World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, by Christie Golden
“Arthas: Rise of the Lich King” feels like it should be the best of all the Warcraft books published so far. Golden has a lot to work with: the previous Warcraft books, all the Warcraft games and expansions, and the multitude of lore and history that exists. But there’s a feeling I’m always left with after finishing this book – a feeling that *something* is missing.
The novel is the story of Arthas Menethil, heir to the throne of Lordaeron; a bright boy with a promising future. But instead of becoming a wise king and faithful paladin, Arthas will fall into the dark and icy deep and rise as the Lich King. The book starts out well enough, with Golden tying many of the scenes into other published Warcraft novels and game history. Arthas is established as a boy desperate to do the right thing, eager for his father’s approval, and to be his own person. He makes a misguided vow to do whatever necessary to protect his people, one that he holds to at all costs. Golden is good at writing misguided characters, ones that start with noble intentions that disintegrate – it seems to be her forte; she’s done this in the other Warcraft books she’s authored.
But I feel something is missing from “Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.” For me, Arthas’ fall is too fast. There isn’t enough believability in his fall from grace – while all Warcraft players know that he becomes evil, Golden doesn’t do a good enough job of making it a realistic journey. The third section of the book also glosses greatly over many important events; barely mentioning some and forgetting others all together. The end comes far too quickly. In my opinion the third section is very lacking; it could have used more detail, length, and coverage of important Warcraft events.
Fans of the game will appreciate the little touches Golden puts in, such as Arthas’ anger being described often as righteous fury, a spell paladins have. Or the smell of peacebloom, a common herb in the game. “Arthas: Rise of the Lich King” also features Jaina Proudmoore, Kael’thas Sunstrider, and Sylvanas Windrunner, all legendary figures in their own right.
“Arthas: Rise of the Lich King” was the first Warcraft book to be published in hardcover, and while I did splurge and purchase it in hardcover, I feel $25 is a bit much for this book. Only buy it if you have a good coupon, or wait for the paperback. It’s too short for my tastes, and isn’t long enough to be worth that much, frankly. I was very excited when this book was published, and I couldn’t wait to read it, and I do enjoy rereading it, but I just wish there was more too it. I always feel a bit blah at the end, and I wish I didn’t feel that way.