High King of Quel'Thalas, Anasterian Sunstrider
High King of Quel'Thalas
Anasterian Sunstrider was the High King of Quel'Thalas, a descendant of the royal bloodline established by King Dath'Remar Sunstrider. His reign, which lasted at least 2,800 years, was marked by several conflicts that threatened the continued existence of Quel'Thalas, ending with his death at the hands of the evil Prince Arthas Menethil during the Scourge Invasion of Quel'Thalas.
As decreed by his son and successor, Prince Kael'thas, Anasterian was to be the very last king of the high elves. Kael's own successor, the regent lord Lor'themar Theron, has also upheld this, acknowledging Anasterian and Kael'thas as the last elves with a right to kingship over Quel'Thalas.
King Anasterian was the monarch of Quel'Thalas when the sister blade of Quel'Serrar, the powerful Quel'Delar, was handed to the high elven king personally by Alexstrasza the Life-Binder. In turn, Anasterian granted the mighty blade to Thalorien Dawnseeker, who would wield it for years to come.
Reigning during the Troll Wars against the resurgent Amani Empire, Anasterian saw that his people were hard-pressed to keep the forest trolls at bay and were perilously close to defeat. Anasterian hit upon a radical idea: His scouts had reported that a human nation named Arathor had recently formed to the south. One tribe had risen to dominance through the simple expedient of offering amnesty to the people it defeated. That such a strategy was new among humans was a testament not only to the youth of their race, but also to their willingness to gain strength via clear-sighted pragmatism.
Although the humans had no spellcasters, Arathor had a sizeable population. Anasterian was certain there had to be humans with magical talent. They merely needed training in order to be useful in combat. He, therefore, dispatched ambassadors to the Southlands with all speed.
King Thoradin of Arathor greeted the ambassadors with surprise and wary courtesy. He had been hearing rumors of the high elves' plight for months, but he had not suspected that the trolls posed a truly significant threat. The weary elves warned the king that the troll armies were vast. Should Quel'Thalas fall, the trolls would certainly besiege Arathor next.
The king was distrustful of magic, but he could not deny that the elves had a point. Further negotiations ensued until at last Anasterian and Thoradin had reached an agreement. Almost immediately, elven sorcerers arrived in Arathor and began to instruct a group of humans in the ways of magic. One hundred men were taught the very basics of the elves' magical secrets: no more than was absolutely necessary to combat the trolls.
In addition to these new spellcasters, Thoradin sent his armies to the battlefront. Together, the humans and high elves ultimately achieved victory over the trolls, who would never fully recover from their defeat. Assured that Quel'Thalas was saved from destruction, the elves made a pledge of loyalty and friendship to the nation of Arathor and to the bloodline of King Thoradin, a blood debt that King Anasterian would not be coerced into repaying until years later.
During the Second War, Anasterian was largely unconcerned with the threat of the orcs rampaging through Lordaeron, considering it a problem that could not touch Quel'Thalas and thus not worth the high elves addressing. After Terenas Menethil sent a request of help, Anasterian sent only a token army to Hillsbrad. After the orcs joined forces with the Amani trolls (the Amani themselves ever-eager to see Quel'Thalas burn,) he was approached by Alleria Windrunner, who attempted to open his eyes to the threat. Still reluctant, the high elven king finally changed his tone when Alleria hurled an Amani head at his feet, which roused Anasterian to anger. Kicking it away and enraged at the trolls' nerve, the king ordered the high elven warriors and rangers to crush the Amani once and for all.
King Anasterian reluctantly joined the Alliance of Lordaeron, honor-bound to fulfill the pledge to the Arathi, of whom Lord Anduin Lothar was the last. Anasterian was forced to contribute more of Quel'Thalas's armies when the outer forests were attacked by the Horde, and despite the elves' desire to stay out of the war, their hand had been forced.
When the Horde invasion had been routed and the orcs had abandoned the battle in favor of besieging Lordaeron, Anasterian seized the opportunity to rid himself of the beleaguered Amani forever. The king dispatched magi and priests (among them high priestess Lady Liadrin) to bolster the Farstriders' ranks and hopefully wipe out the trolls for good.
