Alliance and Horde forces have stripped Garrosh Hellscream, one of the most reviled figures on Azeroth, of his title as warchief. His thirst for conquest devastated cities, nearly tore the Horde apart, and destroyed countless lives throughout the...WORLD OF WARCRAFT® Now, on the legendary continent of Pandaria, he will stand trial for his transgressions. Renowned leaders from across the world have gathered to witness this historic event. As the trial unfolds, agents of the bronze dragonflight present shocking visions of Garrosh's atrocities. For many of those in attendance, these glimpses into history force them to relive painful memories and even question their own innocence or guilt. For others, the chilling details stoke the flames of their hatred. Unbeknownst to anyone, shadowy forces are at work on Azeroth, threatening not only the court's ability to mete out justice... but also the lives of everyone at the trial.
Award-winning author Christie Golden has written over thirty novels and several short stories in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror. She has over a million books in print.
2009 will see no fewer than three novels published. First out in late April will be a World of Warcraft novel, Athas: Rise of the Lich King. This is the first Warcraft novel to appear in hardcover. Fans of the young paladin who fell so far from grace will get to read his definitive story.
In June, Golden’s first Star Wars novel, also a hardcover, sees print. Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi—Omen is the second in a nine-book series she is co-authoring with Aaron Allston and Troy Denning. Also in June comes the conclusion of Golden’s StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga with the release of Twlight, the third book in the series. The first two are Firstborn and Shadow Hunters.
2004 saw the launch of an original fantasy series called The Final Dance, from LUNA Books. The first novel in the series, On Fire's Wings, was published in July of that year. The second, In Stone’s Clasp , came out in September of 2005. With In Stone’s Clasp, Golden won the Colorado Author’s League Top Hand Award for Best Genre Novel for the second time. The third book, Under Sea’s Shadow, is available only as an e-book
Golden is also the author of two original fantasy novels from Ace Books, King's Man and Thief and Instrument of Fate, which made the 1996 Nebula Preliminary Ballot. Under the pen name of Jadrien Bell, she wrote a historical fantasy thriller entitled A.D. 999, which won the Colorado Author's League Top Hand Award for Best Genre Novel of 1999.
Golden launched the TSR Ravenloft line in 1991 with her first novel, the highly successful Vampire of the Mists , which introduced elven vampire Jander Sunstar. Golden followed up Vampire with Dance of the Dead and The Enemy Within . In September of 2006, fifteen years to the month, The Ravenloft Covenant: Vampire of the Mists enabled Jander Sunstar to reach a whole new audience.
Other projects include a slew of Star Trek novels, among them The Murdered Sun , Marooned , and Seven of Nine , and "The Dark Matters Trilogy," Cloak and Dagger , Ghost Dance and Shadow of Heaven .
The Voyager novel relaunch, which includes Homecoming and The Farther Shore , were bestsellers and were the fastest-selling Trek novels of 2003. Golden continued writing VOYAGER novels even though the show went off the air, and enjoyed exploring the creative freedom that gave her in the two-parter called Spirit Walk, which includes Old Wounds and Enemy of my Enemy .
Golden has also written the novelization of Steven Spielberg's Invasion America and an original "prequel," On The Run , both of which received high praise from producer Harve Bennett. On The Run, a combination medical thriller and science fiction adventure, even prompted Bennett to invite Golden to assist in crafting the second season of the show, if it was renewed.
Golden lives in Loveland, Colorado, with her artist husband and their two cats.
War Crimes is the thirteenth book in the World of Warcraft novel franchise, transitioning us from the Mists of Pandaria expansion to Warlords of Draenor. Lore-wise, this takes place after the the Siege of Orgrimmar, after the Alliance, Horde, and Pandaren have united to defeat Garrosh after he has poisoned the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, a place that was not even open to the world until recently.
Before and After: Vale of Eternal Blossoms (Credit: Tenton Hammer)
...And this is why the Horde can't have nice things.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
It's a bit awkward reviewing a novel for a game franchise, particularly since it can be hard to tell where Golden's influence ends and where the story developers' begins, in terms of allotting credit (good or bad) to story decisions. For the purposes of this review, I will just refer to Christie Golden as the author responsible for the story decisions in the novel.
Garrosh's Defense: The Job That No One Wants
To decide on the method of punishment for Garrosh, a trial is held to determine whether Garrosh deserves death or life imprisonment. Taran Zhu is the judge, the Celestials (as one of the few neutral beings in Azeroth) compose the jury, the Alliance chooses Tyrande to be the Accuser, and no one really wants to defend Garrosh, who is sitting there rolling his eyes and smirking--basically being a prick to everyone around him.
Ultimately, the Horde elects the Defender, Baine, who is the only one who can set aside his feelings to deliver a good defense for the king of genocide. Despite his extremely uncomfortable position and his personal feelings of conflict and loyalty to his friends, he still employs aggressive, below-the-belt attacks on Vol'jin and Go'el (formerly Thrall) to get his point across. His entire argument rests on the the fact that "people can change." Poor Baine...I guess.
Story Device: The Bronze Dragonflight's Window to the Past
Using "magic," the Bronze dragonflight displays the Azerothian equivalent of video footage and evidence through a little portal that functions as a window to the past, allowing the court to see what transpired, from any perspective possible. Sometimes they can zoom in (or choose not to) on a particular character's whispering behind another's back, such as Garrosh to an assassin during his conversation with Vol'jin.
So what does this mean? With such an extensive access to the past, no conversations or actions are truly private. It is absolutely impossible to hide anything from the jury, and if you can't bring yourself to cough it up, then the Accuser/Defender could simply request to broadcast what transpired. This is a researcher/detective/spy/police state's wet dream come true. While it is good for justice (provided that both Accuser and Defender are competent, as well as their Bronze assistants), it creates a dangerous potential for abuse.
