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Literature / Tides of War

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"But you know what doesn't change? Hatred. Hatred and the hunger for power. People get an idea or plan that works in their favor, and they dig in and won't let it go. They won't see what's right in front of them if it contradicts what they want. And the words of reason, of peace, just don't seem to be effective against that anymore."
— Jaina Proudmoore.

Jaina Proudmoore: Tides Of War is the name of a World of Warcraft novel by Christie Golden. As her previous work, The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, had done for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, this story leads into the World of Warcraft expansion World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

Deathwing has been defeated, but conflict rages between the Alliance and the Horde. As Garrosh prepares to invade the Alliance city of Theramore, he makes it clear that nothing less than absolute loyalty to him is required of the Horde's member races. His decision forces some of his allies, including Vol'jin and Baine Bloodhoof, to weigh whether to continue to be part of the Horde or withdraw to see to their own people's interests. The Alliance sees Garrosh as an increased threat, and peace as less and less possible.

In the midst of all this conflict, Kalecgos discovers that the Focusing Iris, a blue dragon artifact of great power, has been stolen from the Eye of Eternity. He approaches Jaina Proudmoore, leader of Theramore, to track down the artifact, but can they do so before the thieves cause a great disaster with its power?

This novel contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: "Theramore's Fall" is a scenario in World of Warcraft mainly focuses on the Horde rescuing Thalen Songweaver and the Alliance helping Jaina as she retrieves the Focusing Iris. This focuses on the battle, and its personal impacts on Jaina.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Two messengers at separate points. Lampshaded once.
    Ol' Durty Pete: Ye got yer message through, lass. Ye done good. Take yer rest, noo.
    Corproal Teegan: She’s dead, you idiot.
    Ol' Durty Pete: I know, laddie, I know.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Do you really want to be remembered as another Garrosh? Another Arthasnote ?" After that Jaina snaps out of her racism and rage, mellows out, and while still hostile to the horde, realizes that they aren't all monsters, is not going to kill civillians, and may be willing to mend the fence with Thrall when Garrosh is gone.
  • Ascended Extra: Windle Sparkshine, Kinndy's father is a minor NPC in Dalaran who doesn't offer any essential services.
  • Ascended Meme: Jaina invokes the "Daelin Proudmoore was right" meme, which is used as the basis for her subsequent (attempted) attack on Orgrimmar's population.
    Jaina Proudmoore: (speaking to a statue of her late father) You were right, Papa. You were right! I should have listened!
  • Bearer of Bad News: Jaina to Vereesa.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Anduin recognizes that the time has come to fight the Horde after Theramore's destruction, and this is lampshaded by Varian.
    Varian: Even lovers of peace despise cowards.
  • Big Bad: Garrosh.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jaina, helping the Alliance with her enslaved water elementals
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jaina is able to snap out of her temporary racism, and realizes that no, her father was still a monster who deserved his fate, and finally is able to avoid crossing the Moral Event Horizon. But Theramore is still destroyed, war is on the horizon, and her friendship with Thrall is pretty much shot.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: On the black side is Garrosh, who is becoming increasingly evil, and his accomplices Malkorok and Gallywix. On the gray side are the rest of the Horde who, with various degrees of reluctance, are forced to fight in Garrosh's war, fearing retribution and not knowing his true plans, as well as the Alliance, whom Thrall points out are partly to blame for the deteriorating situation. Among the few "white" aligned characters are Jaina and Anduin.
  • Break the Cutie: Jaina, as well as Kinndy, who gets a harsh look at what war is like, then dies.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: While Jaina is correct that Garrosh is causing rising tensions between the Horde and Alliance, Thrall isn't wrong that Jaina can't blame the current tensions squarely at Garrosh's feet for not all attacks that been initiated by the Horde. It's telling that even though Jaina internally blames Garrosh, she outright admits that Thrall is in the right.
  • Character Development:
    • Jaina goes through a great deal throughout the book, growing increasingly frustrated and disillusioned about the possibility of peace between the Horde and the Alliance, nearly succumbing to an overwhelming desire for revenge after Theramore's destruction, and finally emerges as someone who is prepared for war and the idea that all things must change.
    • Anduin, after hearing about Theramore's destruction goes from being a pacifist to recognizing that Garrosh is a threat who must be dealt with, but says that the war must be carried out justly.
  • Curse Cut Short: "We can wipe out every one of those green-skinned sons of-" "Jaina!"
