Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Shattering: Prelude to the Cataclysm Book Review

You know the game you have been playing for five plus years has hit the main stream when the newest book regarding it can be found for sale at my local super store in my poe dink town BEFORE it arrives via my special order from Amazon. (For those of you who think that Walmart came up with the idea of the Super Store you are wrong, they actually copied the idea from a local franchise we have in my neck of the woods.) WHY was it available early you ask? Because we ARE a poe dink town. They had NO clue what they had, so they put it OUT before its release date....however since I HAD special ordered it my loving spouse would not allow me to purchase it. (We have no need for multiple copies he said.) Then of course Amazon delivered it LATE....there is this WONDERFUL thing called irony.

The Shattering is Christie Golden's newest contribution to the canon of World of Warcraft. Unlike her previous works this addition doesn't take place primarily in the past but very much in the present day of the On Line Game. I would characterize this book as an introduction of the "changing of the guard" in the current political powers of Azeroth. Which is something that Ms. Golden  handles beautifully.  By that I mean the next generation of political leaders are coming into their own and making themselves known in this book. We are being introduced to each of them, learning who they are and what makes them tick. Even if you never read the book you will encounter every character at some point in the game, but reading it will give you a greater understanding of how they came to be there, WHY they are in the position they hold, as well as their relationship to the others. Lore mongers will HAVE to have this book, all others will certainly enjoy it.

One of the things I most enjoy about Golden's work is that she is able to make her characters understandable to the reader. That doesn't mean you will like or embrace them. There are MULTIPLE times I wanted to bash both Garrosh AND Varian's heads for being so fundamentally STUPID, but you can understand WHY they are making the decisions they are, even if you may not agree with WHY they are doing them. Yet she is able to make their motivations believable.  One of the problems with a GAME is that it tends to limit character development to two dimensions. Golden is finally able to give us a third demension to our characters again and restore individuals like Jaina Proudmoore BACK to something more than a sniveling hankie.

She really had her work cut out for her, especially in the area of character development for Garrosh. Here was an individual who AGAIN had to undergo RADICAL personality changes between expansions and she needed to tie it together. To explain to the reader HOW he was a whiny sniveling brat in Outland, an out of control hot head in Northrend and then SOMEHOW becomes a REASONABLE leader following the Cataclysm. She even manages to give a little more insight into why Varian is so unstable, that he is AWARE that he is unstable but also that he can't do much about it other than continue to muddle through TRYING to gain more control over his split personality problem. (It is a good thing the Horde still can't kill Anduin, otherwise his sole reason for attempting to remain sane would evaporate.)

*Spoilers to Follow*

There are TONS of reviews out about this book now that go into detail about the story so I won't even bother giving a run down of it. I just want to mention what I considered the high lights for me.

First, a remark made by Eitrigg to Thrall about Jaina Proudmoore. "To bad she isn't an orc." It is kinda a tweak at all the fans who have had this thing about Thrall and Jaina. I have never been one for the whole Jaina and Thrall romantic thing but I know that Chris Mentzen has been trying to get Thrall a romantic interest FOREVER, only to have fans pitch a FIT because they want him with Jaina. Well as Eitrigg says...."She ISN'T an Orc.." Thall needs a mate. He needs an heir. Part of the problem the Horde faces is as the direct result of the fact that Thrall DOESN'T have an heir and the only person he WOULD have chosen was killed at the Wrathgate. That whole scene was delicious. Thankfully Thrall FINALLY gets himself a girlfriend and I really like her, she is just as smart mouthed as his mother was. When I first encountered her in game not even knowing who she was I enjoyed thier interactions, so it will be nice to she her developed more.

Second, the meeting between Baine and Anduin at Jaina's. I don't think ANYONE would say this wasn't one of the BEST parts of the book. Golden herself has stated she had the most fun writing this and it shows. The conversation between these two fugitives just shows how much of an impact they will have on the future of Azeroth. Both of them questioning if they will be able to live up to the legends that are their Fathers, but at the same time knowing that even now they have a role to play in the greater scheme of things. Anduin and Baine both leave it embracing their vocations and baring gifts of very different types, one a physical item, the other the, words of power that will forever alter their factions.

Third, Garrosh's letter to Magatha. This single item lifted Garrosh in my eyes. If you have never read it...it is a sight to behold.
Unto Elder Crone Magatha of the Grimtotem, 
Acting Warchief of the Horde, Garrosh Hellscream,
Sends his most sincere wishes for a slow and painful death.
It goes on from there. The letter is a work of art. Filled with insults, death threats, torture descriptions and snide remarks. It shows that Garrosh MIGHT be worth something as Warchief. Granted he is still feeling rather sorry for himself and put upon for his own stupidity. But then Eitrigg isn't pulling any punches in pointing out that the whole reason he is IN this mess is because he WAS so arrogant and stupid that he GOT taken advantage of and as a result the Trolls think he murdered Cairne on PURPOSE. Baine at least recognizes he is an idiot (this is a good thing?) and isn't going to hold it against him no matter how much he may want to beat him to a bloody pulp. The Blood Elves and Forsaken haven't really weighed in on the matter since they were in  the Eastern Kingdoms at the time.