War Crimes: World of Warcraft Recap Episode?
It turns out that everyone's lives are more interconnected than they appear, and while people like Go'el and Anduin understood Jaina's suffering on a rational level, it was nothing compared to the horror of watching the experience of Theramore on screen (or portal), from her perspective. Although I knew it was a recap of the climactic scene from Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, I still teared up just from the emotional way the scene played out.
A Recap of Previous Plot Points
This leads me to the fact that a big part of the novel feels like a WoW lore recap of Burning Crusade through Cataclysm content. I didn't really mind a well-written rehash ofall the important (and emotional) plot points that will lead to Warlords of Draenor because now everyone in the courtroom gets to know--this changes relationships. Secrets are pushed out into the open, and we finally get to see characters react to the revelations. Satisfying.
The Issue of Tyrande's Characterization...and Where the Heck Did Malfurion Go?
I'm aware that some readers had beef with the way Tyrande was portrayed, and I can see why. I would have liked to see her characterized beyond her role as the tough and graceful Accuser who becomes frustrated and even outraged at times. Malfurion expresses concern in the beginning that the experience could take a toll on her as a person, but after that he vanishes, and along with that, a perspective of what it's like for a 10,000+ year old person to witness such horrors.
Maybe Christie Golden didn't want to tamper too much with a character that has mostly been written by Knaak. Tyrande was a major character in his War of the Ancients trilogy, about the ancient war in which the night elves join with everyone to fight against the Burning Legion invasion. He portrayed her as a consistently gentle, sweet, and pure maiden who has a strong and holy moral code. In Stormrage (also by Knaak), she is still gentle but comes off as understandably tired from her long leadership.
In War Crimes we get to explore how far she is willing to go in order to obtain justice. I like her tough, but her gentleness and grace provide a subtle presence as well. I'm dying to know how Malfurion was reacting to a lot of this stuff. As a spectator of the court, he completely fades into the background after the beginning.
Subplots, Other Characters, and Relationships
As the title of this section suggests, I will go over some subplots as well as the development of relationships that are not central to the main plot, but may grow to become significant later on.
Anduin & Wrathion: I never quite understood why the subject of a romance between the two princes was such a popular choice for fan art, until I read this book. Anduin and Wrathion share an unusual, tentative friendship (or budding romance), in which they are mutually intrigued. They participate in intellectual banter as well as comfortable silences. I haven't seen such chemistry since Jaina and Arthas! But despite his sexy, silky voice, Wrathion is mysterious about his intentions...
I don't know if Blizzard would be bold enough to allow a homosexual couple in the usually-heteronormative Wow universe, but that would be really cool.
Anduin & Garrosh: Obviously, this relationship isn't romantic and has NO potential for romance (aside from some really weird fan fiction). Anduin and Garrosh's clashing worldviews make for an interestingly conflicted relationship in which Anduin tries to "help" Garrosh, but Garrosh is too stubborn and laughs at Anduin's idealism.
Thrall & Aggra: They make a guest appearance. Congratulations on the baby.
Jaina & Kalecgos: Continuing relationship issues from the previous novel. A conflict of values: Jaina thirsts for revenge while Kalec worries that she will lose her soul and goodness in this pursuit. He's also not sure if she is or will be the same person he fell in love with.
Chromie: Chromie!!! So good to see you again.
Velen: Finally leaves Exodar to make a very brief guest appearance as a witness. Hi.
Vereesa & Sylvanas: Something I had been waiting to see for a long time. So the Windrunner sisters finally reunite, and bond through old memories and vengeance. I am so glad to see this portrayed believably--neither Vereesa nor Sylvanas are complete mushballs. In their discussions, they alternate between awkward and tender feelings of sisterhood and their hate against Garrosh.
I found myself partly cheering for the plotting sisters and partly dreading the potential fallout of their plan, which seemed reckless. I loved peeking inside the undead mind of Sylvanas and feeling half-understanding and half-horrified by what she was planning to do to Vereesa.
With the trailer of Warlords of Draenor out, I already knew the ending, and that was a bummer. After about 300 pages of being emotionally ravaged by Tyrande and Baine and everyone's memories, I lost interest because I knew what was going to happen.
On top of that, the entire court drama wouldn't have changed the outcome of Garrosh's ruling--the Celestials had determined his ruling beforehand. Ugh. I thought they were supposed to be neutral. So, was it even necessary to have a trial? The Celestials maintain that the point was to put all the participants on trial...so that they could understand each other. Oh, I get it. But this doesn't make me feel better about Garrosh's case.
If I were Tyrande or Baine, I'd be freaking pissed because I just spent the past few days sleeplessly arranging shit in order for my arguments the next day.
So...this was all for nothing?!
Overall, this novel comes across as a story with an awkward premise and excellent execution. The novel is structured around a trial in which flashbacks are used, hence the feeling of a recap episode. Some of these flashbacks are played back word-for-word from the previous novels. Plot-wise, nothing new is introduced here, and some intriguing side characters get some fleshing-out while others are somewhat neglected (such as Tyrande)--an inevitable result of having such a huge cast.
The ending bothers me a lot, particularly the fact that the entire trial--which is the center of the plot--is futile. First, the Celestials had decided on their ruling beforehand--they would have let Garrosh off the chopping block no matter how good or bad Tyrande and Baine's arguments were. And second, people acquainted with the franchise were already aware of what would happen.
