While I love Christie Golden’s Warcraft books, this was my first by Richard A. Knaak, and I found it severely lacking. The story seemed a bit sloppy, and I didn’t care for the writing. However, the overall story was an important part of the on-going Warcraft story.
The story centers around something that should be a huge event in the Warcraft universe. I’d expect this to be listed alongside the war against Illidan, the War in Northrend, and the Horde-Alliance War after the Cataclysm. It’s an epic story, and fans of the universe should enjoy learning more about the events. While not a problem with the novel itself, I should point out that Blizzard seems to overlook the events of this novel in the game itself.
I have a few major problems with the book. The first one is the most important despite being the hardest to articulate. I just wasn’t feeling it. I gave up on Stormrage three times before finally getting through it. It jumped around to different characters and took a long time to get me to care about most of the characters. I eventually came around to Broll, one of the main characters, and I would enjoy seeing more of him in the future. The biggest hook for me was the inclusion of Hamuul Runetotem, Archdruid and tauren. While he wasn’t the most front-and-center character, he was someone I liked, so I clung to him.
Two major characters, Malfurion and Tyrande, seem flawed. Malfurion, despite having difficulties and setbacks, just seems far too powerful. Tyrande on the other hand received some characterization but usually takes a backseat to Malfurion. Why yield to him so much? Knaak does have her assert herself sometimes, which is good, but it’s still hard for me to think of her as a real character when Blizzard treats her as nothing but a figurehead next to Malfurion.
Malfurion needs to gather power to perform a task, so he draws as much power as he can. Shortly after that, he realizes he doesn’t have enough power, so he draws all the power he can, which is just a bit more. Of course, it’s still not enough, so what does he do? He draws all the power he can out of those same sources and finds a little more this time. I had to ask myself, “didn’t Malfurion already tap all the power he could from that?” Apparently the answer was no.
Late in the book, someone’s identity is revealed to the reader and some characters. Tyrande does not learn of it at the time, but in the chapters following her, Knaak continually references the true identity. He points out that Tyrande doesn’t currently know the identity but that at some later point, Malfurion tells her. Then he slips into continually having Tyrande thoughts include the identity. It’s true that it’s Knaak the narrator using the true identity, not Tyrande, but it feels reads very oddly.
My final complaint is regarding word usage. There are certain descriptions that Knaak uses over and over. This character wears a stoic expression. That character’s face is stoic. This scene is macabre. That creature is macabre. Yes, we get it.
Admittedly, the events described in Stormrage are interesting. The novel also fills a gap in Warcraft’s history that will be apparent to people paying attention to the games. If you’ve asked yourself what happened to the trouble with the Emerald Dream / Emerald Nightmare or wondered why Malfurion was suddenly back in Azeroth, this novel will answer your questions. However, if I were to rate the novel without consideration for the larger universe, I’d have to give it even lower than the two out of five stars that I did.