From the Best WoW Novel Written to Date:

“Slay him, his demon whispered. Slay Illidan and achieve eternal glory. Slay the Betrayer and become a dark god.”

"Vandel felt the temptation rise within him. If he slaughtered Illidan, he would be welcomed by his demonic kindred. He could put his mortality behind him forever, live untroubled by fear and regret. He could bury all traces of guilt about failing his family, all remorse, any semblance of kinship with these weak, frail creatures of flesh and blood. He could transcend what he was, join the Burning Legion, and become a conqueror, cleansing the universe of the foul disease of life. He could help bring creation crashing down so that a new universe could be born, one shaped in his image, by his desires.

"For a moment, he wavered. He listened to the voice of his inner demon and realized that it was his own. His soul had been tainted when he devoured the felhound. It had absorbed the demon’s evil and been twisted. There was really no other demon than himself.

"To give in to the voice of temptation would be to forswear his quest for vengeance and break faith with his dead wife and child.

"He did not want to kill Illidan. He wanted to kill the things that had made Illidan into what he was. He understood now as he never had before what the Betrayer stood for, because of what he stood against. For all his gigantic flaws, Illidan was the only being who really grasped what they fought, and he was prepared to do whatever it took to end the threat. He might well be mad. His schemes might well be doomed to failure. But he was better than the alternative.

“The demons of the Legion advanced toward the ridge. It was time to do battle with the real enemy.”


Just giant Illidan fanboyism. I rather read Sylvanas. Alot of effort went into this, you should give it a try.

I tried Sylvanas but couldn’t get past her saccharine-sweet childhood. I was listening to the e-book, so might have been how the narrator read it. Illidan, on the other hand, is not only well-written; it is about possibly the single most impactful character in WoW? Without him, the Burning Legion burns reality to the ground and none of us are here to talk about it, and he does most of it through sheer perseverance and force-of-will (being a mage prodigy didn’t hurt either).

I am struck here by Vandel (the pov for this passage) seeing him in this moment with all his flaws, recognizing that his schemes could all come crashing down, and yet concluding that he’s really the only game in town for saving reality as we know it.


Illidan fanboyism. Nothing else. Demanded a refund after hearing it the first time, it was that awful yes.


Funny; that, and her early days as the Banshee Queen, were the highlights of that book for me. It all tumbles down when she takes her header off Icecrown and the barrage of Jailer retcons commences.

Anyway, I agree, Illidan was a great read, probably in my top 3 Warcraft publications. Although, as much as I like the Vandel character, it never sat right with me that Altruis and Kayn were ejected from the book in favor of the author’s OC. I maintain that its “demon hunter training” subplot should have been told through those two guys.


I can see that. And maybe I’ll give Sylvanas another try someday.

I took the character Vandal as a stand-in for the player.

While I’m no Sylvanas fan, I can’t get past Illidan’s 90’s comic wannabe story arc. His backstory was retconned twice to try and make him look heroic - only Sylvanas has had more whitewashing retcons than him.

How was Illidan the reason we defeated the Burning Legion… or should I say “… the child of Light and Shadow destined ended the age of demons”? Wouldn’t Illidan being the reason we defeated the Burning Legion mean Xe’ra - AKA the “Elder Naaru” who saved him from Kil’jaeden in the book AKA the prophesying Naaru he edgelord-ed to death in Legion - was right about her prophecy?

That was a plot hole in the Illidan book - why didn’t “Elder Naaru” tell A’dal and the others she had plans for Illidan so don’t kill him? Why didn’t A’dal or the other Naaru tell “Elder Naaru” why they were killing Illidan? You may have some theories or headcanon, can you tell me where the canon answer in the lore?

I think the Illidan book was a middle ground between all the different lore on him. The more selfish trickster portrayal he originally had in the Warcraft 3 games and the whitewashing he got in War of the Ancients and Legion. That said, though Vandel was borderline edgelord himself, I found him compelling, like how I find Darion Mograine a compelling character.

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Mondo agreed.
I loved the book.
I also love that it isn’t alien demons possessing demon hunters.
it’s their own souls.

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I will buy the german hardcover too eventually after hearing the audio book. It felt great to give her such a good sendoff. One day she will return and I can follow her with pride.

I get that his story - most of WoW’s story - has changed several times. I don’t mind them flipping the BC part because that’s largely a shift in POV. From the outside, we believed Illidan was up to no good. From his perspective, he was doing what was necessary.

The shifts between Warcraft III and WoW are more difficult to reconcile. I suppose they have some official comments about how much from WCIII is cannon? I mean, Gul’dan talks about Sargeras as if he was just another demon whose power he sought to claim.

