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The Last Guardian (Warcraft, Book 3) (No.3) Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 2002

75 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Warcraft Series

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prologue: The Lonely Tower

The larger of the two moons had risen first this evening, and now hung pregnant and silver-white against a clear, star-dappled sky. Beneath the lambent moon the peaks of the Redridge Mountains strained for the sky. In the daylight the sun picked out hues of magenta and rust among the great granite peaks, but in the moonlight they were reduced to tall, proud ghosts. To the west lay the Forest of Elwynn, its heavy canopy of greatoaks and satinwoods running from the foothills to the sea. To the east, the bleak swamp of the Black Morass spread out, a land of marshes and low hills, bayous and backwaters, failed settlements and lurking danger. A shadow passed briefly across the moon, a raven-sized shadow, bearing for a hole in the heart of the mountain.

Here a chunk had been pulled from the fastness of the Redridge Range, leaving behind a circular vale. Once it might have been the site of some primeval celestial impact or the memory of an earth-shaking explosion, but the aeons had worn the bowl-shaped crater into a series of steep-edged, rounded hillocks which were now cradled by the steeped mountains surrounding them. None of the ancient trees of Elwynn could reach its altitude, and the interior of the ringed hills was barren save for weeds and tangled vines.

At the center of the ringed hills lay a bare tor, as bald as the pate of a Kul Tiras merchant lord. Indeed the very way the hillock rose steeply, than gentled to a near-level slope at its apex, was similar in shape to a human skull. Many had noted it over the years, though only a few had been sufficiently brave, or powerful, or tactless to mention it to the property's owner.

At the flattened peak of the tor rose an ancient tower, a thick, massive protrusion of white stone and dark mortar, a man-made eruption that shot effortlessly into the sky, scaling higher than the surrounding hills, lit like a beacon by the moonlight. There was a low wall at the base of the tower surrounding a bailey, and within those walls the tumbledown remains of a stable and a smithy, but the tower itself dominated all within the ringed hills.

Once this place was called Karazhan. Once it was home of the last of the mysterious and secretive Guardians of Tirisfal. Once it was a living place. Now it was simply abandoned and timelost.

There was silence upon the tower but not a stillness. In the night's embrace quiet shapes flitted from window to window, and phantoms danced along the balconies and parapets. Less than ghosts, but more than memories, these were nothing less than pieces of the past that had become unstuck from the flow of time. These shadows of the past had been pried loose by the madness of the tower's owner, and were now condemned to play out their histories again and again, in the silence of the abandoned tower. Condemned to play but denied of any audience to appreciate them.

Then in the silence, there was the soft scrape of a booted foot against stone, then another. A flash of movement beneath the lambent moon, a shadow against the white stone, a flutter of a tattered, red-hued cloak in the cool night air. A figure walked along the topmost parapet, on the crenellated uppermost spire that years before had served as an observatory.

The parapet door into the observatory screeched open on ancient hinges, then stopped, frozen by rust and the passage of time. The cloaked figure paused a moment, then placed a finger on the hinge, and muttered a few choice words. The door swung open silently, the hinges made as if new. The trespasser allowed himself a smile.

The observatory was empty now, what tools that remained smashed and abandoned. The trespassing figure, almost as silent as a ghost himself, picked up a crushed astrolabe, its scale twisted in some now-forgotten rage. Now it is merely a heavy piece of gold, inert and useless in his hands.

There was other movement in the observatory, and the trespasser looked up. Now a ghostly figure stood nearby, near one of the many windows. The ghost/non-ghost was an broad-shouldered man, hair and beard once dark but now going to a premature gray at the edges. The figure was one of the shards of the past, unglued and now repeating its task, regardless of whether it had observers or not. For the moment, the dark-haired man held the astrolabe, the unbroken twin to the one in the trespasser's hands, and fiddled with a small knob along one side. A moment, a check, and a twitch of the knob. His dark brows furrowed over ghostly green eyes. A second moment, another check, and another twitch. Finally, the tall, imposing figure sighed deeply and placed the astrolabe on a table that was no longer there, and vanished.

The trespasser nodded. Such hauntings were common even in the days when Karazhan was inhabited, though now, stripped of the control (and the madness) of their master, they had become more brazen. Yet these shards of the past belonged here, while he did not. He was the interloper, not they.