Another thing to consider: my lack of satisfaction with the ending also has something to do with the franchise's awkward release dates. I went in already knowing that Garrosh was going to break his ass out of jail. This would have been perfect if it came before the trailer for Warlords of Draenor and after the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. The *main* stakes of the novel rested on the outcome of Garrosh's trial, which we already knew.
Despite my feelings about the ending and the recap-episodic nature of this novel's main plot, Golden's overall storytelling is delicious because she plays out the potential tensions and conflicts between characters. If there are bonds between two characters, they are well-explored and not simply accepted because they are nice people. The juiciest parts of this novel involved watching characters rub up against each other in the subplots and trying to predict what they would do next.
After the defeat of Garrosh Hellscream, he stands trial in a Pandaren court. While many are crying out for a swift execution, it is the August Celestials who are the jury and will render a verdict after a fair trial has been performed. Meanwhile, the Dragonmaw are amassing allies to free Garrosh, and the Windrunner sisters are working together to try and poison Garrosh before the final verdict is given.
I struggled with this book. I've read most of the Warcraft novels, and to this date, I'd only been disappointed in one. When I picked up this book, I really wanted to like it as I had the others. But I didn't. Until the final chapter, this book was nothing but a courtroom filled with characters we're familiar with. Many of those characters were warped beyond recognition (e.g. Tyrande Whisperwind). I found myself incredibly bored of the trial, which felt like something straight off of Court TV. There was very little drama at all. There were formal phrases used in the trial ("With respect, I protest!") that are variations of what are used in today's courtrooms ("I object!"), and they felt very out of place in a Warcraft novel.
I've come to expect a changing, smoothly flowing storyline from Warcraft novels with lots of action scenes. This isn't present in War Crimes. You get the one scene (the Temple of the White Tiger and the trial), the same characters, and they're doing the same motions chapter after chapter. There are a few scenes here and there that break up the tedium and make things just a tad bit interesting, but it's not enough to save this book.
I wish I had saved my money and time and left this book off my Kindle. I wasn't sure whether to give this book a one star or two star rating. Since I've enjoyed Christie Golden's previous novels, like her writing style, and understand she has certain guidelines to work with when writing a Warcraft novel, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and give this novel a two star rating. But don't squander it, Ms. Golden. If your next book doesn't live up to expectations (which have lowered after reading War Crimes), you'll lose more than just an extra star in my rating.
I would start this review with an admission, this is a case where I feel Goodreads does its volunteer reviewers a disservice by not offering the ability to use half-stars in one's rating. Typically I can work around this limitation by rounding up or down depending on my overall feeling of the work in review - but here the subtraction or addition of an entire star would be respectively either an insult to the quality of the book or a well-intended lie on my part.
Dispensing with that external critique let me say that "War Crimes" may well be the best extended universe offering in the Warcraft vein to date. Christie Golden takes on a very complex and interwoven set of stories and tackles them all with skill and aplomb. I tallied about about 8 concurrent story-lines all going at roughly the same time - most of them centered around the main event for the which the book takes its name, the trial and sentencing of war criminal Garrosh Hellscream. The book manages to resolve a number of previously open questions and at the same time asking several new ones. It also manages to hit the sweet spot of resolving a primary dramatic arc without closing the proverbial book on the greater story, and all of this without the dragging weight of the typical cliffhanger. It's a riveting and nuanced ride, and kept me up well into the night because I felt compelled to finish it despite exhaustion and the fact that I had to rise early for work the next day.
So with that effusion of praise I ask myself (and perhaps you also ask): "why not award that fifth star?" I can't in good conscious hand out a perfect score to a work that bears a flaw worthy enough to mention in a review - the flaw being that for all the enjoyment, the raw content that the book offers, it also overreaches in a profound way. My complaint is that every vignette in the book is made necessarily brief because it covers so many things, and I found myself wanting to dwell on certain parts of the story but was shuttled along at breakneck speed by its pace. It was akin to visiting a place you have always wanted to see, but finding that you only get a handful of minutes to take it all in before your tour-guide rushes you off to the next destination. All in all it was a wonderful trip, but the nagging sensation of things unseen stays with me at the close of it.
Long and short of it? "War Crimes" in an excellent book that I highly recommend to fans of the Warcraft universe, especially those with an interest in the rich tapestry of stories both inside and outside of the games themselves. Golden acquits herself nobly in the execution of the task of closing a number of story arcs while setting the stage for a new one to come - just try to remember the warning above in the process and don't attempt to force yourself to linger.
Executive Summary: I think your enjoyment of this book will largely depend on how much you like and know about the Warcraft lore.
Audio book: Scott Brick is a fine narrator, but nothing really special. He seems to do accents for the trolls and a few other races, but for the most part he doesn't really add much to the story like my favorite narrators seem to.
Full Review I'm a recovering World of Warcraft addict. I've been clean for about a year since my guild's raids fell apart. I played a good portion of Mists of Pandaria, but didn't finish the last tier or two of raiding.
I knew enough background to know all the major players and that Garrosh Hellscream was the expansion boss this go around. I didn't really know any of the details of how it all played out however. I can't speak to how much of this book is in the game.
Warcraft has always been one of my favorites games because I loved the big name characters and the lore they've built up. It doesn't always make sense, but it's usually a whole lot of fun.
This book is full of all the major players from both factions, and everyone is angry. I've probably played more Alliance than Horde over the years, but I still like Horde better.
Thrall is probably my favorite character of the series, and I was really annoyed when he stepped down as Warchief. However as an Alliance player, I enjoyed being able to work with him on quests in Cataclysm.
I found myself really not liking many of the Alliance characters in this book. In particular Tyrande Whisperwind. As my main character is a Night Elf, I was pretty disappointed with her. I found myself rooting for Baine Bloodhoof and missing my Tauren druid instead.
