Know Your Lore: Recommended reading for Legion
The Warcraft universe and its lore is pretty vast and expansive. Let’s face it, we’re looking at twenty years worth of games and written lore here, which is a crazy amount for any one person to process. There’s also been a lot of novels, graphic novels, short stories and comics released over the years as well. For those interested in the full story, we’ve got a guide of all Warcraft media in print for you, sorted by where it takes place in the Warcraft timeline — that should help answer any questions of where to begin.
But if you’re strictly interested in what parts of that massive guide are relevant to Legion, we’ve got your covered there, too. Blizzard just finished releasing a mountain of Legion-related lore in anticipation of the expansion’s release at the end of the month, so we’ve updated our recommended reading list for Legion with all of the new stuff added in. And if you’re a stickler for timelines, we’ve got it arranged in chronological order too.
Update: Originally published earlier this year, we’ve updated it with the latest Legion comics, shorts, and audio dramas. Hey, you need something to kill time before launch, don’t you?
Pre-Legion novels and media
Quite a few of the locations, people, quests and zone storylines in Legion are continuations or additions to existing material. Below is a list of novels and short stories that have some kind of tie to the Legion expansion.
- The War of the Ancients Trilogy by Richard A. Knaak. This series has three parts: The Well of Eternity, The Demon Soul, and The Sundering.
This series covers a lot of the early history of the Night Elves and the War of the Ancients, and a lot of the faces we’re seeing in Legion make their first appearances here. Maiev Shadowsong, Illidan Stormrage, Xavius, Queen Azshara, the Highborne, the city of Suramar, the creation of the satyrs and the naga — it’s all in this series. This is a trilogy, so it’s fairly heavy reading, but there’s so much here in terms of story and the development of characters we’ll see in Legion that it’s completely worth it.
- World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen Issues 1-5 by Micky Neilson and James Waugh.
This short comic series, available as a collected set in one graphic novel, covers the origins of the Worgen curse — a curse that actually dates back to just after the War of the Ancients and involves the Night Elves. It also covers the origins of the Scythe of Elune, which Druid players may be interesting in learning more about. Genn Greymane plays a pretty substantial role in Legion content, particularly in Stormheim.
- The Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb.
If you want to know more about Khadgar and how he came to be the man he is today, this is the novel you want to pick up. Jeff Grubb only wrote one book for the Warcraft franchise, but this is hands-down one of my favorites, covering Medivh, Khadgar, Garona, Karazhan, Anduin Lothar, and more, all against the backdrop of the First War. Khadgar’s role in Azeroth’s history continues in Legion, so this is a pretty good novel to pick up.
- Tides of Darkness by Aaron Rosenberg, and Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden.
These two novels cover the events of Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal. It’s the story of the Second War, up to and including its end, the formation of the Alliance Expedition, the trip to Draenor, and the shattering of the world that created Outland as we know it today. This is also the series in which Alleria Windrunner and Turalyon are introduced and developed. You learn more about Khadgar here, as well as Alleria and Turalyon, who are supposedly making some kind of appearance in Legion.
- Genn Greymane: Lord of His Pack by James Waugh.
This is one of the leader short stories from Cataclysm — as such, it’s free to read on Blizzard’s website. If you never got around to doing so, I’d suggest reading it now, since Genn is on that official list of heroes and villains in Legion. The story will give you a better idea of what exactly happened to Gilneas, and some insight into Genn’s character as well.
- Sylvanas Windrunner: Edge of Night by Dave Kosak.
Sylvanas Windrunner plays a pretty substantial role in Legion. Edge of Night is another free short story from Cataclysm, and it directly involves what happened to Sylvanas at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, and the val’kyr. Not only will we be seeing Sylvanas in Legion, we’re also going to be spending some time in the Halls of Valor and learning more about the origins of the val’kyr, too.
- Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak.
This is actually a key piece of lore that we never really saw reflected in game at all — it’s the story of Malfurion’s return just before Cataclysm, and it’s also the story of the Nightmare War, where theoretically the Emerald Nightmare was defeated. Xavius makes another appearance in this book, and since we will be raiding the Emerald Nightmare, this book is almost a required piece of reading if you want to understand what happened beyond the few brief glimpses we were given into the Nightmare’s story during vanilla.
- Wolfheart by Richard A. Knaak.
Another big piece of lore material that may play heavily into Legion, Wolfheart isn’t just about Varian Wrynn, not by a long shot. This novel features the return of Maiev Shadowsong, her brother Jarod, and explains the reformation of the Watchers, as well as the tensions that still lie between the Highborne and the rest of the Night Elves. In addition, there’s some really good material that explains the rift between Anduin and his father. You can see their relationship beginning to fracture in The Shattering, but this is where the fireworks really start to fly. Anduin’s struggles with his father are continued in Velen: Prophet’s Lesson, and brought to at least a temporary resolution in Varian Wrynn: Blood of Our Fathers — if you’re wanting to get caught up on Anduin, you may want to read both of these as well, although it’s not strictly necessary.
- War Crimes by Christie Golden.
Yes, this is the lead-in novel for Warlords of Draenor, but there’s a lot more going on here than just Garrosh Hellscream’s trial. Key moments in history are highlighted throughout the book, and there’s a side plot with Sylvanas Windrunner and her sister Vereesa that may play heavily into what we see Sylvanas doing in Legion.
