The post is divided in two parts: first, I will give my spoiler-free opinion on the novel as a whole, and second, I will write a summary of its events. If you plan to read the novel on your own, you may read the first part and skip the second. But be warned: the events happen before the pre-patch events, so you may want to hurry with your reading!
So, Before the Storm picks you up right after the events of the Antorus raid’s ending. Faction leaders’ mourns and celebrations from cinematics are part of the plot, and the whole story ends before we give in our artifact power in pre-patch events.
I am not a fan of Christie Golden novels – at all. I haven’t read the novels Durotan and Warcraft movie novelization, but up to War Crimes they were really bad. They were more of fanfics than books, with all the drawbacks and flaws of an unexperienced writer, clumsy speech, complete failure to deliver believable character emotions and focusing on game trivia more than writing a good book. Even Arthas’ story was outright boring as hell and impossible to read.
It is important to never give up on a creator though. With all the scepticism I opened this book, based on my previous experience, I must admit that Christie Golden did a stunning job this time. It’s like everything wrong went right. The book’s plot is really cool to read through – I swallowed it in a single breath. The characters are so live and believable, the language is great, and it fills in as a proper story in the lore.
The book gives a perfect insight on the both leaders as well as many supporting characters. Besides politics major figures, it dives deep into feelings and thoughts of common Forsaken and their human relatives – so if you want to understand them, to try on their skin, it’s the right thing to read. Never again I will see the Forsaken as I did before. And the culmination part brought me to tears – literally! That’s where you are convinced that the novel is not just good, it’s great.
It is totally worth reading every time you find for it, although it’s best done before pre-patch – to percept the following expansion events at its full.
SPOILERS – NOVEL SUMMARY
Now I will list the events of the novel in order. If you want just to keep lore-updated and don’t plan to read the book, you’re welcome. Otherwise, take my advice and buy it.
Here we go.
- Factions celebrate victory over Legion – there’s a mournful meeting in Stormwind and a parade with a feast in Orgrimmar.
- Gallywix and Shaw approach their leaders about azerite.
- Azerite makes you feel almighty – although not in an addictive way.
- Mining VERY deep may have caused the volcano eruption and destruction of Kezan – not only Deathwing.
- Kaja’mite ore that granted Goblins their wits may have been the Blood of Azeroth.
- Magni arrives to warn every race of Azeroth about Azeroth wound which needs urgent healing.
- Anduin, Cenarion Circle, shaman, priests send their forces to discover how to heal the wound.
- Despite that, throngs of goblins never stop mining it under Sylvanas orders.
- Gallywix finds a hermit genius scientist goblin Grizzek to investigate azerite possibilities.
- Gallywix’ thugs kidnap a partner and a love interest for Grizzek – his ex-wife gnome girl Saffy from Explorers League of Ironforge, killing her night elf guards in process
- The gnome girl still agrees to work on azerite because science and their backstory – marriage.
- Grizzek and Saffy do amazing steps exploring azerite as potions, trinkets, armor, but Sylvanas through Gallywix makes them focus on making azerite weapons. Over their research work, the two rekindle their romance.
- Grizzek and Saffy designed stuff from azerite to heal, to be indestructible under blasters, and asked Gallywix to use this as a means to defence.
- Gallywix rejects and demands weapons to be made according to Sylvanas’ orders. The two think of plotting against him.
- Grizzek and Saffy tried to escape through the secret underground tunnel, setting a bomb to the lab to explode an hour after their retreat.
- Gallywix’ thugs catch them, deliver of their azerite inventions and notes, and tie them up, setting a clock bomb between them. Now Gallywix will have the prototypes, although Saffy says that she deatroyed her actual notes before leaving the lab.
- They manage to shrug off the bomb and hop sideways, tied, as fast as they can. The bomb goes off, it’s presumed the scientists are killed in explosion, although their fate is uncertain.
DESOLATE COUNCIL AND SYLVANAS
- Sylvanas is not happy to guide the Horde – she’d rather act in shadows as a leader of Forsaken. She sees them as her children and cares deeply about them.
- Undead are not all longing for an eternal life – some want to die for reals.
- Desolate Council is the group of Undead reluctantly guiding Forsaken in EK during Sylvanas’ absence and not against permanent death.
- Sylvanas doesn’t approve this and sees them as a harmless opposition (which they are), but still an opposition.
- Sylvanas learns about Baine and Anduin letters to each other and bans Baine from doing that in the wake of possible war.
- She admits people of the world are not ready for war – but it’s gonna happen right after they recover a little bit.
- Sylvanas wants to claim the azerite for herself despite the world’s efforts to heal the wound.
- Sylvanas wants to lead the Horde to destroy Stormwind – to raise its humans as Forsaken.
- She is sure the Horde will approve and join the fight eagerly – as they will be given verdant lands of Stormwind to live and hunt, plus old grudges.