I liked the notion of a trial and the involvement of the Bronze Dragons to present key moments in Warcraft lore, not only for the current expansion but back events involving the history of the Orcs.
Overall, I found this book a lot more enjoyable than Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde. I think this is one that Warcraft players will enjoy, but that probably won't offer much to everyone else.
If the goal of this book was to get the reader to want to play the game, they succeeded. I was already planning on picking up the next expansion and playing again for awhile, but now I'm itching to maybe try to do the raid that serves as background for this, so Mission Accomplished Blizzard.
As a world of warcraft nerd, this is probably the best warcraft novel I've read (I haven't read that many, but still). It gives face time to all of the racial leaders (apart from Blood Elves, who were notable absent. I mean, the guy had a single line but then literally never got mentioned again. Very odd for one of the most highly played races, but oh well).
If you're not into warcraft, there's no real reason to read this book, and if you know absolutely nothing of warcraft then I imagine this would be highly confusing!
I finally got around to reading this, and I just have to get it out of the way and say: it's amazing!
Whenever someone asks me for fantasy recommendations, I try to remember to recommend the Warcraft series. I suppose it helps that I've played the games, all the way back since the beginning of the real-time strategy games, because it means that I know a lot of the lore and history of the universe, and recognize the characters. But even without that, I think any fantasy lover would enjoy Warcraft.
It's just so vast. There's more than two decades of world building here, with plots, subplots and histories running deeper than you can imagine. Nearly all of it focuses on the conflict between the races of the Horde (orcs, trolls, and tauren among others), and the Alliance (humans, dwarves and elves, to name a few). It's amazing.
This book reads like a fantasy version of 12 Angry Men, when the orc and former warchief Garrosh Hellscream is put on trial for multiple counts of various crimes. Both the Horde and Alliance gather to take part in the trial which is led by the Pandaren, both to accuse him, and to defend him (which might turn out to be the more difficult task).
I've sinced stopped playing Warcraft (for now) but the events in this book were some of the last I enjoyed (which happen between the end of the Pandaria expansion and the beginning of the Warlords of Draenor) and it's amazing to read this as a sort of 'behind the scenes' kind of thing.
As per usual, Golden Christie's writing is amazing. By far my favorite Warcraft author, not doubt. You'll want to keep reading both for the fascinating trial, but also for all the intricate character development you experience along the way. I think this might be my favorite book after Arthas.
Highly recommened for any Warcraft or fantasy fan.
Now, either this is awesome and hilarious at once or it's suspension of disbelief breaking. I lean more toward the former than the latter. Does it make sense that Baine Bloodhoof and Tyrande Whisperwind have either the training or formal speech patterns of a trial lawyer? No. Does it make sense that Azeroth has any of the legal traditions of a modern Western trial? I dunno, does it make sense Gnomes can build rocket-trains? No, but we love them anyway. Lastly, is it fun?
Yes, very much so.
Which is bizarre because this is about an unrepentant war criminal. High fantasy things like keeping the Red Dragon Aspect Alexstrasza as a slave to breed mounts, mana-bombing Theramore, and blowing up dissident orcs are treated with all the gravity of their equivalents in real-life. War Crimes isn't a parody, being a straight example of the genre, but it might qualify as satire. Fictional characters in an absurd (but awesome) fantasy world taking conduct in war more seriously than Earthlings today seem to be doing.
The premise is Garrosh Hellscream, much-disliked leader of the Horde, has been captured by Thrall (I will never call him Go'el) and Varian Wrynn. This is, of course, references events which happened in-game. I always feel kind of bad for the player characters involved in these sorts of in-universe climatic battles because they almost never get even referenced. You'd think they'd get a mention now and then like, "The Heroes of Azeroth" assisted them or something.
Garrosh committed many crimes during his tenure of Warchief from elevating the orcs above the other races, destroying island nation of Theramore, and worse. Both sides want him executed but Varian believed that having tried and found guilty would have a greater effect. They, thus, turn to the Celestials of Pandaria to serve as neutral judges. This is an astoundingly bad idea as Sylvanas points out since all-loving gods are unlikely to deliver a verdict motivated by political expediency.
This book is almost devoid of action and, instead, focuses on characterization. We get Jaina dealing with her continuing PTSD (albeit, a more violent form than in real-life), Anduin trying to understand the monstrous activities of Garrosh so he can offer him solace as a priest, and Vereesa Windrunner's simmering desire for revenge against her husband's killer. We also have a nice little bit of characterization from Sylvanas who has been see-sawing between good and evil for awhile now. I especially liked the take of the book on her, which is that Sylvanas is kinda-sorta evil but really mostly insane now.
Some might see it as a cop-out that Sylvanas is mentally ill but I think Christie Golden does an excellent job of illustrating just how twisted her thinking has become. I won't spoil the ending but her redemption seems further away than ever. How does redeem someone who has come to the conclusion it is better to be a monster? Even if the transformation is against your will? I think that's an appropriate question to ask as part of what makes Sylvanas so interesting is she's not just misunderstood but filled with spite and hatred from her eyes down to her toes. Whether she can recover from her current state or not is anyone's guess but I'd love to see a Windrunner novel from the author.
I'm kind of iffy on some of the characterization. Jaina Proudmoore's sudden turn toward warmonger never quite sat right with me because while the destruction of your homeland would set ANYONE on a roaring rampage of revenge, the fact is that she's survived it twice before. Jaina was neck-deep in the zombie genocide of Lordaeron and the destruction of Dalaran in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Jaina Proudmoore was never naive but a hardened piece of steel willing to do anything for peace. She's closer to Princess Leia meets Rick Grimes than the character presented here, I think.