Ultimately, the Horde was to fall and placed into internment camps. With his blood debt paid and Lothar dead, Anasterian became an aloof member of the Alliance. The high elves came to realize that the increasingly strained Alliance needed them far more than they needed it, and after a period of mutual coldness between the humans and their elven allies, Anasterian resolved to officially secede his nation.
In the aftermath of the war, the high elves as a whole began to doubt the value of the Alliance. Humanity seemed to need the high elves, but had little to offer in return, especially now that a large portion of Alliance resources was allotted toward maintaining the internment camps. Anasterian had led efforts to drive the Amani trolls from Quel'Thalas while the main Alliance army went to besiege Blackrock Spire. He would later accuse the Alliance of abandoning his people, although not all high elves believed him. Even so, enough did justify leaving the Alliance.
At last Anasterian rescinded the high elves' allegiance to the Alliance. He stated that the humans' poor leadership had been directly responsible for the burned forests in the borderlands of Quel'Thalas. King Terenas Menethil argued that nothing of Quel'Thalas would have survived if not for the hundreds of valiant humans who gave their lives to defend it. Despite his attempts at reestablishing diplomatic relations, however, the elves opted to remain independent of the crumbling Alliance. Anasterian's secession sparked the domino effect that led to the Alliance of Lordaeron splintering almost completely: Gilneas and Stromgarde followed Anasterian's example and removed themselves from the increasingly deteriorating Alliance.
Anasterian's declining health continued to falter in the following years, and the aged king's public appearances grew less frequent. Nonetheless, he attended Lor'themar Theron's ceremonial promotion to the rank of Ranger Lord, and wished him continued success.
Still reigning over Quel'Thalas at the time of the Third War, despite his advanced age, Anasterian spared little thought for the plight of the humans in Lordaeron; true to the past, believing it to be a human issue than the high elves would not deign to trouble themselves with.
Anasterian himself was located on the Isle of Quel'Danas with the Magisters when word began to spread of an unprovoked undead invasion from the freshly-destroyed ruins of Lordaeron. When the Scourge breached Silvermoon City, Anasterian and the surviving elves gathered aboard their fleet and retreated to the island.
After Arthas arrived on the shores of the Isle of Quel'Danas, he was met by the high king of Quel'Thalas himself. Anasterian swiftly went about destroying the path of frost that Arthas had created over the ocean, wreaking havoc upon it with his fiery magic and forcing the displaced undead into the ocean. He then proceeded to cut a swath of destruction through the undead hordes near the shore. Clad in his armor, Lu'minellia and wielding his ancient runeblade Felo'melorn in conjunction with a powerful Kaldorei crystal nestled atop his staff, Anasterian ferociously fought back the invaders, knowing this would likely be his last battle. His powerful casting was disrupted when Arthas charged the high elven king personally.
But even his unyielding will and extraordinary powers proved insufficient against the merciless Death Knight. King Anasterian fought a valiant but ultimately hopeless battle against Arthas, the outcome of which the elves knew would decide the fate of them all; elves and Scourge alike turned to watch the duel between their rulers play out. Though both his formidable martial prowess and spellcasting proved an apt counter to the corrupted prince's dark powers, Anasterian's three millennia hindered him in his last, desperate battle to protect his people. The high elves' hopes were raised when despite the unfavorable odds, Anasterian managed to severely wound Arthas's necromantic steed, Invincible, by severing its forelegs, though the act only served to enrage the forcibly dismounted Arthas further. Warping behind the prince, Anasterian attempted to decapitate him but was caught in a blast of howling ice. Felo'melorn and Frostmourne clashed, the former shattered in two on collision. Anasterian buried his broken blade deep in the prince's thigh, but Arthas fought on and Anasterian fell under the weight of Frostmourne, which cut through the ancient elven blade and stole the soul of its owner.
Anasterian's corpse was secured by the brothers Solanar and Falon, to save the king the fate of undeath.