- Anduin journeys all over the world to Ironforge and Teldrassil to strengthen the bonds and thank every Alliance race for their efforts in the Legion war.
- Genn urges Anduin to choose a mate and make a child. Genn thinks it’s dangerous to travel so far without an heir, risking a possible civil war if something happened to him.
- Anduin names him the throne keeper in his absence, but Genn insists it’s just a temporary measure, considering he’s old and could die too. Stormwind needs a bloodline continued.
- They consider Tess Greymane to be his mate, but not for reals. Anduin insists his mate will be someone he would love, not an arranged marriage.
FORSAKEN AND HUMAN REUNION
- Anduin travels to Netherlight Priest Temple (class order hall) and sends out emissaries to both Alliance and Horde to try to reconnect the families of humans and undead.
- Anduin’s council (Genn and military authorities) are strongly against the idea
- Anduin’s valet peacefully passes away – he was a husband of an Undercity authority of Desolate Council Vellcinda.
- Vellcinda learns about it from Anduin’s letter and accepts the idea of reconnection. She rejects her Forsaken name Vellcinda and accepts her human name Elsie
- Sylvanas gets a letter from Anduin about the reunion, and reluctantly agrees, planning to see how to use the situation in both domestic and foreign politics
- Sylvanas arrives to Undercity and explains the meeting rules to the Forsaken. Few Forsaken are allowed for the meeting, they are to make a list of 5 people from Stormwind each they want to meet.
- Only members of Desolate Council are allowed for the meeting as a start – if it goes well, more meetings could be arranged.
- Forsaken are happy.
- Sylvanas plans to let them learn for themselves how humans treat them as monsters, and being a true Forsaken is their only fate under her rule.
- Anduin interviews people from the sent lists, some are happy and some refuse.
- Calia Menethil, Arthas’ sister is extremely helpful. She doesn’t want to reclaim Lordaeron as an heir in a result of a bloody battle – she’s okay as a priest in Netherlight Temple.
- Calia had a secret child with one of the footmen. Her husband and child were lost during the Scourge invasion, and she hopes they are still Forsaken, not dead.
- Alonsus Faol, the Forsaken Priest, comes to the Stormwind’s Temple of Light and meets with Turalyon and Genn.
- Genn and Faol have a quarrel, Genn storms away.
- Turalyon is disgusted, but Faol urges Turalyon to find Light in Faol, and if he does not, he might kill the undead. Turalyon sees the Light in the Forsaken, and acknowledges him in tears as his former Archbishop and friend.
REUNION AT ARATHI HIGHLANDS
- Anduin meets Sylvanas in the Arathi field before the meeting.
- Sylvanas answers his direct question about Varian’s death – that it would happen whether the Horde stayed or not.
- Sylvanas doesn’t see any reason to talk to the king more than needed and still considers him a teenager.
- People and undead arrive in Arathi, Alliance stationed in Stromgarde and Horde by Thoradin wall.
- Some humans turn back, the undead they didn’t meet return frustrated to Sylvanas.
- This proves her point to them.
- But they are few, and the meeting goes better than it could possibly be hoped for.
- Some Forsaken do not want to part with their family, and they begin slowly walking to Stromgarde Keep.
- Calia Menethil throws back her hood and exposes herself. She addresses Forsaken and urges them to come back to Stormwind with their families.
- She’s an usurper in Sylvanas eyes as a Menethil, and the Desolate Council which are on the field are considered “traitors”.
- Sylvanas blows a retreat signal, yet some stay paralyzed, some retreat and some still run to Stromgarde.
- Sylvanas orders dark rangers in the air, and they shoot Vellcinda.
- Dark rangers shoot every undead – the Desolate Council – for “betrayal”.
- Sylvanas keeps her word and doesn’t harm Alliance humans, so Anduin cannot protect them with his forces.
- Sylvanas preys upon the running Calia Menethil and shoots her through the heart. Anduin is late to save her, but he carries her away in his hands, rangers and Sylvanas have their bows aimed at him, but they don’t shoot.
- Sylvanas is pleased: she eliminated the opposition, killed the rightful heir to Lordaeron, and did it all while looking like a noble leader for not attacking the Alliance and starting a war.
- Calia Menethil is resurrected as an undead in the Netherlight Temple by naaru, but infused with the Light – a unique being.
- Anduin reproaches her for almost starting a war – Calia admits she wanted to address them as a fellow Lordaeron, but she never wanted this to come this far, and that she followed her heart, not thinking of politics at all.
- Anduin returns with his people to bury the fallen Forsaken near Stromgarde.
- Genn admits he now sees Forsaken not as monstrosities, but beings capable of feelings.
- Anduin concludes that he wanted to sew the seeds of peace in the poisoned soil: Sylvanas can never become healed or convinced, there’s nothing good left in her.