Tides of Darkness, by Aaron Rosenberg.
After the first war, Llane Wrynn was assassinated by the double agent Garona Halforcen demoralizing the defenders of Stormwind which was under siege by the Orcish Horde. This led to a massive exodus across the sea onto the Kingdoms of the North. Lothar and Khadgar led the refugees from the shattered city and its broken walls, ultimately landing in Southshore with dire news to the rest of mankind.
Having earned an audience with the king of Lordaeron, Lothar proved that the threat of the Horde was real and Terenas Menethil, ruler of Lordaeron, called for a meeting between all the human kingdoms. Gilneas, Alterac, Strom, Kul’Tiras, Lordaeron and Dalaran.
After a lot of discussion, the Alliance was formed with Lothar at its command, not only because he faced the Orcs before and was Champion of Stormwind, but also because he is a descendant from the Arathi, the Human Empire that was divided and originated the Kingdoms mentioned above.
The Horde, now reformed under Orgrim Doomhammer’s leadership after killing his chieftain Blackhand that was only allowed by a sudden coma afflicting Gul’dan, was also preparing its forces to invade the northern kingdoms by sea. For that, they invaded Khaz Modan, homeland of the Bronzebeards, a Dwarven clan, to plunder the oil and other resources in order to craft navy vessels that would allow them to cross the sea.
Lothar then lead the Alliance while gathering allies along the way such as the High Elves and Wildhammer Dwarves. While the High Elves proved to be excellent rangers with very sharp senses, the Wildhammer Dwarves played an important role as riders in the sky with their mighty gryphons and storm hammers. With the help of the ArchBishop Alonsus Faol, the Alliance even formed a new order, the Silver Hand, an order of warriors with faith in the Holy Light called Paladins. But the Horde had also evolved in its on way.
Having enslaved red dragons, created Death Knights by the use of repugnant ways, and even rescued an enemy of their enemies thus forming an allegiance with the Forest Trolls, so too did the Horde bolster its magical might and had aerial combat added to their ranks. Not only was that enough, but by creating an Altar of Storms in Quel’thalas right above a leyline of magic, Gul’dan was also able to empower Ogres (with a significant mortality chance during the transformation) to use magic themselves, thus creating the Ogre Magi.
The Horde and the Alliance then engage in various battles across, Hillsbrad, Hinterlands, Quel’thalas, Alterac, Lordaeron and then culminating into the final battle at the bottom of the Blackrock Spire/Mountain thus sending the Horde in retreat to the South towards the Dark Portal. The Horde tried to defend it but ultimately, Khadgar managed to destroy it and the Orcs who were stuck in Azeroth either surrendered and were placed into internment camps or they were killed with their weapons in hand.
Tides of Darkness introduces a whole lot of new characters, and a lot of them I believe that they did not even appear in the game (Warcraft II). There’s suspense, scheming, treason, bonds between comrades and friends, lust for power and the flourishing of a love as well.
I loved the relations in between the various characters and how they reacted to the several situations that appeared to them in war and in the different environments. For the first time reading a Warcraft book, I was able to experience naval and aerial combat as well! And believe me, they were awesome and a nice refreshment from the land battles where footmen and cavalry charge against the Orcs with the occasional use of magic. (There were some scenes in the War of the Ancients where there is aerial combat, but not at this scale!)
This book ends the second war of Humans vs Orcs but leaves a lot behind to be solved and answered. It also teases some of the characters who will have more protagonism in the future in a very subtle and intelligent way. I loved all of those bits! Although they were not that important and relevant to the main story line. The action was awesome and it shows a scale that I had no idea of how it actually had been!
Again I emphasize, reading these stories with an idea of how the world and its maps already are from countless hours travelling in it (although in its future) really brings another degree of quality for the overall experience.
Next one to come: Beyond the Dark Portal!
PS: Below there’s a list of characters and locations that you may find while reading the book. If you have played World of Warcraft or the RTS games, you’ll surely recognize many of them!
Muradin, Brann and Magni Bronzebeard
Rend and Maim BlackHand
Zuluhed the Whacked
Tomb of Sargeras