He is quiet, kind, and likely more keenly aware of the troubles of the world than most. He is drawn to the Light in a profound way, much as his father would like to dismiss it. Unlike his father, he isn't interested in the rigors of war and the brutal realities of fighting. He's already been a leader, though his reign was as a figurehead. He's suffered far more in his young life than most. His mother died when he was merely a baby, and his father disappeared and returned a man who was utterly changed by circumstances beyond his control.
He is the heir to Stormwind's throne, to a kingdom that is tattered at the edges and trying desperately to hold itself together. While the rest of the world seems to revel in the chaos brought about by Deathwing's return, eager for the battle between Alliance and Horde to rear its head, he quietly follows the path of peace, looking to the future. It's a future that Prince Anduin Llane Wrynn may very well have to put back together again, perhaps sooner rather than later.
Anduin Wrynn was born in a moment of tentative peace in Stormwind's history -- the Second War had ended, the Alliance of Lordaeron was victorious over the Old Horde, and King Varian returned to Stormwind triumphant. It was upon his return that he was wed to a young woman named Tiffin Ellerian, and the two soon welcomed Anduin into the world. But the world wasn't to remain idyllic for long. During riots caused by the House of Nobles' refusal to pay the Stonemasons' Guild for work in reconstructing the city, Tiffin was killed by a rock thrown by an angry rioter.
Varian fell into a deep depression after Tiffin's untimely death, a depression encouraged by Lady Katrana Prestor. But as Anduin grew, Varian's depression lessened, largely because of his son. And what a son he was -- kind and caring, just like his mother. It was Anduin who convinced Varian to attend a peace summit with the orcs of Durotar after the Third War. Only 10 years old and far more practical than any child his age had a right to be, Anduin promoted the idea of peaceful negotiations over Lady Katrana's objections. And so, Varian left for the summit ... and vanished.
Lady Prestor suggested that Anduin take the crown, despite his youth, and she and Bolvar Fordragon were appointed as his main advisors. Prestor's reasoning was that without a true king, Stormwind would soon fall into chaos. Appointing Anduin in Varian's stead would keep peace and order in the kingdom. If this decision also conveniently placed her in a position where she could freely manipulate the crown ... well, that was a bonus, and exactly what she wanted.
King Varian was eventually returned to Stormwind after his ransom was paid. But the king who returned was ... different, somehow. Far less concerned with helping his people and far more concerned with spending the kingdom's money, Varian was a far cry from the father Anduin knew and loved. And when Varian turned down Magni Bronzebeard's request for help in the Thandol Span, Anduin knew something was wrong. He wasn't sure what, exactly -- but he suspected the man that looked like his father, had his father's voice, and claimed he was Anduin's father was ... not.
Anduin was a clever child -- far more clever than Prestor realized. He went to King Magni and asked for help, pointing out the odd behavior of his "father." King Magni was suspicious of Varian's behavior as well, and puzzling events continued to occur in rapid fashion. Prince Anduin asked his father what happened during the time he was away, and Varian couldn't recall a thing. But on a horseback ride through the countryside, Anduin lost control of his steed and nearly tumbled over a ledge to his death. Varian caught him, and in that moment Anduin realized the man holding him was, indeed, his father -- but there was still something desperately wrong.
That came to perfect light when another man who also looked just like Varian came marching to Stormwind Keep. This man was also nothing like the father Anduin knew growing up -- brutal, coarse, and scarred, the man called himself Lo'Gosh and arrived in the company of several others who quickly exposed Onyxia for what she was. Onyxia fled, but not before grabbing Anduin and taking the young prince with her.
Anduin was resourceful enough to hide away in Onyxia's Lair and stall for time while his father -- whichever man that might be -- came to his rescue. And both Varians received some astonishing news from Jaina Proudmoore. They were both King Wrynn, different facets of his personality that had been ripped asunder. Armed with this information, they quickly traveled to Onyxia's Lair.
Onyxia fought desperately but was losing, and that's when she made a pivotal move that would change Varian forever. She sought to destroy the two Varians, but only succeeded in merging them together. Whole at last, Varian struck the final blow and slew Onyxia. The daughter of Deathwing was dead, her masquerade at an end. But it was only the beginning of Prince Anduin's troubles.
The sheer joy of Onyxia's defeat led Anduin to suggest that perhaps the peace summit should actually happen as planned. And much as King Varian might not have wished to meet with those who had held him captive and forced him to fight as Lo'Gosh, he agreed. It was a peaceful summit, and the negotiations seemed to be going well between King Varian and Warchief Thrall ... until Garona showed up. Orc and human argued, each blaming the other, and Varian finally left with his son in tow, to deal with Scourge attacks in Stormwind.
Anduin longs for a peaceful world, a world free of the mindless tragedies of war. King Varian, on the other hand, wishes to see his son become a glorious fighter, a proud warrior capable of leading Stormwind. With how much King Varian loves his son, one would think all Anduin had to do was mention his vision of peace to his father, and Varian would accept it wholeheartedly. But it's not just Anduin and Varian's personalities that clash. King Varian may have been whole in appearance, but his mind was not.
