Anduin Lothar made the supreme sacrifice for his people. He lived for them, and he died for them, at the end of a long life dedicated to their welfare. He lived his entire life in the saddle, riding from adventure to duty, fighting first for himself and then for everyone he loved. Last of a bloodline that could claim to be the kings of all humanity, Lothar died not as a king but as a soldier fighting to save his world from those who had willingly sold their souls, their children's lives, and their world to the bloodlust of demons. In life, he had repeatedly balked their victory. In death, he secured his people's future.
There will never be a warrior as great as Lothar. No one, no man, no orc, no one can ever exceed his accomplishment. Uncompromising, he brought forth a compromise that welded together disparate races in a union to defend themselves and their world. Stern, he managed to nurture a band of heroes who would stride forth with his name on their lips and his example in their hearts to plant it as a standard on a foreign world. Aged and weary, he carried his best friend's nation and his best friend's treasured son to safety and brought both through the terrible storm to be returned to their rightful home.
Without Lothar, there would be no humanity left. Without Lothar, orc slaves to the Burning Legion would have destroyed all of the Eastern Kingdoms and, in thrall to their demon masters, laid waste to a second world. Without Lothar, everything changes. This is the life of the Lion of Azeroth.
The idylls of he who was not king
We know little of Lothar's early life. We know that he grew up in the Royal Court of Stormwind, and while this is only befitting for one of his bloodline, it does not explain who his parents were or why they were not royalty themselves. As direct blood descendants of the Arathor kings who had migrated south from Strom as the first empire of Arathor fell apart, they certainly could have claimed rulership in the nation they helped found, but it seems they did not. While remaining important enough to associate with royals on a more or less equal basis, the line of Lothar did not rule in Stormwind. Still, Anduin Lothar was best friends with Llane Wrynn, son of the King, and Medivh, son of the court enchanter Nielas Aran. Each of these young men more or less knew what fate had in store for him, but Lothar could not count on being a king nor a wizard.
As young men, the three ranged far and wide across the untamed lands of southern Azeroth, taking risks that many might have viewed as foolish. As they matured and both Wrynn and Medivh settled into their future roles, Anduin Lothar found in himself that same aptitude that had allowed his ancestor Thoradin to unite disparate tribes of men. Skilled at warfare and at leading others, Lothar joined Stormwind's military. He rose through the ranks and, in time, joined the Honor Guard for the king himself, Adamant Wrynn.
It was during this time that Lothar, still a relatively young man, first realized the danger to Azeroth. Strange green invaders were reported in the swamps to the south of Stormwind, and Lothar recommended to the king that they be dealt with aggressively. An attack on Stormwind by these invaders (the orcs of the Horde) led Adamant to come to agree with his guardsman, and the king pledged to rid his kingdom of this invading menace.
However, Adamant Wrynn died before he could deliver on that pledge, and so it fell to Lothar's friend Llane to rule Stormwind and do as his father had promised. Lothar led his friend's armies in this defense. However, not all went well for the armies of Stormwind. Years of war would age both men greatly.
Trapped in the Deadmines, betrayed by a friend
While attempting to retrieve the Tome of Divinity from ogres housed in the abandoned Deadmines of Westfall, Lothar not only failed but was captured and held by the ogres for 20 months. While this much time in ogre hands would have broken most, Lothar never gave up hope of achieving his mission and eventually did leave the mine with the tome, thanks to no small effort on the part of his loyal troops. This established that no matter the odds, Lothar's soldiers would go to any lengths for their commander. Their loyalty would be sorely tested in the years to come, and it never wavered.
The Horde that invaded Stormwind was no fluke, and they hadn't come to Azeroth via a cosmic accident. No, the Horde had been guided to its ravages by Lothar's childhood friend Medivh, and the years of death and havoc unleashed by the Horde were all at Medivh's instigation. Medivh's apprentice Khadgar informed King Llane and Anduin of the truth, confirmed by the half-orc Garona, a known associate of the wizard. Saddened but resolute, Anduin took up the sword and led a contingent of his Brotherhood of the Horse (the elite knights of the kingdom of Stormwind, an order Lothar served to lead as Armsman) to confront his friend. Medivh confirmed the truth, and while Khadgar gravely wounded his former master, it was Lothar who beheaded him.
What no one knew was that this act would cause a change for the better in the fortunes of the Horde. Gul'dan, the puppetmaster behind Warchief Blackhand, was rendered comatose by Medivh's death, as he was attempting to read the wizard's mind at the time. Orgrim Doomhammer took the opportunity to kill Blackhand and assert sole readership of the Horde, and Gul'dan awoke to an angry new Warchief intent on his own death.
While Gul'dan was unconscious, events continued apace. The orcs grew more canny under the leadership of Doomhammer, while Llane Wrynn's trusting nature betrayed him. Garona Halforcen, who had helped Khadgar reveal Medivh's role in bringing the orcs to Azeroth, betrayed him at the behest of her secret Shadow Council masters and killed the king of Stormwind in his own throne room. Perhaps Stormwind could have held against the orcs had Llane not died, but his murder convinced Lothar that Stormwind could not be held. Taking the young Varian Wrynn (who had witnessed his father's murder at the hands of a supposed friend) and as many of the people as he could, Lothar fled to the north across the Great Sea. Stormwind burned as the orcish armies capered in its ruins. Luckily, they were too busy exulting in their victory to immediately pursue the retreating flotilla.
It was one of the few lapses in discipline Doomhammer allowed, and it was pivotal. Had those ships not reached Lordaeron, there would be no Stormwind today.
Next week, Lothar creates the Alliance and leads it to his ultimate victory and his death.
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.