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Video Games Can Have Plots Too! Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by Christie Golden

I have played the massively multiplayer role playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) since I was a teenager (thanks to my mom who got me into it, ha) and decided a few months ago that I’d love to learn more about the lore of all the stories that my character has been a part of. There are a whole lot of WoW based books out there, and I wanted to start with one that was decently written, and so I got advice from WoW bloggers who also liked the lore and was pointed towards this one as one good starting book. And now I know all about the big bad Lich King who I never actually got to go kill (took a WoW break just before my guild got him down….).

Title: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King
Author: Christie Golden
Pages: 383 paperback
Genre-ish: Fantasy
Setting: Azeroth, the world that the WoW game takes place in, which is a pretty typical fantasy setting with magic and orcs and dwarves, but it also gets visited by a demon dimension a bit too frequently and has a lot of ornery Old Gods and higher beings always fighting over the mortals, who thankfully have a lot of powerful heroes to defend them :D (and some awesome dragons!).
Premise: Anyone who has played WoW in the last couple of years knows about this group of undead (ie raised skeletons and corpses and icky stuff) that went through and trashed a whole bunch of the world and are controlled by this semi-undead being called the Lich King. This is the story about how a noble paladin named Prince Arthas tried to save his people from a horrible plague and got caught up in his lust for power and turned into the Lich King.

Strengths:

  • Heroic story, even though you know how it’s going to end… :(
  • Even though it’s based on a video game, the characters in this world have a whole lot of depth, and so the tragic story of the Prince Arthas really makes sense when you read it, he really did think he was doing the right thing in the beginning
  • Gives you a nice introduction to a lot of the other lore of the world and background about who other major characters in the world are
  • Stays very true to the lore and magic rules etc of the games which is fun for a player to read about
  • Well written given the sort of caliber I would first expect from a book written based on a video game, goes above expectations, which is nice

Weaknesses:

  • Despite what I wrote above, it isn’t one of the best written books I’ve read, which is understandable, but it took me a while to get through simply because the writing wasn’t that compelling
  • Given that main character is evil, its kind of hard to get that attached to him, I would love a book written from his friend and once lover’s perspective instead
  • The book tries to cover all the major events in Arthas’ life, which leads to it getting a bit jumpy at times because there are a lot of them, so the plot doesn’t feel nicely fluid at all and it can be a bit disorienting
  • I had trouble getting my footing a little bit despite having played the games, so if you haven’t, then the background lore could get a little bit overwhelming

Summary:
Not the easiest book to get through, and I’m going to wait a bit before starting on the next lore book that I got, but I am glad that I decided to start these books. It’s a lot of fun to learn more about the stories in the game that I play, and its made me more excited to get back into the game and stories. I don’t think it would be very much fun for people who don’t play the games, however, simply because it would be hard to keep characters and plots straight without some background knowledge of the events. I mean, I played for six years in these places and experienced these events and I had trouble remembering everything. If you play the game however and have wanted to learn more about the lore, this does seem to be a good place to start (from the perspective of someone who hasn’t read any of the others, ha!).

So any of you play WoW (I’m looking at you Angelya!) and have any of you read any of the WoW books? Are there any other games that have such a rich lore that books are based off them? (No Star Wars doesn’t count since it had the movies before the games!)

-A

Footnotes: I’m trying out a new headline style to be a bit more eye grabbing but still include the title etc, is it too long?

© 2012 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I read and enjoyed Arthas, but I will say that both my husband and I enjoy Richard Knaak’s Warcraft novels better. I’ve read most of the books that were out a year ago but haven’t read any in awhile. I tend to enjoy the books that have to do with Malfurion, since I play a druid (tauren), so I’m much more interested in their lore. I’m not sure if you’ve read any of the other books at this point, but the Well of Eternity books are quite good.

    I also play WoW and still do (I’m amused because my character’s name in Unya and very close to your name :P I like learning the lore, which is probably one of the reasons I really enjoy reading the books.

