The Shattering by Christie Golden is Blizzard Entertainment’s latest addition to their popular Warcraft universe novel spinoffs. Golden is a familiar face to many of Blizzard’s fans, having written previous Warcraft and Starcraft titles including Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.
Heroes of Azeroth have only just begun to return from their campaign against the Lich King in the frozen wastes of Northrend. Tired, weary, and in many cases injured, heroes from the Northrend campaign have begun to enjoy their well-deserved rest and relaxation. However, hidden from the public’s view are the growing political tensions within both the Horde and the Alliance, as well as the ever-growing tensions between the two warring factions.
Worse than the political tension is the recently-begun earth pains heard by shamans throughout Azeroth. The elements, once peaceful and cooperative, have begun to grow restless, with some even going rogue, bent on destruction rather than peace. Despite the efforts of some of Azeroth’s best shamans, the powers of Azeroth are slowly losing their influence over the elements. This is extraordinarily troubling for Thrall, Warchief of the Horde, who sees the elements’ aggression as a dire omen. Determined to find the root of the tension and return the elements to their peaceful state, Thrall decides on temporarily removing himself as Warchief of the Horde – giving the title to Garrosh Hellscream – while he ventures to Outland in hopes of returning with shamanistic knowledge from the Greatmother Geyah.
Meanwhile, political tensions continue to grow within the Alliance leaders of the Eastern Kingdoms, who are doing their best to not become intimidated to the Horde’s recent acts of aggression. Varian Wyrnn, King of Stormwind and leader of the Alliance, wishes to strike back at the Horde, who have made a number of unprecedented attacks against Alliance settlements since their return from Northrend. However, Jaina Proudmoore, leader of Theramore and advisor to the King, has soothed Varian’s immediate blood-lost, suggesting they first take an ambassadorial approach to the situation.
In addition to the storylines of the main faction leaders, the novel closely follows Varian Wrynn’s son, Anduin, who once lead the Alliance himself; fans have been clamoring for Anduin to take a more proactive role in the Alliance’s day-to-day activities since the return of his father. These fans will be pleased with Anduin’s role in the book, which highlight’s the boy’s maturity and wisdom as he struggles between the desire of his father and who he is at his very core.
The Shattering is both fast-paced and well-written, two of my favorite qualities in a fantasy book. Golden’s prelude to Cataclysm offers an extraordinarily rare glimpse into the inner-workings of the Alliance and the Horde, as well as a close look at the key figures’ personal lives and problem solving skills. The writing is great, as we’ve come to expect from Golden’s books. Some fans have taken issue with lore bending in previous Blizzard adaptation novels; Golden largely avoided lore controversy in this book, sticking closely to already-established cannon and embellishing only in places where it worked well within the storyline. As fans of both Warcraft and its adaptation novels, I must commend Golden for staying true to the world’s lore.
I truly enjoyed this novel edition to the Warcraft universe, and having played the soon-to-release expansion, can confirm that the book acts as a fantastic prelude to the events of Cataclysm. I was able to devour the book in a single plane ride to Blizzard’s Blizzcon 2010, and after finishing, was left wanting more. However, readers new to the Warcraft universe should be turned away: this is a perfect starting novel for those curious about the characters and lore behind one of the best-selling games of all time.