Not judging, other than feeling amused by how you dismiss “fanboyism” while being such an ardent fan boy. :smiley:

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He’s just a normal psychopath. Some days he’s entertaining, others he’s legit terrifying.


“For all his gigantic flaws, Illidan was the only being who really grasped what they fought, and he was prepared to do whatever it took to end the threat. He might well be mad. His schemes might well be doomed to failure. But he was better than the alternative.”

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BC was the opposite extreme, turning him into a crazy tyrant (though going insane can be character development too… except it happened offscreen).

The shift between Warcraft 3 and WoW is the main problem. Most of Warcraft 3 is still canon, iirc the only part of Illidan’s lore they changed was him joining the Burning Legion. Originally, in WCIII, he was a magic addicted incel (joined the world-destroying demon army because he wanted his magic fix and his crush, Tyrande, rejected him). The latest version keeps that, but adds that he had a secret, last-minute change of heart and decided to bring the Legion down.

Sargeras being a former Titan and creator and leader of the Burning Legion was introduced in WCIII. In Frozen Throne, Maiev refers to Sargeras as the Legion’s creator and one of Gul’dan’s former disciples agrees. Gul’dan talking about Sargeras like that was because Gul’dan had lost respect for him.

In the novel, he does join the Legion, but as an infiltrator. Doing so requires him to conceal his true thoughts from Kil’Jaeden, something he doesn’t trust his lieutenants to do. So he hides his true intentions even from them.

And here we had it. Kael’thas not trusting Illidan because he was never involved in the grander plan. Illidan just took his best soldiers and turned him into his private army without any further explanations.

How was Kael supposed to stay loyal if the half demon mongrel was never serious about his end of the bargain to solve their magical thirst?

Fair, and the novel brings that out. Although Kael could have been unloyal without selling out to Kil’Jaeden. Illidan’s whole rationale for not sharing his inner-most plans was that hiding them himself had been a near thing; hiding secrets from Kil’Jaeden - deceiving the great deceiver - was nigh impossible, and even Illidan had not been sure he could do it until Kil’Jaeden read his mind without finding everything. He had to pretend to be withholding some things, let Kil’Jaeden batter down those defenses and see through it, while still having a deeper level Kil’Jaeden never found.

Lady Vashj was always loyal to Azsahra that would never change and Akama wanted revenge he iddn’t get cuz it might be canon that Kayn enslaved his soul again. But he could have Kael’thas on his side which never delivered. Maybe kael thought Illidan was already his servant anyways and offering him loyalty would ease the tide after failing to kill Arthas twice.

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Illidan and the Naga were using each other. It was a marriage of convenience. Both suspected the other had ulterior motives, but that didn’t matter because they had their own reasons for working together. As for Kael’thas… How much can he be blamed for falling prey to Kil’Jaeden’s silver tongue? Whatever his sins, he repented in Revendreth and has moved on.

From Wowpedia:
As Illidan prepared his army of demon hunters to assault Argus, Kael’thas became alienated. Several of his followers had left him to join Illidan to be trained as demon hunters and he believed he could harness fel magic just as they did to sate his addiction. Soon, the fel gnawed at his mind, causing him to become more paranoid of his people, believing them to think of him as a failure. Many believed that the fel magic made him unstable. He believed his travel to Outland to have been a mistake since he was no closer to finding a cure to the addiction than before and the suffering of the blood elves had only increased. He was too prideful to return to Quel’Thalas without a cure, yet also deeply ashamed and angered of his own inability to find one. In this state of emotional turmoil, the prince was contacted by Kil’jaeden. The demon lord told him of more effective ways to harness fel energy and that Illidan had withheld them from him because he did not deem them worthy, only tools in the war against the Legion. In return for teaching Kael’thas, Kil’jaeden simply asked him to abandon Illidan. The prince refused, but doubts began to plague his consciousness.

The novels were retcons from the original RTS games. There was no infiltration motive in WC3. There, he joined for the reasons I shared then abandoned the Burning Legion when they started to lose. Kil’jaeden calls Illidan both a friend and a foe to the Burning Legion in Frozen Throne.

Just like they tried to sweep under the rug or retcon out Illidan’s addiction to magic.

Sylvannas was a pretty solid antihero in the RCS with pretty clear motivations. She remained that way for the early part of the MMORG all the way though Wrath of the Litch KIng until different hands started steering the helm of her story. She was essentially Warcraft’s version of Kerrigan at that point.