Know Your Lore: Anduin Llane Wrynn
Named for both his grandfather and the Lion of Azeroth, Anduin Llane Wrynn has a lot to live up to — but he’s not taking the expected route to get there. Varian Wrynn might have expected the future King of Stormwind to be a mighty warrior, but what he got was a boy who was far more interested in diplomacy and peace than swinging a sword and taking down his enemies one on one. And that has caused plenty of struggle between father and son, although those problems seem to be at least somewhat resolved.
But Varian Wrynn is nothing if not protective, and Anduin’s fate is a pivotal part of what’s to come on Azeroth, if the visions of the Prophet Velen hold any kind of truth to them. Anduin may not be cut out to be a fighter, but he’s something far more vital — a thinker, a healer. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what Stormwind and the Alliance need most.
Anduin Llane Wrynn was born in a time of relative peace after the Second War, but his mother Tiffin died when he was just a baby, killed by a rock thrown during the riot of the Stonemason’s Guild. And that was probably the moment that defined what route Anduin’s life was going to take, although he didn’t know it then — seeing Tiffin die sent Varian into a deep depression, and it was only watching Anduin grow up and thrive that managed to pull Varian out of it. Unfortunately, the kingdom had a dragon in its midst, and Katrana Prestor, a.k.a. Onyxia, was not about to let her plans be foiled.
After the Third War, Varian was invited to Theramore for a peace summit, and it was Anduin who convinced him to go, despite Katrana’s objections. When Varian made the trip, he disappeared en route to Theramore, leaving Anduin, just ten years old at the time, to rule in his place. It also left Lady Prestor in a good spot to act as royal advisor, and she convinced Highlord Bolvar Fordragon to have Anduin crowned, although Bolvar would hold the power until Anduin actually reached the age of ascension and could rule.
Lady Prestor’s schemes were eventually unraveled, due in no small part to Anduin, who was clever enough to see that his “father,” the man who had miraculously returned from his disappearance, was not acting like his father at all. One long plot later and it was made clear what had happened — Onyxia split Varian into two people that represented two different sides of Varian’s personality. One was the complacent ruler that had returned to Stormwind, and the other … the other was a far darker individual, strong-willed, eager to fight. Onyxia had hoped to kill the strong-willed aspect of Varian, but he escaped, captured by orcs and forced to fight in the gladiator ring.
Although the two halves of Varian were eventually re-joined, and Onyxia was defeated, that dual nature never really managed to fully merge. And that left Varian as a wild card when it came to his temper. One moment he was fine, the next, he’d snap. And if Varian had learned one thing in his life, it was that the Wrynn dynasty was doomed to always lose that which was most precious to them — or at least, Varian himself was. He witnessed his father’s death and the death of his wife first hand.
And the last thing he was going to do was lose his son on top of it.
Which meant that Anduin’s life, once Varian Wrynn returned, whole and supposedly healthy, was a life under a uncomfortable magnifying glass. Varian may have had the best of intentions, but he placed a stranglehold on his son, desperate not to lose the last bit of family he had remaining. This anxiety only got worse when Bolvar Fordragon fell at the Wrathgate in Northrend, and the more Varian tried to pull Anduin close, the more the boy struggled to get away — and the angrier Varian got.
Just before the Shattering, Varian finally seemed to relent and sent his son to Ironforge, supposedly as a diplomat, but as Anduin soon discovered, it was really just to learn to fight. And Anduin didn’t want to fight. He wasn’t very good at it and he didn’t enjoy it at all. In all the years that Varian had spent pulling Anduin close, he actually spent very little time trying to get to know who his son was as a person — and the more Varian pushed Anduin into a role the prince knew he wasn’t meant for, the more he inadvertently pushed Anduin away.
Because Anduin had, even at that young age of 10 years, a diplomatic heart. A heart that yearned for peace, a desire he likely didn’t know he shared with his father at all. A healer’s heart, one that worked to pull Varian from his depression after Tiffin’s death, one that fought valiantly to save lives when the Shattering hit and left Khaz Modan devastated. Anduin saw death, he stared it in the face and his response wasn’t to fight harder, but to heal.
That’s why Varian and Anduin have always been at odds, because Varian’s nature is that of a warrior — if something doesn’t work, you hit it harder until it does. Anduin seeks to fix things first and foremost, not to destroy, and Varian finds that very hard to understand, because it’s just not in his nature to do so. And when he and his father finally had a violent disagreement about it, Anduin stood his ground and told his father he knew where he needed to go and what he needed to do — he had to go study with the Prophet Velen at the Exodar.
Anduin didn’t want to hurt his father, he simply wanted to follow the path he was certain he had to follow. And Velen taught Anduin a lot while he was at the Exodar, and Anduin actually managed to teach Velen a thing or two while he was there as well. But Velen also had a vision while Anduin was there, of the young boy not as a priest, but as a warrior of the Light, a leader, the leader of an army composed of all of Azeroth’s races, Alliance and Horde, fighting as one and joined on the field by dragons and Naaru alike.
When Anduin at last returned to Stormwind, he was reunited with his father, and it seemed as though the two were finally beginning to see eye to eye. But in Mists of Pandaria, Varian once again became utterly frantic when his son disappeared on a diplomatic mission, and sent the Alliance to go find him. And once again, Anduin wanted to have his way, to the point where he managed to slip away from the Alliance soldiers and set off on his own.
Mists of Pandaria is when we first began to see Anduin forge his own path and embrace it. He reached a point where he was willing to strike out on his own, regardless of his father’s wishes, and take risks, no matter how foolish those risks might have been. He set off to confront Garrosh Hellscream on his own and nearly died for it. And while recuperating from severe injuries, he met an unlikely companion who would become a even more unlikely friend in Wrathion.
Anduin isn’t a fighter. He was never meant to be. But he’s not the soft diplomat that everyone expects, either — he’s willing to charge into danger and he’s willing to protect himself if necessary. What Anduin craves is the same thing that Varian craves: peace, a world without conflict, a world that is safe for all. The difference lies in what father and son see as threats that need to be addressed. Varian has been embittered over the years, convinced that those who commit evil acts are always and without question evil to the core, while Anduin holds in his heart the hope that redemption is something anyone can achieve.
Some might view that as soft, but at the same time, Anduin Wrynn might just be the leader the world needs. Azeroth has spent years embroiled in constant conflict, and that conflict has been fueled by leaders who are battle-hardened and ready to keep fighting no matter the cost. But as the Pandaren have stated on more than one occasion, hatred only fuels more hatred: “Every reprisal is itself an act of aggression, and every act of aggression triggers immediate reprisal.” It’s a never-ending chain.
Anduin doesn’t operate that way. He never has. When conflict arises, he seeks to disarm it before it explodes into war. When the world is hurting, he doesn’t ignore the world in favor of exacting vengeance on whatever or whoever harmed it, he seeks to heal the harm, and then track down the aggressor and heal them too, for good measure. And in that, Anduin represents the Light and its virtues — respect, tenacity, and above all else, compassion — with far more fervent devotion that most Paladins out there can claim. Anduin is supposedly one of the main characters in the upcoming expansion, but what role he’ll play, we have yet to discover. Is Velen’s vision about to come to life? Will we see Anduin lead the charge against the Burning Legion, with all of Azeroth, all classes, all races, the dragons, and the Naaru at his back? We’ll have to wait and see.
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