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Literature / The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm

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The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm is a World of Warcraft novel by Christie Golden. As her previous work, Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, had done for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, this story leads into the World of Warcraft expansion World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

After the defeat of the Lich King, Azeroth's problems are far from over. The Horde and the Alliance are at the brink of war, and several incidents, as well as Varian's belligerent alternate personality Lo'Gosh, raise the possibility of the conflict being reignited. At the same time, the elements begin to become unruly, and Thrall leaves his post of Warchief to find answers from the elements of Outland, leaving behind Garrosh Hellscream, the hot-tempered and strong-willed son of Grom Hellscream, to serve as acting Warchief. Meanwhile, Varian sends Anduin to Ironforge while he works on how to best deal with Lo'Gosh. Long-standing internal conflicts come to a head for both the Horde and the Alliance, and they must overcome these trials if they are to survive the coming cataclysm.

This novel contains examples of:

  • The Alliance: As always, the titular Alliance as well as the Horde.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: As usual, subverted with the Dark Iron Dwarves and Grimtotem tribes. The former join the Alliance, and some of the Grimtotem swear loyalty to the Tauren High Chieftain rather than their tribe.
  • Ancestral Weapon:
    • In this book, Garrosh inherits Gorehowl, his father's axe.
    • Cairne wields the Bloodhoof Runespear (passed down from twenty generations of his family) in his duel against Garrosh. Sadly, it gets wrecked just prior to Cairne losing his life.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Sort of. Cairne picks a fight with Garrosh, intending to oust him (and possibly kill him) from the position of warchief, but doesn't actually like the idea of doing it, and notes several times to himself that he believes losing Garrosh would be a loss to the Horde, especially after the War against the Lich King.
  • At Least I Admit It: Part of how Garrosh tries, in vain, to defend himself from Cairne's accusations of murdering the group of druids. Whatever your opinion of his morals, he is not a scheming, shadowy murderer. If he killed someone, he would own it wholeheartedly.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Thrall is supposed to have this with Aggra. Instead, it comes off more like Aggra just being deliberately cruel to him at every opportunity. Aggra later apologizes for treating Thrall harshly at first and for thinking ill of his motive to learn more about the elements for Azeroth's sake rather than Outland's after getting to know him better.
  • Berserk Button: Mentioning the Defias to Varian or putting Anduin in any danger.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Moira in her dealings with Anduin. He tends to see through her, and her true personality comes out when she talks about her past.
  • Black Sheep: The Dark Iron clan are considered this by the Bronzebeards, on account of their clan's less-than-honourable conduct during the War of Three Hammers. As a result, their presence in Ironforge doesn't sit well with many.
  • Blood Knight: Varian as Lo'Gosh, and Garrosh as well.
  • Brutal Honesty: Baine starts his meeting with Garrosh by stating that he was partially responsible for his father's death, and Garrosh appreciates Baine's lack of pretenses.
  • Cassandra Truth: Palkar doubts some of Drek'thar's predictions because he has been growing senile recently. When it turns out that a vision of an attack on a gathering of druids turned out to be premature rather than false, he decides to start taking his visions seriously again.
    • Also, Garrosh denies the attrocities Cairne accuses him of, but the old bull doesn't believe him.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Drek'thar, as the Cataclysm hits.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The hearthstone, which enables Anduin to escape Ironforge and reach Theramore.
  • Cool Old Guy: Cairne is still a formidable warrior in spite of his age, and is a leader who cares about keeping the Horde united above all else.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Hamuul writes a message in his own blood after his ink container gets destroyed in the Twilight Hammer attack.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Some grenades Garrosh packed away in case Warsong Hold got overrun prove useful against the attacking Kvaldir, and it's noted that this kind of planning is rare for orcs.
  • Cruel Mercy: Inflicted on Magatha by Baine.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Moira's son Dagran is named after his now-dead father, once the Final Boss of the Blackrock Depths dungeon and ruler of the Dark Iron clan; that position has since transferred to Moira.
  • Duel to the Death: Garrosh and Cairne Bloodhoof.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted with Baine regarding Garrosh, as even in light of the new facts, Baine finds him partly to blame for his father's death; he just acknowledges that Magatha is more to blame since Garrosh was Obliviously Evil, while she was not.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Garrosh was willing to make his duel with Cairne to the death, but does not approve of coating his weapon with poison without his knowledge. He notes that this is largely out of a desire to not be dishonorable like the Alliance.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Stormsong's real name is Jevan (possibly Grimtotem), but everyone calls him that because of his mastery over the weather.
  • False Flag Operation: Several orc members of Twilight's Hammer attack a gathering of druids and kill all the Night Elves and Tauren there while making it seem as though Garrosh ordered it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Moira. And Magatha as well.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Cataclysm takes place, despite Thrall's efforts to prevent it, and he leaves in order to heal the damage.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Moira Bronzebeard is an unusually subdued version of this trope.
