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Interested in reading some of the Warcraft publications, but unsure where to start? Here's the answer! Your very own story guide. This guide presents all novels and short stories that are considered canon in Warcraft lore.
For reference, the books are listed under the titles of game releases and expansions of Warcraft games, so you know which stories occur in which general time period. Some stories appear twice in the timeline. This is because these stories take place partially as flashbacks to earlier events. The timelines of these stories have been noted in their descriptions.
Pre-Game Timeline Events
The War of the Ancients Trilogy
These novels cover the ancient history of Azeroth, and depict the War of the Ancients, the first invasion by the Burning Legion, the fall of the Highborne, and the destruction of the Well of Eternity. The Sundering was the first great cataclysm, and was responsible for the sinking of Vashj'ir, the creation of the Maelstrom, and the very shape of the world today. The majority of the novels take place during the War of the Ancients. However, it's the War of the Ancients as viewed by travelers sent by Nozdormu 10,000 years into the past.
This short story takes place at two points in the timeline. The flashback sequence tells the story of the original War of the Shifting Sands, 1,000 years before the orcs first arrived on Azeroth. It depicts the original struggle to contain the swarms of Ahn'Qiraj by the Dragon Aspects, aided by the Night Elves.
This story depicts the native orcs of Draenor and their fall from spiritual warrior traditions into demonic depravity. This book features the rise of Ner'zhul and Gul'dan, as well as the fall of the draenei. It ends just before the First War.
- by Micky Neilson.
This short story tells the tale of , former Vindicator (paladin) of the Light, and his transformation into a shaman. It takes place just after the corruption of the orcs in Rise of the Horde and follows Nobundo's journey through the shattering of Draenor.
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (The First War)This section concerns content exclusive to Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (aka Warcraft I).
The Last Guardian
- by Jeff Grubb.
This book takes place during the beginning of the First War and tells the story of Medivh's origins, his apprentice Khadgar, and the mysterious half-orc Garona.
Warcraft II: The Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal (The Second War)This section concerns content exclusive to Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.
This story depicts the events of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, mainly from the Alliance perspective. Historical events include the destruction of Stormwind, and the siege of Lordaeron.
This novel tells the story of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, largely from the Horde perspective.
Post-Warcraft II, Pre-Warcraft IIIThis section concerns content exclusive to Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.
Taking place just after the Second War in the cursed dwarf city of Grim Batol, where the Dragonmaw Clan, a leftover from the Horde of Blackhand, hides a terrible secret. There, a young Rhonin aids the Dalaran Arch-Mage Krasus in finding out the source of the orcs' true power, but run into complications in the form of Lord Daval Prestor.
This novel focuses on the story of Thrall, from his humble beginnings as a slave and gladiator in the Alliance prison camps, to his eventual escape and rise to glory as the Warchief of the Horde. The Caverns of Time: Durnholde Keep instance depict many of the characters and events in the novel. Also featured, Drek'thar, the last orc Shaman, Grom Hellscream, leader of the rebellious Warsong Clan, and Teretha Foxton, Thrall's adoptive older sister and friend.
- by Chris Metzen
This mini-novel takes place sometime between Warcraft II and Warcraft III and recounts the tale of the paladin Tirion Fordring and Eitrigg, a self-exiled orc warrior of the Blackrock Clan. Fans of Tirion will definitely want to check this one out.
- by Evelyn Fredericksen.
This short story takes place just before Warcraft III and tells the story of the mage Kel'Thuzad, his fallout with the Kirin Tor, and his alliance with Ner'zhul, the first Lich King.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (The Third War)This section concerns content exclusive to Warcraft III.
While the events of this novel end just before Wrath of the Lich King, the majority of the novel itself takes place just before and during the events of Warcraft III, up to and including The Frozen Throne. It appears here chronologically because so much of it involves Warcraft III; however, readers may want to keep in mind that the prologue and epilogue to the book take place just before Wrath of the Lich King.
- by William King
Illidan Stormrage is one of the most powerful beings ever to walk the lands of Azeroth. He is also one of the least understood. Behind his legend, beneath his enigmatic mission, lies a brilliant mind whose machinations are comprehended by few—and trusted by even fewer. Illidan’s righteous reign of justice and vengeance has begun.
Long ago, the night elf sorcerer Illidan infiltrated the demonic Burning Legion to ward off its invasion of Azeroth. Instead of hailing him as a hero, his own kind branded him the Betrayer, questioning his intentions after he appeared to aid the demon lords. For ten thousand years, he languished in prison—vilified, isolated, but never forgetting his purpose.
Now the Legion has returned, and there is only one champion who can truly stand against it. Released from his bonds, Illidan prepares for the final confrontation in the alien realm of Outland, gathering an army of grotesque fel orcs, serpentine naga, cunning blood elves, and twisted demon hunters to his side. He alone knows what deeply hidden motives guide his hand; he alone understands the price that must be paid to defeat the enemies of creation. Yet as before, he is assailed by those who see his schemes as a cynical quest for power, including the night elf Maiev Shadowsong, his former jailor. Warden Shadowsong and her Watchers have pursued the Betrayer to Outland to exact retribution for his crimes, and she will not rest until Illidan is in her custody . . . or in his grave.
