Tuesday 7 August 2012

Warcraft - Day of the Dragon

I don't think I have reviewed a book since I was eight. Still, I was never one to back down from a challenge and we do need to cover at least a few warcraft novels in order to talk about any of the world of warcraft expansions. So let's start with Day of the Dragon.

A bit of background: the book was first published in 2001, a year before warcraft III came out. So, I'm not going to hold lore introduced in WoW against it (if anything, I'm going to hold it against WoW). However, I am expecting the book to be compatible with warcraft III, since that was fairly far along in production at the time. Day of the Dragon was written by Richard A. Knaak, the first in a long series of warcraft material written by him. Knaak's a bit of a controversial figure to many fans of warcraft lore, as his grasp on warcraft lore is seen as rather questionable by some. And right in the first paragraph, we get to see why.

Chapter One

It had once seemed to some of the Kirin Tor, the magical conclave that ruled the small nation of Dalaran,
that the world of Azeroth had never known anything but constant bloodshed. There had been the trolls,
before the forming of the Alliance of Lordaeron, and when at last humanity had dealt with that foul
menace, the first wave of orcs had descended upon the lands”

The war against the trolls, commonly known as the troll wars, was a long and bloody war against the forest trolls of Zul'Aman, and was where man and elf first allied. However, far more pressing is the fact that the troll wars were ancient. They took place back when humanity still a single nation. At the very least, this puts it several hundred years in the past (the official timeline that came out later put it at 2800 years before warcraft 1). Having several hundred years since your last war can hardly be considered constant bloodshed. Then again, our narrator seems to have a problem with scale, as his casualty assessment for the first and second war is in the hundreds. Considering an entire human kingdom got destroyed and the war covered 1/4th of the planet, tens of thousands of dead seems much more likely.

Anyway, let's dive into the plot. We start off in the grand council of the Kirin Tor, where the council of six, the ruling body of Dalaran, is discussing recent events. Apparently Deathwing, a powerful omnicidal black dragon, has survived an incident where he was thought dead, and has been attacking red dragons. The red dragons are slaves to the dragonmaw clan, one of the few surviving orc clans, who control the red dragons through the hold they have on Alexstrasza, the queen of the red dragonflight.

The council decides to send a mage called Rhonin, our protagonist, to keep track of the dragonmaw orcs. Apparently, none of them like Rhonin, they consider him incompetent and hope that he dies. But they're still sending him anyway, since he's the only mage that's available. Yes, because its not like you have an entire city of mages at your disposal or anything. Wait, you do. What, was the entire city of Dalaran busy? The agent only needs to look through a magic ring, so its not like only the most powerful mage would do. However, Krasus, one of the councillors, apparently has a secret plot. Rather than telling Rhonin his job is to spy on the dragonmaw like the council had discussed, he tells him his job is to free the dragonqueen.

We also get a second plot thread, related to the human kingdom of Alterac. During the second war, its king, lord Perenolde, switched sides and joined the horde. However, the armies of Lordaeron, the most powerful of the seven human kingdoms, were expecting this and quickly managed to overthrow the Alterac government without too many civilian casualties. However, now that the war is over, the other nations are bickering over what to do with the traitorous kingdom. King Terenas of Lordaeron wants to put a new king on the throne who would be loyal to him. Danath Trollbane of Stromgarde wants to annex half of Alterac's former holdings as war reparations. Genn Greymane of Gilneas is supporting a distant relative of Perenolde in the hopes of spreading his own influence. As someone who actually likes complicated politics in fantasy, I absolutely love this plot. However, it does raise a question in regards to world of warcraft:

What happened to Stromgarde and Alterac?
In the book, the two human nations are implied to still be pretty powerful. However, the next time we see them, in world of warcraft, the two nations have crumbled, having lost most of their holdings, including the capitals. Yet we never see anything to suggest that the armies of the scourge or the burning crusade struck against the nations. So how did they get this heavily damaged?