The trespasser crossed the room to its staircase leading down, while behind him the older man flickered back into the view and repeated his action, sighting his astrolabe on a planet that had long since moved to other parts of the sky.

The trespasser moved down through the tower, crossing levels to reach other stairs and other hallways. No door was shut to him, even those locked and bolted, or sealed by rust and age. A few words, a touch, a gesture and the fetters flew loose, the rust dissolved into ruddy piles, the hinges restored. In one or two places ancient wards still glowed, potent despite their age. He paused before them for a moment, considering, reflecting, searching his memory for the correct counter-sign. He spoke the correct word, made the correct motion with his hands, shattered the weak magic that remained, and passed on.

As he moved through the tower, the phantoms of the past grew more agitated and more active. Now with a potential audience, it seemed that these pieces of the past wished to play themselves out, if only to be made free of this place. Any sound they once possessed had long-since eroded away, leaving only their images moving through the halls.

The interloper passed an ancient butler in dark livery, the frail old man shuffling slowly down the empty hallway, carrying a silver tray and wearing a set of horse-blinders. The interloper passed through the library, where a green-fleshed young woman stood with her back to him, pouring over an ancient tome. He passed through a banquet hall, at one end a group of musicians playing soundlessly, dancers twirling in a gavotte. At the other end a great city burned, its flames beating ineffectively against the stone walls and rotting tapestries. The trespasser moved through the silent flames, but his face grew drawn and tense as he witnessed once more the mighty city of Stormwind burn around him.

In one room three young men sat around a table and told now-unknown lies. Metal mugs were scattered on the table's surface as well as beneath it. The trespasser stood watching this image for a long time, until a phantom taverness brought another round. Then he shook his head and pressed on.

He reached nearly the ground level, and stepped out on a low balcony that hung precariously to the wall, like a wasps' nest over the main entrance. There, in the wide space before the tower, between the main entrance and a now-collapsed stables across the bailey, stood a single ghostly image, lonely and separated. It did not move like the others, but rather stood there, waiting, tentative. A piece of the past that had not been released. A piece that was waiting for him.

The immobile image was of a young man with a skunk stripe of white running through his dark, untidy head of hair. The straggling fragments of a beard, newly grown, clung to his face. A battered rucksack lay at the youth's feet, and he held a red-sealed letter with a deathlike grip.

This was well and truly no ghost, the trespasser knew, though the owner of this image may yet be dead, fallen in combat beneath a foreign sun. This was a memory, a shard of the past, trapped like an insect in amber, waiting for its release. Waiting for his arrival.

The trespasser sat on the stonework ledge of the balcony and looked out, beyond the bailey, beyond the hillock, and beyond the ringed hills. There was silence in the moonlight, as the mountains themselves seemed to be holding their breath, waiting for him.

The trespasser lifted a hand and intoned a series of chanted words. Softly came the rhymes and rhythms the first time, then louder, and finally louder still, shattering the calm. In the distance wolves picked up his chant and cast it back in howling counterpoint.

And the image of the ghostly youth, its feet seemingly trapped in mud, took a deep breath, hoisted his rucksack of secrets to his shoulder, and slogged his way toward the main entrance of Medivh's Tower.

Copyright © 2002 by Blizzard Entertainment. All rights reserved. Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek; Reissue edition (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671041517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671041519
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. on August 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Of all the books in the Warcraft line, I cannot say that this is my favorite, however it was one of the most intriguing.
Going way back into the days of the first Warcraft game, The Last Guardian tells the tragic story of Medivh. Since it was not well explained in the first Warcraft game, I found the chronicle of Medivh and his apprentice Khadghar to be an excellent read, and very insightful to the long history of Warcraft.
When the young wizard from Dalaran, Khadghar, is sent to Medivh's tower to be his understudy, young Khadghar is in for the greatest trial of his life. The great magus himself, Medivh, welcomes Khadghar into his tower, and Khadghar becomes his apprentice. The days and months that follow prove to be some of the most influential in the war against the Orcs.
Since there are many twists and surprises in this story, I do not wish to further my synopsis. Though it is vague, the general idea is there.
This book is very different from the others, in that it does not really focus on the war between Orcs and centralizes on Medivh and Khadghar. Although the war is a crucial part, it is not the main subject of the book. Instead, the book is entirely about Khadghar's trials within the tower and Medivh's struggle within himself. It was very different...and very good. I was pleased to see a story based on the early days of Warcraft. There are familiar characters, and the book even dabbles into the origins of the half-orc Garona, a key figure in the first Warcraft, who unfortunately was never truly explained. Her motives and origins were completely ignored in the first game, so much that even true, veteran Warcraft fans have probably long forgotten about her and her actions by now.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chip Hunter VINE VOICE on October 4, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While this is the quickest read of the three Warcraft books (with less pages and larger type set) it still does a lot to reveal some of the core history behind the world of Azeroth. The mad wizard Medivh has been a cornerstone of the Warcraft story from the begining and this book does a great job of processing the lore into something easily understood.

