The women of the World of Warcraft have long had defining impact on its storied history.
The core of World of Warcraft’s incredible game is a powerful story with sprawling lore at its heart. The rich variety of characters that carry players through these tales is a large part of why World of Warcraft has become such a household name. In honor of Women’s History Month, this article will review and explore some of Warcraft’s most iconic female characters. Horde or Alliance, human or orc, elf or naga -this is a tribute to the wonderful women of this world.
Valeera Sanguinar of Two Sides
Valeera Sanguinar has one of the most unique standpoints on political alliances in the game. Though she is a proud blood elf with love for her people, the assassin does not belong to the Horde or Alliance. Her loyalties have always been much more personal, linked to her loved ones and her ideals. She has valiantly served the Wrynn family of Stormwind for years even though she does not claim a faction. As a talented assassin, she served Varian as an advisor and bodyguard during his days as king. She now serves Anduin as his personal spy, protecting and aiding him to the best of her abilities when called. Mathias Shaw, master of spies and all assassins, himself has praised Valeera’s many remarkable talents.
Ysera the Dreamer
Ysera was the Dragon Aspect of the green Dragonflight, charged with watching and protecting Azeroth’s wildernesses from within the Emerald Dream. During World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, she was awakened from the Dream so that she and her Aspect siblings could stop their rogue brother Deathwing. With his defeat, and the dreamer’s powers depleted, she chose to stand as a mentor to those with a love in their hearts for nature. This mighty dragon met her end when she fell to the mad Xavius’s corruption. Tyrande Whisperwind and the Cenarion Circle, unfortunately, had to defeat Ysera for the greater good. However, this was not the last time Ysera would feature in the ever-changing story of World of Warcraft. With her soul’s arrival in the land of Ardenweald, she was eventually bound to the wild realm. The great drake now serves the Winter Queen as a loyal subject.
Maiev Shadowsong, Warden of the Betrayer
Maiev Shadowsong began as a priestess of the Sisterhood of Elune, one of the oldest religious orders within night elf society. When the Watchers -an elite force of night elves- formed after the War of Ancients, she volunteered to lead them. Their purpose was to guard Illidan Stormrage’s prison, and this came to consume Maiev’s very being. The night elf’s pursuit of the demon has followed them both across time, through multiple worlds and multiple wars. Her life became dedicated to Illidan and his captivity; she felt he would only bring destruction to her people and their world.
After Illidan’s departure from the Azeroth at the end of World of Warcraft: Legion, Maiev aimed her talents towards the protection and preservation of the kaldorei. She returned to Kalimdor and even joined the Fourth War that took place during World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. Maiev acted as an Alliance commander during the battle of Darkshore. Under her instruction, the night elven forces successfully pushed the Horde out of the area.
Garona Halforcen, Assassin of Kings
Garona Halforcen was the product of an orc and a Draenei, and one of the few half-breeds of the Bladewind Clan to survive past childhood. Growing up, she was ferocious, adaptive, and intelligent. The half-orc was quick to learn new languages and capable of using nearly any weapon given to her. Gul’dan even gave her two daggers made in Blackhand’s foundry by the name of Anguish and Sorrow for special assassinations. Because of her talents, she was among the first parties to raid Azeroth; this lead to her capture by the Guardian Medivh.
Meeting Medivh changed much for the assassin. Her allegiances began to shift because of the respect she felt for the magus; she was introduced to the possibility of a life away from the clutches of Gul’dan. Their relationship deepened and led to a son, a half-orc named Med’an; however, Garona’s life never simplified the way she hoped it would. After she unwillingly assassinated King Llane Wrynn, Garona swore fealty to the Horde for the sake of her son. She spent the next years of her life dealing with suspicion because of her former position as Gul’dan’s spy, maneuvering politics, and using her skills to serve multiple causes she believed in. All the while, she watched over her son from afar.
