World of Warcraft Chronicle Vol 1: Part Two – The Black Empire

Welcome to the World of Warcraft Readthrough where I am diving into the lore of Warcraft chronologically. If you’d like more information on the specifics or the why, head over to the starter post. You do not have to have played World of Warcraft or have any previous knowledge of the world, but please note, since this is an in-depth readthrough, there will be spoilers.

Continuing with our reading of World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 1, we pick up this week in Primordial Azeroth. After discussing the Mythos of the universe as a whole, we now jump in to the details that our future stories will revolve around (and some others just for fun). As this book is a large one with so much detail, I will continue to break it down into manageable sections.

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©Blizzard Entertainment 2016

Summary

Back out in the Great Dark Beyond, another world was in turmoil. The native elements were unpredictable and chaotic, which gave rise to four more powerful than the rest, the Elemental Lords.

  • Al’Akir, the Windlord, known for his cunning
  • Ragnaros, the Firelord who was compulsive and brash
  • Therazane, the Stonemother who cared most about protecting her children
  • Neptulon, the Tidehunter, know to be wise and bide his time

While the Elemental Lords were busy in-fighting and relishing in the chaos, Old Gods fell onto the world, burrowing their roots deep. “A miasma of despair soon enveloped everything that lay in their writhing shadows.”

  • N’Zoth
  • Yogg-Saron
  • C’Thun
  • Y’Shaarj, the most corrupt and powerful

As they blackened and polluted the earth, they gave birth to two new races: n’raqi, called the faceless ones, and insectoids known as the aqir. These creations helped grow what would be called the Black Empire. The Elemental Lords took this new threat as a challenge and worked together for once. They put up quite the fight, burning  citadels and destroying many n’raqi and aqir, but the Black Empire spawned more, and it became too much for the elementals. All were enslaved. “Perpetual twilight descended upon Azeroth, and the world spiraled into an abyss of suffering and death.”

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©Blizzard Entertainment 2016

After Sargeras left his duty of hunting demons, Aggramar had picked up the crusade. His fight brought him to this new world, covered in Old Gods, and he sensed a new and powerful world-soul buried deep within. He alerted the Pantheon, and reminded of what Sargeras had told them, they moved in to save the world-soul they would name Azeroth. However, these Titans are enormous, and any action they took would likely destroy all, including their new kin, so they created two new races, the aesir and the vanir, made of metal and stone, respectively. These races would be known as the Titan-forged. Specific ones they made Keepers and poured their power into them.

  • Highkeeper Ra and Keeper Odyn received many abilities (Aman’Thul)
  • Keeper Archaedas – earth and forging (Khaz’goroth)
  • Keeper Thorim and Keeper Hodir – storm and skies (Golganneth)
  • Keeper Freya – flora and fauna (Eonar)
  • Keeper Loken and Keeper Mimiron – magic (Norgannon)
  • Keeper Tyr – strength and courage (Aggramar)

The Titan-forged attacked on Azeroth, splitting up to defeat the Elemental Lords. Once again, these beings could not be destroyed, since they would simply remanifest, so Ra worked with a titan-forged sorceress, Helya, to create the Elemental Plane to imprison them. Al’Akir, Ragnaros, Therazane, and Neptulon were relegated to their own corners, Skywall, Firelands, Deepholm, and the Abyssal Maw, respectively.

After a ferocious battle with the aqir, the Titan-forged turned their attentions to the Old Gods. Y’Shaarj possessed the ability to poison their minds, and the fight wasn’t going well. Sensing defeat, Aman-Thul intervened, reaching down and ripping Y’Shaarj from Azeroth. But, the Old God had been burrowed deep, and it left a tear in the world where arcane energy leaked. If not eventually put in check, Azeroth would lose it’s life force. Taking precautions for the remaining Old Gods, each was buried within the earth and imprisoned. Yogg-Saron put up the most vicious fight using his monstrous warbringers, the C’Thraxxi. With the help of an illusion spell by Loken, the Titan-forged were able to defeat the last of the Old Gods and entomb him in their prison.

Analysis

There are so many names in this little introduction of Azeroth. I hope I lessened the pain with the bulleted list. I enjoyed the introduction to the Elemental Lords, which play a huge part in the games. Ragnaros comes into play in two separate expansions, once in Vanilla and again in Cataclysm, where he is joined by the rest of the Lords. Just imagine these giant, swirling masses of elements fighting one another for territory. I can picture the clashes on the battlefield, and the book gave an excellent example of each of their battle strategies. It’s amazing to think that war started on practically Day One of the life of this world.

The creativity continued with the Old Gods finding Azeroth and creating these hideous insect creatures that eventually just overwhelmed the Elemental Lords. It sounds like my worst nightmare. This was the first map featured in the book, and it helps realize the scope of the world we are talking about here. For scale, know that this land will eventually become four continents with numerous isles. Seeing this map got me really excited to find out how that happens. I just love maps like these.

While the creation of the titan-forged and things such as the Elemental Plane are fascinating to me, I am left wanting here. As someone who has long read and loved mythology, what is given feels like a carbon copy. I remember when the game expansion with these characters came out, Wrath of the Lich King, I voiced my frustration. I understand borrowing other myths, even reworking them to tell new stories, but it doesn’t feel different or new enough to me. Their personalities, names, and abilities were generally the same as the Norse myths. It could help to bring someone new to Norse mythology, so that’s a bonus, but I personally needed more.

What I also needed more of was women within this mythology. Once again, each group only contains one woman (the Old Gods have no gender). Both of those women also take on the stereotypical role for a woman as well. The mother who only wants to protect her children. The woman who creates and watches over all life. Don’t get me wrong, both are fantastic and amazing jobs (it’s something I do every day), but why can’t we also have the Firelord or the great Titan-forged warrior. Why can’t there be a male figure who is nurturing? As I said, there are some great women in the lore of Azeroth, but when we make up 51% of the general population, and nearly half of the gaming population, I would like to see the same kind of representation.

. . . . .

We still have a little more to go in the World of Warcraft Chronicle before reaching our first novel. Next, we’ll finish up with the Ordering of Azeroth. What are your thoughts regarding the finding of Azeroth and the battles for control?

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One thought on “World of Warcraft Chronicle Vol 1: Part Two – The Black Empire

  1. Pingback: World of Warcraft Chronicle Vol 1: Part Three – The Ordering of Azeroth | The Brazen Bibliophile

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