The Battle For Theramore is a week and a half away yet, but if you’ve read Tides of War then you have an idea on what we might be up to as heroes. Actually, having read the book I can’t fathom what the Alliance will be doing. I can think of one point in the book that translates well into the game itself (for both factions), but that’s about it. Still, I’m looking quite forward to the event, though I’m disappointed we only get a week to do it. But then, I was actually disappointed in the book as well (Spoilers ahead).Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think the book was terrible. In fact, Christie Golden continues to have a great grasp on the characters of Azeroth. At the end of the book, though, I just felt a sense of underwhelmed. Perhaps it’s just compared to Arthas and The Shattering but I just didn’t feel like much happened over 352 pages. The book also has more questions than answers. Obviously the reader is left wondering what’s in store for Garrosh, which the player base knows is the “last boss” in Mists of Pandaria. But more than that, I’m still wondering how Garrosh got his new right hand man, Malkorok. How did he 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? We’re just left to understand “well, it happened.”
My biggest annoyance of all with the book was Jaina’s relationship with Kalecgos. Let me say this, I have no problem with the relationship, but who. The blue dragon could’ve been anyone in the Dragonflight with the same personality and quirks…but that it had to be the former Aspect just felt forced to me and it gnawed at me through the whole book. But I also recognize the relationship was a protagonist for the plot in several instances and wouldn’t have worked without it. But all the more reason it feels like a crutch instead of a natural progression.
Now, the book isn’t all bad by any stretch. There are a number of things I really liked and none more than Jaina letting loose power wise. The little conflict with Varian and Anduar was a bit cliched, but it worked to show how far she’d gone. Still, nothing impressed me more than this moment in the book:
“Your people are despicable cowards,” she hissed. “You are nothing more than rapid dogs, and you should be put down. You spit on mercy? Then you will have none. You want carnage? Garrosh will get more blood than ever he bargained for.”
How she then disposed of the orcs with ease and vengeance is how I wanted her to react. I’ve wanted to see her let loose, and it’s great that it happened. Still, after all that Theramore and her peace efforts have meant I did expect more. Not the eye for an eye that we nearly got, but just more of her wielding her power.
I absolutely loved the tie-in of Windle Sparkshine. If you’re not familiar with him, Windle is the Gnome that goes around Dalaran basically going all “Dumbledore” on the lights at night. Not only do he and his wife appear in the book, but we get a lovely explanation of why he ignites the lights at night…so much so that you’ll disregard in-game continuity for it. Though, perhaps it’s just me, but (Windle, aside) I knew from the onset what that character’s fate would be and why she was in the book in the first place.
I like what Golden did with Rohan and how the Kirin Tor leadership has naturally progressed as a result. Jaina makes complete sense, particularly given her longstanding effort towards peace and being relatively neutral. Plus, for all purposes she’s the most powerful Mage in Azeroth so leading the mages just makes sense. Whether that means we’ll see more from the Kirin Tor in Mists or the finale involving Garrosh is hard to say.
All in all, I don’t think Tides of War was bad. It obviously was good enough that I sat and read it in two days because the story moved at a good clip and did keep my interest. I guess in my case I just had higher hopes and expectations for it, and for Jaina. As such, I was underwhelmed. The negatives I cited stood out for me much more than the things I enjoyed – save for the Sparkshine tie-in. As I’ve said, I very much liked that and it might have something to do with me having visited Windle a few times over the years and buying his lighter.
Do I recommend Tides of War? I think I still do. For those who enjoy the lore, it explains Theramore quite nicely and gives you a backdrop to what we can expect in a few weeks in-game, both with the event and the Mists patch. It could also be that your expectations aren’t nearly as lofty as mine were going in and that could make the book as a whole a much better read for you. I may have just held the combination of Christie Golden’s writing and the possibilities of this event in too high regard that it was destined to come up short.