  • Cynicism Catalyst: All the inhabitants of Theramore for Jaina, notably her apprentice Kinndy
  • Darker and Edgier: Surprisingly dark even in comparison to novels taking place during Cataclysm. There are no easy answers to the questions facing the Alliance and the Horde, and a great deal of suffering and death occurs.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hamuul Runetotem shows signs of this around Garrosh, especially as far as his poorly thought out rhetorical questions go.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Jaina after Theramore is destroyed
  • Deus Exit Machina: Jaina vents her frustrations over Thrall being absent healing the world after Deathwing's defeat, and thus unable to stabilize things between the Horde and the Alliance. He does, however, intervene to help stop Jaina after hearing about Theramore.
    • Which is an example itself.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Do not get too attached to Jaina’s apprentice, her bodyguard or the forces defending Theramore
  • Dirty Coward: Varian calls Garrosh this, especially considering his bombing Theramore.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The mana bomb that destroyed Theramore is Warcraft's equivalent of a nuke. The analogy is even stronger when one reads that the mana bomb was engineered after one salvaged from Outland upon the defeat of Kael's blood elves - not unlike the Allies taking nuclear technology from the Germans in the aftermath of WWII. Goes hand-in-hand with the overall "Cold War" stance of the Alliance and Horde.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Thrall insists on going by his birth name, Go’el, rather than Thrall, the name he was known by for much of the series since Lord of the Clans.
  • The Dragon: Malkorok is this to Garrosh.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Rhonin isn't quite able to stop the mana bomb, but he saves many lives, including Vereesa and Jaina's.
  • Easily Forgiven: Baine claims that the destruction of Camp Taurajo, was justified from a military perspective and carried out as mercifully as possible. Keep in mind, per the quest Flightmare, Taurajo was literally firebombed, this is pretty forgiving. Baine then exiled any tauren who disagree with him on this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards
    • Garrosh doesn’t like Gallywix’s materialism, but keeps him around because he won’t object to anything as long as there is profit to be made.
    • Potentially going to be played straight or subverted with Garrosh's views on Malkorok torturing and killing dissidents, depending on whether he tacitly approves or doesn't know. It is implied that when Malkorok served Rend, it was enough for him to simply shrug when Rend asked about the dissidents, which could indicate the latter for Garrosh.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Varian, despite being one of the more belligerent and warlike Alliance leaders, is disturbed by how far Jaina Proudmoore plans to go after the destruction of Theramore.
    • On the opposite side of the coin, Anduin, despite being a pacifist, thinks Garrosh has gone too far.
  • Fantastic Racism: Garrosh; Jaina temporarily becomes one, but after Thrall and Kalec force her to face that she's becoming as monstrous as Arthas (as well as when the residue from the mana bomb wears off) she snaps out of it and while still hostile to the horde, isn't going to murder civilians or view them all as bloodthirsty monsters. It's also briefly implied that Tyrigosa, "princess" of the Blue Dragonflight, doesn't view mortals with the same esteem as Kalecgos does, making her a minor case of this.
  • Flanderization: While Baine was always willing to give peace a chance, he initially was also a proud warrior who made sure to punish anyone who hurt the tauren. In this novel, he is exaggerated to the point he coldly brushes off his civilians being killed in Taurajo and exiles a bunch of tauren for fighting back. Note Baine was originally intended to be angry about Taurajo's destruction.
  • Foreshadowing: Vol'jin approaches Baine after the meeting with Garrosh and tells him that it was unwise to raise Garrosh's ire, and that he is cautious because of how close the trolls are to Orgrimmar. In World of Warcraft, Vol'jin is almost killed in the Dagger in the Dark scenario after he objects to Garrosh planning on making saurok minions, he goes into hiding after faking his death, and Garrosh has the Echo Isles occupied.
  • General Failure / General Ripper: Garrosh is considered a terrible leader by Baine and Vol'jin after he hesitates on the attack, resulting in the Alliance reinforcing its position and many losses. It turns out that he did this to get all of the Alliance's best forces in one location, then blow them up, but none of his critics are pleased with this idea, either.
  • Genki Girl: Kinndy.
  • Heel Realization: Jaina comes to one regarding her plans to Orgrimmar, especially once she realizes that she would have also destroyed the Alliance navy
    • Thrall has one himself after learning from Eitrigg (via messenger) that Garrosh obliterated Theramore with a mana bomb.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Captain Wymor and his men stay in the blast radius of an incoming bomb in the hopes that Garrosh will be caught in the blast.
    • Rhonin, to minimize the damage of the mana bomb and save Jaina and the other forces outside the city, including his wife Vereesa.
  • Hope Spot: The members of the Alliance send their strongest forces to defend Theramore, and get annihilated by the mana bomb.
