Click here for your free sample chapter and choose the Read First Chapter Free button below the picture of the book cover on the left side of the page. You'll be able to read the first chapter, as well as the chapter titles for the book (by pushing the back arrow on the pages). There are going to be a lot of spoilers in both the chapter names and the chapter itself, of course, so read at your own risk. For a quick (spoiler-filled) summary and a discussion of the possibilities, check after the break.
The chapter starts with an Orcish expedition to Northrend. Apparently, Garrosh has ordered them to secure some sort of monster from Northrend to unleash on the Night Elves in Ashenvale. As the chapter opens, they are loading tarp-covered cages full of the monsters in question onto their ships. It's not clear what the monsters are. They seem to be to be huge, powerful, and angry, though, as one of them manages to grab two Orcs and crush them to death through the bars of its cage while they try to load it onto their ships. The Orcs only barely manage to pacify it by using sleeping powder of some sort. With the final cage loaded, they set sail back to Kalimdor.
The scene changes to the Night Elves' high priestess and leader, Tyrande Whisperwind, as she strolls through the temple gardens of Darnassus, meditating on the problems of the Cataclysm and the renewed Horde offensive. We learn that Tyrande, realizing that Malfurion won't be any long-term help in keeping the Alliance together, has called a summit to discuss the future of the Alliance. Unfortunately, many have not answered the summons yet, including Stormwind. As she thinks on all this, Elune sends her a vision.
She sees the War of the Ancients once again. The forces of the Burning Legion are pressing forward, ravaging the land. But there are no defenders, no Night Elves or their allies to stop them. Suddenly a mighty howl sounds, and Goldrinn, the wolf ancient, appears on the battlefield. But he is not alone, for a vast pack of wolves race forward with him. The wolves and Goldrinn fight the demons and appear to have the edge at first, but the demons quickly target Goldrinn and overwhelm him, killing him. As Goldrinn dies, a dark brown wolf leaps up, kills the demons who killed Goldrinn, and begins leading the wolf army in his stead.
The dark brown wolf rallies his companions, and they begin to push the legion back. But as Tyrande watches, the scene changes. The dark brown wolf turns into a Human man wielding a greatsword and clad in heavy armor. With him, the other wolves changed to Human forms as well. At the same time, the demons themselves shift and change into Orcs.
The vision ends with the Human warrior fighting an Orc dual-wielding axes. The Orc dies quickly to the Human's blade, and as he does, the rest of the Orcs die as well. The Human warrior stands triumphant with his comrades. The chapter ends as the warrior's face, at first shrouded, comes into view.
I'm rather amazed at how much this one chapter seems to suggest about the current lore and the direction of the Horde and Alliance in general. The identity of whatever monster the Orcs are transporting is up for a lot of speculation. It could, in theory, be some massive Scourge monsters, but I don't think Garrosh is that twisted. He has enough troubles with Sylvanas' blight as it is. Yeti or Magnataur seem to be the most likely options. They're both huge, and despite their semi-sentience, bad-tempered enough to attack anyone who's not one of them.
Of course, the other option is that they're Vrykul or even feral Worgen from Grizzly Hills. These would be an interesting way of attempting to sow discord or dismay in Alliance ranks, by trying to turn the other races against the Worgen in the latter case or by forcing Humans to fight their progenitors again in the former case. Still, the Night Elves have a pretty intimate knowledge of the Worgen curse by now, so feral Worgen might be dealt with too quickly. I'm still leaning toward Yeti or Magnataur.
Tyrande's vision brings up even more intriguing issues. Elune sent her a vision that directly compares the Orcs to the Burning Legion. Elune seems to be branding the Orcs as an important enemy of the Night Elves once again, with no right to their forests, straight up comparing their destructive actions to the Burning Legion. As she appears to be giving Tyrande a vision to direct her to a champion who can wipe them out or at least drive them out of the forests of Kalimdor, one wonders what she would think of Malfurion and the ancients, her son included, inviting them freely into the sacred summit of Hyjal. As a side note, I'm also very happy to see Tyrande act a lot more like the confident, strong, visionary leader of her people she was in Warcraft 3, rather than somewhat weaker, easily shaken person she was in her leader short story.
It seems rather obvious that the wolf-like Human champion leading the armies in Tyrande's vision refers to Varian. We've already heard in other lore sources that he seems to have the favor of Goldrinn, and his Horde nickname is Lo'Gosh, or "Ghost Wolf." This novel seems to be setting him up even more solidly as a hero and high commander of the Alliance forces. Interestingly enough, it looks like the prophecy suggests he'll be leading the armies of the Worgen against the Orcs, possibly to push them out of Ashenvale and/or Stonetalon. Hopefully, they'll do the same to the Forsaken in Gilneas in the near future.
The chapter names also reveal tidbits. There's chapters named after Jarod and Maiev Shadowsong, so there's hope we'll get some major action out of the siblings. Given that Maiev's wardens and Jarod Shadowsong himself were both neutral figures on Mount Hyjal, I'll be interested to see if they'll be bought back in the Alliance fold -- or at least the "get the Orcs out of our forests" fold -- or stay mostly on the outskirts as neutral figures. I'm hoping for the former, personally. Maiev's one of my favorite Night Elves, and I'd love to see her back defending her people now that Illidan has been properly bought to justice. She let Illidan's final words to get to her, but I think she still has a lot of purpose if she grabs onto it.
Another chapter is called "The Sword and the Axe," which hearkens back to the final battle in Tyrande's vision of the axe wielding Orc against the sword-wielding warrior. That suggests to me that we will see the battle in Tyrande's vision by the end of this book. The real question is ... who is the Orc Varian will fight? As much as I wish it was Garrosh, he wields only one axe, so it seems unlikely it's him. Perhaps it will simply be the Orcish Warlord who oversees the Ashenvale offensive, or whoever replaced Krom'gar.
Regardless, I have to say I'm pretty excited. There's a lot to look forward to if this first chapter is any indication. If the rest of the book builds off what we're seeing here, this book may very well live up to the hype as something that will help bring back the faction pride that the Alliance has been somewhat deprived of in the WoW era and provide some catharsis and victory in the long war against the Horde.