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (Aftermath of the Third War)This section concerns content exclusive to Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.
The War of the Ancients Trilogy
While the majority of the novels take place during the War of the Ancients, it is the experience of three heroes of the modern age; the dragon mage Krasus, the young wizard Rhonin, and the grizzled orc veteran, Broxigar Saurfang. The travelers are sent by Nozdormu 10,000 years into the past through a mysterious and potentially dangerous rift that has opened up in the mountains of Kalimdor just after the Third War.
This novel takes place three years after the Third War, and depicts the events of the bonus campaign of Warcraft 3: the Frozen Throne. It involves the struggles of Thrall and Jaina Proudmoore as they attempt to keep alive the tentative peace between the orcs and humans of Kalimdor, a peace hard won with blood and victory over the Burning Legion during the three years prior.This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
- by Micky Neilson
This short story takes place at two points in the timeline, with the modern setting depicting the in game event: The Scepter of Celebras and reopening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj.This section concerns content exclusive to The Burning Crusade.
- by Richard A. Knaak
Krasus, Rhonin, and Vereesa Windrunner return in this sequel to Day of the Dragon. The Netherwing dragonflight that were introduced in The Burning Crusade, become involved in an insidious plot by Lady Sinestra. Once the prime consort of Deathwing, she uses all her power to bring about the birth of a threat that will plague Azeroth for years to come: the Twilight Dragonflight.This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
- by Richard A. Knaak
The corrupton of the Emerald Dream, first introduced in World of Warcraft, has reached cataclysmic proportions, and threatens to consume the world's sentient races within an eternal nightmare. Only the return of Malfurion Stormrage, with the help of heroes from both the Horde and the Alliance, stand a chance of turning the tide of the Nightmare War.
- by Christie Golden
This book takes place just prior to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. The War in Northrend is over, but Azeroth is in turmoil. The elements themselves tremble in terror, and lash out against the mortals of the world. Amid the chaos, political struggles within both the Alliance and the Horde erupt into devastation, and threaten to leave the proud defenders of Azeroth divided and weakened against the coming storm.This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
- by Richard A. Knaak
The Worgen of Gilneas seek to join the Alliance, but one imposing figure stands in their way: King Varian Wrynn. Meanwhile, the Night Elves struggle for acceptance, as the Highborne of Eldre'Thalas return to Night Elf society after more than 10,000 years in exile. Elsewhere, Ashenvale comes under attack by a ferocious new enemy; Garrosh Hellscream. The new leader of the Horde seeks the bountiful resources of the elven woodlands to fuel his war machine, and will stop at nothing to attain them.
- by Christie Golden
Former Warchief Thrall continues his efforts to mend the world after Deathwing's explosive return to Azeroth. But the task seems insurmountable, and the faith of the world's most powerful shaman wanes. Yet, a random task requested by Ysera, Aspect of the Green Dragonflight, sends Thrall on a sojourn across the face of the world. What he discovers along the way will affect not only his own future, but the future of the Dragon Aspects and of Azeroth as a whole.This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
- by Christie Golden.
Jaina Proudmoore, protector of a beseiged Theramore, the last major outpost of the Alliance on mainland Kalimdor. She faces perhaps her greatest challenge as a leader when the Horde targets her small realm for destruction. How will she react? Can she maintain or stance as a promoter of peace between the Alliance and Horde in the face of such a catastrophe?
Aided by the renowned brewmaster Chen Stormstout, Vol'jin takes refuge in a remote mountain monastery to recover from his wounds. His time there, however, is far from peaceful, as intense visions of the past assault the Darkspear chieftain, and the ancient Zandalari tribe mounts a series of attacks on Pandaria. In his struggle to make sense of what’s happening, Vol'jin must ultimately decide where his allegiances lay—a choice that could save or doom his people . . . and forever alter the fate of the Horde.
- by Christie Golden
The brutal siege of Orgrimmar is over. Garrosh Hellscream, the most infamous orc on Azeroth, now sits in chains. His tyrannical leadership of the Horde has been ended by his many enemies, and he must answer for his crimes. Renowned leaders from across the world gather in Pandaria to witness Garrosh's trial. Visions of his past atrocities are presented in vivid detail for all to see. But as history is revisited, old grievances and bitter memories come back into the light, and those in attendance begin to wonder if anyone among them is truly innocent. Mounting tensions and rising enmity steer the court to the brink of chaos... as the world waits with bated breath for the verdict on the war crimes of Garrosh Hellscream.This section concerns content exclusive to Warlords of Draenor.
Lords of War (animation)
- by Ryan Quinn
- by Matt Burns
- Both the Horde and the Alliance play a major role in all novels, though sometimes one faction more so than the other.
- The Faction Leader short stories take place at various points in the chronology.