This is a fairly lengthy reading list, but you can pretty much pick and choose which parts you want to catch up on, which characters interest you, and go from there. In addition to the comics and stories, if you’re interested in further lore regarding Azeroth’s history, I’d recommend either finding a copy of Warcraft 3 to play through, or watching a play through on YouTube. The campaigns you want to look for are the Night Elf Campaign in Reign of Chaos, and the Sentinels Campaign and Alliance Campaign in The Frozen Throne.
Legion lore and reading material
Forget the short stories — Blizzard has been ramping up to Legion’s release with a series of comics, animated shorts, and an audio drama, as well as a tie-in novel. All of this material is directly tied to events and lore we’ll be discovering in the next expansion.
- World of Warcraft: Illidan by William King. While the events in the book take place during Burning Crusade, the Demon Hunter origins are explored in this novel — and the end of the book ties into the beginning of the Demon Hunter starting experience in Legion.
- Magni: Fault Lines by Matt Burns. Beneath Ironforge, a former King awakens from his crystalline slumber. But will Magni Bronzebeard reclaim Ironforge as his own — or is his purpose far more dire than anyone on Azeroth imagined? This free comic ties leads directly into the events of Legion.
- Nightborne: Twilight of Suramar by Matt Burns. Long thought lost, the ancient city of Suramar stills stands. Living in isolation for 10,000 years, the Nightborne are approached by Gul’dan with an offer that could change the future of their people forever. This free comic takes place shortly before the beginning of Legion.
- Highmountain: A Mountain Divided by Robert Brooks. The tribes of Highmountain have spent thousands of years protecting the Hammer of Khaz’Goroth. But when the Burning Legion invades the Broken Isles, the future of the Hammer, and Highmountain itself, is thrown into uncertainty. This free comic takes place just after the Broken Isles scenario in the Legion launch event.
- Anduin: Son of the Wolf by Robert Brooks. Anduin Wrynn has long been a proponent for peace on Azeroth. As he reads a letter from his father, Anduin questions whether he can lead while still keeping true to his beliefs. This free comic takes place just after the Broken Isles scenario in the Legion launch event.
Harbingers is a three-part series of animated shorts that look at three of the big names from the new expansion.
- Gul’dan This animated short tells the story of Gul’dan’s origins, and explains how he came into the fel powers we see him effortlessly wield in Warlords of Draenor.
- Khadgar This animated short has us follow Khadgar to Karazhan as he searches for knowledge that will help Azeroth stand against the upcoming Burning Legion invasion.
- Illidan This animated short highlights Illidan and his Demon Hunters, who launch an attack on a Legion world – similar to what we see in the Illidan novel.
The Tomb of Sargeras is a four-part audio drama that is essentially a prologue for Legion. In the story, we find out what happened to Gul’dan after he was thrown through the Legion portal at the end of Hellfire Citadel. Gul’dan may have gotten to the Broken Isles, but he’s not alone – Khadgar has been pursuing Gul’dan from the moment he sensed his presence on Azeroth. While this is an audio drama, you can download a print version of the series on the official website.
- Part One: The Fate of Another
- Part Two: Old Friends
- Part Three: The Tomb’s Fury
- Part Four: Standing Alone
Chronological Guide to Legion lore
While the stories listed above can be read on their own with no particular order in mind, here they are in rough chronological order, along with the announcement trailer and the Legion cinematic:
- World of Warcraft: Illidan / Harbingers: Illidan – These two pieces take place back when we were playing through Burning Crusade in the timeline.
- Harbingers: Gul’dan – This story takes place at some indeterminate point before we arrived in Warlords of Draenor.
- Magni: Fault Lines – This story takes place post-Warlords of Draenor, but before the Legion actually arrives on Azeroth.
- The Tomb of Sargeras audio drama – This is the confrontation that occurs once Khadgar has managed to hunt Gul’dan down after his arrival on Azeroth.
- Legion announcement trailer – Given Khadgar’s raven form in this trailer, it would appear that he immediately flew from the Broken Isles to Stormwind to deliver his warning to King Varian Wrynn after the events of The Tomb of Sargeras.
- Harbingers: Khadgar – In the opening sequence, Khadgar’s on a gryphon – given his lengthy flight to deliver the message to Stormwind, not to mention the amount of fighting he did in Tomb of Sargeras, it makes sense that maybe he’d ask Varian for a gryphon on his flight back down to Karazhan.
- Nightborne: Twilight of Suramar – While Khadgar’s busy warning the rest of the world, Gul’dan is just as busy wrangling new allies for the Burning Legion, and pays Suramar a visit.
- Legion cinematic trailer – This takes place at the very beginning of the Alliance and Horde’s initial attack on the Broken Isles.
- Broken Isles scenario & cinematic – These events are what we’ll be seeing on Tuesday, including a brand-new cinematic that explains exactly what went down at the end of the attempted attack on the Broken Isles.
- Anduin: Son of the Wolf – Takes place after the events of the Broken Isles, over in Stormwind.
- Highmountain: A Mountain Divided – Takes place in Highmountain on the Broken Isles, after the attack scenario has concluded, but before our forces arrive with Legion’s launch.
We may not know how this particular expansion is going to end, but this list should have you amply prepared for whatever the Burning Legion has to throw at you when Legion arrives.
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