Archmage Aethas Sunreaver was one of the members of the Council of Six — the ruling council of the Kirin Tor — and is the leader of the Sunreavers, a blood elven faction primarily consisting of magi. Though relatively youthful by elven standards, Aethas's ambition and magical talent quickly saw to his rapid elevation through the ranks of the Kirin Tor. Aethas was a strong supporter of the Horde, and through his and Archmage Modera's efforts to see Quel'Thalas and the Kirin Tor stand as allies once again, the blood elves and their own allies in the Horde were granted sanctuary within Dalaran. Also, the Horde district of Sunreaver's Sanctuary is named after him, referring to his high position within the Kirin Tor. He is the first blood elf known to be part of the Council of Six, as Kael'thas was a high elf during his tenure in the position.
Aethas made a return in Tides of War and Mists of Pandaria, dealing with his people's increasingly dangerous ties to Garrosh Hellscream's Horde and his own strained relations with the Kirin Tor, culminating in his expulsion from Dalaran and return to Quel'Thalas.
Aethas can be found in Dalaran during the Wrath of the Lich King era, in the Violet Citadel. His image resides in the Horde fortress of Agmar's Hammer, while Aethas himself is involved in the quest to restore the legendary elven blade Quel'Delar.
In the Shadow of the Sun
Shortly before the Northrend war, Aethas sends several letters to the Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas, Lor'themar Theron, to arrange an audience. Lor'themar deliberately ignores them at first, though Aethas simply announces his intention to visit Silvermoon City either way. He is greeted by Lor'themar, Halduron Brightwing, and less enthusiastically -- Grand Magister Rommath. Aethas informs the three of Malygos the Spellweaver's intention to wipe out all mortal magic users, and that as such, The Kirin Tor had become the crazed Aspect's enemies. He asks for his peoples' aid in the matter, though Rommath immediately denies him. Referencing the sin'dorei's slated execution in the dungeons of Dalaran, while the Kirin Tor did nothing to intervene, Rommath simply notes that they can all "rot in hell" for all he cares. He assures Aethas that none of his magisters will aid the Kirin Tor, and that as the Grand Magister, Aethas has no authority on the matter. Lor'themar stops their bickering, and has Aethas shown to his quarters. Following Lor'themar's return from failed negotiations at Quel'Lithien Lodge, Aethas reveals that several high elven members of the Kirin Tor under Vereesa Windrunner share a similar attitude. Sylvanas Windrunner later travels to Sunfury Spire to enlist the sin'dorei's aid against the Lich King, reasoning that as members of the Horde they are obligated to commit support. Despite Lor'themar's apprehension to commit troops so soon after the battle on Quel'Danas, Sylvanas is able to twist his arm enough to warrant co-operation, citing that their refusal to battle the Lich King would likely lead to further death in Quel'Thalas -- and the loss of Horde support. With the sin'dorei's presence in Northrend confirmed either way, Lor'themar agrees to support Aethas' endeavor, though makes a point that it will not be on behalf of the Kirin Tor. Lor'themar instructs Aethas to confer with Rommath, a notion Aethas expresses will probably not end too well.
In World of Warcraft
In Wrath of the Lich-King
This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
As a member of the Council of Six, Aethas was able to secure his people a place in the magical (and traditionally Alliance) city of Dalaran. Through his efforts, the blood elves' allies in the Horde were also welcomed, and Dalaran proclaimed itself an independent city. Aethas' followers took up his name, and the Horde was granted a sanctuary within the city that also bears the name of Sunreaver. Aethas sent blood elven members of the Kirin Tor to the various Horde cities and bases in Northrend, and Aethas himself appeared via projection to advise Overlord Agmar from the Horde fortress of Agmar's Hammer.
Aethas assisted members of the Horde in their battles against the Blue Dragonflight; learning of the ley lines connected to the Nexus and Malygos' plans to destroy them - sending their power back to the Nexus in turn. Aethas presents himself to Alexstrasza the Lifebinder, revealing his position on the Council of Six in the process.
After the Argent Crusade procured a foothold in Icecrown, the legendary elven blade Quel'Delar was unearthed in the frozen ice in its northern region. Though shattered by its twisted former wielder, Blood-Queen Lana'thel, the blade is ultimately restored. In the outcome of the Horde version of events, Horde heroes are tasked by Grand Magister Rommath to hand the blade to his uneasy ally in Dalaran, Aethas. For a non-blood elf, Aethas expresses curiosity that the blade would bind itself to someone not of Quel'Thalas, though praises the player nonetheless and informs them that Quel'Delar is adapting itself to their own unique abilities.