Then again, clearly people should be listening to my fanboy interpretations over the who has helped develop this character better than anyone.
Still, mostly this book does very well in establishing why the Horde and the Alliance has such problems reconciling. Thrall stands by his decision to appoint Garrosh as Warchief because he's showing he accepts responsibility for his choices. He has a very Orcish attitude that you don't wring your hands about the past but move forward. To the Alliance in the audience, however, he may come off as self-justifying. Cultural differences are a serious hurdle for both sides to overcome. Garrosh, himself, may feel all manner of horrible feelings about his actions but he is so much of a proud warrior to ever admit it. He'd rather go down in history as a hated villain than a broken man.
I regret this book never got into the head of Garrosh Hellscream. I would have been glad to have a point of view which finally gave us just what the hell he was thinking half-the-time. I suppose that would defeat the purpose of the book, however, which is to analyze how a monster's actions may be interpreted by others. Still, I hope we get a resolution in book form. This is too complicated a character to be resolved with a simple raid boss fight.
In conclusion, I recommend War Crimes. If you can get over the somewhat surreal use of kings, queens, and warlords as lawyers in a Hague-style situation then it has a lot to go for it. Others may find Jaina Proudmoore's characterization or others to be grating. I trust Christie Golden, however, and am looking forward to the sequel.
Best WoW novel yet. It had a wonderful taste of WoW's past with a fascinating examination of the current climate of Azeroth and Pandaria. We got to see some characters we haven't really had a chance to spend time with, and Anduin becomes more and more someone I like reading about and less that little kid next to Varian in Stormwind. The courtroom section of it is tense, smart, and absolutely gripping - this is a must-read for WoW players, and I think even non-Azerothians will find something to enjoy here.
"Kriegsverbrechen" ist eine Zeitreise durch die wichtigsten Ereignisse zwischen "Wrath of the Lich King" und "Warlords of Draenor" und eine heftige Achterbahn der Gefühle mit einigen neuen Informationen, von denen ich so noch nicht wusste! Christie Golden kann's halt einfach! ;')
I don't think it was a bad book per se, and it had its moments, but it wasn't terribly interesting overall. Perhaps the biggest issue I had with it was that several of the characters came off to me as out-of-character and/or unlikable which it made it difficult to be invested. In addition, the Jaina/Kalec romance felt forced and I didn't sense any chemistry between them whatsoever. Still, some of the story was a neat addition to existing Warcraft lore and it was a decent setup to Warlords of Draenor.
TL;DR: The trial was a terrible slog, but the scenes outside of it were fantastic with great character development and the only reason I gave this book three stars instead of two.
Full Version (might nod to a spoiler or two): The book is a court drama, and typically the reader / watcher doesn’t know all of the details, but the nuances and truths eventually reveal plot twists as the layers unfold. That’s what we all enjoy about court drama stories and how they’re framed to us as the viewer. They have mystery and suspense with the us not entirely knowing the whole story and constantly wondering if our theories are correct until the end.
War Crimes has none of this. The case is one-sided because we most likely know the details of what Garrosh did during his reign as Warchief. Either we play the game or follow its lore in some capacity. The trial is just rehashing content we’ve already encountered. Even if you knew nothing about the lore or the characters, the trial is so abhorrently one-sided that both Alliance and Horde make constant notations to it in their commentary. Everyone thinks the trial is a joke. Everyone verbalizes that it’s a joke. Even Garrosh himself thinks it’s a joke and shows not one lick of remorse. With the entire book already framing the fact that this whole trial is a waste of time, why should we as the readers care about its procession in the first place? We don’t, and we shouldn’t have to.
This is not a story of whether or not Garrosh did the things he was accused of, because we already know that answer. So, any of the mystery or suspense needed to hook a reader into maintaining interest over the court hearing is gone. The only people left surprised over the evidence are the characters themselves, but not us. Why do people toil endlessly to get out of jury duty? Because very few people enjoy sitting listening to testimony all day long. Why would that be any different here? Writing a book where it retells all of these scenes that we already know does not bring suspense or insight. It’s just endless exposition wrapped in dialogue. Both Christie and Blizzard should have pulled back on the trial scenes and delved more into the aftermath of how people were digesting those emotions as each day was coming to a close. I found myself compelled in reading scenes where Anduin was conversing with Garrosh, Sylvanas and Vareesa’s antics, and Jaina and her relations with the others, than anything that was going on in the courtroom save the retelling of the Theramore incident. Reading about the psychological turmoil that members of both the Alliance and Horde were going through during the trial was far more interesting. It allowed me the chance to understand and forgive a few of the characters who had changed and developed into stronger individuals, except for one person.
I openly admit bias against Tyrande because I’ve always considered her to be an unforgiving elitist about everyone who doesn’t meet her pristine standards when it comes to “moral high ground”. She’s far from perfect, and people always place her on a pedestal for reasons beyond my understanding. But in this story, she’s amped up to a level of intolerance that made me cringe. She’s supposed to be putting Garrosh on trial, and the entire time she tries to weasel in ways to lump all of the Horde into it despite being given multiple warnings not to do so. She also tries to derail the trial with an NPC Sentinel coming out of nowhere and presenting evidence against Baine without explaining how she even found it to begin with (which is more a fault of the writing than the character).
The Vision of Time has a set limitation on how much you could use it. While Baine was being sparing with it, Tyrande used it like a JJ Abrams lens flare. She wasted so much time and resources trying to prove her points. Meanwhile, Baine would call a witness, quickly question them, show little-to-no video footage, and make a surprising counterargument against Tyrande’s over-bloated one. I’m not entirely sure if this was by accident or design.