While Jeff Grubb isn't my favorite author, he gets a passing grade on this one. The characters are intriguing and the plot engaging. The character:character interactions were my favorite aspect (between Medivh and Khadgar, Khadgar and the orc emissary).

Quick and easy to read, but also enlightening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Sikorski on May 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book takes place right after Rise of the Horde, it takes before Warcraft 2, 3, WoW, etc. It touches a bit on the closing days of the first war in Warcraft 1 and the final pages give you a clue into Warcraft 3. The Last Guardian tells the tragic story of Medivh. Since it was not well explained in the first Warcraft game, I found the chronicle of Medivh and his apprentice Khadghar helps explain a ton of info if people are into learning about how the orcs got to Azeroth. I found it to be excellent and the story lead right into the next book Tides of Darkness where you will continue to see a few familiar faces from this story. If you're looking for the proper order to read the Warcraft books I suggest the following:

Rise of the Horde (book) - Covers approx. a 10 year period prior to WC I.

The Last Guardian (book) - Touches on the closing days of the First War with bookends set prior to WC III.

Tides of Darkness (book) - Covers WC II in continuity.

Beyond the Dark Portal (book) - Covers WC II expansion in continuity.

Day of the Dragon (book) - Wraps up some dangling threads from WC II with Deathwing and the Red Dragonflight.

Lord of the Clans (book) - Covers a wide swath from just before WC II all the way to prior to WC III. Should be subtitled All You Wanted to Know About Thrall But Were Too Much of An Alliance Lover to Ask. ;) J/k.

Of Blood and Honor (book) - Set just prior to WC III.

Warcraft III Battle Chest (game) - Reign of Chaos covers the origin of the Scourge and the return of the Burning Legion. The Frozen Throne covers the exile of Illidun, the rise of the Forsaken and the crowning of a new Lich King. Founding of Durotar covers the most recent conflict between Horde and humans prior to WoW.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Good on June 3, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
_The Last Guardian_ by Jeff Grubb is a novel set in the World of Warcraft, as depicted in the Warcraft games. It is about the mage Medivh, his tower at Karazhan, and his apprentice Khadgar.

But really, it's about the folly of trying to run someone else's life for them when they never asked or wanted you to do so.

The story begins with a look at the past, when Khadgar first came to Medivh's tower in Karazhan. Khadgar was a mage student in the mage city of Dalaran, sent to be an apprentice for Medivh because of his skill in finding out secrets no one else wanted known. That he had already found out a number of secrets the Dalaran high council would rather have kept secret was probably also one of the reasons he was sent to Karazhan.

Upon his first meeting with Medivh, Medivh burns Khadgar's letter of recommendation without even opening it, tells Khadgar what the letter said, grills Khadgar on figuring out how he, Medivh, could have known the contents without reading it (it's a form of sympathy magic), and also informs Khadgar that yes, he also knows Khadgar opened and read the letter during the journey to the tower, which Khadgar wasn't supposed to do, and he would have done the same thing in Khadgar's shoes. Khadgar is told his first job is to clean and organize Medivh's library (which looks like several tornadoes have gone through it) and the butler Moroes informs Khadgar that Khadgar is an *assistant*, not an apprentice, all supplicants to the tower start out as assistants, none have made it to apprentice, and most don't make it past a few days.
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