After returning to Stormwind, Prince Anduin witnessed ongoing outbursts from his father -- violent, aggressive outbursts that were quickly followed by contrite apologies. It was becoming increasingly clear that King Varian was not as united as he appeared to be; the two halves of his personalities still warred with each other. And the last thing Prince Anduin wanted to do was raise the ire of Lo'Gosh or the dissappointment of Varian. So his true wishes went unspoken, and when Varian suggested Anduin take a trip to Ironforge, he readily agreed.
While in Ironforge, Anduin realized his true calling. He wasn't meant to be a warrior, fighting on the front lines. Instead, Anduin found himself drawn to the Light, and through the guidance of High Priest Rohan, he began to explore the possibilities of that path. Sensing the young prince's calling, King Magni gifted the boy with the mace Fearbreaker -- a mace that had known the taste of blood but also been known to stanch it, according to Magni. It turned out to be the last gift Magni would give the boy, as Anduin witnessed Magni's petrification a short time later.
In a lot of ways, Anduin is far more like Jaina Proudmoore than his father. Where Varian is quick to anger, Anduin seeks peaceful reconciliation. And when Ironforge came to rest under Moira Bronzebeard's iron fist, Anduin escaped via hearthstone to Theramore, where he met up with Jaina ... and with Baine Bloodhoof, who had been driven out of Thunder Bluff by the Grimtotem after his father's murder. The two were oddly alike, both afraid of their futures, though neither wished to admit it. And after a conversation in which they managed to assuage each other's fears, Anduin handed over Fearbreaker to Baine.
It was a gesture of goodwill, and it was something that felt right to Anduin -- and if his father had known, he probably would have been infuriated. Prince Anduin returned to Ironforge just in time to stop his father from assassinating Moira and possibly igniting a civil war among the dwarves. And once again, Varian listened to the words of his son and called off the attack. Instead, he reinstated the Council of the Three Hammers and told Moira in no uncertain terms that she would have to prove herself as a capable leader.
Prince Anduin has always approached the Horde with peace in mind, and he made it clear to Baine Bloodhoof that no matter what position he held, he was not his father, and his father's beliefs were not his own. The conversation between the two opened up a line of communication that saw another small hope for peace between Alliance and Horde come to light, if only for a brief moment before the Shattering ripped the world apart.
Despite Varian's acceptance of his son's words, Varian was still plagued by his dual nature. And Prince Anduin caught the brunt of it, time and time again. Each time came with an earnest apology, but the barbed words of Lo'Gosh stung and would have quickly reduced anyone with less inner resolve to tears. All of this came to a head in the novel Wolfheart, where Anduin witnessed Varian's cruel treatment of Genn Greymane and subsequent abrupt departure. The young Prince slipped away to speak with the Prophet Velen, who knew much about the Light and was quite willing to speak with the Prince at great length -- until, that is, Varian's guards arrived to pull the prince away and return him to his quarters at his father's request.
Anduin arrived just in time to witness a heated argument between his father and Malfurion Stormrage. It was the final straw. Fed up with his father's duality, he informed Varian that he wished to leave, study the Light, and pursue whatever path it was leading him on. Varian would hear none of it, and rather than argue, Anduin simply tried to take his leave -- which is when Varian gripped his son's arm hard enough to injure him in an effort to make him stay. The wariness in Anduin's eyes, the sudden distance between the two, told Varian that he needed to side with Anduin on this. Varian suggested he study with the Archbishop in order to keep Anduin in Stormwind, but Anduin declined. He was leaving and going to study with the Prophet Velen.
This shattered Varian, who quickly realized that his dual nature was doing nothing more than pushing those he loved the most away. After coming to grips with his personality and regaining his self-control, Varian received a note from Anduin stating that he would return after his journeys with Velen were completed.
Anduin did return for Rememberance Day, just in time to see his father erupt in anger at a group of nobles. The prince immediately turned around and left, to Varian's dismay. But the two were reunited by Archbishop Benedictus at Tiffin's grave, and they reconciled just in time to fend off a group of assassins. Varian lay dying at the hands of the assassins and told Anduin that he loved him and was proud of him with his last breaths. Anduin refused to accept his father's fate, calling upon the powers of the Light to bring a grateful Varian back to life.
I've mentioned idly before that Jaina and Varian would make a good match for each other -- she could keep his temper in check, he could urge her to step up a little more. But that connection already exists between father and son, and it's been a long time coming. Where Varian is hot-headed and brash, Anduin is practical, reserved, and genuinely has the best interests of people at heart. To Anduin, it doesn't matter if that person is Alliance or Horde; what matters is that they are happy and continue to live their lives with peace in thier hearts.
We don't really know much of what happened between Velen and Anduin, what the Prophet taught Stormwind's heir apparent. But what we do know is this: Velen has been emphatic that there will be a war, the true battle between Light and Darkness. In the face of this battle, all mortal suffering will be meaningless. Velen's interest in Anduin and Anduin's apparent gift with the Light suggest that perhaps the young prince will rise up and play a part in this battle, maybe even a major one.
For now, King Varian still sits on Stormwind's throne, a leader of strength and steel against the harsh winter of war. But in the wings, quietly waiting, is the heir apparent -- strong in his own right, ready and willing to pick up and mend any heartbreak yet to come.
For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.