Death loas and dead people trying to kill them: A guide to the characters of Shadowlands prequel novel Shadows Rising
So, in case you missed it, Blizzard is releasing another prequel novel that will tie the World of Warcraft expansion Battle for Azeroth into Shadowlands the way Before The Storm tied Legion into Battle for Azeroth. It’s called Shadows Riding, and so far, we’ve seen an excerpt focusing on the Horde side and the Alliance side of the conflict already know a bit about who will be featuring in the story and what they’re up to.
Shadows Rising lacks that buddy comedy feel that we see from Flynn Fairwind and Matthias Shaw over in Exploring Azeroth: instead, it’s more of a thriller that focuses on intrigue and murder. On the Horde side, it’s all about political scheming as a gathering of leaders is interrupted by an assassination attempt. On the Alliance side, it’s all spycraft as they attempt to track Sylvanas and her Dark Rangers.
And all the while, Sylvanas is plotting to kill Bwomsamdi. There’s a lot going on here.
But who in particular will be featuring in this novel? Keep in mind the book isn’t out yet, so there’s quite a bit we don’t know yet — but even from the preview, it’s clear that there are a few characters that will play starring roles.
Talanji finds herself caught in Horde politics
Queen Talanji of Zandalar: The former Princess became Queen when the Alliance stormed Dazar’alor and killed her father, King Rastakhan. This act solidified the bond between the Zandalar and the Horde, but it was Sylvanas who Talanji made her deal with, and after Sylvanas’ departure it remains to be seen how committed Talanji is to the Horde now that it’s not fighting a war with the group that killed her father. A High Priest of Bwonsamdi, the Troll Loa of Death, we’ll likely see how Talanji navigates her roles as Queen of her people, servant of the Death Loa, and grieving daughter of a King whose death seems to be going unavenged. Heir to an ancient culture, a gifted priestess, and politically astute, Talaji might well turn into one of the greatest allies the Horde has — if she or her Loa survive.
Zekhan, aka Zappy Boi: A young Troll Shaman, Zekhan became Varok Saurfang’s Sancho Panza, only less sarcastic and more actually supportive. Now, with his hero dead, Zekhan is uncomfortable with the role of hero that the Horde desperately needs him to fill. But he still accepts the mission from Thrall to aid Talanji as she works to unravel who exactly tried to have her assassinated. The two of them will be working at cross purposes to our next entry on this list of characters, and it’s a guy I hate more than any other character in World of Warcraft history.
Sylvanas’ angels are on the attack
Nathanos Blightcaller: Is it possible to be worse than a genocidal lunatic who is convinced of the necessity of their murderous actions? Yes! You can be a toady for one. Nathanos Blightcaller is just that kind of toady — his fanatical devotion to and even love for Sylvanas Windrunner means that when the Banshee Queen sets her sights on the death of Bwonsamdi, the Loa of Death and Talanji’s patron, he takes the assignment without a second thought. Battle for Azeroth showed us that there’s literally nothing that the Blightcaller won’t do for his Queen, and he’s accomplished seemingly impossible missions for her in the past, including bringing the dagger-body of Xal’atath to Azshara and destroying an entire Alliance fleet in the process. If Sylvanas says kill Bwonsamdi, that’s exactly what Nathanos means to do. He’s assisted by the next character on our list.
Sira Moonwarden: To say that Sira’s had it rough would be an understatement. Forced to serve in Maiev Shadowsong’s stead when the Legion attacked, then pushed aside upon Maiev’s return, Sira simply kept performing her duties as a Warden. When Tyrande Whisperwind went to Darkshore to undergo the Night Warrior ritual, Sira died at the hands of Nathanos fighting to defend her people from desecration, only to be raised from death as a Dark Warden. Embittered by what she saw as abandonment by all those she’d once trusted — Tyrande, Maiev, even Elune herself — Sira now serves Sylvanas with fanatical loyalty and an endless well of bitterness over those perceived failures. Now she’s been charged by her new Queen with the death of Bwonsamdi, and as Maiev likes to say, no one can evade the strike of a true Warden.
The Alliance chases down assassins
Turalyon: The last remaining member of the original five Paladins that founded the Order of the Silver Hand, Turalyon has seen a great deal in his time. And his time has lasted a lot longer than you might have expected — while he fought in the Army of the Light he spent a thousand years at war with the Burning Legion. Now he’s being tasked by King Anduin Wrynn with leading the Alliance military in a search for Sylvanas Windrunner. He’s heading into Zandalari territory to investigate the mysterious deaths of Alliance spies — and potentially discover what the Banshee Queen has planned.
Alleria Windrunner: The elder sister of Sylvanas, Alleria has become a channel to the power of the Void and brought the Void Elves into the Alliance. But her relations with her sister since returning from a millennia at war with the Legion have not been very warm. Alleria joined the Alliance to get revenge against the Horde for burning the forests of Quel’thalas and killing her family, only to find her sister was not only an undead creature but Warchief of that self-same Horde. Now she joins the hunt for her sister alongside her husband. But Turalyon’s methods and abilities are entirely at odds with Alleria’s mastery of the shadow and more secretive approach. Since we’ve not really seen Turalyon or Alleria very much in Battle for Azeroth aside from a few key moments, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen with these two.
And death itself
Bwonsamdi — The Loa of Death spent Battle for Azeroth positioning himself to supplant Rezan, the Loa of Kings, as the most powerful of the Zanadalari Loa. He finally achieved his goal when the Prophet Zul and his Blood Trolls attacked and nearly killed Rastakhan and destroyed Rezan, first becoming Rastakhan’s patron and then Talanji’s when the Alliance came and killed the Zandalari King. He tried to get Talanji to kill Sylvanas during her ascension, but the Zanadalari Queen refused. Now, Sylvanas is returning the favor, sending her most able assassins to kill Death himself. Will Talanji and Zekhan be able to stop it? Well, that’s what the book is for.
Who else might make an appearance?
Well, besides these big names, we know that some folks are appearing in this book. Thrall is the one who sends Zekhan to help Talanji after the attempted assassination, for example. Sylvanas is the one ordering the hit on Bwonsamdi, so she’ll probably make an appearance. We might see Rokhan, the current chieftain of the Darkspear Trolls and their representative on the Horde Council, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Vol’jin makes an appearance from the Other Side, as it were. In a book that’s all about Death and Death Loa being assassinated, seeing Vol’jin again would definitely make sense and would continue from the last time we saw him in game.
We may also see some other characters like Calia Menethil and Derek Proudmoore setting up the new Forsaken status quo, especially since I’m pretty sure Sylvanas won’t like that at all, but it’s not something the preview talks about.
For now, I think knowing that Sylvanas wants Bwonsamdi dead is a pretty solid A plot, and we’ll find out more once the book arrives on July 14.
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