Chapter Two
In chapter two, we meet our second protagonist, Vereesa Windrunner, a high elven ranger assigned to escort Rhonin to the docks of Hasic, from where he'll take the boat to Khaz Modan. Vereesa takes an instant dislike to Rhonin because he made her wait for three days to gather supplies. Initially, I was kind of confused why an elven ranger was needed, for a simple journey through friendly territory, but the book does eventually clear this up. Apparently, the orcs still control Khaz Modan and regularly send out dragon riders.

Hold on, I thought that the second war was over. How can the war be over if Khaz Modan is still under enemy control? Khaz Modan is the homeland of the dwarves and the gnomes, both of whom are members of the alliance. Hell, we later see that the alliance is actively laying siege to the orcish stronghold of Dun Algaz. So what was with all the crap in the beginning about the constant bloodshed finally being over?

All chapters consist of multiple parts, each following a different set of characters. In this chapter, the second part introduces us to Lord Prestor. He was a small-time noble within the kingdom of Alterac, whose domain got destroyed by a marauding dragon during the second war. After that, he moved to Lordaeron and quickly become one of the king's closest confidantes, advising him on the Alterac situation. For the services Prestor has rendered, and because he is so well-liked, King Terenas is planning on appointing Prestor as the new king of Alterac, hoping that the charm of the young lad will win over the other kings. However, not all is as it seems, as Prestor is actually a forged identity. Using powerful magics, Prestor has been subtly influencing the court of Lordaeron. He is attended by a group of goblin servants, whose presence is a hint towards his true identity.

Chapter Three
In chapter three, Rhonin and Vereesa have encountered one of the afore-mentioned dragon riders. Rhonin can temporarily stop the dragon using a spell that causes great itching, but its not exactly a permanent solution. However, before he can try another spell, three gryphon riders show up to attack the dragon, giving him and Vereesa the opportunity to run. Hold on, why aren't you assisting the Gryphon riders? One use of the itchy spell and the grypon riders get an easy kill. However, within seconds of running from the dragon, they run into a group of paladins of the silver hand.

The second part of this chapter features Krasus meeting with a mysterious cloaked figure. We learn that Krasus is apparently counting on Rhonin to die during the mission, that Krasus is a fake name, his real name being Korialstrasz and that he doesn't have the support of a group he thought would support him.

Chapter Four
The paladins, led by lord Duncan Sentarus, have taken Vereesa and Rhonin to their stronghold, being complete and utter dicks to rhonin in the process. Apparently, paladins believe that mages are actually damned souls. Hold on, didn't the knights of the silver hand in Warcraft III work with Jaina Proudmoore, a powerful archmage? The books also seems to think that knight and paladin are synonymous, which is not the case in the warcraft universe, where a paladin is a knight with priest training (or a priest with knight training). The chapter ends with a mysterious explosion, destroying part of the stronghold and engulfing Rhonin.

The second part of this chapter features Nekros Skullcrusher, the former chieftain of the dragonmaw clan, having had to give up his position due to the loss of one of his legs. Now, he is the warden of Alexstrasza. The new chieftain of the dragonmaw, Zuluhed, gave Nekros a powerful magical medallion called the demon soul. Since Nekros has some experience as a warlock, he was able to manipulate the mysterious medallion, using its power to summon a fire golem and restrain Alexstrasza. Zuluhed is referred to as a shaman, which contradicts lore rather severely, as the fact that orcs of the horde lost access to shamanism due to their use of warlock magic was a rather big plotpoint in the cancelled lord of the clans (and subsequently the backstory for warcraft III). For some reason, the book also keeps referring to the clan as Dragonmaw clan, rather than The Dragonmaw clan. It looks really silly. Finally, the book reveals that the goblins still serve the orcish horde, making the idea that the second war is over even sillier.

Chapter five
We start with the knights of the silver hand trying to hunt down and capture the missing Rhonin, suspecting him of having caused the explosion. It's at this point that Vereesa's thoughts reveal that, as an elf, she too knows so arcane magic. So why are the knights treating her well, when they apparently hate mages enough that them killing Rhonin on sight is a legitimate danger? And this is not the only time this happens either. Throughout the book, every single character seems to hate wizards with a passion, yet is incredibly nice to Vereesa.

