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Rise Of The Horde

After reading Arthas, I found myself wanting to read more. I haven’t read fantasy novels in a long time, but that one really got me wanting to again.

I wanted to start with something near the beginning, meaning early in the history. But I didn’t want to start so far back as to be way before the events of what’s going on now like in the War of the Ancients trilogy. So Rise of the Horde seemed like a good place to start…

Rise of the Horde

Rise of the Horde details the events prior to and leading up to the Horde invading Azeroth. The book is chronicled by Thrall as a history for all races, not just Orcs, in hopes that the horrible events that occurred may not be forgotten and avoided in the future.

Each chapter, except the Prologue, begins with Thrall’s writing. He sets the tone of the chapter by commenting vaguely on what’s to follow based on his knowledge of the stories told him by Drek’Thar. The chapters themselves are told from the perspective of Durotan, father of Thrall, and leader of the Frostwolf Clan; well, leader after he grows up and his father passes. At the beginning of the book Durotan hasn’t even gone through his rite of passage yet.

The story tells of a simpler time when the orcs were much more like the Tauren are viewed. Simple beings living in harmony with nature. They were a scattered collection of clans living off the land, hunting and gathering. The orcs revered their ancestors and the shaman are able to communicate with them. All of this would have remained for generations to come if the Draenei had not entered their world.

The Draenei*, the “exiled ones”, led by Velen the Prophet, had come to the Orcs’ world a couple of hundred years ago after having fled their own planet millennia ago. Having encountered the being Sargeras, the Eredar leaders Velen, Kil’jaeden, and Archimonde are offered great power and knowledge in exchange for their loyalty and that of their peoples. Velen sees what loyalty to Sargeras really means and encounters another being K’ure, a Naaru, who offers to help Velen and those loyal to him a chance to escape Sargeras. Their escape leads to countless worlds and eventually to the orcs.

A chance encounter between ogres and a young Durotan and Orgrim Doomhammer of the Blackrock Clan, lead to rescue by the Draenei and a meeting with Velen. Unbeknownst to any of them, that meeting leads to the destruction and ultimate salvation of the Draenei on the Orcs’ world the Draenei have named Draenor.

As the two young Orcs grow older, their friendship remains providing support to each other during the tumultuous times ahead. Ner’zhul, the Orc shaman of the Blackrock Clan, encounters Kil’jaeden, who in his fury has pursued Velen with a vengeance. Seeing an opportunity to utilize the Orcs in his mad quest to destroy Velen and the remaining Draenei, Kil’jaeden entices Ner’zhul with power.

Ner’zhul, blinded by Kil’jaeden’s offer, falls victim to Kil’jaeden’s lies about the Draenei. Ner’zhul brings the various Orc clans together and creates The Horde! By the time he realizes he’s been duped, it is too late and he is betrayed by his apprentice Gul’dan. Gul’dan’s treachery further leads the Orcs down the path to enslavement.

The book ends with the completion of The Dark Portal and the entrance of the Orcs into Azeroth.

So what’s great about this book?

What’s really starting to get to me is how these books and the lore behind it all really ties World of Warcraft together. I for one never really understood where the Orcs came from. I knew the names like Ner’zhul, Gul’dan, and Orgrim, but knew little more than Ner’zhul eventually becomes the Lich King.

I was also surprised to discover that Archimonde and Kil’jaeden were Eredar. I knew those names from Burning Crusade, but didn’t realize that the same thing that had happened to the Orcs had happened to them as well. This gives the Draenei a little more of a solid place in the game for me than previously. They always seemed to me to be too much of a sci-fi space thing going on rather than what I felt was appropriate for a fantasy genre.

After reading this book and seeing how Outland really used to be, as opposed to how we see it in the game, gives me a new appreciation for that old setting. I also now know what the hell Oshu’gun is. Seriously? A giant shiny crystal mountain in the middle of Nagrand? WTH is that all about?! Well, now I know. 🙂

And having encountered Sargeras in the briefest of ways has led me to find out a little bit about him. Like he’s one of the titans, but due to some issues he couldn’t quite grasp, he became disillusioned and rather than defend creation as he was supposed to do he changed and decided to destroy it all. Although I haven’t researched it much, just knowing that Sargeras was a Titan and responsible for the Burning Legion, which in turn is responsible for the Horde, helps in tying the Titans, Ulduar, and most of Storm Peaks making the game a little more fun.

So now I’m just trying to decide, which book next?

*The Draenei are actually of the race Eredar as was Kil’jaeden and Archimonde before allowing themselves to be enslaved by Sargeras.