In World of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, by Christie Golden, we find Lady Jaina Proudmoore continuing her struggle to foster peace between the Alliance and the Horde as Garroth Hellscream, ruthless war chief of the Horde, prepares an assault on her city of Theramore and the Alliance. His weapon of choice is a stolen magical artifact that he is utilizing to be used as a nuclear weapon. The story is so slowly paced, that when the events finally unfold, the reader no longer cares. Golden is adept in her writing and descriptions but she has her characters explaining the reasoning and emotions behind their actions, rather than let their actions stand on their own.
Jaina, the central character, cannot condone being an aggressor, so we readers have to wait for her to take action to defend her people. Granted, her role is that of diplomat brokering peace between the Alliance and the Horde, but we long for her to go against her introverted nature in the face of battle and exude decisiveness, urgency and strength and strike against the Horde.
Even as the Horde camp out on her doorstep, Jaina takes time to linger on her rituals, taking in the ocean view, instructing the citizens to do the same. Instead of locking the gates to her city to defend against the Horde, she decides to leave them open until sundown, so that they can take in a meal at an inn and a drink with friends by a fire to understand what they are fighting for. With war at hand is there really time for a leisurely meal and a chat with friends by the fire? She whines at having to fight to defend her people. This is her internal battle and it plays stronger in the book than her strategies to mount a defense to save the Alliance. I didn’t find her forceful enough and her actions lacks urgency and purpose, thereby so does her character.
For someone so insightful, her wish for a peaceable solution with Garrosh is in vain. Garrosh in his blind rage is incapable of seeing reason. His wish is for Aezeroth to be his and peace is far from anything he cares about. His blood burns hot for battle and domination of the entire continent.
However, even with his character’s laser focus on domination, he waits for four days to strike at Theramore, even though he has the chance to take it out with one fell swoop with no one the wiser. His boats linger in the harbor hiding, and his people aren’t privy to Garrosh’s reason for waiting or his plans until much later. It doesn’t add any suspense for the reader, but needlessly drags the story on.
The thing that finally spurs Jaina into action is when, her apprentice, Kindy Sparkshine is killed in battle, blasted into a violet dust by the mana bomb constructed by the Horde. Kindy is a supporting character at best, and not integral to the plot. Her sole purpose seems to be that of a sacrificial lamb. Yet Kindy’s death does finally spur Jaina into action. However, she becomes someone filled with hate and rage and bloodlust, those very characteristics she abhors. She seeks only retaliation. She decides to use the Focusing Iris, the stolen magical artifact harnessed to power the mana bomb against Theramore and the Alliance, to bring vengeance upon Garosh and the Horde. She becomes ruthless, unreasoning and bent on revenge at the cost of innocent lives.
As quickly as she assumes this persona, Thrall and Kalecgos are able to dissuade her of her plans for annihilation of the Hordes.
At the conclusion, Jaina no longer burns with vengeance, yet she no longer she no longer believes that peace is the answer. This leaves her character wandering, not knowing where she belongs. I found the last chapters to be anticlimactic, especially since the pivotal battle scene in Theramore takes place midway through the book.
Although the book doesn’t harp on the age old tale of hero defeats evil and peace is restored, we are left wandering at the end, like Jaina, who no longer knows her place in the world, hamstrung by her sorrows and defeats. Although I did enjoy the elements brought to life in battle, such as randomly summoned molten giants, armies of towering tidal wave elementals, and mana atom bombs, the story’s pacing is stifled. Just as we get into a good action sequence, we are sent into the next chapter with a new distraction by an unimportant subplot or character.
Golden tells me everything instead of showing me and her overuse of description and subtlety in her craft caused the story to fade into unimportant details leaving me wishing for more finality and depth in the characterizations.