There were also no post-trial scenes with her either. Especially after she pretty much demolished a ton of relationships within her own faction to prove her points. She walks off with Jaina at one point to have a quick conversation, but we as the readers never get to see that. I really wanted to know how in the hell she was going to explain herself out of painting both Jaina and Anduin as traitors to the Alliance just to get to Baine. Like, you can’t just have a ten-minute conversation and afterwards be all like, “We cool?”
Tyrande took the title of Slimy Lawyer and ran with it, and we don’t receive any scenes with her having to deal with the ramifications of pulling those terrible stunts against her own allies. We get somewhat of a glimpse of Baine’s mental anguish trying to defend Garrosh, but even that is minimal. The scene between Varian, Jaina, and Anduin was character development gold and yet Tyrande is given the Get Out of Jail Free card in this whole process. Yeah, no…I don’t buy that. This book could have brought way more potential to the table, and instead it got wrapped up in rehashing stuff that could have been woven into stronger scenes with character development instead.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
There are likely a number of folks who are going to look at Christie Golden’s latest novel entry and write it off as an episode of Law and Order with tauren and dragons in it. So let’s get a couple things out of the way first: Yes, the bulk of the book is a courtroom drama focusing on the prosecution and defense interviewing witnesses in the trial of Garrosh Hellscream. Most of what doesn’t take place in the courtroom has to do with the reactions of folks attending the trial, and while a good portion of that is introspection, some of it is a little more action-y rather than purely dramatic.
The big thing about this story is that it works. Golden’s past novels have always focused more on the more emotional aspects of the focal characters against the backdrop of the conflicts in Azeroth, so seeing that be the primary source of the drama in War Crimes is what we’ve come to expect from Golden. It’s also something that plays perfectly into the context of what’s going on during a war crimes trial. This is very specifically an event taking place AFTER a war, so it’s not really the time for battle or big action sequences… though without giving anything away, some of those moments take place anyway.
The book also definitively sets up how Garrosh gets into the circumstances we know he’ll be in to start off Warlords of Draenor. I’ll admit that knowing about that part of the scenario for the expansion does deflate the action of the book a bit; Blizzard has already spoiled the part where Garrosh must survive the book in order to set up the expansion.
However, knowing that Garrosh survives doesn’t make the trial elements of the book a pointless exercise: everyone involved in the trial, regardless of their role, sees their relationships with all of the big players of the Horde and Alliance shift. We were told during the later acts of Mists of Pandaria to watch as the Alliance pulls together while the Horde tears itself apart; that gets turned on its ear in this book, since everyone’s relationships get strained or shifted during the course of the book. Even some of those characters whom you’d never expect to change do so in surprising ways.
One word of caution: if you’ve never read any of the Warcraft novels, especially the ones written by Golden herself, then War Crimes is going to be a little hard to approach. Out of all of Golden’s works so far, this is the one that requires some familiarity with past works in order to get a solid sense of what’s going on. Golden does a lot of work to summarize what’s gone before through exposition, but it’s too much information to cover to do it justice, and for the reader I think that information is pretty vital to really get the most out of the characters arcs that everyone goes through during the book.
In order of importance, the books you really should read prior to reading this book are Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, Rise of the Horde, and maybe even Arthas: Rise of the Lich King for a good understanding of Jaina’s origins and Golden’s particularly romantic take on Arthas and his downfall. If you only end up reading Tides of War, then that’s really the only one that I feel is mission-critical.
That being said? How Golden draws upon her prior works throughout the trial is actually pretty ingenious. I won’t go into detail about exactly how that’s done, but in terms of a work where Golden pretty much plays her Greatest Hits album from across the body of her work in the franchise, it delivers in a meaningful way. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this feels like Golden’s swan song, because of much it ties together all of her past works.
Here’s a quick list of non-spoilery stuff to expect in this book:
Golden loves Jaina Proudmoore. I don’t think there’s a single character in the franchise that Golden has written about more, and it’s demonstrated here more than ever before. Anduin and Thrall likely fill out her top three. BTW: Thrall really does go by Go’el, you guys. Every faction leader gets at least a line in this book. For some leaders, that’s all they get, but let’s be real; writing a meaningful story with arcs for over a dozen characters where they all get equal screentime is an unreasonable request for a single novel. After the book is released and folks have had a bit of time to read it, I’ll have a more spoiler-rific review up that digs deeper into the meat of the novel. But for now, here’s the bottom line:
If you’re a fan of Golden’s prior Warcraft novels, War Crimes will not disappoint. 9/10 stars. (10/10 if you’re a Chromie fan.)
If you’ve never read a Warcraft novel before, War Crimes might be a bit confusing. 8/10 stars with the knowledge that this is an atypical story.
I believe this book was very good for many reasons but one major reason is for the lore. This book takes events from all over the Warcraft universe and were described in great detail for people who have not known about the game before they read the book. Such as the bombing of Theramore, the accuser described mostly every detail such as when, how and the affect that it had on many alliance members. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested on knowing the background information about the series in order to understand what the trial is about. In total I give this book a 9.5/10, .5 was taken off only because of how long the plot of Slyvanass and Veersa took with the trial.
I loved this book. I am a big fan of the Warcraft franchise and World of Warcraft. This book is about the trial of Garrosh Hellscream, former warchief of the horde. This book isn't just about a trial because there are many other conspiracies at play here. I highly suggest you read it if you have some knowledge of World of Warcraft. Otherwise, the book might seem quite strange.