Fourth, Varian and The Council of the Three Hammers. Now this for me was HUGE but it is a lore thing that I don't know if many people will find nearly as big as I did. It is kinda of the case of something RIGHT being done for all the wrong reasons and in totally the wrong way. For the FIRST TIME SINCE BEFORE THE WAR OF THE THREE HAMMERS THE THREE CLANS ARE UNITED IN IRONFORGE!! And we have Varian and Moira to thank for it. The problem is that these two are TOTALLY crazy and it didn't happen because that was REALLY what they were going for.

As much as we keep calling King Varian "Varian" you discover in the book that really the "Varian" part of him got totally messed up after the incident with Lady Onyxia, so the personality that pretty much runs the show is Lo'Gosh. Not a good idea because that means he is going into a fury every time someone ticks him off. This means it is a "react first, think later" thing with King Varian, especially if it concerns his son Anduin. So when Varian decides that the best thing for the "Dwarven people" is to assassinated the new "Empress Moira". It has absolutely NOTHING to do with what is best for THEM and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that she DARED to hold Anduin hostage.

Moira on the other hand is dealing with unresolved issues of her own regarding her Father. Apparently ole Magni was a little disappointed she was born a girl and so she grew up with an inferiority complex. So she ran away and joined the Dark Iron's who fawned all over her, and told her how wonderful she was. Eventually falling in love and marrying Dagran Thaurissan their leader. Well that didn't go over well with Daddy who declared she MUST have been enchanted and sent a group of adventures off to "rescue her". Murdering her husband didn't do much to restore the Father Daughter relations, so the estrangement continued, but now Magni had an additional problem. Word had reached him that Moria had a child which meant that his Grandson would be the heir to both HIS throne as well as the Dark Iron. Magni had two choices, he could disown Moria or let things stand. He chose to let them stand in hopes that eventually he would be able to restore the relationship. But it was not to be.

There are a lot of feminist who are not happy with the treatment of the Moria character. They see her as EVIL. They are complaining that Blizzard keeps coming up with EVIL female characters. I think they need to re evaluate how Ms. Golden presented Moria. In my opinion she is very sheltered and limited in her world experience. She lived in Iron Forge under her Father and then in Black Rock with her Spouse. All she has known is the dwaves, YES she is manipulative. She IS a spoiled Princess, as much as she may or may not realize it. For the Dark Irons, especially the ruling classes, all you do is speak and everyone else rushes to do your bidding. She is entertained by Anduin, but not willing to trust him. She is understandably TERRIFIED when faced with an ENRAGED King Varian who shows up at her bedside, swords drawn declaring her a "pretender". Yet at the same time, Moria wants equality for her Dark Irons. She it tired of them being hidden away in Black Rock, reviled and rejected for no other reason than because they lost in a war of succession. (I think this shows her nievity, the Dark Irons ARE a rather bitter bunch even now about that, which didn't help her feelings towards Daddy.)

Over all it is going to be interesting to see how these play out in Cataclysm. Will there be tension between Ironforge and Stormwind because Varian has basically stated he will be closely monitoring the actions of Moira and the new council very closely? How will Garrosh deal with the distrust many of the leaders of the Horde now have towards HIM as the result of the murder of Cairne? Will we have Prince Anduin randomly showing up at Theramore taking a vacation from his Dad's temper fits? (Oh that would be HYSTERICAL!) At least Jaina is back to being a strong leader again, yeah she is still bummed she couldn't save Arthas...and Varian may rub her nose in it from time to time but she isn't balling about it every five minutes anymore either. Thank GOD!


  1. Great review of a great book. I enjoyed reading it, and looking forward to seeing the characters in game.

  2. Great post :)

    Though I have to disagree with saying that Varian did it only for his son.

    He did it for the people of Ironforge in the first place, wanting to save them from the Dark irons whom he has fought a lot against in the comics.

    True: He did want to cut her open for messing with his son, but that was a little extra. In the end, his intentions were meant to do something good for ironforge, knowing that if Moira stayed in charge, she would let her Dark irons ruin it.

    In the end, I find his solution to be Brilliant! Once Anduin confinced him that killing her wasn't going to solve their problems (though he was right in removing her from absolute rule), he figured out right on the spot how to solve everything.

    Another reason why he's my favourite lore character.

    And yes, you should read the book, It's amazing!

  3. @Nielsdejong

    I can understand what you are saying, but if you look at the comics, every time Varian went against the Dark Irons it was while accompanying a Bronzebeard Dwarf. He was usually ASSISTING them in a rescue, so it wasn't really HIS fight.

    Perhaps he was also considering the greater threat to Stormwind with an unstable Ironforge, but I still don't think he was considering the needs of the Dwarves. If he had been he would have had another leader picked out BEFORE he attacked.

    As it stands, the book seems to indicate that he had not even considered WHAT would happen to the Dwarven people after Moria was killed. It is Anduin pointing out he would be starting another Dwaven Civil War that brings him to his senses.

    One of the things I DO like is that Varian is able to acknowledge to Moria that like HER he is born to his position but that doesn't mean he always makes the right decisions. It was kinda like, ok, I goofed but I am going to make this RIGHT, and he does in a BIG way.

    One the best parts about reading the out of game stuff is you get to understand and see the characters as more than the two dimensional renderings of the game. The fact that Golden was actually able to make me ENJOY Garrosh and end that book going "Man, Varian and Garrosh are just TO MUCH a like."