Suddenly, Rhonin reappears in the camp during a strong wind, sleeping on one of the bedrolls. The second part starts with him re-awakening. He briefly thinks back to his previous mission, which was the reason why all the councillors hate him. During the mission, he used a powerful attack spell, but the rest of his squad were idiots, jumping in front of him as he unleashed the spell. You'd think that “Don't stand in front of the mage” would be part of basic Kirin Tor training. We also see that there was an elven ranger in the group who hated Rhonin for no good reason. You know, that's really a running theme in this book. We haven't seen a single character that has met Rhonin that doesn't hate him, though Vereesa is slowly turning around. However, it still feels very forced. Speaking of forced, about every two paragraphs we get a mention of how hot Vereesa and Rhonin think the other is (Despite Rhonin being established in the first chapter as having a broken nose and a permanently raised eyebrow), after which they dismiss the thought. It's about as subtle as a lightning bolt to the face and just as necessary.

Anyway, our last thought of the chapter is that Rhonin suspects he was saved by a dragon, a fact which he decides to keep for himself.

Chapter six
We start this chapter with a meeting between King Genn Greymane of Gilneas, King Terenas Menethil of Lordaeron, Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore of Kul Tiras, Lord Thoras Trollbane of Stromgarde and Lord Prestor. This scene is great, probably my favourite in the entire book, as it plays well into the established characterisation for these people. We also see Lord Prestor's method for manipulating people, which is actually rather interesting. He approaches all the monarchs individually, making all sorts of promises, but erases their memories afterwards. The monarchs remember that they were happy with his ideas, but not that what exactly they were. In addition to creating goodwill for himself, he's also been seeding distrust against the mages of Dalaran, as he's afraid they might find out his identity.

Part two has the mages of Dalaran, pissed that they weren't invited to the meeting. At first, they just think that the other kingdoms have turned their distrust against the kirin tor now that the orcs have been defeated, because they have noticed that, as mages, the kirin tor are different. Yes, they apparently believe it took the other human kingdoms 2800 years to notice that the magical city of Dalaran, home of the magocratic council of six, founded after the original human kingdom of Arathor asked the high elves to teach them magic, has mages! Luckily, the actual answer is a lot saner, namely that Prestor has been manipulating everyone, but still a couple of minus points for such a ridiculous idea. Our chapter ends with Krasus, after a probing spell, discovering that Prestor is actually Deathwing.

Chapter seven
And we rejoin our main characters, having finally reached the city of Hasic. Apparently, two dragons attacked the city, but luckily, the patrol of gryphon riders from chapter three, led by Falstad Wildhammer, were close and stopped the beasts. For those of you less nerdy than I; Falstad is the thane (king) of the wildhammer clan of dwarves. Yes, apparently the king randomly patrols foreign countries. Hasic has however been heavily damaged, and the ship that was supposed to bring Rhonin to Khaz Modan has been destroyed.

Time for some good news, bad news. The good news is that Vereesa and Lord Duncan Sentarus have agreed to assist Rhonin in finding an alternative way to reach Khaz Modan. The bad news is that all the ships in the city have been destroyed, as the dragons centred their attacks on the docks. However, Rhonin gets an idea: Ask the gryphon riders for help. However, he didn't count on the fact that everyone in the universe hates him, which includes the wildhammer, who despise mages now. Hold on, weren't the wildhammers close allies with the high elves of Silvermoon? A society that was entirely centred around magic? And now one of the dwarves is ready to snap his spine in two just for having dared to ask for a ride. However, just as everyone hates Rhonin for no damn reason, everyone absolutely loves Vereesa. When she asks for a ride, Falstad gives in and agrees to bring the three to Khaz Modan. Apparently the thane of the Wildhammer clan has absolutely nothing better to do than play taxi for pretty ladies.

Chapter eight
We rejoin Nekros, who has heard from a goblin named Kryll that there is a plan to free Alexstrasza. However, Nekros thinks that the alliance will attack through overwhelming force, something which not even the demon soul would be able to hold off. Because of this, he sends his best dragon-rider, Torgus, out to scout for the enemy army and intercept any of their scouts.

