Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Jaina Proudmoore Tides of War

WoW week continues on my blog with a review of Jaina Proudmoore Tides of War (JP ToW), a novel that came out about a month ago.  Before I continue, time for my usual


Spoilers ahead!

If you haven't read Jaina Proudmoore Tides of War 
and don't want what's in it spoiled for you , then STOP READING NOW!   

You have been warned!


First, this novel will be more appreciated by those who are familiar with WoW lore, and the more familiar and appreciative you are of WoW lore, the more you'll like the novel.  Basically, it's like the Harry Potter series.  If you enjoyed one HP book, then you likely enjoyed them all.

Jaina Proudmoore is a human mage and the leader of the city of Theramore, the only human settlement in Azeroth's continent of Kalimdor.  While Jaina and her city are officially part of the Alliance faction, she more prides herself on her neutrality.  Jaina in our world would be known as a liberal peacenik, as she tends to favor peace and diplomacy over war.  In fact, her preference for peace and neutrality are so well known that even members of the Horde (the opposing faction of the Alliance) know of her reputation for pacifism.  The Horde's leaders have even gone to her first before approaching the Alliance's leader, King Varian Wrynn.  Wrynn is a bit of a hothead and also has a major hatred for the Horde, so it is easier for them to go through Jaina first before approaching him. 

Jaina's openness to relations to the Horde are largely because of her friendship with its former leader, Thrall (who is now going by his birth name, Go'el), Jaina's friendship with Thrall was very warm, and there had even been questions as to whether they were more than "just friends".  That particular question was settled, however, with Thrall's marriage to Aggra.  Jaina's friendship with the Horde, however, does not extend to its new warchief, Garrosh Hellscream.  In truth, Garrosh pretty much hates everybody, so it's no surprise that he is not friends with Jaina.  Garrosh actually looked upon Thrall's friendship with Jaina as a weakness, as he views all members of the Alliance as weaklings and cowards.  While Garrosh does not like Jaina, Jaina did not in turn hate Garrosh.  Not at that time, anyway. 

This changes in the novel, JP ToW.  Garrosh was always ambitious, and he also felt like the Horde should be conquerors rather than "the other faction" of Azeroth.  When Thrall left the leadership of the Horde to him, it was to give him something to do.  A little WoW lore is necessary here:  Garrosh has always been a little too fond of warfare, and the Horde's battle with the Lich King gave Garrosh an outlet for his warring ways.  After the Lich King was defeated, Thrall and other Horde leaders were concerned that Garrosh would chafe with no more war to be fought, and who knows what peacetime might push him into doing.  Thrall felt that if Garrosh was made warchief, then the responsibilities of the position would keep him busy - and out of trouble.

Unfortunately, he couldn't have been more wrong.  Instead of taking up leadership of the Horde as Thrall had made it, Garrosh used his new authority to become a dictator, and went about honing the Horde's armies into a war machine.  Here now is where it affects Jaina.  One of Garrosh's targets was Theramore, because he felt that a human settlement has no business being in Kalimdor - especially with a peacenik leader like Jaina Proudmoore.  After arranging a feint attack, Garrosh's army retreated and seemingly handed a victory to the Alliance.  However, this feint turned out to be a set-up to attract many of the Alliance's military leaders and persons of influence to be concentrated into one location - so that a massive bomb could be dropped on them. 

Theramore was destroyed by a giant mana bomb, with very few survivors.  Jaina, however, was one of the survivors.  Now, I have to say here that this novel seems to have been written to answer a question:  What would drive a long-time and well-known pacifist into a murderous rage?  The nuking of Theramore, apparently, was it.  Jaina was driven insane with anger over the destruction of her city.  So insanely angry was she that she crafted a spell of a gigantic tidal wave with the intent to flood the capital city of the Horde: Orgrimmar. Because Thrall is a shaman, he is in contact with the elements, and the elements gave him a vision warning him of what Jaina was planning to do. 

He rushed over to where Jaina was building up the tidal wave and tried to persuade her to stop, and used his shamanistic skills to keep the tidal wave in check while he talked to Jaina.  However, she was beyond reasoning, even from someone she once considered a good friend.  It took the persuasion of someone who now appears to be a love interest to talk her down, and that is the dragon aspect (in human form) Kalecgos.

Now here is where the book gets problematic for me.  In order to create this tidal wave, Jaina made off with a magic artifact known as a focusing iris and a spellbook from the mage city of Dalaran.  After Jaina came to her senses, she was invited to become the leader of Dalaran.  Quite a bit of forgiveness for someone who stole these items with the intent to commit mass murder!  Granted, she was driven by grief and rage over losing Theramore, but still....  

It seems to me that the more logical course of action was for her to make amends in some form or fashion first before bestowing upon her this title.  For all we know, she might try to use the many magical artifacts that she now has access to in order to try another attempt to destroy Orgrimmar.  Other than this part of the book, I enjoyed the book; especially the exploration of Jaina's psyche as she confronts her beliefs in pacifism after her city is destroyed in a horrifying act of war.  But again, I think forgiveness and such a large reward came too quickly, and I think further exploration of her psyche could have proven to be just as insightful and thought-provoking as she walks herself back to her pacifist belief system. 

On a scale of 1 to 10 in which 1 is a bomb and 10 is THE bomb (gee, it seems highly inappropriate to be using a bomb metaphor, given this story!), I give JP ToW an 8 - mainly due to the exploration of her descent into madness, and because I love WoW lore that much.  :-)

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