interesting character than he was for me previously. The book actually adds an interesting twist to why Kael’thas hates Arthas aside from the fact that Arthas destroyed the Sunwell and his home.
But perhaps the best part of the book for me was the actual ending. The book answered a question I’ve had for years. Who is the Lich King?
For those that don’t know, Ner’zhul was the original Lich King. Ner’zhul was an orc shaman that struck a deal with Kil’jaeden that ultimately led to the orcs enslavement and was responsible for the events in the original Warcraft. He was replaced by Guldan when Kil’jaeden decided he didn’t have what it took and Ner’zhul defied Kil’jaeden by refusing to help further. He was ultimately responsible for the destruction of Draenor and was later caught by Kil’jaeden and tortured near to death. He was placed in the Frozen Throne, made into the Lich King, and given the responsibility of bringing about the plague on Azeroth in preparation of the Burning Legion’s next attempt at conquest.
At the end of the book and of the Warcraft 3 expansion, the Lich King is under attack and sends for Arthas to save him. Joining with Arthas, Ner’zhul is freed of his prison, but the question remains. Who is the Lich King?
Has Ner’zhul taken over Arthas’ body and Arthas is trapped away in some corner of his mind? Is Arthas the fallen hero fighting for redemption even as we prepare for battling him in Icecrown? Could we be moving towards saving Arthas rather than defeating him as we now believe? Can someone say Return of the Jedi?
Is Arthas in control having absorbed Ner’zhul into him? Has he truly forsaken all that he was and is an evil son-of-a-bitch that we’re eventually going to enjoy sticking it to?
Or have the two become something new, something greater in power, something ultimately more evil than the two were apart? Are they now a new being that really is the Lich King and nothing more?
You’ll just have to read the book*.
*Or the ending you cheating bastards!