Meanwhile, the gryphon riders have almost reached Khaz Modan, when they are intercepted by Torgus and another dragonrider. For some reason, Rhonin tells his gryphon rider that they can't waste any time, insisting that he be brought to Khaz Modan instantly. Dude, your job is not on a narrow time-table. Wasting a few minutes by killing a dragon is not going to do anything to stop your mission. Hell, killing dragons actually makes your mission easier. And as we've seen in chapter three, you have a spell that could stun each dragon for a while, giving the gryphon riders an easy kill. However, unlike our protagonist, Duncan actually proves himself helpful, killing one of the dragons at the cost of his own life.

Chapter nine
However, the other, significantly bigger, dragon is still a threat, and the battle is not going well. Rhonin's gryphon gets killed, and he falls towards his doom. However, suddenly deathwing shows up, grabbing Rhonin to safe him. Deathwing then takes a couple of minutes to properly beat up (but not kill) the other dragon, after which he flies off. Vereesa and Falstad than decide to pursue Deathwing. Hold on, what happened to the third gryphon rider?

Meanwhile, Krasus is still looking for allies against deathwing, teleporting himself to Northrend. This is the home of Malygos, last and greatest of the blue dragons, having become slightly mad after Deathwing killed the rest of his kin. We also learn that Krasus is actually a very powerful red dragon and his meeting in the third chapter with a representative of the green dragonflight. However, Malygos proves unwilling to commit to battle, merely saying that he will consider it.

Chapter ten
Rhonin wakes up next to Deathwing, who's back in his human form, and the two have a surprisingly civil conversation. Deathwing may actually be the only person in the book to actually be friendly towards Rhonin. Deathwing tries to convince Rhonin that he's on his side, by telling a story how ancient elves (the first canon mention of night elves, though no one knew it when the book came out) brought demons to Azeroth, and how the dragons united against the invading demons. However, it cost them dearly, and caused animosity between the five flights. Deathwing claims he is now helping Rhonin to make amends, by helping free Alexstrasza.

In the second part, we rejoin Vereesa and Falstad. Vereesa suddenly remembers a story about hill dwarves, who had once thrived throughout Khaz Modan, but fled when the orcs arrived. Wait, hill dwarves? Dwarves have been established as living in Khaz Modan since warcraft II, but those dwarves were members of the alliance and joined in the battle against the orcish horde, so they obviously can't be the hill dwarves that are described here. I had never even heard of these guys before I read this book, so what the hell?

Anyway, the two stumble upon Kryll the goblin, who says he saw a large dragon and a mage who fits Rhonin's description, from a distance. He even calls the mage arrogant. Man, even people who have never spoken to Rhonin hate him. Considering the fact that its later established that only one out of five goblin factions joined the horde and the others are neutral traders, this paragraph makes our protagonists look like horrible dicks for threatening and insulting the goblin merely because of his race.

Chapter Eleven
Okay, the first sentence of this chapter is weird.

Nekros fingered the Demon Soul”

Either the demon soul is now a musical instrument, or this is really, really disturbing. The first part of the chapter has the heavily injured Torgus returning, reporting to Nekros about deathwing. Nekros concludes that Deathwing must have allied with the humans and that the humans are planning on assaulting Grim Batol. In response, he prepares to evacuate the base.

Meanwhile, Deathwing has handed Rhonin a magical amulet that will guide him. However, deathwing's amulet is not giving him a lot of freedom in his approach to Grim Batol, the headquarters of the Dragonmaw. It does prove itself pretty helpful, even providing food. If not for the fact that Deathwing was named, well, Deathwing, Rhonin would probably have fully believed his good intentions. May I suggest renaming yourself to Fluffywing the Cuddler, oh dark lord? When Rhonin gets worried about having to walk the entire way, his ride arrives: A goblin zeppelin.

Hearing Rhonin describe this thing, its like he's never seen technology before. Wait a minute! Earlier, we get remarks about the hill dwarves, rather than the bronzebeard dwarves, living throughout Khaz Modan. The fact that the alliance claims they're at peace now, despite the fact that the horde still controls all of khaz modan suggests that none of the alliance factions make their home in Khaz Modan. Plus, there were earlier remarks that explosives and flying machines were solely the domain of goblins. All of this would suggest that the writer wasn't even aware that bronzebeard dwarves or gnomes existed. What the hell?

