Continuing their efforts to provide a unified record of the vast Warcraft lore, Blizzard has now released the second installment of the Warcraft Chronicle.
This time, focus shifts away from Azeroth to cover the history of Draenor, before jumping back to Azeroth and reciting the history of the First and Second Wars, up to and including the events of Beyond the Dark Portal.
The first installment was for the most part of a fascinating dive into a lot of mostly unknown lore, but perhaps inevitably, volume two is less impressive.
My favourite part was learning about Draenor’s pre-history. This was for the most part totally new lore, and while it may not have been quite as thrilling as learning of Azeroth’s origins and the days of the Black Empire, it was nonetheless an interesting read. I particularly enjoyed learning the history of the Arrakoa civilization.
However, once it got around to more familiar history, it became much less impressive.
This is perhaps to be expected, as it’s all stuff I’m already familiar with, but the familiarity wasn’t the thing that bothered me most. Quite the opposite, actually.
When this whole Chronicle business started, I had the vague worry this might be another excuse to start retconning everything willy-nilly. Seems I was right to worry.
Much of the history of Draenor leading up to the First War has now been changed. It’s mostly smaller changes more than total rewrites, but when you add up all the little changes, it starts to become a rather different story.
The intention seems to have been to unify history by incorporating elements of the alternate versions of Draenor seen in Warlords of Draenor and the film, but I’m not sure why they felt the need to do that. Both of those were pretty clearly alternate realities, and attempting to combine all the different versions of Draenor causes more confusion than it solves.
It’s doubly confusing when you consider that neither WoD nor the movie were terribly well-received. I really don’t think any Warcraft lore fan was like, “You know what we need? For Warlords of Draenor to be more canon!”
Hilariously, Garona’s origin story has been retconned yet again. I believe this is the fourth backstory she’s been given now? It’s getting hard to keep count. I think she officially takes the crown as the most heavily retconned part of the Warcraft universe now.
To be fair, most of these retcons don’t make the story any worse. Some even make it better. There’s finally a clear explanation of how the Twilight’s Hammer went from being a Draenic Orc clan to a multi-racial cult of Azerothian Old God worshippers, and it actually makes pretty good sense. I’m glad of that.
But sadly they do invalidate a good chunk of Warcraft literature, including a lot of Christie Golden’s work. And that’s a real shame. Rise of the Horde was one of the better novels.
In the end, volume two of the Warcraft Chronicle occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where the people who are most likely to read it are hardcore lore fans, but the people who are most likely to enjoy it are those with only minimal experience of the lore to date.
Overall rating: 6.2/10
I felt it stands quite well with Rise of the Horde. RotH is still the “canon” that would be recognised by any orc. Only Gul’dan, Kil’jaeden and possibly Cho’gall would know the full Chronicles story.
Well not really. In RotH, the Frostwolf clan didn’t live in Frostfire Ridge, for instance. It’s been a while since I read it, so I’m not sure what other inconsistencies there are, but I suspect there’d be a lot of little things like that.
It’s not like the whole story has been completely thrown out, but there’s so many asterisks and “well, actually…” comments stuck all over it now that I’m not sure I could continue to recommend it to someone looking to learn more about Warcraft lore.
Pingback: Beyond Tannhauser Gate | Six Degrees of 2017 – Superior RealitiesSix Degrees of 2017 - Superior Realities - Beyond Tannhauser Gate