    I actually got to kill the Lich King, before he was nerfed *cheers* and then quit raiding (still played) for a bit. I don’t really raid anymore or play anywhere as near as much as I used to though. Becoming a mom changed that for me.

    • Oo good to know, I’ll have to check them out. I definitely want to read more WoW books, but I had to stop playing when I started grad school (and this blog!), so I’m worried reading the books will drag me back to temptation, hehe! Yey druids, me too :D.

      • Yeah, a lot of people don’t like his books as much as Christie Golden’s, but we think they are much better. They might cause a bit of temptation to play again though..lol I used to be super addicted and have played since 2006. But now I’ve managed to balance it out with other activities, that and it’s become quite casual friendly..lol

        • The casual friendly element is the most dangerous I think, since I could easily spend hours in the evening messing around without noticing the time go by >.> And that’s time that I feel like I should spend reading D:

  2. I might have done a bad thing this week and renewed my WoW subscription… My goal during WotLK was to kill Arthas before Cata came out. I was unsuccessful, mostly because I was playing on a dead server, but it was still a lot of fun to try.

    Do you still play?

    • I do (kind of). I still have an active subscription, but my guild fell apart and so now I am guildless and I have a beta pass, so this has created a problem. I feel like I should play the beta, because the whole helping development etc, and it’s so pretty, but I hate remembering that all my progress isn’t going to actually matter once the expansion comes out and I’ll have to do it all over (not something that works for me, I only have one top level character xD). This combines with the fact that I always feel like I should read books during my free time, so I haven’t actually played that much. I really think I’ll play more once MoP actually comes out, since I’ll want to level up my main character, but I’ll also be in grad school taking classes by then, so who knows :(

      You?

      • I played for about two years where I raided every week, but then quit for a while when SWTOR came out. I started back up again when I found out that my old guild needed healers. My main’s a holy pally, and I’d missed raiding… it’s fun, but the guild I’m in now is more of a casual raiding guild since I’m balancing work/school/blogging already.

        • Awesome! I’m heals too :D What class??

          Yeah, I’m tempted to find a casual raiding guild that does old content if not enough people show up for new content, since it’s mostly the social aspect that I’m needing now, but I feel like I should hold off and see how bad school is before signing up for more commitments xD Did you see the rumor that SWTOR may be going completely free to play??

          • I play a holy pally on WoW, and my highest geared alt is a disc priest. I’m rather partial to the healers; they’re less stressful than tanking and more fun than dps.

            It would be really neat if SWTOR went free to play, but I doubt it’s gonna happen. As it is I’m trying to decide which subscription to cancel, because I can’t do two MMOs at the same time.

          • Nice, I’m resto druid (did I say that already? haha) I think my highest level alt is like 40 something xD I’ve never tried tanking, but I can imagine it wouldn’t be my style at all. I’m a fan of them for the lore feel, since it fits my personality more, and I find them to involve a lot more strategy and reaction and thinking than dps, though that can make them more stressful when there’s so much else going on too xD

            Yeah, I heard that SWTOR is losing a lot of members though huh? Which do you like better?

          • I think that of the two, SWTOR is by far the superior game, and is a lot more fun to play. Questing in SWTOR is actually fun and doesn’t feel at all grindy, and it’s so much easier to get invested in the lore. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t run well on my computer, to the point that once I hit level 50 it became pretty much impossible for me to be able to do end-game content or PVP. I went back to WoW because I couldn’t consistently get more than 5 fps in SWTOR.

          • Interesting, that’s unfortunate that it’s so demanding on your machine though :( My only fear with playing SWTOR myself is that I’m much more a fantasy setting kind of person than a space-age setting, so the Star Wars universe has never been that appealing to me beyond enjoying the movies xD To each their own though ;-) My main hope with SWTOR being out here is that it will push Blizzard to improve their questing more and more!

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  1. […] I said in a previous post, after reading Arthas (a World of Warcraft book) I needed a break from WoW lore, but I think I’ll be ready to try […]

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