With the time until the release of Mists of Pandaria down to just hours, I happened to have the fortune of finally read Christie Golden’s Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War. Outside of the short stories on the official website, this is my first foray into Warcraft lore beyond the game. I enjoyed the trip immensely.
The book has two focuses: the story of Jaina and her experience losing Theramore, and the story of the Horde and their role in the devastation. The Horde story was mainly told from Baine Bloodhoof’s viewpoint. Baine clearly has no love for Garrosh, but even without the tauren’s discriminations, Garrosh’s actions do not acquit him well. The struggle Baine goes through balancing his dislike for his warchief with his need to protect the Tauren provides much of the internal Horde conflict.
Internal conflict drives the book, but physical conflict has plenty of time to shine. The first third of the book is set up for the siege of Theramore. The second third of the book is the siege proper, and the final third is aftermath. When 5.0.4 went live, I found some spoilers about the battle, and in particular who would die. Reading through the first half of the book, knowing who had to make it to Theramore to meet their ultimate fate, and tracking who had to leave to ensure that they would avoid it was surprisingly enjoyable. I can only wonder if knowing who would die dampened some of the impact of their loss, especially in the case of characters introduced just for the book.
Tides of War gets particularly interesting in the final act. There’s a lot of combat between major NPC’s, including one duel I didn’t expect, with surprising consequences. The ending seems to foreshadow the coming Siege of Orgrimmar (almost to the point that I thought it would happen before the end of the novel). I’ve seen some complaints about the final choices that Jaina makes. I felt like everything played out logically, and Jaina made the decisions that were true to herself. She reacts to the loss of her city appropriately, and the resolution of the book only comes when she begins to resolve her own feelings of anger, sorrow, and grief.
Christie Golden’s writing serves the topics fittingly. She does especially well when given room to elaborate on characters thoughts and motivations, which is one of the big reasons to read the book in addition to playing the game. The game simply does not allow for players to experience the inner monologues of NPC’s, nor should it. Books like these are great ways to explore that space without it feeling awkward or forced. I also appreciated Golden’s ability to describe events from different viewpoints.
When characters from the Horde and Alliance collide, even though we’ve been following them for hundreds of pages, they don’t know each other, and as Golden stays in a given perspective; she only describes the other characters using that perspective. For example, when the Blackrock orc Malkorok duels Jaina’s bodyguard Pained during the assault, the fight is described from his viewpoint. We are told he is fighting a rather skilled blue-haired night-elf, and we are left to conclude that it is Pained based on Golden’s earlier descriptions of the character. She also does well describing spell and power usage. Every time she describes a character casting a spell or using an ability, the spells and abilities occur as they would in game, so events feel like they are playing out in the World of Warcraft.
That is probably the most disappointing aspect of the book; as much as it is like the game, it does not happen in the game. It takes place over the course of a few weeks, and it would have been nice if these events could have been reflected over a similar timeframe. It would have been nice to see Horde armies massing in Durotar and the Barrens, then moving towards Northwatch and Theramore and camping for a week, and to see ships moving around Kalimdor’s coast to reflect their positioning in the novel. Despite our specific (and divergent) role in game, it would be nice to know that the rest of the events are playing out as described, and to be able to witness them.
Overall, I enjoyed Tides of War, but I tend to enjoy lore. It is light enough reading, and provides a further understanding of the thoughts of major characters of Azeroth going into Mists of Pandaria. The book does little to set up the actual events at the opening of the expansion, but it does provide all the backstory behind the much-maligned Fall of Theramore. That alone justifies a reading, but that’s not the only reason. The leaders of Azeroth are all arriving at an inevitable conclusion: Garrosh Hellscream cannot be allowed to rule as Warchief. Having read Tides of War, I’m starting to agree.
Blizzard is giving out free faction shirts for Xbox avatars. No better way to celebrate a PC release than with a console promtion! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/7346801/Free_Horde_and_Alliance_Shirts_for_your_Xbox_Avatar-9_22_2012
Blizzard posted a preview of Tier 14 armor. I didn’t realize monk’s had a lamp spec. http://us.battle.net//wow/en/blog/7198945
Quest for Pandaria is available for reading now. When am I going to have time to play if I’m so busy reading??? http://us.battle.net/wow/en/game/lore/destination-pandaria/quest-for-pandaria/part-1/1
Fishing tournaments have been temporarily disabled until an upcoming patch. That’s one way to keep people from getting salty about Cross-Realm Zones. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/6522902877?page=4#67
Blizzard developers have been doing tons of interviews these last few weeks. Its almost like they have something to promote.