Book Review: “World of Warcraft: Wolfheart” by Richard A. Knaak

WolfheartWolfheart was a very interesting read for me. I really enjoy the World of Warcraft video game, and as I’ve mentioned before, I have enjoyed some of the other novels written in support of the game lore. This book, however, is very different from the other World of Warcraft novels I’ve read up to this point.

I was expecting a lot of action, especially action focused on Varian Wrynn, the King of Stormwind. As it turns out, Varian is in the book, and he does play a central part in the final scenes, but for most of the book he’s a bit of an afterthought. Instead, the plot focuses on characters like Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind, and Jarod and Maiev Shadowsong. Those are characters I’ve seen in the game, but haven’t been exposed to in the novels.

All of the action in Wolfheart takes place in the Night Elf capital city of Darnassus and the forests of Ashenvale, another Night Elf territory. The Horde wants to strip mine Ashenvale for its immense lumber resources and in this book we see the first big push the Horde makes into trying to secure the area. Garrosh Hellscream has brought massive beasts from the frozen tundra of Northrend to aid his army, knowing full well that nothing the Night Elves, or the Alliance on the whole has will be able to stop them. As Malfurion and Tyrande host a massive summit of nations in Darnassus to bring the kingdoms of the Alliance together to deal with the threat of Deathwing, Garrosh begins his invasion into Ashenvale and because of his timing, it seems like nobody can come to the aid of the Night Elf sentinels there.

The other half of the plot revolves round a murder mystery situation in Darnassus itself. Highborne are turning up dead under strange circumstances. Malfurion Stormrage and Jarod Shadowsong spend the book attempting to find out why. The villain turns out to be a surprise, and I was not expecting it to turn out the way it did.

Varian Wrynn finally enters center stage in the final pages of Wolfheart as he is forced into a situation where he must decide if he is going to be the figurehead the Alliance needs in order to present a united front in the face of Garrosh Hellscream and to a greater extent, Deathwing, or if he’s going to remain merely the King of Stormwind. The final events of Wolfheart bring about his transformation into the true leader he needs to be moving forward. I’m just disappointed that the story of that transformation had to take a back seat to all the rest of the plot. It was the better story in my opinion.

Wolfheart was an average book for me. It did not do a particularly bad job of telling its story, but it also did not do a particularly good job of telling its story either. This is the first book by Richard A. Knaak I’ve read, so I’m not sure if my feelings about Wolfheart come from not enjoying his writing on a stylistic level, or if they come from just feeling like the story was misaligned compared to what I thought it should be. However, if you are a World of Warcraft lore junkie, Wolfheart is probably a book you should read.

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