His statue stands in the most esteemed position outside of Stormwind. He was one of the original five founding knights of The Silver Hand. He was Anduin Lothar’s right hand man in the Second War. But perhaps most impressive of all, it was he who defeated Orgrim Doomhammer, and led the original Alliance expedition into Outland.
He is one of the most revered characters in WarCraft lore, yet we haven’t seen him since WarCraft 2.
So where is he? I have a pretty good guess.
Turalyon’s absence boils down to an even larger issue in WarCraft lore, one that Blizzard’s creative development department has been trying to patch for years. We all seen it on the forums, and I’ll say it here:
Weak Alliance lore.
No this isn’t Alliance bashing. In fact it’s one of the most vocal complaints among lore-dorks who play Alliance.
The Horde have something the Alliance don’t– Thrall. Or more specifically, their “Thrall”. Yes, he’s that important. Thrall is the epitome of what many players feel it means to be, “Horde”.
Alliance do not have that. They do not have a character that embodies their spirit. They may have Kings. They may have priests. But they do not have a leader. Yes, the Alliance *factions* may have leaders, but the Alliance as a whole does not. Now sure, today Alliance players point to King Wrynn. Blizzard even touted him as the “Anti-Thrall” when he was introduced. There’s no way around this so I’m just going to say. Simply put:
As a character, for the over-arching role he is meant to play, King Wrynn is weak. I don’t mean he’s physically or emotionally weak; I mean from a lore standpoint he simply doesn’t have a real foundation when compared to other characters. King Wrynn appeared in the game with a big question hovering over his head, “Who is this guy?!” When King Wrynn was introduced, Blizzard had to scramble to answer that question. They even dedicated an entire comic book series to answering it.
You’re not going to counter Thrall with a character we as players have no history with. We know Thrall. In WarCraft 3 we *were* Thrall. On Blizzard’s part, it was wishful thinking to believe they could conjure up a character from mid-air, issue a comic book, and declare, “Here he is! The Alliance’s answer to Thrall!”
WarCraft, stripped of everything else, is what it has been since WarCraft 1, “Orcs and Humans”.
The heart of the orcs, the heart of the Horde, is the spirit of Orgrim Doomhammer.
And the heart of the humans, the heart of the Alliance, is the spirit of Anduin Lothar.
Thrall is the spiritual successor of Doomhammer.
Lothar’s spiritual successor… is Turalyon.
*That* is the ultimate issue with Alliance lore. If is a faction missing its heart, its fearless leader. As Thrall embodies what it means to be “Horde”, so does Turalyon embody what it means to be “Alliance”.
King Wrynn, dare I say, is the Alliance equivalent of Garrosh. He is the spiritual successor of an important side character. What he is not is the embodiment of his faction.
The Alliance leadership has been a cast of important side characters. Tyrande instead of Malfurion, Magni instead of Muradin, and now Wrynn instead of Turalyon.
Whether we consciously realize it or not, the faction leaders we gravitate towards in WoW are the ones we have a history with, ones we may have even played in previous WarCraft games. Thrall, Cairne, Sylvanas, all characters we’ve played. No wonder Horde lore is so nostalgic.
You could dump Turalyon in the game tomorrow and he’d arguably already have a closer relation to the player base than King Wrynn.
Sure, you might argue that. How could newer players relate to a character that has not been seen for almost 15 years? Ah, but that is my point. Newer Alliance players do experience Turalyon. They experience him every day. They experience his absence, and they notice it. Turalyon is that unnamed crux lacking from Alliance lore that Alliance players regularly mention but just can’t quite put their finger on.
So… where is Turalyon?
He’s with his wife, Alleria, either fighting the Burning Legion, or a prisoner of it.
It’s obvious that at some point in the early development of “World of Warcraft” Blizzard decided to have Turalyon be an ace up their sleeve. He’s a major lore character they could use to add importance to a later expansion. Blizzard gutted the Alliance with this attitude as the same fate befell Malfurion Stormrage.
Worse, as with Malfurion, when Blizzard decided to play their winning card, instead of giving their long awaited hero a grand entrance, they instead dumped him into a book, 0ff-game, and made the in-game introduction little more than a character in a field with a question mark over his head.
This is what I worry is in store for Turalyon.
At this point, it makes sense that Turalyon will appear in the game when the Burning Legion returns, probably in the final expansion in which we face Sargeras.
If Blizzard remains on its current course, here is what I speculate:
A novel will be released re-introducing us to Turalyon prior to the launch of the final expansion. In game, Turalyon will be little more than a quest giver with a question mark over his head. Call me a pessimist, but this is exactly what happened to both Malfurion and Jarod Shadowsong. At this point I think I’m just being a realist.
As of now, lore wise, I think Blizzard has jumped the shark with WoW. Right now, they’re simply rehashing WoW Vanilla (Nefarian, Ragnaros, C’Thun, Deathwing. Count on it.) I know that every game has its own team, but I think the higher-ups who oversee everything (like Metzen) are spread thin focusing on StarCraft 2 (awesome lore), Diablo 3, and Titan (the successor to WoW).
Ideally I hope Blizzard gets Turalyon back into the game as soon as possible. Turalyon should have returned at the beginning of The Burning Crusade to lead the Alliance. He may not be royalty, let alone a king, but he is the leader of the Alliance, whether he’s in the game or not.