  • Heroic BSoD: Thrall has a brief one after learning of Cairne's death.
  • Honor Before Reason: Garrosh loves this trope. At times his honor really does protect him doing from the stupid and evil things his detractors claim he does, and sometimes it causes them.
  • Hope Spot: Hamuul Runetotem proposes meeting with Night Elf druids for a peace talk. Unfortunately, some Twilight Hammer orcs show up and kill everyone except him while making it seem as though Garrosh is responsible. Magni tries a ritual to "become one with the earth," to prevent another tragedy like the recent earthquake, but gets turned to diamond in the process.
  • Horny Vikings/Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The Kvaldir, the so-called sea vrykul, attack the Warsong Offensive as they're preparing to sail back to Orgrimmar. At this juncture, they discover that the Kvaldir are just regular vrykul wearing costumes.
  • Idiot Ball: Cairne doesn't seem as wise as he usually is when he confronts Garrosh over supposedly sabotaging a peaceful druid meeting and massacring everyone there. (In fact, it was the Twilight's Hammer.) Especially since he hurls insults straight at Garrosh's face, has no evidence to back up his claims and doesn't seem to realize that Garrosh has no idea what he's talking about.
  • Ignored Epiphany: After several instances of Garrosh disregarding his advice, Cairne decides to leave Orgrimmar and return to Thunder Bluff, thinking to himself that Garrosh won't even notice he's gone. Instead, Garrosh makes a point of seeing him off and takes a moment to say that, while they do not always agree, he is grateful to Cairne for his counsel and reassures Cairne that he does have the best interests of the Horde at heart. Rather than take this as sign he's misjudged the young orc, Cairne brushes it off and continues to assume the worst about Garrosh, with fatal consequences.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Renferal.
  • It's All About Me: Garrosh laments the loss of honor associated with his weapon being poisoned during his duel with Cairne... in front of the person who lost his father and many of his people.
  • Killed Off for Real: Cairne Bloodhoof.
    • Due to the oddity of MMORPGs, technically this is where Arthas the Lich King met his end. Even if retroactively.
    • Archdruid Renferal and any of the other named druids in the group (except Runetotem) when They were slaughtered by the Twilight's Hammer.
    • Technically, Magni Bronzebeard. He doesn't have x's in his eyes, but the way things move forward in the novel (and the game since then) his death is treated as canon.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Varian invades Ironforge and almost kills Moira for holding Anduin and everyone else hostage before Anduin asks him to spare her.
  • The Horde: Duh.
  • It Was a Gift: Fearbreaker, given by Magni to Anduin, and again by Anduin to Baine.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Anyone who has played the games knows about the new faction leaders.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: When the night elves revoke the Warsong's hunting and lumber-gathering rights in Ashenvale, political tensions ensue. Hamuul Runetotem attempts to use his druidic contacts to mend the broken bridge, but the Twilight's Hammer cult veto that proposition. They want the Horde and Alliance to fight each other over petty and minor things, because the more they fight each other, the less time they have to spend fighting the Hammer.
  • Literal Genie: To "become one with the mountain" means turning to diamond.
  • Magic Knight: Thrall gives up being one of these to pursue shamanism exclusively.
  • Mauve Shirt: Aerin, a female dwarf who is assigned to help Anduin train for combat/survivability, forming a close friendship with him.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Cairne.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Stormsong, one of the Grimtotem, defects to Baine's side. Several others follow suit when he makes them the offer.
  • Neck Snap: Employed by some of the SI:7 operatives.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Thrall and Cairne part ways for the last time after an unresolved argument over Garrosh becoming Warchief, making Cairne's funeral more of a Tear Jerker.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Averted. Anduin respects Magni, but points out that he was a failure as a parent, saying "You can be an honorable man and still make mistakes." Thrall and several others are also quick to point out to Garrosh that his father had some bad moments in his time as well.
  • Non-Action Guy: Anduin isn't much of a warrior, even for a youth his age. Magni and Aerin are aware of this, and suggest it might not be the path for Anduin.
  • Not Brainwashed: Moira says she genuinely fell in love with Thaurissan, and not because she was kidnapped.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Gorkrak (a Twilight’s Hammer member who attacks the gathering of druids) claims that he thought the Night Elves were attacking the Tauren druids, and claims to not even know who Garrosh is. Hamuul finds his performance unconvincing. He's absolutely right by the way — Gorkrak is a perfectly intelligent (though still fairly unhinged) guy.
  • Odd Friendship: Baine and Anduin.
  • Papa Wolf: Varian raids Ironforge with SI:7 and tries to kill Moira after hearing about Anduin being abducted.
  • Parental Substitute: Bolvar is noted as being one for Anduin, with Jaina as something of an Honorary Aunt.
