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Literature / World Of Warcraft Illidan

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World of Warcraft: Illidan is a novel by William King, set in the Warcraft Expanded Universe. It is both a character examination of Illidan Stormrage and a prelude to the Legion expansion.

Illidan Stormrage is one of the most powerful beings ever to walk the lands of Azeroth. He is also one of the least understood. Behind his legend, beneath his enigmatic mission, lies a brilliant mind whose machinations are comprehended by few—and trusted by even fewer. Illidan’s righteous reign of justice and vengeance has begun.


Long ago, the night elf sorcerer Illidan infiltrated the demonic Burning Legion to ward off its invasion of Azeroth. Instead of hailing him as a hero, his own kind branded him the Betrayer, questioning his intentions after he appeared to aid the demon lords. For ten thousand years, he languished in prison—vilified, isolated, but never forgetting his purpose.

Now the Legion has returned, and there is only one champion who can truly stand against it. Released from his bonds, Illidan prepares for the final confrontation in the alien realm of Outland, gathering an army of grotesque fel orcs, serpentine naga, cunning blood elves, and twisted demon hunters to his side. He alone knows what deeply hidden motives guide his hand; he alone understands the price that must be paid to defeat the enemies of creation. Yet as before, he is assailed by those who see his schemes as a cynical quest for power, including the night elf Maiev Shadowsong, his former jailer. Warden Shadowsong and her Watchers have pursued the Betrayer to Outland to exact retribution for his crimes, and she will not rest until Illidan is in her custody . . . or in his grave.


It was released on April 12, 2016 and a preview can be read here

This novel contains the following tropes:

