Lore Reveals from the Shadowlands Collector's Edition Art Book - Jailer's Plan for Helm of Domination
We received a copy of the
Shadowlands Collector's Edition
, which featured a deluxe art book with many lore reveals in addition to stunning pieces of concept art. We've compiled the major lore updates in this post, including the Jailer's plan for the Helm of Domination, so
The Shadowlands art book is divided into chapters featuring each zone - Oribos, Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenweald, Revendreth, and the Maw. Unsurprisingly, many of the juiciest revelations come from the Maw chapter.
Before we get to the Maw, let's take a quick look at what the other chapters offer.
With the Jailer occupying such prominent position in the Maw chapter, it's fitting that the Arbiter, his visual opposite, has a mention in the Oribos section.
By every joy and sorrow, the Arbiter judges all mortal souls and sets them on their intended path. Without her guidance, those souls would be forever lost within the infinite realms of the Shadowlands.
The Bastion chapter discusses the purpose of the inhabitants and role of the Val'kyr...but let's face it, we're here for the owls.
Maldraxxus houses the military might of the Shadowlands, protecting the realm from threats as we saw in
. One of the pages reveals the interesting tidbit that the First Ones created Maldraxxus, a mysterious set of godlike forces that are tied to the Pantheon of Death. While we've met the rulers of each Shadowlands realm, we don't know too much about the First Ones, so hearing about their actions is exciting.
The First Ones who shaped the cosmos knew they needed to protect the Shadowlands from external threats and beyond. Maldraxxus was their answer.
Ardenweald is closely linked to the Emerald Dream, a place where Wild Gods and other beings of nature can regenerate until they once again enter the world. In this chapter, the relationship between the Dream and Ardenweald is laid out very clearly.
Ardenweald and the Emerald Dream are opposite blooms connected to the same tree.
If the Dream is the personification of life in the waxing stage, the Ardenweald is life when it is waning.
The narrator of the Revendreth chapter is unreliable, glorifying Denathrius even though we, as the reader, know better. This narrative device was used with similar effectiveness in the
Here we see the narrator dismiss the importance of humility, referencing Revendreth's corruption and disregard for their entrusted souls.
Learned humility was supposed to be the destiny of the souls entrusted to our care. I fear those archaic ways no longer have a place within Revendreth.
We also have a line discussing the Light's attack on Denathrius' lab. As we know Denathrius is a villain and the final boss of Castle Nathria, this attack may not have been unprovoked.
The Ember Ward shall forever bear the scars of the Light’s unjust strike against the venthyr. To even humor the idea that our beloved Sire did anything to incur the Light’s wrath would be an act of sedition.
Bolvar Framing Device
The art book opens and closes with quotes from Bolvar emphasizing the evil of the Jailer and power of the Helm of Domination. The information we learn in the Maw chapter about the Jailer's plan and purpose for the Helm of Domination adds increased urgency to Bolvar's statement.
Death was not the end I believed it to be. No rest or joyous reunions in the Light awaited me. What I witnessed challenged all I knew. With my final breath, I saw impossible places – worlds within worlds brimming with beings that defied description. It wasn’t until the Helm of Domination was placed upon my head that I understood the truth I had seen: Death is not an end, but a beginning.
The Lich King
Now you have seen as I have, sights never meant for living eyes. But this knowledge will not save you. Nothing can stop what Sylvanas set into motion. Rending the veil was just the beginning. Beyond the ruined sky awaits an evil older than reality itself.
The Jailer has been amassing power within his Maw, and soon his patience shall be rewarded. Everything we sacrificed to save Azeroth will have been in vain. The only key to saving our world lies within the realm of Death.
Maw - The Jailer's Plan
The chapter on the Maw emphasizes the vile, miserable nature of this prison and the many sins of the Jailer. We open with a dark introduction to the zone and the Jailer's many crimes. Blizzard is really building up the Jailer's villainy, which is needed after several ambiguous "morally grey" expansions and plot twists that have conditioned us not to take descriptions at face value. Everything in this chapter paints the Jailer as an unredeemable character, very much in the wrong and deserving of his punishment.