Talanji, Queen of Zandalar
Talanji, the princess and then queen of the Zandalari trolls, was a major character during World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. While the war between the Horde and Alliance raged on, Talanji’s priority was always her people. Young though she was, the princess was wise enough to recognize that the old ways of the Zandalari could not carry her empire into the next era. An alliance with the Horde, however, could. So the princess chose to strike a deal with Sylvanas Windrunner; if the Horde would send aid to the citizens of Zandalar, Talanji promised the Golden Fleet would match the might of the Kul Tiran navy in battle.
One of Talanji’s most incredible attributes was her willingness to lead on the battlefield as well as in the throne room. She maneuvered through the aggressive politics of her people while also leading expeditions to directly face threats as they arrived. Even when she lost her father, the she-troll fought through the pain for the sake of her empire and its people. She now serves as the Zandalari representative on the newly formed Horde Council. Time and time again, Talanji showed -on all fronts- what it means to be a true queen. A ruler must have nothing, for they must give everything to their subjects.
Queen Azshara, Herald of the Old Gods
Long ago, Azshara was the queen of the Kaldorei Empire. Her downfall began when she accepted an offer from the vile Sargeras to eradicate races she deemed lesser from Azeroth. The results shifted the very fabric of Azeroth, and the queen’s shortsighted plot landed Azshara and her followers in the Great Sea. This time she chose to strike a deal with the Old Gods; they transformed her and the other fallen highborne into serpent-like sea dwellers called naga. In return, the newly named naga and their queen would act as servants for the Old Gods.
Though the queen has been an enemy in past Warcraft expansions, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth saw one of Azshara’s most notable campaigns against both factions. She split the sea to bring both Horde and Alliance forces into her underwater kingdom Nazjatar. Even in the midst of war, the opposing factions chose to stand together against the Old God’s infamous servant. In the face of defeat at the factions’ hands, Azshara promised to return with the might of the throne’s true power at her behest.
Alexstrasza the Life-Binder
Alexstrasza the Life-Binder is, in many ways, the greatest dragon among her kind. An ancient creature of power, she was chosen to guard all life on Azeroth. The titans themselves declared her queen of the dragons; each of the dragonflights, as well as both the Horde and Alliance, recognize her as such. Throughout her long lifetime, she has fought wars against those of her kin as well as creatures beyond the realm of man.
While many of the dragons were arrogant, looking down on others they deemed lesser, the dragon queen held genuine love for life and its creatures in her heart. One of Alexstrasza’s finest moments came when it was time for the bronze dragon Chronormu to choose his mortal form. He was anxious about choosing the form, but Alexstrasza offered to delay the Visage Ceremony if the younger dragon needed more time. Chronormu was ready, however, so Alexstrasza officiated the ceremony.
When Chronormu chose the form of a female gnome, known to the world as Chromie, Alexstrasza said with a smile that it was nice to meet her. Chromie would go on to become another of World of Warcraft’s most iconic female characters.
Alexstrasza’s dedication to her purpose has been a driving force for decades. The dragon has seen lovers and children pass, sacrificed her own happiness many a time when the world needed more from her. To fulfill her commitment to life on Azeroth, the dragon queen has even battled two of her beloved brothers on different occasions. Neltharion, who the world knew better as Deathwing, posed such a threat that Alexstrasza and the other Aspects chose to give their very power to save the world from him. She, like Talanji mentioned above, also embodies what it means to be a true queen. For a queen must have nothing so that she may give her people everything.
Jaina Proudmoore, Daughter of the Sea
Jaina Proudmoore is one of Warcraft’s most defining characters since Warcraft III when Arthas the Lich King was rising to power. Even as a girl, Jaina’s magical potential was remarkable, her sheer potential placing her as a trainee to Archmage Antonidas. Then the Prophet Medivh urged Jaina to take survivors from the falling land of Lordaeron and flee to Kalimdor. Here, she joined the Horde beneath Thrall, and the night eves in fighting against the burning legion. She also established the city of Theramore and joined King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind as part of the Alliance.
