Review: Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

Posted by DarkChaplain at 5/15/2016
In the world of Draenor, the strong and fiercely independent Frostwolf Clan are faced with increasingly harsh winters and thinning herds. When Gul'dan, a mysterious outsider, arrives in Frostfire Ridge offering word of new hunting lands, Durotan, the Clan's chieftain, must make an impossible decision: Abandon the territory, pride and traditions of his people, or lead them into the unknown.
We all knew that changes would be inevitable for the upcoming Warcraft movie. The lore is convoluted in a lot of ways, and with the previous expansion to World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, things got even more complicated for the early days of the orc tribes before their exodus to Azeroth. Adding time travel didn't help, either.

As a result, I'd recommend putting all you know aside for Warcraft: Durotan, prequel novel to the movie. Things have been changed and adjusted to make the material more approachable to a new audience, and while hardcore fans may groan about it at first, I believe it is a good thing overall. Let the movie franchise stand separate, and just nod in recognition when you encounter familiar elements or easter eggs. You'll be happier that way.

The Story:
"In the world of Draenor, the strong and fiercely independent Frostwolf Clan are faced with increasingly harsh winters and thinning herds. When Gul'dan, a mysterious outsider, arrives in Frostfire Ridge offering word of new hunting lands, Durotan, the Clan's chieftain, must make an impossible decision: Abandon the territory, pride and traditions of his people, or lead them into the unknown."

The Review
Durotan's main concern is the Orc Chieftain the book is named after, and his Frostwolf Tribe. First presented as the heir to the clan's leadership, Durotan is soon forced to take on his father's role himself, and find ways to deal with the world's changing nature. As the hunts grow less successful and the elements themselves turn against the orcs, a warlock called Gul'dan appears to offer the Frostwolves a choice:
Join him and his Horde and leave the world of Draenor behind, or die alongside the doomed realm.
Gul'dan, however, is not to be trusted, so Garad and his son Durotan both refuse him, and decide to stay true to their own identities and brave the seasons.

As a result, the bulk of the story deals with the changing ways of the Frostwolves to cope with colder winters, scarce food supplies and the forces of nature unleashed, as well as rival orc clans that seemingly turned to cannibalistic attitudes to survive. Durotan has to come into his own as the legendary chieftain that he is destined to be. Maintaining his authority is challenging, as is keeping up the morale of his whole clan, as well as balancing the old traditions with new ideas needed for survival.

It really is a hero's journey to greatness, a character piece and showcase of what made the Horde leave Draenor for Azeroth. The prologue sets the tone for the novel, firmly rooting it around the Frostwolf Clan's respect for nature and the spirits. That theme is maintained throughout, which I loved. Experiencing shaman Drek'Thar commune with the elements, seeing Durotan find love, or feeling the deep friendship between orc and wolf, all of these parts I found enjoyable and satisfying.

Sure, it isn't the same story we already knew about the characters. The roles of many of them are very different from the games, but taken together, they are all working in their positions and felt well-balanced and properly used to make the journey of the Frostwolves an exciting and relatable one.

It is a classic tale of hardships to be overcome that can be enjoyed by anyone, I believe. No further knowledge is required to understand the struggles of Durotan, and the easy writing style helps making it even more accessible. Even if you have never even heard of Warcraft before, this book (and by extension the upcoming movie or its novelization) could be an ideal starting point.

It must have been difficult for Christie Golden, who has a few Horde-related books to her name already (Lord of the Clans especially), to set aside all her pre-existing knowledge and expectations for the characters to write this novel, but I am glad that she did. It is a success, in my eyes.

Unto the Dark Portal, and off to Azeroth, I say. I'll be looking forward to reading the Movie Novelization by the same author, and have to say that, for the first time, I am actually excited for the movie.

Warcraft: Durotan on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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