What an ending! Solid 4 stars. This was my second time reading a novel from the Warcraft universe, and now I'm hooked.
Honestly, those not interested in the game are going to find this a tough slog. There wasn't a whole lot of action. But, Golden did a great job giving us a deeper look into some of our favorite characters. Awesome book, awesome characters.
I play World of Warcraft for the satisfaction of participating in raiding dynamics and choreography, not for the story. But as a ten year veteran of the game I sometimes try to pinpoint how exactly the story went so wrong, and imagine what the writers could have done to fix it so that it would help and not hurt player motivation in the game by making player actions feel meaningful and thematically justified instead of just kind of ridiculous and flailing.
There are three things:
1) They needed to have at least a sketch of the master story arc from the beginning - none of this inadvertent mini series, writers constantly off guard feeling, constant need for new existential threats to the world (ok the demons and the scourge are gone, wait here comes Deathwing, ok he's gone wait here comes another Old God...) and then when that gets too obviously laughable start in with the total jump-the-shark Star Trek style multiple timeline garbage in Warlords of Draenor.
There's no way a coherent epic of the necessary mass could have grown organically out of the original Warcraft 1's crude foundational tropes ("Orcs and Humans" was literally the subtitle of the game). They were meant as just a serviceable scenario sketch to support a new network video game idea. But by the time WoW rolled around or even earlier maybe back in the Warcraft 3 days there should have been a reckoning and Metzen and crew should have lain down the 10 or 20 year vision. It never happened, so the story just kept spurting forth in these teeny little flimsy outgrowths that could support the next financial year's releases or whatever and eventually the soggy structure just drooped over and collapsed in on itself.
2) They needed to fully commit to subverting the racist Tolkien tropes that their genre is grown from. They made some half assed stabs at it, like with the Horde orc factions that were corrupted by demon blood instead of being an intrinsically evil race, and that proceeded to overcome their corruption, suffer through a period of slavery, and then rebel and free themselves and try to found a just society. But in the end characterization falls back into unattenuated racism more often than not. The naga are an evil race. The Forsaken by now are more or less depicted as an evil race despite their leader Sylvanas' initial sympatheticness. The tauren have always been nuance-free noble savages. Etc. Yeah the writers try to split the races into factions and then assign moralities to the factions, not the race. I can tell that's the overcome-Tolkien-racism innovation they are shooting for, and it's better than nothing, but more often than not they seem to just say fuck it and fall back to racial morality shorthand.
3) They needed to either fill in their faux 10,000 year history with real history (doubtful) or trim it down to one or two thousand years or so of events at the granularity they went with. As it is, the history is barren. If you look at a timeline, the story of WoW is that basically nothing happens for 10,000 years then suddenly the world starts getting threatened and then saved or partially destroyed and then rebuilt over and over five times in 30 years. Coincidentally, the 30 years that the games are set during.
In real world history 100s of civilizations have risen and died over just our recorded 4 or 5 thousand years. In the World of Warcraft we have the same 10 or 20 civilizations continue on more or less intact for more or less 10,000 years. Plus they would have had like 50 different types of magic influencing the development of their technology. After 10,000 years their world should be balls to the wall unbelievable hyperfuture techno insane by now or at least up to the baseline standards of modern post-human sci fi lit, but instead it's kind of static and uninspired.
So yeah, if they could have circumvented those three problems, the WoW storyline might be something to get excited about.
This particular novel is terrible, but there's no way to write a good story within the broken framework.
"Zbrodnie wojenne" są chlubnym wyjątkiem od reguły, w myśl której większość powieści opartych na franczyzach mających swoje źródła w medium innym, niż literatura, z góry skazane są na bycie przeciętnymi czytadłami, popełnianymi masowo przez średnio (bądź wcale) utalentowanych wyrobników.
Sam nie oczekiwałem wiele po powieści nieznanej mi wcześniej Christie Golden. Zaskoczony wysokim poziomem - i to nie tylko w kontekście literatury składającej się na "warcraftowe" rozszerzone uniwersum - poszperałem trochę więcej i okazało się, że jest to autorka ceniona wśród fanów powieści osadzonych w realiach gry "World of Warcraft", jak i w światku wielbicieli "Gwiezdnych Wojen". "Zbrodnie wojenne" udowadniają, że jest to uznanie całkowicie zasłużone.
Powieść ujęła mnie zaskakującym i dość ryzykownym zabiegiem, polegającym na osadzeniu jej struktury w ramach "dramatu sądowego". Wiem, że nie wszyscy fani uniwersum "World of Warcraft", oczekujący powieściowej "relacji" z wydarzeń, które dobrze znają z gry, będą taką formułą zachwyceni. To, że duża część książki rozgrywa się na "sali sądowej", na której obrońca i prokurator przepytują świadków, prezentują dowody i wygłaszają pełne patosu mowy, nie oznacza jednak, że w "Zbrodniach wojennych" mało się dzieje. Czytelnicy oczekujący "akcji" i nawiązań do wydarzeń znanych w "World of Warcraft", czy "Warcraft III" nie będą mieli powodów do narzekań.
"Zbrodnie wojenne" w bardzo ładnym stylu odchodzą od standardów fantastyki niskich lotów i przez zgrabne wymieszanie gatunków wnoszą sporo świeżości do kanonu tego uniwersum. Nie jest to jednak powieść dla każdego - szczątkowa znajomość świata i postaci jest niezbędna. Mi wystarczyła - co prawda, poparta kilkoma odwiedzinami na Wikipedii - wiedza wyniesiona z gry "Warcraft III". Jakkolwiek jest to konieczne minimum, pomagające w połapaniu się w gąszczu pojawiających się postaci, ich motywacji, zaskakująco skomplikowanych relacji między nimi i wydarzeń, które mają istotny wpływ na to, co dzieje się w niniejszej książce.
