If there’s one video game that continues to withstand the test of time, it’s Blizzard’s incredibly popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), World of Warcraft. After its launch in 2004, this MMORPG took the world by storm and beat out the previous industry leader, EverQuest, to become one of the most popular personal computer (PC) video games of all time. In the game, players align themselves with either the Horde or Alliance and complete quests that push the agenda of their chosen faction as a means to establish their identity in Azeroth; a sword and sorcery world defined by its tumultuous history. World of Warcraft, has evolved and outlasted the competition through a constant stream of content, that tells a continuous story about the war between the Horde and Alliance as well as the machinations of evil demons and benevolent celestial beings.

Each new World of Warcraft expansion always brings in new players, many of them curious onlookers who have heard about the game in the media or word of mouth. For players more interested in lore and world building, gathering Azeroth’s history is an intimidating prospect. Not only does the player have to catch up with the events that have impacted the game world as it exists today but there’s also the events that occurred before World of Warcraft that must be considered—not to mention the events that caused the Horde to show up in Azeroth. This is where the World of Warcraft Chronicle provides its value. This multi-volume work from Dark Horse Books serves as a primer for players new and old looking for a concise, singular resource to glean through and develop an understanding for Azeroth’s current state of affairs. This is essentially Blizzard’s creation myth and while the most ardent fans will gobble it up, casual players may find that it falls just over the line of Too Much Information.

Rather than explore the events that led to the state of World of Warcraft, the first volume starts at the very beginning, in which cosmic forces sprung into existence and wandered the unshaped Great Dark to bring light to burgeoning worlds. The first volume ends 45 years before the events of the original Warcraft, in which the Horde fall under the influence of demons and invade Azeroth through the Dark Portal, thereby setting off a chain of events featured in Warcraft, Warcraft II, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft.

Blizzard deserves praise for logically and legibly presenting thousands and thousands of years worth of Warcraft history. Everything you ever wanted to know about Azeroth but were afraid to ask is available in this tome, it’s text supplemented by beautiful illustrations that recreate events of major historical significance. That said, it doesn’t necessarily make for an entertaining read. This isn’t something you’d want to take to the beach. Chronicle is essentially a narrative timeline that places an emphasis on presenting one major event after the other with little commentary or dramatizations. If you’re looking for a World of Warcraft story, it’s best to stick to the novels written by Christie Golden, Richard Knaak, Aaron Rosenberg, and Michael Stackpole.

As a casual World of Warcraft fan, I found the material to be a dense record of history I’m not particularly interested in. The volume doesn’t cover some of the more exciting moments in Warcraft history, such as the corruption of Prince Arthas and the creation of a ruling faction of Undead. While it was fascinating to find out what events shaped the world, I care less about invincible gods fighting each other. I’d rather hear stories of those humans and nonhumans trying to eke out an existence on Azeroth. Another aspect of the book that made it less interesting was how often betrayals are used to affect monumental change—it’s hard to keep track of how often characters turn on each other. I suppose it’s fitting considering that in World of Warcraft, Azeroth always seems poised to suffer from multiple earth shattering cataclysms as a result of schemes performed by those thought to be good, decent folk.

Closing the book on the first volume of Azeroth’s history led me to an awkward conclusion: while it’s nice to have all this material presented in a book, there really isn’t much to stop me from getting it online, either by the World of Warcraft website or fan-made wikis, especially since the content will more than likely find itself reprinted on these sites not long after the material is published. World of Warcraft Chronicles, vol. 1 is something that hardcore Warcraft fans and lore hounds will sink their teeth into. It feels very much written to them and such fans would likely appreciate having an official Blizzard-produced historical record published in physical form on their bookshelves.

World of Warcraft Chronicle, vol. 1
by Chris Metzen, Matt Burns, and Robert Brooks
Art by Peter Lee and Joseph Burns
ISBN: 9781616558451
Dark Horse Books, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 13+

  • Allen

    | He/Him Past Reviewer

    Allen Kesinger is a Reference Librarian at the Newport Beach Public Library in California. He maintains the graphic novel collections at the library, having established an Adult collection to compliment the YA materials. When not reading graphic novels, he fills his time with other nerdy pursuits including video games, Legos and steampunk.

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