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WoWNov 30, 2020 2:00 pm CT

Exploring Azeroth gives us an updated look at the Eastern Kingdoms while solving an old mystery

Easily lost amidst the excitement of the Shadowlands release last week was the publication of Exploring Azeroth: The Eastern Kingdoms, a fun book that sends our favorite Rogue couple traveling through the Eastern Kingdoms. Ostensibly an SI:7 report to King Anduin detailing the latest geopolitical situation as well as ascertaining the locations of various important items (known primarily to players as “desirable transmog”), it’s really more of a travelogue with pictures and notes — serious ones added by Shaw, flippant ones added by Fairwind. However, a careful reading shows the gears turning in Flynn’s head throughout, and at the end we get the answer to a mystery that’s been in the game since Cataclysm.

If you read Terror by Torchlightpublished earlier in November, you’re already clued in as to why the trip is even happening, as the background is the epilogue to that story. Reading it beforehand isn’t really a requirement though — while the two works share protagonists, they aren’t otherwise connected. That said, read it. It’s an excellent story.

Although Exploring Azeroth starts in the south and works its way northward, I’m going to discuss going south from Quel’thalas as the most interesting lore bits are in the various regions of Lordaeron.

Alliance has made serious in-roads into Lordaeron

North of the Thandol River, everything points to Alliance growth. Even in the Silvermoon section we learn that Alleria “knows” that the Blood Elves will stand with the Alliance once again — though Shaw is skeptical as to reasons why Alleria may believe this. As for Silvermoon itself, there’s no mention of the ruins which makes me wonder if it’s all been rebuilt. Unfortunately my attempt to ascertain an answer was unsuccessful.

Elsewhere, we receive confirmation that Undercity is no longer occupied (unless there’s an unknown Under-Undercity?) due to the blight released by Sylvanas during the Fourth War. The area around the former capital of Lordaeron may be healing, and Shaw expresses hope that it won’t be permanently scarred like Quel’thelas, but it’s too soon to know whether Blizzard intends to rebuild this area. Speaking of blight-infested areas, there’s no word on Gilneas’ status so I’m guessing it remains largely unoccupied.

Exploring Azeroth provides confirmation from the 2019 BlizzCon Q&A that the Alliance has indeed taken and holds Stromgarde after the Warfront. Not only that: Southshore is confirmed to be back in the hands of the Alliance as well, although not rebuilt.

One last note before we visit Khaz Modan: if we are to believe Shaw, the Scarlet Crusade is officially dead as of the Death Knight assault during the Class Campaign in LegionOf course, I’m skeptical because immediately after declaring them gone, there is mention of the Scarlet Brotherhood manifestos. Hmmm…

I’m not mad there was no mention of Dun Modr or Thandol Span being rebuilt, just disappointed

As the header suggests, the one thing I’ve been looking most forward to for years — the rebuilding of Dun Modr and Thandol Span — has not been made official. Yet. Similarly, no commentary on Stonewrought Dam in Loch Modan, although I’m not actually expecting that to be rebuilt any time soon, if ever.

Otherwise there aren’t too many new pieces of information. The Council of Three Hammers remains strong both for the Dwaves and for the Alliance, and the Gnomes haven’t made progress on retaking all of Gnomeregan. We do learn that Archaedas was only disabled in Uldaman, but the potential implications aren’t even hinted at. In a brief discussion regarding Black Dragons — how did SI:7 know Ebonhorn is a Black Dragon, anyway? — we get the first name drop of Sabellian in quite a long time.

The nation of Stormwind section doesn’t add much to our knowledge, either. That’s not to disparage the inclusion of what those of us who live and breathe lore would consider “old news”; for the less-obsessed player there’s an absolute treasure trove of interesting anecdotes that may not be obvious when playing the game these days.

Let’s get ready to rumble, canonically!

Shaw and Flynn do stop in for a visit with our favorite floating head in Karazhan. Khadgar has still taken his ball and gone home, like he said he was going to do when we last saw him in Silithus, but he seems cautiously optimistic that the end of the Fourth War could lead to a lasting peace. Those in favor of ending the faction divide will find a lot to parse here, but I wouldn’t get hopes up just yet.

It’s in Stranglethorn Valley, though, that Rastakhan’s Rumble is made official! While not the first major thing to make its way from Hearthstone to Warcraft, its inclusion hints at the possibility of more in the future — perhaps when Exploring Azeroth: Kalimdor someday arrives, the Gadgetzan we see will be a crime-ridden metropolis rather than the sparse desert settlement we see in-game today.

Exploring Azeroth: Eastern Kingdoms is a must-have for lore aficionados

I really can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed reading Exploring Azeroth: Eastern Kingdoms. It’s humorous, informative, and awash in delightful artwork. It makes a great addition to my Warcraft bookshelf and one I’ll be reaching for many times in the future.

I almost forgot to tell you about the long-standing in-game mystery that’s solved at the end of the book!

Well, I’m not going to. Piecing it together is part of the charm of this book, and to spoil it just doesn’t seem right — it’ll change your whole perspective while reading. If you’re desperate to know, or my gushing hasn’t convinced you to pick Exploring Azeroth up, you can always go over to Wowhead where they’ve posted the full details — but I think you should skip it. Flynn Fairwind wouldn’t have half as much fun if the treasure came along with the map.

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