In the deepest depths of the Shadowlands lies the inescapable Maw. The souls imprisoned in this hopeless realm are the unforgiven and irredeemable...
But even their crimes cannot compare to those of their Jailer.
...and so, it was decreed that he would be condemned to the Maw, where he would forever be its Jailer.
We then see artwork of the Runeforger, a mysterious character in Torghast who has lost his memories but uses his ancient knowledge to craft Shadowlands legendaries. A popular fan-theory is that the Primus, the former ruler of Maldraxxus and master tactician, is actually the Runeforger. When we step foot into Shadowlands, the Primus is already missing, but he's left messages for us to save the Shadowlands in case the Jailer defeats him.
The corresponding art book caption furthers this theory, as the Primus would have been twisted beyond recognition to serve the Jailer after years of fighting against him.
Souls damned to the Maw suffer within end. They are twisted until only a mere shade of their former glory remains. It is then that the tormented willing serve their tormentor.
A later quote on the ever-changing reality of the Maw further emphasizes how the Jailer's former enemies serve him in the Maw:
What is known is rumor, and the rumor is a nightmare. His soldiers are the very worst the damned have to offer and are eternally loyal to the very hand that broke them.
Sylvanas doesn't play a large role in this book, but we have concept art of her new armor, paired with a Mawsworn Val'kyr. Her pact with the Jailer began in the short story "Edge of Night," where she was given val'kyr as protectors in return for accepting the Jailer's bargain. This story is touched upon in the caption, reiterating the protective nature of the val'kyr.
We learn that Sylvanas' return to Azeroth, armed with val'kyr, was done with the sole purpose to take Bolvar's crown--the Helm of Domination.
He would send those val’kyr to serve as her tethers to mortality. A pact needed to be made. Only then could she return beyond the veil. Only then will the Banshee Queen claim the crown of the false king.
Finally, towards the end of the book, we learn the truth about the Helm of Domination. The crown is the key to the Jailer's plan to gain power, and as Bolvar (the "one seared by the flames of life") resisted the power inside the helm, the Jailer needed Sylvanas to defeat Bolvar and seize the helm. For the past few expansions, Sylvanas has been enhancing her powers through Death--until she was strong enough to defeat Bolvar and shatter the Helm of Domination as per the Jailer's plan.
The veil between realms wanes. The Helm of Domination was crafted to be our way forward; instead, the one seared by the flames of life uses it to keep us at bay.
Another piece of Shadowlands lore,
, strongly hints that the Nathrezim have been working for the Jailer all along. This partnership explains how the Burning Legion could have acquired the Helm of Domination and Frostmourne, with the Nathrezim serving as a liaison between the Jailer and Lich King. The Helm of Domination was a way for the Jailer to keep tabs on the Lich King, using the Burning Legion as a convenient way to unleash the power of the Maw upon Azeroth. As all past Lich Kings resisted the Jailer in some way or faced defeat on Azeroth, the Jailer has now turned to Sylvanas to unleash the power of the helm.
Final Shot - Spire of the Unseen Guests
With this talk of Nathrezim, it's only fitting that the final shot of the art book, after Bolvar's conclusion and index of Blizzard artists,
to be a glimpse of the Spire of Unseen Guests. This is the location where we find the
lore-shattering book Enemy Infiltrators
detailing the loyalties of the Nathrezim. In the language of the Dreadlords, their word for their species roughly translates into Unseen Guest--the name of this tower in Revendreth.
Blizzard has cleverly avoided mentions of the Nathrezim in the art book, just providing us with revelations on the Helm of Domination and letting us fill in the blanks. Could ending the book on this note be a hint for future patch content, beyond the initial Shadowlands zones and Castle Nathria raid? We'd be very excited to explore the cosmic-wide deception further in a future patch, especially if the spirits of past Lich Kings like Arthas would return outside the influence of the Helm!
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