12 comments on “Amateur Review: Tides of War

  1. (spoilers in comment, careful reading!!)

    My biggest problem with Tides of War was that … I knew how it was going to end. There’s a point after the first skirmish where someone thinks “hey! We won! We drove off the Horde!” And I’m reading it thinking …. no, there’s not nearly enough destruction here. There is very little you can do to hold narrative suspense when you know who’s going to lose. It’s to Golden’s credit that she did, in fact, keep me turning the pages.

    The fate of the Sparkshine tie-in character had me nearly in tears. Yes, I knew what that character’s fate would be as well, but it was so refreshing to read a WoW novel that treated gnomes with some respect and dignity. When she said “no, I don’t like being perky” to Pained, I about lost it. I very nearly went and rolled a gnome mage on the spot.

    I didn’t actually have a problem with the romance subplot, though I saw it coming from miles away. I actually quite enjoyed it. Here you have a male dragon Aspect who has wondered about (and been called out for) not being fierce enough, or not enough of an autocrat. Not, in other words, “manly” enough. And he’s contrasted with Jaina, whom I thought Golden did a magnificent job with. Jaina had *agency,* all throughout the novel. She grieved, she cared, but she still acted. So between the two of them, you have a male who is shown as being very compassionate and thoughtful, with a woman who is incredibly intelligent, resourceful, and doesn’t hesitate to take action when it’s necessary. Throughout the book, they were both *thinking* so much. I think it was a brave place for Blizzard to go, and I appreciated it – both as a regular fantasy reader who would like Blizzard to tackle some more difficult plots, and as someone who dearly cares about social justice.

    The ending, however, I was significantly less pleased with. NOTHING changes. The Alliance celebrated a victory over a few wingriders, and it isn’t a victory. Not really. You know the Alliance can’t actually win in the novel, because of the narrative constraints of the game itself. You know the leaders can’t be deposed. You know things can’t substantially change. So in the end, we’re left with the exact same story we started with, with the addition of one new smoking crater. It wasn’t satisfying.

    It was, however, affecting. I almost quit playing WoW due to the knowledge that atrocities in game will never, ever be settled or called for accounting. Having Garrosh as an end boss seems like a pitifully small recompense for *irradiating* a city. If Blizzard wanted to ignite the fires of faction war, they did with me – but it almost backfired on them as I had to take quite awhile to figure out if the story they wanted to tell was actually a game I wanted to play.

    • As I said, I had no problem with the relationship itself, and mostly for the exact reasons you mentioned (and Blizzard’s willingness to go there). It just feels like they used Kalecgos BECAUSE it’s Jaina and given her past relationships anything less wouldn’t quite measure up.

      I will say this much, though, I’m so glad they did “Mary Sue” her to death like they did with Thrall.

      • I think this might be the “superhero’s girlfriend” issue. If you have amazing cosmic powers, and the responsibility for a significant chunk of your race in an intergalactic war … how much can you relate to a farmer from Westfall, regardless of how wonderful they might be? Not to tread too close to classism here, but I think the relationship developed as it did due to similar concerns with a similar magnitude. The fact that it happened so dang fast … well, I chalk that up to the word count Golden had to work with. in my head, I imagine them studying the iris for weeks, and we just don’t get to see that.

        The books do tend to suffer from some significant Mary Sue-ism, to be sure. I’m not sure if it’s because that’s the directive from on-high, or if it’s just hard to write something objective for what’s a really subjective experience in-game. (On the other hand, I seem to recall hearing not all of the writers play, so maybe there’s something else at work, there.)

    • I really enjoy The Shattering and I’m actually one of few people I know who liked Stormrage (about Malfurion and the Druids). If you like the WoW lore, I definitely recommend the books.

  2. Finally coming back to your review after posting my own thoughts. These questions — “How did [Malkorok] even get out of Blackrock, let alone become the Horde political hit man, so to speak? Who actually stole the Iris from the Blue Dragonflight? And how did they actually defeat five dragons?” — yeah, I really wish we had the answers to them, too!

    The quote you cite from Jaina really impressed me, too. I was so glad to actually *hear* Jaina saying it in the Alliance scenario, and I think the voice actress did it justice quite well.

    • I agree on the voicework.

      I just don’t get how we’re supposed to simply go “five dragons were beaten by some Horde forces? OH OK!”

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