I have been playing Warcraft since it’s very first installment released WAY back in 1994. I grew up (so to speak) with Warcraft and its many iterations and have fond memories of playing the brilliant Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness via PC directly connected to one another; solely engaging in the rich single-player story of Warcraft III; and ultimately being part of its greatest revision as the massively successful multiplayer online game World of Warcraft. I’ve been fortunate enough to play each of these games upon release which makes me not only old, but also appreciative of how much time has gone into the rich history and thrilling storytelling that make up the extensive World of Warcraft. As this is meant to be a spoiler-free review, I will refrain from talking about the detailed adventures in the novel itself and focus more on its presentation.
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Vol. 3 begins with not only the beginning of World of Warcraft (the game), but also an introduction to many of the events in its predecessor Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne. The fact that there have already been two previous volumes of the Chronicle series shows how much lore has already been told. While playing the early games certainly will provide much of the backstory (as will reading the previous volumes), the history introduced in this volume will feel instantly familiar to those who began their Warcraft journey with WoW. For those who did not start with WoW upon its initial release (or have not played Blizzards’ earlier titles), it is a great reference for what has occurred leading up to the current events of the game including events that were initially introduced in the Warcraft novels.
Chronicle Vol. 3 covers much of the history from Warcraft III and the Lich King himself. This includes the various lore present in World of Warcraft, covering the Burning Crusade, the Worgen Curse, as well as many tales from the numerous races of Azeroth. Even those who are more casual players of WoW (and hadn’t max leveled several characters) will recognize the most notable locations. From the majestic forest of Ashenvale to the siege of Gnomeregon, to Thunderbluff and Stonetalon Mountains, most players will be able to map out these locations from memory even though the book also provides some beautifully detailed maps of the locations as they are introduced. This was one of my favorite parts of the book because the superbly detailed descriptions allowed me to visualize and reminisce about my character’s adventures as I read each section.
The Chronical itself is written more like a history book or an encyclopedia than an actual fictionalization of a novel. It’s more about the people, places and things as they occurred from a historical point of view. Familiar characters are referenced and battles discussed, but it’s written more as a history of events and less about the events themselves. There are several examples of a main character who will take on a powerful demon, and the only description about the battle is that the character made quick work of the demon. If you are looking for details of battles against some of the more infamous characters in the Warcraft universe you won’t get that here. It’s much more of a reference than a fictional novel, encapsulating each adventure into bitesize pieces, focusing on specific lore in Warcraft history and how those events shaped the world as it stands today. While someone who has limited to no experience with World of Warcraft could certainly read the stories and still get enjoyment out of Chronical Volume 3, it will have a far deeper impact for those who have taken part in these adventures over the years.
Maybe I’m a bit of an odd bird when it comes to these types of novels, but I absolutely enjoyed the small sections and the history that they provided. It concisely draws upon 15+ years of Warcraft history and ties it together in a book of just slightly over 220 pages. It doesn’t rely on backstory, or describing characters in large detail, instead it brings together events that you (as a player) have played through. It’s also an excellent refresher, bringing back memories of quests that I personally had experienced over the past 15 years. It’s amazing how a simple one-page description can still evoke memories of playing through a story driven quest. It shows how much of an impact Warcraft, or World of Warcraft in particular, can stay with a person even after so many years. I personally have not yet read the previous volumes but I now plan to go back and read Volumes 1 and 2 to see what I missed.
For all those folks who continue to play World of Warcraft religiously there is still a lot of good information here. There may not be anything new or earth-shattering, and it certainly includes stories that have been told and retold hundreds of times. But again, if nothing else, it serves as an excellent reference book and like all things Warcraft, the artwork is stunning and beautiful. This book is definitely something that you can go back to and reread to remind you of where it all started, and what it has become. Oddly, as others have mentioned, the book concludes with the Cataclysm expansion pack of World of Warcraft, which means there are still large amounts of lore to be explored…Volume 3 is noted as the conclusion to the World of Warcraft Chronicles…but maybe that just means another set of books will be on their way? We sure can hope as my time with WoW significantly declined following the Cataclysm expansion, so having a way to catch up from there to now certainly would be beneficial.
For fans of the Warcraft universe I feel this book is a must buy, if only as a reference or reminder of the adventures they experienced. Veteran players will unlikely learn anything incredibly new, but many of us would still benefit from a recap of how much has changed over the years. For those who have never played Warcraft III, there is some good insight into the Lich King’s rise to power, and it will give you a finer appreciation of the story as it’s told. Darkhorse, has knocked it out of the park with this novel as World of Warcraft: Chronical Volume 3 is a masterpiece in the way it’s written and the history that it tells. The ability to take so many years of gameplay lore and make it both interesting and approachable is truly a feat in itself and I highly recommend that you add this to your collection.
4.5 out of 5 stars