For a blood elf, Aethas is elated, giving the sin'dorei hero similar words of support as Rommath did before him. Aethas held captive in the Violet Citadel.
Ultimately, Aethas's plight to see his people readmitted into the Kirin Tor was a resounding success.
In Mists of Pandaria
This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
Tides of War
Aethas is present when Jaina Proudmoore travels to Dalaran to beseech the Kirin Tor's aid in the looming battle against Garrosh Hellscream. Though ostensibly neutral, the Six agree to discuss the possibility of lending aid as a "deterrence" to conflict of this scale. Aethas casts the deciding vote, in favour of sending a token force to Theramore. Both Aethas and Rhonin recommend a mage named Thalen Songweaver for the task.
During the battle, however, Thalen turns on his Kirin Tor comrades, revealing himself as a spy for Garrosh Hellscream, abandoning his post and assisting the Horde army in breaking through. Theramore is promptly annihilated via mana bomb, in a particularly brutal and lingering fashion.
Enraged, Jaina goes on the warpath, and travels to Dalaran once more to demand their aid. However, this time they are unwilling to give it, having lost their leader as a direct result of getting involved in the war. Aethas maintains that he had no part in Thalen's treachery, which is a devastating blow to his own cause. Aethas states that he will make any amends he can for the treachery of Songweaver, and points out the presence of traitors in any given race. He tells Jaina that the Kirin Tor breaking their neutrality for vengeance is not the answer, a sentiment the Council of Six agree with. Though agitated by this turn of events, Aethas and the Six still agree to consider all options. When denied their aid, Jaina instead steals certain tomes regarding the Focusing Iris, and leaves to bring about her own retaliation.
Later, after Kalecgos succeeds in stopping Jaina from giving the people of Orgrimmar a similar treatment to Theramore, a humbled Jaina returns to Dalaran. Having lost everything she had worked for, she apologizes for having stolen Kirin Tor tomes, and requests to join the organization as a novice. However, her actions in the face of despair have endeared her to the Kirin Tor's leaders, who offer to make her the new head of the Kirin Tor instead. Aethas is in support of this, and gives the closing speech to seal the deal.
Aethas attends Rhonin's funeral along with most of the other members of the Kirin Tor, joining in with the magical gesture of mourning and respect for their fallen leader.
Aethas is called upon by Regent Lord Lor'Themar Theron to help uncover the secrets of a mogu device found on Pandaria. Though he and Rommath make considerable progress with deducting its modus operandi, Aethas is increasing wary of Lor'themar taking orders from the regent lord's "master," Warchief Garrosh Hellscream. Likening Garrosh's penchant for such dubious methods as a reflection of Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider's own, he believes the sin'dorei will be forced to walk down the same path under Garrosh's leadership as they had under Kael's. As such, Aethas believes that the sin'dorei would do well to break their ties with Hellscream's Horde, and gives voice to such beliefs after a released sha briefly heightens his emotions.
Like Jaina, Aethas continues to take pride in the Kirin Tor's status as a place of learning and cooperation for Horde and Alliance magi alike. Rommath, however, does not share his enthusiasm; indeed, the grand magister believes that under Jaina's leadership, the Kirin Tor is now firmly in the hands of the Alliance, whether Aethas realizes it or not.
Later, Fanlyr Silverthorn conjures a Sunreaver portal at Domination Point, allowing members of the Horde to circumvent Jaina's wards around Darnassus and steal an artifact named the Divine Bell. Jaina learns of this, however; and incensed at yet another betrayal on behalf of the Horde, expels the entire organization from Dalaran. Aethas attempts to deter her from this, professing his innocence and Dalaran's status as the Sunreavers' city too, though Jaina imprisons him in the Violet Citadel and begins a purge of those unwilling to surrender.
In the midst of the chaos, Rommath leads a strike team into Dalaran to rescue Aethas and the Sunreavers. After fighting his way through the city (now mostly under the Alliance's control), Rommath succeeds in freeing Aethas from the citadel. Aethas and Rommath escape from the city, aided by dragonhawks Horde heroes had freed from Krasus' Landing. Aethas returns to Quel'Thalas, where he informs Lor'themar and Halduron of the situation, and is present to witness Lor'themar's vow to take matters into his own hands. The regent lord orders Rommath to add the Sunreavers' strength to his own, as the rescued elves are funneled back to Silvermoon via portal.