Chapter Twelve
This time, Krasus goed to the bronze dragonflight, teleporting himself towards the caverns of time. Nozdormu is unwilling to join Krasus, more concerned with cataloguing and researching the past than he is in the future. In the end, Nozdormu sends Krasus away by simply erasing the fact that Krasus travelled to the caverns from history. I personally really dislike the way the bronze dragonflight has been handled, not just here, but in all warcraft media, as they have been given complete freedom to manipulate the timeline. It's ridiculously overpowered, and makes any conflict that would affect them completely ridiculous. If they can easily change history and predict any outcome of a change, how would anyone ever stand a threat against them? And yet we keep seeing the bronze dragonflight participate in wars and not instantly winning them.

Anyway, Krasus' only hope now is to contact the green dragonflight. To do this, he uses a powerful sleeping poison. There's a really brief story about how he used three drops of the liquid a century ago to defeat a creature called Manta, who was apparently just as powerful as deathwing.

...Wait, if you still have an entire bottle full of that stuff, why do you need the help of the aspects to defeat Deathwing?

Anyway, for our second part, we go back to Vereesa and Falstad, trying to track down Rhonin. Vereesa suspects that he may be heading for Grim Batol, and has asked the goblin to lead them there. However the goblin proves traitorous, leading them into a troll trap.

Chapter Thirteen
Rhonin arrives near Grim Batol. During the trip, the goblins had tried to kill him, but Deathwing interceded, taking control of Rhonin to stop them. Finally, when Rhonin had landed, he again took control to destroy the zeppelin. Hey, Fluffywing, here's a hint for you: If you want Rhonin to trust you, don't take possession of him to kill insubordinate subordinates.

Meanwhile, Fluffywing the Cuddler is busy doing politics in Lordaeron, planning his marriage with Terenas' jailbait daughter. As he discusses this with the king, two wizards of the kirin tor confront him, pretending to want to learn more about lord Prestor. While they don't learn anything, Deathwing is able to listen in on their conversation, becoming interested in Krasus.

Chapter Fourteen
Krasus tries to get help from the last of the great dragon aspects: Ysera, the dreamer, mistress of the green dragonflight. Unlike the other aspects, she's still interested in the mortal world and agrees to at least consider helping out. We also learn an important fact: The Demon Soul has somehow weakened the aspects.

Meanwhile, Rhonin has entered Grim Batol, sneaking through the halls to reach Alexstrasza.

Chapter fifteen
We rejoin Vereesa and Falstad, who have been captured by trolls. We get a few more mentions of the troll wars, again making it sound like they were at most a few years in the past. And even if we would assume that this is a different set of troll wars, there is a line that states that, before the troll wars, troll cannibalism was only a rumour, which makes no sense if the conflict with the trolls dates back as far as has been established.

Luckily for our heroes, they are saved by a group of hill dwarves. Of course the dwarves all start hitting on Vereesa, as every single male in the book does. More interesting is that they insult Falstad, apparently not having the best relation with the wildhammer dwarves. The hill dwarven leader, named Rom, reveals that there are only three-hundred hill dwarves left in Khaz Modan. Hope the hill dwarves enjoy extinction by inbreeding!

Anyway, Vereesa mentions to the dwarves that she and Falstad are going to Grim Batol, and Rom and six other warriors decide to join her. We also get a mention of dwarven ladies having beards, which are apparently a sign of beauty in dwarven society. Hold on, if dwarves find beards so important for beauty that having a beard is the standard, why do all the dwarves keep hitting on Vereesa? Is there something the book forgot to tell us?

In the second part, Krasus is visiting some sort of magical pool he had discovered, which gives him a vision of a captured Rhonin. Krasus reveals that his plan was just for Rhonin to spook Nekros, hoping that the orcs would flee from Grim Batol. However, he does feel kind of sorry for allowing the human mage to die, so he contacts an agent of his: Rom.