Anasterian's son, Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider, survived the fall of Quel'Thalas and indeed the entire Third War. In the wake of the high elven kingdom's destruction, Kael'thas proclaimed his people reborn as blood elves, in honor of Anasterian and all of the elves who had perished. Kael'thas recovered his father's broken runeblade and later reforged it.
Anasterian was cremated on a funeral pyre in a reclaimed portion of Silvermoon after Prince Kael'thas had said his private farewells.
Wrath of the Lich King
During the Quel'Delar questline, after returning to Myralion Sunblaze or Caladis Brightspear, Blood-Queen Lana'thel replays the events of Quel'Delar's bestowal to the high elves, images of Alexstrasza, Thalorien Dawnseeker, and King Anasterian Sunstrider appear during the small scene, which shows Anasterian granting the blade to Thalorien.
Battle for Azeroth
In visions from the past during the Heritage of the Sin'dorei questline, a vision of Anasterian Sunstrider can be seen alongside High Priest Vandellor, Grand Magister Belo'vir, and High Priestess Liadrin at Sun's Reach Sanctum on the Isle of Quel'Danas before going to fight the invading Scourge. The vision then fought Arthas on the southern tip of Quel'Danas and fell.
Prince Kael'thas decreed that King Anasterian would be the very last king of the high elves and chose to style himself with various other titles instead. Despite Anasterian's decision to remove himself and Quel'Thalas from the Alliance, following the Scourge attack on Silvermoon, some of the elves claimed that it was the humans who had abandoned them in their darkest hour, citing this to justify their eventual membership in the Horde. Anasterian had claimed that the Alliance had abandoned his people during the Second War, although not all elves agreed with him. Anasterian's secession left bitter memories for the Alliance, who looked upon the surviving elves with wariness and distrust, and this time expressed no interest in fighting for Quel'Thalas. Anasterian's long reign would not be matched by his only son, whose own period of rule was cut short after his demise in the same place as his father: the Isle of Quel'Danas.
Though not specifically seen, with the shattering of Frostmourne it is safe to say King Anasterian's spirit was finally able to pass on, with the other imprisoned victims of the cursed blade.
The designated regent lord of Quel'Thalas, Lor'themar Theron, now rules the elven homeland after the fall of its royal family. Lor'themar had reflected on the decisions made by Anasterian and does not fault the elven king for them, acknowledging the burden of leadership he bore to be something one cannot simply be taught, only experienced.
King Anasterian is remembered fondly by his people; to this day, the Sin'dorei are known to charge into battle with the name of their fallen king upon their lips. Lady Liadrin described Anasterian's death as a huge blow to Quel'Thalas, writing that for many of her people, their hearts and hopes died with their beloved king.
Anasterian was a fiercely proud monarch who prioritized Quel'Thalas's interests above all else. Despite owing a blood debt to humanity for their part in the Troll Wars, Anasterian was hesitant to assist the humans against the Old Horde years later, seeing no threat to his own kingdom, and only truly dedicated resources to the conflict when his own people were threatened once more. When the Second War was done and his debt was paid, Anasterian saw no further use for the Alliance, criticizing its apparent failings during the war, and seceded his nation. Terenas Menethil II was appalled by this and attempted to re-establish relations, arguing that nothing would remain of Quel'Thalas if not for the humans who had given their lives to defend it; but the high elf king was unmoved, and chose to keep his kingdom independent. In a twist of fate, Anasterian's death would be at the hands of Terenas's own son.
He cared deeply for Kael'thas, his only son, who was left shattered and lost by his father's death.
Ultimately, Anasterian remains a divisive figure. Some argue that he was simply a pragmatist who did all he could for his kingdom and people, forging and ending alliances as a means to that end. Others consider him a self-centered leader and an ungrateful ally whose kingdom benefited from the very sacrifices he himself scorned.
King Anasterian is described as a highly aged man, with long white hair and a pale complexion, his skin thin and his tone having long turned soft. However, his powerful voice still carried the unmistakable hints of his authority. He had piercing blue eyes that had not been diluted by the pangs of advanced age, though little else had been spared of his once slender and powerful body. His anger flaring, even at such an age, was fearsome to behold.