After Archmage Rhonin died, Jaina stepped forward to lead the Kirin Tor. She tried to maintain the order’s neutrality in the beginning but then discovered the Sunreavers of Dalaran had helped their Horde brethren steal the Divine Bell. The Kul Tiran mage decided to purge Dalaran of the blood elves in the city as a penalty for their actions. This decision was reversed after the Battle of the Broken Shore in World of Warcraft: Legion, and Jaina left the Kirin Tor as a result.
Jaina came back into the limelight with the expansion World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. She was tasked with returning to her homeland, the island of Kul Tiras, in search of reinforcements. Katherine Proudmoore, Jaina’s mother, sentenced the mage to die as retribution for her father’s death years before. Once the sentence was revoked, Jaina was declared the Lord Admiral of Kul Tiras. She then joined Anduin at the frontlines of battle once more. As of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Jaina is still one of the most defining characters of the Warcraft franchise. She is recognized as the most powerful human sorceress alive.
Tyrande Whisperwind, the Night Warrior
Tyrande Whisperwind has been one of Warcraft’s main protagonists since its beginning. She, along with her husband Malfurion Stormrage, rules the ancient Kaldorei race. In addition to leading the night elves, Tyrande also stands as the leader of the Sisterhood of Elune. The goddess Elune herself chose Tyrande as the high priestess to represent her. The aforementioned priestess was once the general of the night elf sentinels; however, she passed this mantle to Shandris Feathermoon to better devote the entirety of herself to the night elves.
Tyrande was a prominent figure in the Kaldorei society even when Queen Azshara was still in power. The priestess was beautiful, powerful, and intelligent -beloved and admired by all around her. She and the Stormrage twins were key players within the resistance when their queen chose violence and death over peace. Illidan Stormrage’s adoration of Tyrande influenced many of his choices during the conflict with Azshara.
After the world was torn asunder during the War of the Ancients, Tyrande was one of the key factors in rebuilding the night elf society. Time without Malfurion, who slept in the Emerald Dream, saw Tyrande grow fierce and determined to stand between her people and the threats of the world. Yet, while it may have been tempting to stay removed from the other beings of Azeroth, she was never hesitant to step in when she thought it best for her community. The Kaldorei were her heart and soul, and the reason she fought.
Her devotion was such a core of hers that when the World Tree Teldrassil was burned, many of the elves within becoming ashes as well, Tyrande did not hesitate to invoke the wrath of Elune. She became an ancient force known as the Night Warrior, intent on seeking vengeance for everything her people had lost. Tyrande is one of the most respected leaders of the Alliance faction with an unwavering love for her subjects and their world in the depths of her soul.
The Windrunner Sisters
The Windrunner sisters have proved to have both a tragic and enduring legacy on the world of Azeroth. All three siblings have faced unspeakable horrors for their people, suffered incredible heartaches, and yet they have continued onward. Their impact on Azeroth is greater than near any other family’s, and they remain relevant even in current continuity.
Alleria Windrunner of Shadow and Light
Alleria Windrunner is the eldest of the sisters, and much was expected of her family’s place in their society. She was next in line, after her mother, to be the Ranger General of Silvermoon; However, Alleria felt her place was elsewhere. She fought against the Old Horde when it invaded Lordaeron, but it cost her greatly. Her mother Lireesa and brother Lirath both fell to the blades of the orcs. Following the orcs’ defeat, Alleria found comfort in the arms of her wartime ally, the paladin Turalyon. The two eventually married and had a son named Arator.
She and Turalyon would then lead the assault on the Dark Portal, pushing the Old Horde back into Draenor. There, they would witness the destruction of the planet, and its evolution into Outland. And during this great calamity, they would meet the prime Naaru Xe’ra and join the Army of the Light. For a thousand years, she would lead assaults against the Burning Legion on numerous worlds, before she would discover a connection to the Void. This connection has given her a different perspective from her husband and fellow Army of the Light members, and she has used this insight in her support of the Alliance. Through her influence, she was able to lead the ren’dorei, Void Elves, into joining the Alliance and bolstering their ranks. Alleria Windrunner is poised now at the edge of a precipice, caught between her connection with the shadows, and her duties to the Light.