  • Idiot Ball/Out-of-Character Moment: Baine, while nice, was someone previously willing to fight the Alliance when provoked, and was of course protective towards the tribes under his command. In one scene in Tides of War, Baine outright says Taurajo's destruction was justified(keep in mind this included the place being Firebombed!), and then proceeded to exile the tauren who disagreed from Thunder Bluff!
  • Ignored Expert: Jaina laments her status as one, noting that Thrall, Varian and especially Garrosh don't listen to her.
  • Interspecies Romance: One starts up between Jaina and Kalecgos.
  • Ironic Name: "Fort Triumph" falls to the Horde while making an ill-advised attempt to stand against them alone.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Jaina tells Kinndy that you can never truly get used to the costs associated with war, but after some time, it is no longer unfamiliar and you learn to move on. She briefly loses sight of this in the wake of Theramore's destruction.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Jaina, after Theramore’s destruction, plans on annihilating the Horde
    • Not to mention Garrosh's attack on Theramore.
  • Kick the Dog: Baine exiling Tauren who disagree with him on his forgiveness towards the Alliance's actions can be seen as this, especially as it included grieving widowers with babies to feed.
  • Killed Off for Real: Rhonin, and many other minor characters, in Theramore
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:You will likely have heard about Theramore’s fate if you play World of Warcraft, but thankfully, the back cover only implies what will happen to it.
  • Line in the Sand: Baine and Vol'jin, convening a secret meeting to discuss Garrosh's actions, tells those in attendance that any who are too scared of the risk can back out. Some of them take the opportunity... and one brings back Garrosh.
  • The Mole: Thalen Songweaver
  • Moral Luck: At the novel's end, Jaina is praised by the Kirin Tor for the strong morals she displayed in her reaction to Theramore's fate. Said reaction was taking the same artifact used to destroy Theramore, stealing a tome of how to use it from the Kirin Tor, and attempting to destroy Orgrimmar with it. She only does not do so because Thrall physically prevents her, holding her conjured tidal wave in place until he and Kalec talk her down. Perhaps most tellingly, the prevailing argument is that she would be as bad as Garrosh and Arthas, but apparently only if she was successful. If forces outside her control stop her first, then her ethics are still squeaky clean.
  • Naval Blockade: Following the destruction of Theramore the Horde navy forms a ring around Kalimdor, blocking Alliance ships from reaching their allies there.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Jaina regarding Garrosh's surviving a bomb blast nearby.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Jaina realizes how similar she is becoming to Arthas and even Garrosh, as she plans on razing Orgrimmar. The realization causes her to abandon those plans.
    • On a more minor sense, when Baine questions Garrosh's decision to accept the loyalty of Blackrock orcs like Malkorok, Vol'jin points out that Baine let the Grimtotem who swore loyalty to him stay in Thunder Bluff.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Not even Garrosh likes Gallywix, but he also realizes that, being driven by money, he's a reliable supporter as long as he can make a profit.
  • Properly Paranoid: Vereesa, who is racist against blood elves, turns out to be right when Thalen Songweaver is a traitor, although she also unfairly suspects that Aethas was in on it as well. Garrosh seems to prove right every bad conception Varian has about the Horde.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Baine smears Garrosh's face with a bloody rag from a dead tauren when he sees that Garrosh's plan has resulted in many casualties for seemingly no good reason, though Baine isn't innocent either seeing as he alerted Theramore of the Horde soldier's locations. And when he finds out about the mana bomb, he's even less pleased.
    Baine: That, Garrosh, is the blood of a young tauren who died obeying your orders! Your commands! The commands have left far too many stiffening in these muddy waters for no purpose! It is a more fitting decoration than your tattoos, Garrosh!"
    • Jaina to one of the Horde soldiers sent to finish her off after Theramore’s destruction, declaring that if they spit on mercy, they will have none, and vowing that Garrosh will get more blood than he ever bargained for, before killing them all.
    • Jaina gives one to Varian and Anduin when they object to her plan to destroy Orgrimmar, calling them a "coward" and a "gullible child," respectively
    • Varian to Garrosh.
    Varian: You have grown cowardly since we last met. First magnataur, then elementals, then kraken to do your dirty work. Did you run and hide when you dropped the mana bomb? I’m sure you were a safe distance away!
    • Jaina to Thrall. Twice. First telling him that leaving Garrosh at the helm of the horde has strained the Horde-Alliance relationship with his warmongering ways, and that one day everyone would regret it. The second time, she pretty much lays Theramore's fall at Thrall's feet saying it wouldn't have happened if Garrosh wasn't the warchief.