  • Anti-Hero: Illidan. William King describes him as a charismatic, selfish bastard and not a hero.
  • Audience Surrogate: The reader follows Vandel as he becomes a demon hunter.
  • Badass Army:
    • Illidan and his demon hunters invaded Nathreza, homeworld of the dreadlords, and despite being massively outnumbered, they completely dominated the battlefield. They took out entire armies of demons, pilfered and destroyed valuable information and devastated the planet the same way Ner'zhul destroyed Draenor. And since this battle occurred in the Twisting Nether, no demon killed there can revive themselves, making this the greatest defeat the Burning Legion had ever suffered.
    • The Burning Legion are obviously also this, having destroyed countless worlds with ease. They also can't truly die unless they're killed in the Twisting Nether or in places filled with fel energy.
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  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: After taking the demon into himself, Vandel is forced to relive the destruction of his village by the Burning Legion and the death of his son before fighting the demon for control of his mind and body.
  • Blatant Lies: Maiev is quite insistent that she wants justice, not vengeance. The more charitable of those she tells this admit that's what she thinks she wants.
  • Catch Phrase: Illidan's usual one ("You are not prepared.") pops up exactly once: he says it when confronted by Akama and the adventurers as the novel hits the events of the Black Temple raid. A variant of it also appears at the end as Vandel reflects and hears Illidan telling him that he must be prepared.
  • Character Tics: After spending ten thousand years in a small cell that only allowed him to walk nine step in any direction, Illidan tends to calm himself when agitated by pacing exactly nine steps.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The book skips over Illidan absorbing the skull of Gul'dan, his banishment and his first attempt to destroy the Frozen Throne. Instead, The aforementioned events are quickly summarized in the second chapter. Likewise, most of the players' contributions from The Burning Crusade is barely given any lip service and many of the strange enemies and locations encountered in-game, such as Mother Shahraz and the Den of Mortal Delights, aren't mentioned at all.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Kael'thas Sunstrider abandons Illidan's forces less than halfway through the book.
  • Darker and Edgier: Given its Anti-Hero protagonist, the gruesome nature of demon hunter training and some gory description, very much so.
  • Decapitated Army: As explained in World of Warcraft: Chronicle, Sargeras holds the Burning Legion together with his lieutenants, Archimonde and Kil'jaeden. The closest thing Illidan has to plan is to kill them and throw the Legion into disarray.
  • Determined Defeatist:
    • Illidan knew that the Black Temple was lost before the battle even began and he knew he probably wouldn't survive. However, he refused to give up without a fight, sending his demon hunters on a final mission to the demonic world of Mardum before going to his climatic battle at the top of the temple.
    • Most demon hunters feel this way as they were all given a glimpse of the power of the Burning Legion and believe it to be invincible.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: In a sense. Illidan is shown a vision of a future where he is a champion of the Light.
  • Driven to Madness
    • Most Demon hunters go insane before mastering their new abilities.
    • Maiev slowly becomes more obsessive and paranoid in her pursuit of Illidan.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Illidan inflicts one on the Nathrezim's homeworld with much the same method that reduced Draenor to Outland.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even the unfeeling Illidan is appalled the mass destruction the Burning Legion leaves in their wake.
    • Even though a naaru told Maiev that she should accept help from blood elves, she refused to even acknowledge them. Like most night elves, she considers of blood elves to be traitors and not even her hatred of Illidan will get her to work with them.
  • Eye Scream: When demon hunters gain their abilities they are also given a glimpse of the full horror of the Burning Legion which causes tear out their own eyeballs, making way for their new, spectral eyes.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Illidan considers being imprisoned for ten thousand years to be this. It's also revealed that magical wards kept him alive during his imprisonment and made it impossible for him to die or kill himself.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Illidan kills quite a few of the adventurers Akama leads to him quite quickly. In the actual raid those sorts of casualties would guarantee his victory.
  • General Failure:
    • Illidan himself. Due to a combination of not trusting his subordinates and being fixated on creating the demon hunters and his own plans against the Legion, he leaves them to their own devices and at one point dismisses his council of advisers after they come to him asking for orders about dealing with the Alliance and Horde.
    • Maiev starts out realizes that the Watchers had no chance against Illidan and his forces and need to gain allies before confronting him. However, she grows so eager and obsessive that when her forces finally confronted Illidan's, she continued fighting even though it made more sense to retreat when it's revealed to be a trap, deciding that her life and the lives of her allies were expendable if it meant a chance to kill Illidan. In fact, the only thing that her hatred of Illidan doesn't overshadow is her hatred of blood elves and mages, both of which would have been powerful allies.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Everyone who learns that Illidan plans to assault Argus and try to kill Kil'jaeden believes he's insane and in way over his head. Illidan himself often contemplates the fact that he and his forces may be nothing more than insects when compared to the might of the Burning Legion
  • Indy Ploy/ Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Subverted. Illidan only shares his plan to defeat the Burning Legion with his inner circle and even then it's rather vague. This causes everyone to realize that Illidan has no real plan to take on Kil'jaeden or the Legion.
  • Ineffectual Loner: At the heart of a lot of Illidan's problems is the simple fact that he doesn't trust anyone. This causes him to strike out alone, not inform the other people around him of his true goals, and just generally appear sinister because no one knows what he's up to. His defeat comes from the denizens of Azeroth seeing him as just another demon lord and he falls to them because trying to do everything by himself has left him far weaker than he would normally be.
  • It Gets Easier: Illidan has sent countless troops to their death without guilt. The thing that bothers him, however, is that he doesn't even remember what it's like to feel for others anymore.
  • Leave No Survivors: Illidan can't even find a rat or a cockroach left alive on planets the Burning Legion has invaded.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Near the end of the book, between the Alliance, Horde and Burning Legion forces flooding into Outland and Illidan no longer caring about controlling Outland, it's clear to everyone in Illidan's army that defeat is inevitable. While most of Illidan's forces start making plans of their own, Vandel and the demon hunters decide to stay with their leader to the very end.
  • Nominal Hero: Illidan legitimately wants to save Azeroth and end the threat of the Burning Legion. However, he's also a selfish, lying, torturing, murderous half demon who cares only about his own agenda.
  • Not So Different: Maiev and Illidan. They are both singularly devoted to defeating their enemy, a cause they feel justifies any number of deaths and sacrifices to accomplish. Akama lampshades this to a disagreeing Maiev.
  • Out of Focus: Lady Vashj's role in the story is notably small.
  • Power at a Price: The elder naaru tells Illidan that there will be a price to pay for becoming a champion of the Light. Illidan quips that there always is.
  • Retcon:
    • It was believed that Illidan and demon hunters were blind and could only see with spectral sight. This book establishes that after getting used to their abilities demon hunters have the ability to switch between normal and spectral sight at will.
    • While it's suggested that Illidan is going insane, he's not as unstable as he was depicted in The Burning Crusade. For example, he never boasts about defeating Arthas.
    • Illidan's characterization could be considered a Retcon, along with his initial motives to join the Legion during the War of the Ancients. All of his previous characterization from his introduction in Warcraft 3, to the novels and Burning Crusade shows him as driven (Self admittedly) by his lust for power and magic. Having sided with the Legion in the War of the Ancients, to murdering people for protesting his creation of a new Well of Eternity shortly after the War of the Ancients. Along with willingly serving Kil'jaden for more power and only rebelling against the Deon Lord because he failed to kill Arthas and wanted to avoid punishment. He also oversaw massacres and mutilations of innocent night elven villages and other events such as the enslaving thousands of people in Outland and Maiev's capture, torment and the slaughter of her forces.
    • While often characterized as vengeance obsessed in Warcrft 3, Maiev was not characterized as carelessly sacrificing her troops just in a bid for revenge against Illidan.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Tyrande's attack on Illidan's prison weakened the wards binding him, the first thought he had was to go on a night elf killing spree. The only thing that stopped him from doing so was that he still had feelings for Tyrande and couldn't bring himself to refuse her request for help.
    • Maiev spends the entire book in one, for all she tries to convince herself she's seeking justice.
  • Soul Power: Illidan's spellcraft allows him to separate his soul from his body and explore the Twisted Nether.
  • The Spook: Illidan lives in constant fear that Kil'jaeden will return to punish him for his failures and treachery. What's more, Illidan is also paranoid that Kil'jaeden is manipulating him, that all of his plans and efforts in Outland are just part of one of the demon lord's schemes.
  • Training from Hell: Want to become a demon hunter? Enjoy mutilation, immense pain, the struggle with the demon inside you, and a training regimen so harsh that your chance of survival is lower than 20%.
  • Wham Episode: Illidan's meeting with the Elder Naaru has absolutely massive implications about not only the naaru due to it specifically opposing the Void, not the Burning Legion, but also the identity of the champion of Light and Illidan's destiny.
  • Wham Line: Many get dropped during Illidan's meeting with the Elder Naaru.
    Elder Naaru (to Illidan) I have seen this. Whatever you were, whatever you are, a champion of Light is what you will be.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Illidan sends countless minions and fel orcs to their death without caring.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Turns out Illidan was greatly weakened by his soul siphon backfiring on him during his mission to Auchindoun to power it with the souls of the dranei; resulting in him still being nowhere near as strong when the adventurers fought him in Black Temple weeks later.
  • Your Soul Is Mine:
    • Demon hunters acquire their abilities by taking the soul of a demon within themselves. Only a strong few can keep control over their demon and prevent it from taking over and driving them mad.
    • Illidan uses the souls of fallen enemies and allies to power his portals to other worlds.
    • Upon learning about Akama's schemes with Maiev, Illidan tore out a large portion of his soul containing his worst attributes and turned it into a monster. If Illidan released the creature then it would eat away at the rest of Akama's soul, take over his body and lead his people onto a dark path.

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