Sylvanas Windrunner, the Banshee Queen
Sylvanas was not always the controversial figure she is now. Once she was among the most loyal of the high elves, serving her people as the Ranger General of Silvermoon. When Arthas Menethil marched upon Quel’Thalas with his undead scourge, the famed Sylvanas stood on the frontlines to defend the land she loved. Her defiance was repaid in blood and the loss of life, for she became the undead Banshee Queen of the Forsaken. As the Lich King’s power waned, Sylvanas broke free of her bonds and rallied her fellow undead against their tormentor. These Forsaken began a crusade of vengeance and retribution with Sylvanas as their voice; their intent was to see their final goal, the death of the Lich King, come to fruition.
With the Lich King’s fall, Sylvanas felt her work was done and that she could safely end her life. Her attempt to do so, however, showed her a dark truth. The afterlife she witnessed was a horrible place of tortured souls and eternal damnation. In this horrific vision, Sylvanas would be approached with an offer. Return to the mortal world, and be a part of a supposed grander plan to break an unfair and unjust cycle. Her path was set, and through trickery and deceit, she would become Warchief of the Horde. Sylvanas’s rise to Warchief led many to war and ruin as she set the stage for the Fourth War. The World Tree Teldrassil burned, the ruins of Lordaeron were blighted with plague, and the Horde and Alliance declared war once again.
When she was outed as a traitor to her allies, Sylvanas chose to move on to the next step of a master plan; the banshee attacked the new Lich King and broke his crown. The crown’s shattering tore the veil between the mortal world and the Shadowlands asunder. Though Sylvanas did assist the Jailer with his assault on the realms of death. At his side, she, too, would now suffer betrayal, discovering that she was little more than a pawn on the chessboard of a greater scheme. Though Sylvanas Windrunner’s final fate is still unknown, no one can deny the Banshee Queen has had more impact on Azeroth than many of Warcraft‘s key characters.
Vereesa Windrunner, Ranger General of the Silver Covenant
Last but not least of the Windrunner sisters is the youngest Vereesa. Many of her choices were aimed toward mimicking her older sister Sylvanas, which led the younger high elf to join the Farstriders as her sisters had before her. Vereesa was sent to serve as an escort to the Archmage Rhonin, who she would eventually fall in love with and marry. Together, they freed the Dragon Queen Alexstrasza and fought against the orcs under Deathwing’s control.
Vereesa also created the Silver Covenant, a group of high elves that rejected the blood elves joining the Kirin Tor. She chose the title Ranger General of the Silver Covenant for herself, which was a nod to the Silvermoon position. When the Horde’s actions led to the death of her husband during World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, Vereesa chose to purge Dalaran of the blood elves alongside Jaina Proudmoore. She, more than even Alleria, has fought viciously for the Alliance for a large portion of her life. Though Vereesa has not been on the frontlines recently, she stands ready should the High King of the Alliance.
Women of War…craft
World of Warcraft’s story is a significant reason so many have loved this game for years. The lore surrounding the world of Azeroth and the incredible characters of the MMORPG is nearly unrivaled. These wonderful characters make the game and its story truly immersive for its players. This tribute honors a handful of the women of the World of Warcraft, as each one has contributed to the ever-growing story in their own way. In many ways, the world of Warcraft would not exist without them. Whatever their race or faction, they are icons and definitive examples of what women everywhere are capable of.
Happy Women’s History Month from the Vibe staff!
I’m a Wonder Woman fanatic, married to my Superman, with a mild addiction to tea and World of Warcraft. One day I hope to write a book that history recognizes as a classic; it will most likely involve dragons.