    Jaina: Theramore's destruction I lay firmly at your feet, Thrall! You left Garrosh in charge of the Horde! I begged you to come back and remove him from power. I knew he would do something terrible one day, and he has. Garrosh may have done this — but I blame you for giving him the power to do it!
    • Kalec and Thrall give her one as well; Thrall points out that she's using the same artifact Garrosh used to exact her revenge, while Kalec bluntly tells her that she's using the same logic that Arthas used to justify the slaughter of Stratholme, before outright implying that she's being WORSE, since Arthas was acting more out of misguided compassion than hatred, before asking her if that's how she really wants to be remembered. Fortunately, Jaina realizes that they are both right and snaps out of her vendetta.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Garrosh falls into these when Hamuul is concerned.
    Garrosh: Does this look like the green skin of Thrall?
    Hamuul: No, Warchief. No one would ever mistake you for Thrall.
    • Again regarding Garrosh's apparently unwise delay in the attack.
    Garrosh: And now, can you tell me what my decision to wait has brought us?
    Hamuul: Defeat?
  • Sadistic Choice: Baine and Vol'jin realize that Garrosh's war is not only immoral, but dangerous to them, but they also realize that he'll turn on them if they dare oppose him.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Captain Wymor's sacrifice, given that Garrosh lives.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Kinndy, a talented apprentice of Jaina who has never seen actual war before.
  • Slave Mooks: The molten giants Garrosh enslaves and also Jaina’s water elementals.
  • So Proud of You: Varian to Anduin, after Anduin prays for the soldiers of the Alliance in the hopes that they fight for a good cause, and recognizes the necessity of action against Garrosh’s horde.
  • The Stool Pigeon: A goblin serves as a Betrayer Barry for the meeting of dissidents.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Garrosh was only ever an Anti-Hero even on his best day, but his actions in this novel are a big leap in the direction of villain. There's no build-up to or backstory for his change in outlook, and even the Word of God that he "has a weak core" and could be easily influenced by a Toxic Friend Influence sounds more like an excuse than an explanation. In particular, bombing a population center off the face of the earth is something he executed one of his men for in the expansion that led into this novel.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Kalecgos uses an arcane ball with a distinct recurring pattern to show Jaina Proudmoore what magic is made of. The realization stuns her.
    Jaina: It's... math!
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Malkorok demands that Baine address Garrosh as "Warchief" when he protests the use of molten giants.
  • Title Drop: In the prophecy at the end.
    Be ye warned — the tides of war
    At last shall break upon the shore.
  • Token Enemy Minority: Eitrigg and Malkorok are among the few Blackrock orcs (a clan of orcs initially at the leadership of the warlock-controlled Horde, then allied with Nefarian) allied with the Horde. Vol'jin and Baine are wary of Malkorok, since he served Rend Blackhand.
  • We Have Reserves: Garrosh's master plan is intended to inflict devastating casualties on the Alliance, but to get there, requires considerable losses on his own side.
  • Wham Episode: The book can be considered one.
  • Wham Line: Kalecgos finally finds the Focusing Iris.
    Now it was moving. Fast.
    And it was moving northwest. Toward Theramore.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jaina gives one to Thrall in reference to his decision to stay behind to heal the world rather than take Garrosh’s place. She gets one back from Thrall and Kalecgos when they learns of her plans for Orgrimmar.
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Baine after Garrosh shows him the mana bomb.
  • With Us or Against Us: Implied to be how Garrosh rationalizes using the mana bomb when both before and after the events of this novel he distinguishes between killing in battle (honorable) and murder (dishonorable). He delays the attack on Theramore expressly to give the Alliance time to reinforce the city, so as to maximize the bomb's impact. The Alliance naturally also evacuates the non-combatants from the city while doing this, meaning that everyone left in the city by the time of the bombing had made the conscious decision to stand in the Horde's way.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Garrosh backhands Kelantir, a female blood elf paladin. This is portrayed as a Kick the Dog moment not because Kelantir is defenseless, as this is not the case, but because all she did was take part in a group of concerned members of the Horde discussing his recent decisions.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Sylvanas' pleading with Lor'themar to stand with her as she argues that the Forsaken might bear the brunt of an Alliance counterattack in the northern Eastern Kingdoms can be seen as this, given that she had previously blackmailed him into supporting her war against the Lich King in Northrend.
  • You Are in Command Now: Jaina, over the Kirin Tor.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Garrosh is alienating the majority of the Horde; Baine and Vol’Jin oppose what he is doing, Lor’Thermar only stays on out of loyalty to the Horde in general, and Gallywix, who is despised even by his own people, stays for profit.