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"World of Warcraft: Tides of War" by Christie Golden: Book Review
Read "Tides of War" Today
Please note: This is a spoiler-free review of the book. Although the book's main event is well-known to most "World of Warcraft" fans, I have deliberately kept it out for those who are unaware of the plot and wish to read the surprises for themselves.
“Tides of War” is my first foray into the realm of “World of Warcraft” novelizations. The author, Christie Golden, has written several other novelizations, including the novels release prior to the “Cataclysm” expansion. I never read those books simply because I'd rather see the game's lore in the game itself. Many fans, including myself, felt frustrated that many of the developments involved in the “Cataclysm” expansion required reading from the books. For example, the development of Thrall's love interest, Aggra, happens mostly in the pre-Cataclysm books and not in the actual game.
The game's developers have indicated that the lore surrounding “Mists of Pandaria” will occur more within the game this time around. However, because I have long been a Jaina Proudmoore fan, I decided to give this book a try.
“Tides of War” takes place after the events of the last patch of “Cataclysm.” The former Aspects are putting their lives back together after defeating Deathwing. The Horde and Alliance citizens are still rebuilding from the conflict's destruction. Life is more or less returning to normal in Azeroth. However, it's clear all is not well. The Focusing Iris, a powerful artifact of the Blue Dragons, has disappeared and is presumed stolen. Garrosh Hellscream, meanwhile, prepares the Horde for an all-out war against the Alliance. Jaina Proudmoore, our protagonist, finds herself on a journey that will send her into conflict with both the Blue Dragons and the Horde.
Although this novel centers on Jaina Proudmoore, you will see a number of very familiar faces throughout the entire novel, including Thrall, Baine Bloodhoof, Vol'jin and of course, Garrosh Hellscream. Baine Bloodhoof, in particular, is one of the better characters in the book. He would make a fine star of his own novel, someday. A few other faction leaders, including Sylvanas and Gelbin Mekkatorque, make only limited appearances. If you got a bit tired of Thrall (Go'el), during “Cataclysm,” don't worry: Thrall only makes a few appearances in this novel.
In addition, you will see some previously minor characters find their own voice in this novel. Kalecgos, the leader of the Blue Dragons, plays a pivotal role in the book. Rhonin, leader of the Kirin Tor in Dalaran, is also a major figure. If you've been playing “World of Warcraft” for a few years, there are very few names you won't recognize. Kinndy Sparkshine, Jaina's gnome mage apprentice, is one of the likeable new characters that was created just for this novel.
As I mentioned, however, this novel focuses on Jaina, so it is Jaina you will see develop the most. If you do not already know a lot about Jaina, you will learn plenty during the course of her story. Frequent mentions are made about her conflict with her father and the downfall of her one-time paramour, Arthas Menethil. Jaina is written very much in the way she's portrayed in the games: as a peaceful individual who will do anything to protect Theramore.
However, even if you're not a Jaina fan, I think you'll still find plenty to enjoy. Horde fans, for example, will find that that this book has a lot of content for them. The dissenting opinions among the sympathetic Horde characters appeal especially to Tauren and Troll fans. Alliance fans will find plenty of other Alliance characters in addition to Jaina, including Varian Wrynn.
The storyline is fairly basic in this book. If you paid any attention to the bits of lore that have come out before the release of “Mists of Pandaria,” you'll already know exactly what the major event of the novel is. However, even fully knowing what's coming, it still hits you hard with shock. What happens to Jaina after will not come as much of a shock, especially if you've read a lot of other fantasy novels. However, just because something has done before doesn't mean it can't be done again with a fresh coat of paint. Golden's writing really shines in the aftermath of the major event. Her writing is emotional and poignant. Some of the more emotional passages are quite beautiful and even haunting, quite fitting for a book that deals with so many raw emotions. This story has been told before, but it's more gripping than anything you'll find in the in-game text boxes.
Read "Tides of War" Today
Golden's style in the first half of the book is brisk and functional, even bordering on too simplistic. As this is the first book of Golden's I have read, I assume this is just her style. But, it felt as though she saved up her creative writing skills for the last half of the novel. When the action really heats up, her style becomes more descriptive and interesting. Perhaps she did not have the freedom to choose the length of the book and wanted to save the bulk of her word count for the parts of the book everyone was looking forward to the most.
However, her style blends well with the type of writing you see in the game. If you're a devoted fan of the game, this book will certainly add a new flavor of lore to your next playing session.
For someone who had never even touched a “World of Warcraft” novelization, this book proved to be a real treat. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading, but I am greatly satisfied with what I found. I highly recommend reading this book if you are interested in the lore of the "World of Warcraft" games.