It’s not a secret that I am a fan of World of Warcraft. I got into the game years ago, just shortly before the release of The Burning Crusade expansion pack, when my girlfriend at the time who was also a huge nerd (and also a huge slut who had been dating someone she met on World of Warcraft before she met me, and would later cheat on the guy she cheated on me with by screwing ANOTHER new guy she met on World of Warcraft), introduced me to the game. I have always enjoyed RPGs, fantasy, knights, swords, and magic. Yes, I’m one of THOSE nerds – you know, the kinds that can watch all the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies back to back to back, or who has actually READ A Song of Ice & Fire instead of just mindlessly tweeting about Game of Thrones every week.
Anyway, despite my descent into WoW, I never realized the importance of the novels until recently – I didn’t realize that if I wanted an explanation as to certain plot events, they were only going to be explained in the novels and not in some in-game world events. I consider that somewhat lazy of the developers to not make full-fledged world events for the gamer, but oh well, it’s how it’s done, and so when I found out the newest novel, War Crimes had been released, I figured it was a time to read about my favorite Nazi in the World of Warcraft, Garrosh Hellscream and the events that are going to lead to the upcoming “Warlords of Draenor” expansion this fall.
For those who may not have been keeping score, the leader of the Horde, Garrosh Hellscream, pretty much went from JUST being a heavy-handed strict Warchief (leader) of the Horde, to a full-fledged racist bigoted lunatic who wanted all non-Orcs dead, and has pretty much banned Trolls, Tauren, Blood Elves, Goblins and the Undead from his life. I recently got a friend, Blake, to sign up for World of Warcraft, and the first thing he sees upon entering the capital city of Orgrimmar is a Goblin (Goblins are basically based on many New Jersey Jew stereotypes, because they are greedy, hook nosed, and speak with a Jersey accent) getting mafia stomped by Orcs. Needless to say he that sold the game to him, because who doesn’t like a tyrannical racist lunatic being the leader of your playable faction? Hellscream has become my all-time favorite racist, bumping Hitler to 2, and Archie Bunker to 3 (which is irony since I almost exclusively play as Blood Elves, whom he hates, and have no Orc characters of my own). He has committed many crimes including invading Pandaria, ruining everything he touches, and having his armies create a bomb of pure magical energy (this is the WoW equivalent of Nuclear Weapons) and dropping it on a town just because he could, turning innocent people to dust and turning moderately hot naïve blonde wizard types into mentally unstable, gray-haired, revenge-seeking lunatics.
Anyway, finally after all the events of this expansion, including dropping nukes, stealing Divine Bells, almost murdering annoying pacifist prince-types, and having Goblins beaten half to death inside of banks just “because,” War Crimes follows what happens after the current WoW expansion, Mists of Pandaria is conquered (the final boss of Mists of Pandaria is Garrosh Hellscream himself).
Following the Siege of Orgrimmar which saw Garrosh stripped from power and the troll leader Vol’jin placed in the seat of power of the Horde, the Pandaren people decided to hold a neutral trial to determine if he is guilty of these crimes and what his sentence should be. Pretty much all the main characters in WoW want Garrosh dead, both Horde and Alliance, and are all really hoping for the Pandaren’s August Celestials (basically their Gods) to pass swift judgment.
The major conflict in this novel is the fact that no matter how much rage, anger and hatred everyone has for Garrosh (except me, because I love this guy for being a prick), and no matter how much they want him dead, laws dictate that everything must be “fair,” a fairness Garrosh didn’t display in any of his actions. As a result Baine Bloodhoof, leader of the Tauren, whose father was personally murdered by Garrosh Hellscream in a duel is chosen to play his defense attorney in a book that basically is WoW’s answer to the TV show Law and Order, or reminiscent of the film A Few Good Men. Also attending the trial are two members of the Bronze Dragonflight, Chromie and Kairoz (dragons that used to control time, and still have limited power over it), along with the Hourglass of Eternity, which allows people to view any point in time exactly as it happened. This means some serious time-paradox s—t is probably going to go down leading to Warlords of Draenor; that much anyone with Google knows. The question is HOW does it go down, and what happens during this trial that might have consequences for the next game?
War Crimes is an interesting read where we find out how the main characters effected by Garrosh’s actions are feeling and what they are thinking moving forward. We get a glimpse of the New Horde under Vol’jin. We get to see some drama in the Alliance between Varian and Jaina. I found myself really enjoying the “new Jaina” that has been the direct result of Garrosh’s actions. We see the (very small) possibility of a rekindling bond between Sylvanas Windrunner and Vereesa despite being on two different sides of the war, and we see Varian’s son, Prince Anduin, who literally had every bone in his body crushed by Garrosh play the Clarice Starling to Garrosh’s Hannibal Lecter during the novel. Also the book seems to stress enough that we’re not supposed to call Thrall “Thrall” anymore because that was his slave name and if we’re not calling him Go’el we are wrong.
All in all War Crimes does what it was intended to do which was bridge the gap between Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, essentially giving us some serious hype into wanting to find out what’s next. It also manages to add a dimension of personality to the Alliance leaders whom WoW players have often pretty much labelled as “boring as f—k,” and gives us a little more Sylvanas Windrunner for all of the fan-boys out there who was disappointed the Dark Lady didn’t play much of a role this expansion (and probably won’t in the next one, either). But one of the absolute best parts is the fact we get to find out what Garrosh Hellscream himself thinks now, no longer tained by evil spirits or Sha or whatever they call it, and we realize the Sha didn’t really have anything to do with it; Garrosh is just an asshole and will always be one.
If you’re into storylines and characters and the lore and history of World of Wacraft (and if you play it you probably should be to justify countless hours and days of your life lost to the game) check this one out and then look at your calendar and sigh frequently knowing that it’s going to be a long summer between now and the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack… unless you are me, who realizes the Horde isn’t going to be run by a complete asshole anymore.