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WarcraftOct 9, 2020 4:00 pm CT

Dig back into the good ol’ days of Warcraft’s novel and comic roots with this Humble Bundle

It’s not every day you see Warcraft show up on Humble Bundle, the pay-what-you-want-for-books-and-or-games site that lets you choose how to distribute your payment, with part of the proceeds benefitting a wide variety of charities. In this case, Humble’s bundle provides access to a ton of the entries in the digital back catalog of Warcraft‘s cross-media efforts from early in the history of World of Warcraft.

You can see the breakdown of where everything falls in terms of tiers on the bundle’s page, but here are the highlights:

  • Richard Knaak’s War of the Ancients trilogy, which goes deep into the origins of Illidan, Malfurion, Tyrande, and their war with Azshara and the Burning Legion on ancient Kalimdor. Many threads that started here were wrapped up during Legion and Battle for Azeroth, but with us entering the realms of the dead in Shadowlands, we might see some of those threads show up again.
  • Knaak’s move into manhwa territory started with artist Kim Jae-Hwan and The Sunwell TrilogyThis set the stage for the Sunwell Plateau raid in Burning Crusade by introducing Anveena Teague and Kalecgos and their relationship with the Sunwell itself. So if you ever wondered why some human girl showed up in the middle of the original Kil’jaeden fight at the end of the Sunwell raid — and what Kalecgos was even doing there — this’ll answer all your questions.
  • The Legends anthology is a five-volume series containing a variety of stories told by many different writers and artists. Most of these stories focus on expanding the world of Azeroth itself rather than chronicling the adventures of the franchise’s big leads, but a standout gem is Christie Golden’s two-part story on the origin of Draka in A Warrior Made, which may be especially relevant given her role in the coming expansion zone of Maldraxxus.
  • Another anthology entry that’s relevant for the season is original Blizzard historian Evelyn Fredericksen’s A Cleansing Fire, which provides the tragic tale of Thomas Thomson and the origin of his cursed existence as the Headless Horseman.
  • Walt and Louise Simonson’s monthly World of Warcraft comic series is included in its entirety, showcasing the (re)introduction of Varian Wrynn to the franchise, introducing his new allies Valeera Sanguinar and Broll Bearmantle, and their battle against Onyxia. Useful if you want to know where Valeera and Varian came from, and a good review in case we run into Varian in the realms of the dead.

A word of caution if you’re wondering about how canon all of this stuff is: when you consider when all of this material came out — everywhere from Warcraft III‘s active cycle in 2001 to post-Cataclysm — it was all canon at the time. But how much of it remains canon now, after seven expansions, three Chronicles books, and dozens of other novels/short stories/audio dramas/digital shorts? It’s somewhat a function of time, but not entirely, since the context matters. For example, the second half of the Simonson comic series introduces Med’an, the son of Medivh and Garona, who reclaims Atiesh, the Greatstaff of the Guardian, and throws down in a fight against Cho’Gall. In the lead-up to Legion and the impending release of the first Chronicles book, we learned that certain details of that story were no longer going to be true: Med’an was still “canon” but him becoming a Guardian was not. And with the release of the Chronicles books, no mention is made of Med’an’s existence, much less all of his adventures. So Med’an is still ostensibly canon, but irrelevant enough to not include in the big books of lore.

So the general rule of thumb? The older a piece of information is, the more questionable its canonicity becomes. It’s still canon, but if nothing ever refers to that bit of information afterwards — even in places where it would be relevant — then the fact that it’s canon hardly matters because it’s just not pertinent to the present story being told.

So good riddance, Med’an! You’re awful!

To be clear, this isn’t a complete catalog of past novels and comics for the franchise. That said, it’s a pretty good deal for a lot of great reading material you can read up on while we wait for the Shadowlands pre-patch and eventual release.

While many of the stories that started in these works have already come to an end, it’s refreshing to be able to start the story from the beginning once more and follow it to its conclusion. After all, the end of any story is just freeing the space for new stories to start.

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