Zarzuty mam tylko dwa. Bohaterowie przemawiają w trakcie procesu z elokwencją, której nie spodziewałbym się po postaciach, które wcześniej (albo "za chwilę") okładały się po głowach kilkumetrowym orężem wszelkiego autoramentu. Prawie każda z osób zaangażowanych w proces, czy to ork, troll, tauren, czy gnom, peroruje na miarę samego Katona. Nie jest to może jakaś wada, ale jeśli zna się trochę ten świat i wie, co nieco o tych bohaterach, taka erudycja wydaje się nieco dziwną w kilku przypadkach.
Drugi zarzut mam do samego finału. Jest zaskakujący, dynamiczny i pomysłowy, ale zupełnie nie przystaje do wcześniejszej formuły książki. Choć nic w nim nie kłóci się z logiką a postawa i wnioski, jakie wyciągają z wydarzeń poszczególni bohaterowie pozostają w zgodzie z ich dotychczasowym zachowaniem, to jest w tym zakończeniu pewien dysonans.
Jakkolwiek - "Zbrodnie wojenne" polecam i liczę, że w Polsce ukaże się więcej tak dobrze napisanych książek z tego uniwersum. I apeluję do wydawnictwa, aby w pierwszej kolejności zabrało się za publikację reszty "warcraftowego" dorobku Pani Golden!
War Crimes is my most favorite World of Warcraft so far. It had literally everything in it that I wanted to have.
The plot is a matter of Garrosh Hellscream's questionable trial at the end of Mists of Pandaria and tells the whole trial in detail. I know that the idea of the trial itself was received with rather mixed feelings. While I had found it to be weird to not simply execute Garrosh, the idea of the trial was new and refreshing. In the novel it gets further explained as to why this was chosen and some of the evidence being showed made you hesitate and think twice about Garrosh's guilt.
What I loved the most about War Crimes is how every important person on Azeroth was present during the trial and that there were a lot of small chapters from someone else's view. So I got to read chapters of Anduin, Sylvanas, Jaina, Vereesa, Baine and some more. It was so refreshing to have many different points of view from such diverse characters. I enjoyed it very much and it's basically what makes War Crimes my favorite WoW novel so far.
In the light of the recent, questionable actions of Sylvanas during Battle of Azeroth, I just want to say there was a wonderful and heartbreaking story of her and her younger sister Vereesa in War Crimes that was nowhere to know about from the game only, and it made me love and understand Sylvanas's character even more. I still believe in my Warchief. She's not Garrosh.
Aaah, as a huge WoW fan and lover of the novels with their exciting side stories, this was just such an enjoyable novel. Truly the best so far.
I still hold a firm belief that bringing Christie Golden on board to compose literature for World of Warcraft was one of the best decisions Blizzard has made to date. And after finishing War Crimes, I don't believe that opinion will be fading any time soon.
Many know full well that this novel is not an action-driven story and instead foucses on a courtroom debate of the fate of Garrosh Hellscream. And while it does not necessarily utilize intense, honorable combat as it prerogative to drive the story forward, it doesn't really even need to. War Crimes explores the relationships and hardships of key Warcraft characters and forges new depth for less-explored character such as tauren chieftain Baine Bloodhoof and recently-appointed Horde warchief Vol'Jin.
Not only is it a page-turner thanks to its fluid writing, but I was relieved to find that the novel is easily accessible for those who may not have kept up with the Warcraft story in recent years (Until recently, I had not played since early Wrath of the Lich King). The novel manages to recap a large portion of the story and intelligently weaves those events into the courtroom setting. Nothing ever feels forced, and everything that is mentioned factors into the bigger picture.
Christie is an excellent author and has quickly become one of my favorites. World of Warcraft fans will find plenty to love here.
I have only read a few of the World of Warcraft (WOW) books. Even though I play the game. The ones that I have read, I enjoyed. I can tell the author is also a fan and player of WOW. The author really makes the world come alive and be just like you are playing the game, only in the books. Of course if you play the game, you are excited than to the next expansion and fighting new bosses. So I wanted to read up on this book to see if I could get a little more insight to the new expansion coming soon. I got a little information but not like I had hoped. Also, this book until others past did not have a bunch of action happening in it. It was more of less a lot of talking between all the different characters in the different realms. The trial dragged on and on. Finally there was the ending while was a given was alright.
I played through Mists of Pandaria with little care for the lore until the War between the Alliance and the Horde began to pick up much momentum. I was upset that it couldn't all be handled in-game, but now I understand why. There are three different stories running through this book. All of which blend together somewhat seamlessly. The trial, while a bit on the dull/boring side definitely had its moments of "oh my god, what?!" It was nice hearing major characters testimonies. The sub-plots were nice touches, one with Varessa and Sylvanas, Anduin and Garrosh's talks (depicted in Patch 5.4), and finally, Zaela and Kairoz.
Well written as per usual in regards to the author, C. Golden. Only dissatisfied with the ending but that isn't in her power. This section of lore encapsulates the pandered hosted trial of war crimes committed by Garrosh Hellscream. As usual the story is more about the reflections faced by other important people of Azeroth and the growth they may achieve in their self discovery. This book had much more of Sylvanas than most, which makes it one of my top favorite lore novels. I sincerely hope for more wow lore by this author.
Having been only my second World of Warcraft book it was indeed an enjoyable read and helped me to understand some of the aspects of the universe as a whole. If you are a fan of Warcraft or enjoy fantasy on any sense then I would implore you to give this book a shot.