Chapter Sixteen
We start this chapter with Rhonin being tortured by Nekros. It seems Krasus' plan worked, and Nekros is convinced that there is a small alliance army skulking around Grim Batol, so he plans to evacuate Grim Batol and join Zuluhed at Dun Algaz. We also see that Kryll is secretly a servant of deathwing, having taken Rhonin's medaillon as to not make Nekros suspect that anything.

Meanwhile, Vereesa's group is approaching Grim Batol through a secret underground entrance. They have to wait for an hour for the sun to go down, and Rom sneaks off, claiming to be checking for trolls. However, Vereesa overhears him speaking to Krasus through an amulet, interrupting them. With a little convincing from Krasus (not revealing he's a dragon), he manages to convince Vereesa to trust him, and she agrees to be led by the amulet.

Chapter Seventeen
Kryll is ranting at Rhonin about his secret plan to kill deathwing, using a piece of Deathwing's scale and the Demon Soul. The entire sequence is only there to reveal the fact that the crystal at the heart of Rhonin's amulet is actually one of deathwing's scales.

Meanwhile, Vereesa and Falstad have managed to enter the halls of Grim Batol.

Chapter Eighteen
Nekros is still busy evacuating Grim Batol, already having sent all his remaining dragon riders to Dun Algaz, but there has been a complication. The last of Alexstrasza's consorts has fallen ill. Without a male, there is no breeding program and Nekros fears Zuluhed will kill him.

Hold on a minute. Throughout the book, at least two orc-mounted red dragons have been described as male (for some reason the book felt it necessary to point out which dragons were male), so it's not like you didn't have any males available. Sure, they're Alexstrasza's kids, which makes it gross to use them to breed with her, but the detrimental effects of inbreeding won't be that bad for a few generations. Since you can use the same male for several years, it will be decades before it becomes problematic, allowing you to search for more males.

Vereesa and Falstad have found Rhonin, but have encountered the fire golem. None of their attacks work against the golem, as he's apparently immune to all normal weapons. This raises yet another question: Why is Rhonin the only one in the group to ever use spells? Falstad, as a wildhammer gryphon rider, is a shaman wielding a magical hammer. Vereesa, as an elven ranger, is well-trained in natural magic, as well as having some arcane training. Even Duncan, as a paladin, should have had holy spells. Yet, every encounter, Rhonin is the only one to use any magic. Sure, he's probably the most powerful mage in the group, but you'd think they'd at least try in such a situation.

Meanwhile, Deathwing and Korialstrasz are both heading towards Grim Batol. Deathwing is seeking to kill the dragonqueen as she is being transported, Korialstrasz is seeking to free her. Korialstrasz has a bit of an internal monologue about his life while he's flying, revealing that he had volunteered to be the agent amongst the most promising and diverse mortal race: Humanity. Okay, I'll give you promising, but diverse? Humans may be divided between seven kingdoms, but the only one amongst those who really stands out is Dalaran and even then its only slightly. Meanwhile the elves are divided between druidic tree-dwellers, magic addicts and legions of undersea snake-people.

Chapter Nineteen
As our heroic trio reaches the top of the mountain that houses Grim Batol, the final confrontation starts. Before the two dragons can arrive, the mountain dwarves strike, emerging from underground to attack the dragonmaw caravan. As the dwarves engage the orcs, Korialstrasz emerges from the sky, intent on freeing his queen. However, he isn't fast enough, and Nekros simply uses the demon soul to constrict him. When Deathwing also emerges from the sky, Nekros uses the artifact again, but Deathwing doesn't even react to it. To everyone's surprise, Deathwing doesn't go after Alexstrasza, but starts grabbing orcish carts, which they were using to transport red dragon eggs, flying off with them. It seems that Deathwing is interested in raising his own cadre of red dragons. With Korialstrasz down, the dragon has no choice but to reveal his true identity to Rhonin, hoping that the mage will still be able to free Alexstraza.

