Tome of Geek: Arthus: Rise of the Lich King

In the Warcraft universe no villain is quite as fear or loathed as The Lich King, the foul controller of the undead Scourge and former pawn of the Burning Legion.  He’s destroyed the High Elves homes, attacked the cities of Orgimmar and Stormwind and destroyed the Scarlet Enclave, but who is this man that took up the Frostmourne? Who is it that slays the Ner’zhul personality and became the Lich King?

Arthas: Rise of the Lich King is the latest novel by Warcraft veteran Christie Golden.  In this World of Warcraft expansion tie in Golden takes us on a trip that spans throughout most of Warcraft’s important titles, showing us the history of the ill-fated Prince Arthus Menethil.  The book is set over an extensive period, re-illustrating many familiar scenes from Tides of Darkness, Beyond the Dark Portal, Day of the Dragon, Reign of Chaos, The Frozen Throne and Wrath of the Lich King, with each retelling the scenes themselves remain the same but they are experienced from alternate viewpoints.

The story starts off in the period between the First and Second Wars with Arthas at the age of ten.  Golden illustrates the origins of Arthus former allies and closest friends.  We see the friendship between Arthus and Varian Wrynn, the tutelage of Muradin Bronzebeard in martial combat and the attempt to wed Daval Prestor to Arthus’ sister Calia Menethil.

A large portion of the early chapters focuses on the Arthus’ romance, and the love triangle between Arthas, Jaina Proudmoore and Kael’thas Sunstrider is developed through the plot.  We see the courting of Arthas and Jaina throughout the festivities of Noblegarden, the Midsummer Fire Festival, Hallow’s End and the Feast of Winter Veil.  Golden even crosses over into familiar territory when Arthu visits Durnholde Keep and sees Thrall fight in the gladiator arena.

From here the book crosses over into the Third War, the events depicted in Warcraft 3, as Arthus reunites with Jaina and face off against Kel’Thuzad, Uther and the Dreadlord Mal’Ganis.  The fall of Quel’Thalas and Sylvanas Windrunner, the deception of Illidian Stormrage, the liberation of the Forsaken and the ascension to the Frozen Throne and even touches on numerous scene from the MMO expansion Wrath of the Lich King.

As mentioned before the familiar events are told through the eyes of other characters.  We witness the turn against Uther through the eyes of Jaina, the Culling of Stratholme witness by its victims and fall of Quel’Thalas is seen through the eyes of Sylvanas.  With this change in perspective Golden illustrates the familiar events in unknown perspectives and forces us to feel different emotions then the ones we originally experienced.  Instead of the arrogance and anger you held for the elven ranger as she assaulted your undead in Warcraft 3, Christie Golden makes us witness the helplessness of the Ranger and the brutal punishment bestowed upon her.  Yet despite the horror of Stratholme or the despair of Jaina the true blessing and surprise of the book is when you begin for Arthus, your ill fated and often loathed main character.

Arthus: Rise of the Lich King is a stunning read that despite knowing the outcome still fights the urge to put the book down.  While some may find the familiar scenes as a flaw Golden turns it into a plus with the varied perspectives, giving even the most well known events something new to experience while adding previously undocumented events such as Arthus’ induction as a Knight of the Silver Hand in the Cathedral of Light and the moments leading to and after the murder of King Terenas.

Christie Golden is a veteran of not only Warcraft but the Blizzard Universes all together.  She is the author of both Thrall and the Horde’s origins in Lord of the Clans and Rise of the Horde and the events of the Warcraft 2 expansion in Beyond the Dark Portal. Christie has also written two short stories, one about Thrall’s mother Draka in A Warrior Made, and the other about a down-on-his-luck goblin named Krizz looking for a way to make some easy coin even if that means playing Greatfather Winter in the tale I Got What Yule Need.  In this book she once again proves she is the Queen of Warcraft with, among other things, her expansive depiction of high elven culture.  This is not a book to be missed by fantasy and Warcraft fans alike.

Christie Golden is a well recognized ‘Geek-Author’ who has written in many established worlds.  She has written in the Buffy and Angel verse, Wizard of the Coast’s Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms, Star Trek, with TNG and the acclaimed Voyager series, Warcraft, Starcraft, Star Wars, and even the dark American horror of the Lovecraft-verse.  She is currently slated to release two World of Warcraft books this year Chronicles of War, collaboration with Jeff Grubb and Aaron Rosenberg, and The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm – a book to act as the tie in for the next WOW expansion like Arthus: Rise of the Lich King was for the last one.

If you like this:

  • Warcraft: Lord of the Clans
  • Warcraft: Rise of the Horde
  • Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Omen
  • Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Allies
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