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The Shattering: Review

Home • More Comics Reviews and FeaturesNovels

November 23 2010

The Shattering: Review
by Lodur

The Shattering: Review

Christie Golden is back again with another Warcraft novel. She has written such books as Lord of the Clans, Rise of the Horde and Arthas: Rise of the Lich King. The Shattering is an exploration of the events that lead up to the great cataclysmic return of Deathwing to Azeroth. With a title like The Shattering, you would expect it to be overflowing with action and combat. The truth is, though, that it does not. Instead the story really revolves around giving us some very deep insight into the various characters involved in the story of Azeroth, both new and old. What really drives the story here are the politics of the world, and the personal relationships between characters.There are many retellings and synopsis of the story available all over the internet, and so with this review I would like to try to avoid that. This said, the review will contain spoilers, so please be warned. The events contained in this novel are considered cannon to the lore and development of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

The story opens with us learning that Drek’thar, leader of the Frostwolf clan and tutor to Thrall, has been plagued with nightmares since the events of the novel Stormrage. The once mighty shaman, feared by the Alliance, defender of Alterac Valley, is now essentially lain low. From the outside, it is easy to see that these nightmares are in truth prophecy or visions of things to come, but the reactions of Drek’thar’s companion and caretaker, Palkar, make it very easy to imagine how it looks from the eyes of the characters around him. Once tall and mighty, Drek’thar is now blind and weak, and seemingly succumbing to old age and dementia. Every time he wakes to share news of his visions and to warn Thrall, it comes across more as the ramblings of a person without their wits, and are easily dismissed. This opening sequence makes you feel for the aging shaman, and really tugs at your heart.

From there, we move to the budding dynamic between Cairne Bloodhoof and Garrosh Hellscream. The old Tauren is sent to retrieve Hellscream from Northrend. Again we are treated to a scene of heart wrenching proportion, as we are re-introduced to Saurfang the senior. His son was killed at the Wrath Gate, only to be resurrected as one of the Lich King’s most powerful minions. Adventurers eventually slew the undead form of Saurfang jr, and his father recovered the body to give it a proper burial.

You can see that the wound is still fresh in the noble warrior’s heart, and is heavier than any armor he wears. Cairne makes note that the troops under the command of Hellscream hold him as a hero, and you can begin to see a shifting of the political atmosphere of the Horde. A giant victory has been achieved, and Garrosh is believed to have been a large if not the sole part of that. It is the same sort of fervor we saw when the Horde was behind Garrosh’s father.

From this point on, we see a shift towards “the glory days” of the Horde. With resources in Duraton dwindling, this makes a lot of sense. Life is growing harder around the seat of power for the Horde and in times of trouble a population tends to focus on the sensational. It’s something we’ve seen through history, even into modern day. This is one of the few times you start to see the real political side of the Horde, and that is pretty amazing. This also begins the journey to see Garrosh as more than a one dimensional character.

Garrosh cares about the Horde. Sure he may not have the greatest ideas or be politically neutral, but he really cares about the Horde. He doesn’t want to see it splinter or become weak and get preyed upon. You begin to see this after the death of Cairne Bloodhoof, as Garrosh begins to see that he was taken advantage of by Magtha Grimtotem. There’s a sort of awakening and you can see that the actions have wounded and dishonor him. The entire book gives us a promise that Garrosh will be more than just someone who wants to bash heads in, and may have the potential to grow into a much more lovable character.

The biggest part of the book for me though were the sections that dealt with Aduin Wrynn, son of King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind. We all know about the king and his two personalities fighting for dominance, but his son has always been a sort of loose end. The character has watched his father disappear, presumed dead; has become king; has had his trusted regent turn out to be Onyxia. Aduin’s surrogate father and protector died at the Wrath Gate, and his mother killed at the hands of a Defias uprising…. not to mention the events of the emerald nightmare and the constant war between the Horde and the Alliance.

We see that the small boy has grown into a wise young man. He is knowledgeable not only in the ways of the court and politics, but has a keen eye for observation and is a natural orator.  Anyone can plainly see he cares about his people. You can see this at a service in Stormwind being held for the fallen warriors of the Alliance. King Varian disappears to attend to business in the form of a messenger. While talking with the courier, Wrynn has an episode of battle between the essence of Lo’gosh and his own, normally calm demeanor. Aduin, having come to check on his father, sees the episode and scolds his father for abandoning the people during the service. He then turns on his heel, and returns to the public with a warm and caring expression on his face.

We really get a sense that Aduin is growing up and will be a leader that the Alliance has been looking for, for quite some time now. There is an event when earthquakes ravage the dwarven kingdom, causing citizens to be injured as buildings collapse.  Aduin rushes to the aid of the dwarven people. He tends wounds and even gets dirty trying to dig out trapped dwarves, not caring about his own safety. You can feel his compassion wafting from the pages. So powerful is this, that King Magni suggests that maybe the boy isn’t supposed to be a warrior of sword and shield, but maybe his calling lies else where. Magni gifts Aduin with an ancient dwarven weapon named “Fear Breaker”, and tells the boy to speak with high priest Rohan about perhaps serving the light. What is interesting to me here is that all other characters up to now in WoW’s story has been a combatant. Mages, Warriors, hunters, even Tyrande is a warrior priest. To see what will be likely a big player in the future story of the game shift towards an agent of peace in such a manner is impressive.

This is brought even more to the front when Aduin meets Baine Bloodhoof in the aftermath of Cairne’s death. Instead of aggressively attacking the Tauren, Aduin treats him as an equal. He feels for Baine’s loss, and in what is likely one of the biggest statements of peace between the Alliance and Horde, Aduin gifts Baine “Fear Breaker” to help in the upcoming battle to avenge Cairne and reclaim the honor of the Tauren people. We walk away from this part of the story seeing not only that Thrall and Jaina can have a good working friendship, but there is potential in Aduin and Baine as well.

My only criticism about the story are the parts of it that deal with the interaction between Thrall and Aggra. It starts out as a mutual dislike and distrust between the two, but warms to a form of affection. While I have no problem with this, it is the speed in which it happens that I find troubling. Upon first meeting Thrall, Aggra has already made up her mind about him, dubbing him the blood-thirsty warchief.  She comments on how he has abandoned the ways of the shaman for his precious Horde. Thrall views her as overly rigid and stern and possibly even a little spoiled.

Over a very short period of time, the two develop a fondness for each other. While I’m happy that Thrall has found a new love interest, I think it happened far too quickly. Going from dislike to affection takes time. While it is true they share a rather intimate connection, having gone through Thrall’s vision quest, it just doesn’t seem like enough transpired between the two to really shape their distrust and dislike as fast as it was written. I would have liked to have seen more interaction between these two to facilitate this change in behavior and feeling.

Still, the book is a fantastic read that bridges the gap of the events after the fall of the Lich King and the breaking of Azerorth quite well. The characters are wonderfully developed and we start to see so much more personality from all of the cast, and not just those whom we consider main characters.

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