If you want to see for yourself how the plot of the Emerald Nightmare in Legion was treated so poorly, you should definitely reach for Malfurion. Hey, wait a minute! Or maybe it was a good thing? Maybe the Nightmare is such a boring and monotonous theme that it didn't deserve a full-fledged addition to the game? After all, where are daydreams to an endless army of demons led by a mad titan! Do you think so? And I'll tell you that demons with Sargeras at the helm could wear pillows and pillows after Nightmare. What? You don't believe me? Well, listen...
The action of the book takes us back to the time before the Cataclysm, when the leader of the Druids, Malfurion the Tempestuous, had long been trapped in the Nightmare. The contamination of the dream dimension, caused by the Eternal Gods, had spread on an unimaginable scale, defiling many noble hearts with its foulness, including even Eranikus, the partner of the dragon Aspect and the Dream Lady, Ysera. Many set out to aid the green herd, including the greatest druid of Azeroth, the eponymous Malfurion. Unfortunately, even his extraordinary abilities could not protect him from being captured by the mysterious Nightmare Lord. While the archdruid's spirit was subjected to endless torture, his body remained defenseless, resting for months on end in an underground barrow. Although the priestesses of Eluna did their best to keep the corporeal body alive, it was clear that they could not do so indefinitely. Seeing the end of her beloved, Tyrande Whisper of the Wind and the druid Broll the Bearfoot set out on a breakneck expedition, clinging to any hope of saving Malfurion, especially as the Nightmare, bolstered by the Archdruid's strength, begins to infiltrate the waking world.
In spite of Malfurion's absence, things were happening in the druidic ranks. Leading the lost servants of nature was one of Stormwrath's finest disciples, also bearing the title of Archdruid, a legendary hero who rose to fame during the War of the Unquiet Sands, Fandral Staghelm (known in his native tongue as Deerhound). Though the passing centuries failed to ease his grief at the loss of his only son, the druid led his brotherhood to create something Malfurion would never have approved of - the planting of a second World Tree, Teldrassil, in whose crown the night elves built their new capital. Unfortunately, though powerful and breathtakingly beautiful, stripped of the blessing of the Dragon Aspects, the Tree became vulnerable to the taint oozing from the Nightmare. Sensing danger, Fandral rallied his brothers, hoping that together they could save Teldrassil from the madness, but the situation did not look promising.
While every Warcraft fan may have seen the atrocities committed by the henchmen of Archimond and Kil'jaeden, I can assure you that they pale in comparison to what the Emerald Nightmare was capable of. The demons were based primarily on mindless cruelty. Nightmare's actions were far more complex and sinister. It attacked at the very moment when humans (and elves, orcs, tauren, etc.) were most susceptible to attack - in their sleep, with a sniper's precision, hitting their victim's greatest fears. The brave heart of a warrior may have overcome the fear of demons, but everyone is afraid of something. Everyone. And Nightmare knows it. Even the most powerful must succumb when plunged into a dream from which it is impossible to wake up. And everyone must sleep, after all.
We have read about great battles in the Warcraft universe many times before. However, no book from this universe published in Poland so far has presented the invasion in such a clear and imaginative way. Instead of a continuous attack of demonic hordes, the main axis of the plot is interspersed with images from different parts of Azeroth affected by the Nightmare. This creates an almost overwhelming sense of omnipresent danger and believe it or not, Blizzard made a big mistake by downplaying this theme. On the other hand, maybe they've simply outgrown it?
Nightmare attacks mercilessly everyone. No matter if it's a peasant in the field, a knight or a king. In subsequent interludes we see familiar characters from the world of Warcraft, to which the author, even those already well described in the past, added even more depth, presenting their vulnerability in confrontation with the greatest phobias. Along with them you'll also find quite a few side characters and seemingly unknown, but you only need to take a look at, for example, wowhead to find out that these are authentic NPCs and questgivers from World of Warcraft. Which ones? I won't write that, so as not to spoil the surprise.
The jumps between dreamlike visions and Malfurion's quests make us at times feel as if we were dreaming. Suddenly we do not know what of what we are reading is really happening and what is merely a dream. Knaak deepens this uncertainty, cleverly interweaving the plots and showing both his craft as a writer and his flawless command of the universe.
I wasn't wrong earlier to refer to Malfurion by his title name. Although the book is originally titled Stormrage, the Polish publisher decided to release it as Malfurion. The idea was, from what I observed, warmly received by the Polish Warcraft community, which is understandable. Aside from the well-known opinion of players about translating Stormrage into Stormwrath, staying with the main character's name/nickname would now create confusion about the content, as since the book's release another book has come out - dedicated to Malfurion's brother, titled Illidan. Some might consider Stormrage a continuation, and so we get a matching two volumes about the Stormrage brothers: Malfurion and Illidan. As for the other names, they've been translated as required by Blizzard themselves, and they dovetail with those of the previous books and the WoW Chronicles.
Although Christie Golden is the dominant author of the universe, the throne undeniably goes to Richard Knaak. Years ago he won me over to the literary side of this universe with his Day of the Dragon, and Malfurion did not diminish that love. If I had to dig out some minuses from the whole bag of pluses, I would point out two:
1. the almost identical style of describing the appearance of new characters, which after five or six starts to get annoying. Every time someone appears, we get a paragraph about their clothes.
2. Epilogue, which could be skipped and released on Blizzard's website in the Short Story section. I won't say it's bad, but it does deviate from the rest of the novel.