War Crimes. The latest novel in the franchise is fittingly the last of this week’s reviews. Based on my comment yesterday, I didn’t quite save the best for last. But War Crimes is still another solid story and bucks the whole “expected combat” trend yet again. Unless you count courtroom combat.
If you’re unaware of the story, it’s all about the trial of Garrosh Hellscream after his megamaniacal escapades of the past year or so. Try to genocide anything not an Orc, and this can happen on occasion. Heck, even some Orcs weren’t let off the hook. But now is the time for the son of Grom Hellscream to stand trial for the crimes he has committed and you’re licking your lips just waiting for him to die. Of course, and this is no spoiler considering the details of the next expansion, we know that Garrosh doesn’t die. He gets away and heads off into another timeline where he proceeds to want to prevent dad and company from drinking the Mannoroth blood. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
The trial itself involves someone from the Alliance playing the role of an Accuser, while the Horde have to select someone to defend Garrosh -a job no one even wants. So while the jury of Celestials sits back and absorbs the whole process of the trial to reach a verdict, it falls on Tyrande Whisperwind to push for the death penalty and Baine Bloodhoof to prevent it. As a result, you see just how ruthless Tyrande can be, which is a great layer to her character. She’s respectful, but doesn’t hold back in the slightest.
But it’s Baine who really shines in this book. Indeed he gets the unwanted task of actually trying to salvage Garrosh’s life, but he takes the task with honor and knows failing to do it properly would make him less of a person and essentially shame him. It’s confirmed during a spiritual convergence with Cairne…I can’t lie, as I read the conversation all I heard during father Bloodhoof’s dialogue was the voice of James Earl Jones. But Baine does take the duty seriously and is simply phenomenal as he verbally dismantles people he holds in high regard, and is clearly pained in doing so.
Another sidebar involves Sylvanas and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Part of me likes the much needed new layer to the character, but in the grand scheme of things it makes me feel as if she’s just more emo and it served zero other purpose. Maybe it’s a final straw that leads to something with her, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels “hey look, be more emo.”
That aside, it really is a solid book. Great pacing, and the unfolding story ends up covered from nearly every angle…and at some point involves almost anyone you can think of. Plus, there are some great moments involving Anduin, Jaina, and Varian, as well as Garrosh and Baine. The only issues I really had with it (and these are outside of my undecided feelings regarding Sylvanas) were the fact it really came across as “Law & Order: Azeroth” a few times, and that while we knew pretty well who assists Garrosh, I ended up knowing exactly who else did it too. Now to the latter, that’s not necessarily a disappointment in the story or the writing so much as “yeah, Blizzard, you just couldn’t avoid the obvious, could you?”
So much like the other two novels this week, I do recommend War Crimes. I can’t stress enough how great Baine is treated and the book as a whole does an amazing job of showcasing so many characters outside their natural environment. We see additional layers for some, a few peeled back, and even some surprises between characters when it comes to certain historical details. The last book (chronologically) Christie Golden released for World of Warcraft was Tides of War and I really wasn’t a fan of it for a number of reasons. There were things done well, but too much I didn’t like. War Crimes feels like the exact opposite. Don’t know how much better I can put it.