The Sunreavers are none too pleased with their expulsion from the Kirin Tor, coming to hold Garrosh (whose agents in Aethas' organization, actively supporting the Horde war effort, had led to the purge in the first place) just as responsible for it as Jaina. Though many Sunreavers made it out of the city, Aethas also makes mention that more still are held captive in the Violet Hold.
The Thunder King
Aethas accompanies Rommath, Halduron and Lor'themar to the Isle of Thunder, bringing with him a formidable amount of Sunreaver faces both new and old. Aethas is part of the Sunreaver Onslaught as a commander, advisor, and secondary leader, though he defers to Lor'themar's overall leadership. Prior to the Horde's landing on the isle, Aethas was stationed alongside Lor'themar aboard one of the regent lord's destroyers, the Crimson Treader. He is dispensed to the isle itself after the regent lord takes Horde heroes aside for a private audience.
Aethas focuses on dealing with the saurok and the mogu, routinely returning to Dawnseeker Promontory as construction of the camp progresses.
During the final stages of the assault on Lei Shen's stronghold, Aethas accompanies Lor'themar and Scout Captain Elsia to the Bloodied Crossing. He fights against Shan Bu's forces in the courtyard, and faces off against Jaina Proudmoore's group when the battle is over. Jaina demands that Aethas is handed over to her, though Lor'themar rebukes this and orders the release of the Sunreavers from the Violet Hold. Aethas is uncomfortable throughout the meeting, and witnesses Lor'themar and Jaina's truce after Taran Zhu intervenes.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
Aethas wanted to rejoin the Kirin Tor, but some members of the Council of Six still remembered the Divine Bell incident. Aethas told the Kirin Tor about his friendship with Lyandra Sunstrider who wanted to recover the runeblade Felo'melorn. Aethas said that he saw her in Icecrown Citadel as an undead, and he assuming that The Lich King is responsible for that.
Unlike his Alliance equivalent Vereesa Windrunner who is Silver Covenant faction, his in-game faction is Kirin Tor and not Sunreavers. This is very likely because he is member of the Council of Six, effectively making him one of the rulers of Dalaran, whereas Vereesa is only Rhonin's wife and thus not affiliated with Kirin Tor otherwise.
- At some point, Aethas' seemingly "out-of-no-where" appearance in the position Kael'thas Sunstrider once held was speculated to be more than coincidence -- some players suggested that Archmage Sunreaver could, in fact, have been a redeemed Kael'thas, his lack of a head being obscured by his helmet. Though clearly unlikely, a number of lore fans have taken amusement in the thought.
- [Aethas' Intensity] is named after him.
- Though Aethas and Grand Magister Rommath hold a highly antagonistic relationship, the two appear to have found some common ground during the quest to restore Quel'Delar. The two also share a similar mindset in regards to Sylvanas' treatment of Regent Lord Lor'themar; ironically, Aethas was the one to approach this point with more pragmatism, while Rommath abandoned all semblance of grace to try and make the regent lord see sense.
- By his own admission, Aethas's interests are primarily for the benefit of his people, though his desire to mediate between the Kirin Tor and Quel'Thalas has been scrutinized by individuals such as Lor'themar Theron, who holds that Aethas -- already garbing himself in the Kirin Tor's colours -- may be a dubious liaison to faithfully represent the regency's interests. This somewhat mirrors a quandary experienced by Anasterian Sunstrider in regards to Kael'thas years before; the king had pondered whether Kael would put his people or his affiliation with the Kirin Tor first during the prince's time on the Council of Six.
- Aethas apparently entrusts the task of washing his clothes to Shandy Glossgleam and his pet water elemental Aquanos, though on at least one occasion has been mortified to see his pants flung in Dalaran's fountain.
Aethas Sunreaver yells: As the leader of the Sunreavers, it is with great pride that I present <name> as the new bearer of Quel'Delar!
- Patch 5.2.0 (5-Mar-2013): Secondary leader of the new faction, the Sunreaver Onslaught.
- Patch 5.1.0 (27-Nov-2012): Appears in the Purge of Dalaran quest chain and in Silvermoon City studying a Mogu Artifact with Grand Magister Rommath.
- Patch 3.2.0 (04-Aug-2009): Aethas now wears the Sunreaver's Tabard.
- Patch 3.0.3 (04-Nov-2008): Added.