Warlords of Draenor, the next WoW expansion, will feature a trip to a world we've only seen one version of. Although we've visited Draenor in game, it was the shattered version of a world post-Horde, taken over by Illidan Stormrage, his allies, and the Burning Legion. Now called Outland, there's very little to see of the old Draenor in the wake of Ner'zhul's disastrous attempt to open portals to other worlds in the hopes of continued Horde domination.
In Warlords, we'll be visiting an alternate version of Draenor -- a version in which the corruption of the orcish race was halted. This alternate version will highlight and showcase former faces of old in a new light, through the meddling of Garrosh Hellscream. Now united as the Iron Horde, the orc clans of Draenor past have turned away from the Legion, instead embracing their strength on their own. But just because this is an alternate version of Draenor doesn't mean there isn't material out there to be found about these characters. The situation may be different in Warlords, but there's a pile of relevant material that will help players understand exactly why the cast of Warlords are a force to be reckoned with.
- Rise of the Horde by Christie Golden. Hands down, this is the go-to novel to understand exactly what happened in our timeline to make the Horde what they are today, and form the draenei race as we know it. It explains the corruption of the orcish race from the eyes of Durotan -- but it also shows the war between orc and draenei through the eyes of Velen as well. Read this, and you'll have a basic understanding of just how Kil'jaeden came to Draenor, and have a basic grasp on most of the major players in Warlords as well.
- Unbroken by Micky Neilson. This short story is available for free on Blizzard's website. It explains the fall of Shattrath City, the aftermath, and the evolution of the Broken. The story of Nobundo, it also explains just how the draenei managed to learn the art of shamanism after Shattrath's fall.
- The Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb. While not directly related to the events in Warlords, this novel tells the story of Khadgar, a character featured on the cast page for the expansion. Khadgar can be found in Shattrath in-game, but his story goes back much further than Burning Crusade. The book also tells the events of the First War, for those interested in knowing more about the inner workings of the Horde of old.
- Tides of Darkness by Aaron Rosenberg. This book continues the story of Khadgar, explaining where he went after Medivh's death, as well as detailing the events of the Second War. Several familar orc faces from the cast page make appearances in this novel as well.
- Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden. This novel continues where Tides of Darkness left off, telling the story of Ner'zhul's descent into madness, and the reasons behind Khadgar's appearance in Outland. Several orcs from the Warlords cast list make appearances in this novel as well.
While these stories don't really have anything to do with Warlords itself, they do offer a nice glimpse into the minds of those featured in the Warlords cast.
- Velen: Prophet's Lesson by Marc Hutcheson. Free to read on the Blizzard website, this story not only offers a deeper glimpse into the mind of Prophet Velen, it also features Vindicator Maraad, who will be making an appearance in Warlords as well.
- Garrosh Hellscream: Heart of War by Sarah Pine. Garrosh Hellscream may not be a major player in Warlords, but his progression from shamed son of Grom to Warchief to prisoner is a direct impetus for everything that happens in the next expansion. This free-to-read short story sheds some light on how Garrosh Hellscream thinks, and where his idea of the Horde comes from.
- Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War by Christie Golden. While this novel primarily concerns Jaina and the events surrounding Theramore's Fall, it also gives us yet another glimpse of Hellscream in action.
- War Crimes by Christie Golden. This novel hasn't been released yet. However, it's the bridge novel between Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor. As such, you probably don't want to miss out on reading it.