  • Parents as People: Magni Bronzebeard, according to Moira and Rohan, was disappointed that he couldn't get a male heir, and Moira tells Anduin that she genuinely loved Dagran Thaurissan and had a child with him because he and his people treated her with respect her father didn't show her. Varian loves Anduin, but his Split Personality and hostile attitude toward the Horde creates a rift between the two.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Thrall has one on his vision quest.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Garrosh and Thrall especially.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Let. Them. Go."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Baine to Magatha, outlining the full extent of his Cruel Mercy to her and the hope that it will provide her with much-needed humiliation.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Averted with Baine Bloodhoof, who wants vengeance, but realizes that his father Cairne wanted what was best for his people, and he must strive to do the same.
  • Right in Front of Me
    Thrall: I look forward to meeting this Aggra.
    Aggra: You already have.
  • Ship Sinking: Thrall and Jaina Proudmoore.
    • Lampshaded when Thrall laughs at Eitrigg's suggestion that Jaina would make a good mate if she was an orc, prompting the Like Brother and Sister speech.
  • Shipper on Deck: Eitrigg notes that it's a pity Jaina isn't an orc, otherwise she'd be a perfect mate for Thrall. This makes the Warchief laugh heartily.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Magatha kills the messenger who tells her that Garrosh will not help her because he knows she was responsible for Cairne's death.
  • Split Personality: Varian and Lo'Gosh, which is implied to be the cause behind some of his more belligerent tendencies.
  • Squishy Wizard: Anduin; in the game he's a Priest, and this book notes his total ineptitude with melee combat.
  • Taken for Granite: Magni Bronzebeard.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Garrosh has traditional Warsong chieftain's tattoos similar to those of his father Grom's painted by the apprentice of the tattooist who did Grom's.
  • To Serve Man: Garrosh mentions the traditional troll tendency towards this as a way to screw with and unnerve the crew of an Alliance vessel he attacks off the coast of Northrend, complete with one of his troll soldiers licking his lips in an exaggerated fashion.
  • Tsundere: Aggra.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Many people, especially Cairne, are concerned Garrosh will do this. He doesn't, though he does end up looking a lot like him physically.
  • Undisclosed Funds: The rebuilding of Orgrimmar costs a considerable amount, and the amount Baine pays to get ready to retake Thunder Bluff is apparently even larger. Unlike many examples, this is presumably to avoid having to compare it with how much things cost in game money.
  • Values Dissonance: In-universe. Jaina's theory on why Thrall is unable to denounce the attacks on the night elves as strongly as Varian thinks he should is that orc culture does not allow it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Moira after Anduin escapes. Magatha after learning that Garrosh refuses to help her, and after Baine passes sentence on her.
  • Vision Quest: Thrall has one under Aggra's guidance in Outland.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Moira wants to unite the dwarven clans and put an end to the Dark Iron's reputation as systematic bad guys, but to do so she rules Ironforge completely tyrannically.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed. Thrall worries that many of the up and coming warriors of the Horde got their start killing the undead, and are thus desensitized to violence enough to not consider the repercussions for wars between the living.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Garrosh gets called out for not showing enough care prior to his duel with Cairne, since he didn't realize Magatha was poisoning his blade instead of blessing it. Eitrigg points out that innocent tauren were dying while he was celebrating his victory. Cairne himself can't believe Garrosh would do something as cruel as attack a defenseless Alliance ship that was blown into Horde waters by a storm, and leave a few crew members alive only so he can be sure that Varian will know who was responsible and still claim he was in the right. Jaina and Anduin also scold Varian for Lo'Gosh's more impulsive and warlike behavior.
  • With Due Respect: Captain Tula says this when Cairne orders her not to attack the Alliance vessel, saying that Garrosh is the one in charge of matters relating to war.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Cairne does well against Garrosh until he gets his first poisoned wound, which incapacitates him and enables Garrosh to fatally wound him.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Cairne’s runespear.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Anduin to Varian.
    Anduin: Father — you're a king, a good one, one who wants to do the right thing. You believe in the law. In justice. You're not some-some vigilante.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Garrosh to Eitrigg about the poison Magatha put on his axe. Subverted, however, because Eitrigg already knows he wasn't responsible.
    Garrosh: Enough! Silence, old one! ...She robbed me of my honor. She took my kill from me. I will never know now if I would have been stong enough to defeat Cairne Bloodhoof in a fair fight. Eitrigg, you must believe me!
    Eitrigg: I do, Garrosh.
  • You Killed My Father: Baine Bloodhoof. Subverted in that he shows remarkable mercy to both parties involved in his father's death. He allows Magatha to live, in exile, and tells Garrosh that while he's partially to blame, he will work with him for the sake of the Horde. He spared Magatha, however, because he could inflict more punishment on her by sending her into exile without her shamanic powers (he crushes her totems between his fingers).
  • Your Favorite: When Jaina goes to visit Anduin to cheer him up after the funeral service, Anduin has a servant bring them food. He asks for cheese(Dalaran Sharp) and apples, Jaina's favorite snacks.