In recent days, books published by Blizzard Entertainment are more in line with the pace of the popular online game World of Warcraft‘s lore development. At the end of Cataclysm, the age of the Dragons has passed. Now, we are onto the age of the Mortals. The so-called lesser races have proven themselves that they can and they will rise up and guard this world. Dragons – the previous guardians since the age of the Titans – have lost their immortality in the battle against Deathwing who was corrupted by the Old God. They have stepped down from the guardian role. Slowly but surely, Blue Dragons have lost the notion of a dragonflight and now seek the concept of individuality. Nexus – home to the blue dragonflight – is turning into a ghost town. The world is indeed changing.
Human and Orc have been at war with each other for years. Over time, Human has gathered other races namely Dwarf, Night Elf, Gnome, Draenei, and Worgen and formed the Alliance. As for the Orc, Horde is formed with Troll, Undead, Tauren, Blood Elf, and Goblin. The Horde and Alliance are technically at war with each other. But they have briefly joined force with the Aspects of the dragonflights in the battle against Deathwing who threatened to destroy the world.
Now that Deathwing is vanquished and the world is on the path of healing, Horde is in a much stronger position compares to where they were years before. No longer the orcs are enslaved by the humans like they have in the past. Led by Thrall – the ex-Warchief – the peoples of the Horde have left Eastern Kingdoms and settled in the opposite continent, Kalimdor. Due to Cataclysm, Thrall has answered his calling, dropped his mantle as a Warchief, and has become a shaman who has a key role to play in saving the world. Before his departure, Thrall has named Garrosh Hellscream – son of Grom Hellscream who once succumbed to the demonic power but died a heroic death – as the new Warchief.
In the Universe of Warcraft, while good and evil is as clear as black and white, it has nothing to do with the races’ appearances. Horde are as honorable as the Alliance. They have bad seeds, just like the Alliance do. During the Cataclysm era, there are disgruntle voices within our online community: Do Blizzard flavor Horde? Thrall has turned into a savior while his counter part King Varian seems to have been sidelined. Horde appear to have gained ground against the Alliance across the world. Supporters of the Alliance have made a long list in justifying their claim that Blizzard has indeed flavored the Horde.
I am concerned, of course. Because it seems to me that Blizzard is making a U-turn in order to please and retain the fans. In the online game, we know that the fall of Theramore once ruled by Lady Proudmoore is the trigger of a new war between the Horde and the Alliance. We also know that at the end of this new Mists of Pandaria expansion, the Horde capital Orgrimmar will be raided and Hellscream will be defeated – by Alliance and Horde alike. As a keen observer of the lore, this a very bold plot development. Blizzard is going to upset a lot of people. This is a big gamble. But, if played right, this plot twist may well bring the entire franchise back to its very root.
As a fan of this franchise – be it as a Horde or Alliance supporter – I welcome this twist. Let’s put war back to Warcraft. In order to fully appreciate this wind of change, Christie Golden has written an excellent book called Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War. I have read quite a number of her novels. This book again moves me to tears. The scale of war is nothing like what I have read before (within this franchise that is). Garrosh Hellscream has a plan. He is not agreeable to the ex-Warchief’s vision of peace. Garrosh wants to bring glory to the Horde. More specifically, he wants to be the leader who finishes off what Thrall – in his eyes – has failed to do. Readers of Christie Golden would immediately recognize that while Garrosh is hotheaded, he is one great tactician when it comes to warfare. He would sacrifice all that he has in order to achieve a goal. But he would also retreat if the tactical advantage is no longer viable. He does not listen. But he values loyalty and he does not hesitate in exerting authority over his people and other Horde races. Horde leaders such as Baine and Vol’jin do not agree with Garrosh’s thirst for war. Both have secretly negotiated peace with the Alliance in the past through diplomacy means. But for their peoples’ survival’s sake, they answer to Garrosh’s call for arm because Horde units, even when it is fragmented within. Such is the political difference between the two factions.
Jaina Proudmoore’s Theramore is of a strategic military importance to the Alliance. The city is located by the sea, in Kalimdor, south of Orc Capital Orgrimmar, and has a key route to Night Elf’s home land up north. Garrosh’s vision is clear. Destroying Theramore is only the first step. His military plan is to barraade Kalimdor from Alliance’s reinforcement, and ultimately drive out or exterminate the night elves in the north. Both the Undead and the Blood Elf are uneasy about Garrosh’s plan. Because their capitals lie in Eastern Kingdoms. Alliance will retaliate and they will be the first to suffer. But like Tauren and Troll, it is either follow Orc’s command or face isolation. That leaves them little options.
While Garrosh vision is sound, the execution can be less than honorable. Slowly, we can see how power corrupts Garrosh and turns him into a tyrant, a dictator who will stop at nothing unless his goal is attained. This time, there is no demonic corruption to be blamed. Nor the Old Gods. It is pure greed and ambition of the mortals, which is something new in the lore.
The center figure of this new book is of course Jaina Proudmoore. I have been following Jaina’s story for years, mainly because in the early days of this online game, I enjoyed role playing as a human. Jaina is one of the – if not the – most powerful living human mage. If you roll a mage class like I do, she is the role model to look upon.
Due to her heritage, she rules Theramore and was romantically linked to the then-human prince Arthas who turned into Lich King. While her family was slaughtered by the Horde, she believes that most Horde are as honorable as the Alliance and that diplomacy is the key to peace.
Imagine her emotional shock when Garrosh has launched an assault to Theramore. As an attempt to halt the assault, she has to plead for help from the neutral organization Kirin Tor residing in the magical city of Dalaran, from her new friend Kalecgos the ex-Aspect of Blue Dragonflight, and from King Varian the leader of Alliance. This is one spectacular battle when we get to see first hand the transformation of Jaina as well as King Varian stepping up as a war strategist. This war does not end when the book does. It is going to be escalated as more stories unfold in the World of Warcraft.
Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War is a must read for the fans and the lore lovers.