Chapter Twenty
Nekros has used the power of the demon soul to send Tyran, the sick consort, after Deathwing. Deathwing says that he's giving the red dragons mastery over the earth by using them as his stormtroopers, but Tyran counters that Deathwing's plans will probably kill the red dragonflight, just as they killed deathwing's own flight. Wait, what? When did that happen? We see plenty of black dragons throughout the games, even in warcraft III.

Anyway, the other great dragon aspects have now also arrived, though they are still in their humanoid forms, hiding away from the battle. They reveal some of the backstory of the demon soul. Deathwing was the one who originally made the disc during the war of the ancients (the first demon invasion), convincing the other aspects to lend their power to the disc. However, unbeknownst to them, deathwing had never actually given up his own power, leaving him more powerful than the other three combined. Because of this, the demon soul has no power over black dragons. It's been mentioned earlier in the book that the disc was used against the demons, absorbing their power as well, which is probably where the other spellcasting capabilities come from. However, the other aspects banded together with their remaining power, somehow preventing deathwing himself from ever wielding the demon soul. However, in turn, they could not wield it either. With Tyran dying, Krasus is the only great male red dragon left, so he can't risk his life to wield it either, lest the red dragonflight go extinct. Which means that the only chance for the world lies in Rhonin.

With that, the three dragon aspects turn into their draconic form, attacking Deathwing. Krasus carries Rhonin to Nekros, who engages him in battle. Nekros, despite years of trying, was never able to fully tap into the power of the demon soul, so the fight isn't completely one-sided, but Nekros still manages to drive Krasus back, until Vereesa and Falstad arrive to assist. In the struggle, the demon soul gets lost. With the demon soul out of his reach, Nekros loses his control over Alexstrasza, and she breaks free, taking a second to eat him, before she joins the other aspects in the battle against deathwing, who are being sorely outmatched. However, in the midst of battle, Rhonin stumbles upon the demon soul.

Chapter Twenty-one
With neither the force nor the cunning of the aspects putting any dents into Deathwing's adamantium armour, time has come for desperate measures. So, Rhonin just decides to smash the Demon soul with a piece of rock. Of course, it doesn't work. The soul is covered in protective spells made by deathwing, to prevent anyone else from damaging the soul. However, rhonin realises that he does have one item that could destroy the soul: Deathwing's scale, found at the heart of the amulet he had given Rhonin. Scratching open the surface of the disk, its power leaks out, restoring the strength of the other four aspects, who are now easily able to fend off deathwing, who flees.

With the aid of Krasus, Vereesa, Rhonin and Falstad, the hill dwarves manage to defeat the dragonmaw orcs, forcing them to surrender. Well, the battle is over, so its epilogue time. The hill dwarves retake the fortress of Grim Batol. Vereesa and Krasus visit each of the human kingdoms to bring rapport of what had happened. The dragonmaw are imprisoned in internment camps. Krasus takes a leave from the council of six for a while, wanting to stay with Alexstrasza. So, I guess that covers everythi...

Hold on a minute. So what happened to Alterac?

I must say that I really liked the main plot for this book. It was well-paced, had good action, tied in well with warcraft II and the dragon aspects were pretty cool. However, the biggest problem with this book lies in the details, which are absolutely botched. I have no idea how someone could gain enough background information on the warcraft universe to write the political stuff, but not know that there are dwarves and gnomes from Khaz Modan in the alliance. While that's the biggest, there's a lot of other mistakes in there. Our main characters also feel rather shallow, especially Falstad, who never gets any characterisation beyond being a dwarf. And, as I said, the whole “everyone hates Rhonin, but loves Vereesa for no damn reason” gets really obvious as a while.

As an aside, there's also another issue with this book, though it doesn't lie in the book itself. For some reason, all official timelines that have been published have had this book take place after the Warcraft II expansion: Beyond the Dark Portal. However, the book is very obviously supposed to bridge warcraft II and its expansion, explaining how the dragonmaw clan got captured, how the conflicts within the alliance caused it to fall apart and why the orcish clans needed a new source of dragons.

Up next: A return to the RPG

1 comment:

  1. I'd disagree with it tieing in with Warcraft II.

    For one, the Dragons in Warcraft II were green, and of bestial intellect with few exceptions.