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Literature / War Crimes

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A Warcraft Expanded Universe novel written by Christie Golden, focused on the trial of Garrosh Hellscream for his actions during Mists of Pandaria. Surprisingly, the August Celestials have decided that, while Garrosh is blatantly guilty of a number of war crimes, true justice can only be reached if they have a public trial with members of the Horde and Alliance taking part, the end goal being to reach a consensus on what punishment he deserves, ranging from execution to a full pardon.


Helping matters along is the Bronze Dragon Kairoz, who has made an item, the Vision of Time, that will allow viewing past events exactly as they happened, removing the danger of false testimony. While almost no one actually likes Garrosh at this point, differing cultural values ensure the trial doesn't exactly flow smoothly, and that's without counting the shadowy plots that seek either to liberate the mad orc, or ensure a definitive end to Garrosh once and for all.

  • Achey Scars: Anduin's body still hurts from having the Divine Bell dropped on it and it's mentioned the pain will likely last the rest of his life.
  • All There in the Manual: A major complaint about the book is that it's required reading to understand the plot of Warlords of Draenor as Garrosh's trial and escape to the alternate Draenor isn't detailed in-game.
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  • Always Chaotic Evil: When Tyrande's prosecution involves the Horde as a whole, the focus is whether the Horde is this.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During one of their private conversations, Garrosh tells Anduin he would do anything to ensure the well being of those who stood by him (referring to the orcs). Anduin asks Garrosh, to his own surprise, "what if the Alliance stood by you?" The question was so shocking Garrosh told Anduin to Get Out!.
  • Ascended Extra: Vereesa Windrunner is a major player in this book, despite only a minor presence in World of Warcraft. Harrowmeiser was an almost completely irrelevant Goblin NPC captured by the Alliance all the way back in Wrath of the Lich King who plays a pivotal role in the plan to break Garrosh out.
  • Bad Boss: One of the things Garrosh is accused of. Zaela also leaves most of her hired mercenaries to die or be captured.
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  • Batman Gambit: The Alliance appoints Varian Wrynn as Accuser, and the Horde immediately vetoes him. The Alliance then proceeds to name Tyrande as Accuser, who despises the Horde even more than Varian. Lor'themar admits they were completely played.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Garrosh can't seem to be bothered to lift a finger in his own defense.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: After running her mouth a little too much, Sylvanas is reminded Baine is perfectly capable of breaking every bone in her body with his bare hands.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: A rat of all things. Referenced once, in passing, towards the beginning of the book, the rodent ends up indirectly saving Anduin near the end when it eats Garrosh's discarded food and dies, proving that his meal had been poisoned.
  • Continuity Nod: Has several to World of Warcraft, such as Thalen Songweaver reminiscing about rewarding people who helped him with miniature mana bombs.
  • Courtroom Episode: The trial is the main focus. Although there are events happening outside it, they are all connected to the trial somehow.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Through a ritual, Baine speaks with his late father over whether or not he should accept the duty of defending Garrosh in court.
  • Debate and Switch: Played with. The decision of the Celestials is rendered moot before they are able to deliver it, but the cast is still curious enough that they deliver it regardless.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Anduin with himself. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Disregard That Statement: When one side veers off topic or puts words in a witness' mouth, Taran Zhu puts his foot down.
  • Enemy Mine: Both sides want Garrosh punished, though some among the Alliance are also mad at the Horde as a whole. The attack on the Temple creates a much more standard version.
  • Enemy Without: The time duplicates Kairoz unleashes. They are explicitly likened to the Sha, and are defeated when the heroes begin to accept them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Sylvanas 'raise the unwilling dead to serve as cannon fodder' Windrunner wants Garrosh dead.
  • Everyone Has Standards: No one wants to see Garrosh walk away a free man. The point of the trial was to see if the leaders of the Horde and the Alliance could be moved to mercy for such a deplorable being.
  • Evil Counterpart: EVERYONE fights one at the end.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Several.
    • Zaela's Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome in Mists of Pandaria is continued with her now being racist, despite formerly being close friends with a forsaken and half orc.
    • Despite seemingly having turned on Garrosh and supporting the Darkspear Rebellion, Shokia revealed to have been apart of the "True Horde" all along.
    • Wrathion turns on Anduin and openly helps Garrosh's escape as part of his insane gambit to defeat the Burning Legion.
  • Flashback: Thanks to the Vision of Time, much of the trial is in-universe flashbacks to various pertient events.
  • Fantastic Legal Weirdness: The Vision of Time is used in the trial to supplement witness testimony. However, it has the unfortunate side effect of making the trial seem more like a theater, as well as publicly revealing confidential or personal information that would otherwise be irrelevant. At one point, Baine uses it as a scare tactic to make Jaina testify about the time she insulted Varian and Anduin, threatening to show the embarrassing scene to the court if she didn't talk about it herself.
  • Fantastic Racism: Everyone seems to suffer it with Garrosh full-on genocidal. A fear on the Horde side is that the trial will become a racial issue. Large portions of Tyrande's prosecution seem to merely establish that orcs (and the Horde) are barbaric, murderous brutes. See Orcdom on Trial below.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Deconstructed with Garrosh. A reason he refuses to repent is he doesn't want to appear weak. At least, that's what Anduin thinks.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Kairoz and Wrathion, surprising absolutely no one given the massive amounts of Foreshadowing, help Garrosh escape into past!Draenor. Vereesa comes close, but ultimately backs down.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: During the attack on the temple, one warlock is described as lovingly referring to her felhunter as a "good puppy". Felhunters, for the record, are basically what you'd get if you were to breed a Hellhound with an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since Garrosh is set to be a major villain in Warlords of Draenor, it's a given that no one lops his head off. Or that the Windrunner sisters succeed in poisoning him.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Garrosh to the Horde. Most of them want him dead as much as, if not more, than the Alliance. The only reason he still is a 'friend' is one of them has to defend him for the trial.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Alexstraza, despite the abuse she suffered at orcish hands, states that not all of them are irredeemably evil and claims she would forgive her abusers if they genuinely asked for her forgiveness. Anduin also is remarkably forgiving of someone who broke most of his bones.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Most of the leaders of both the Horde and Alliance are good people. Almost all of them want want Garrosh to die painfully.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Garrosh is said to have faint traces throughout his body from the Old God energies that empowered him.
  • Guilt by Association Gag: Because Garrosh worked with the Dragonmaw clan, Tyrande holds him accountable for their crimes, even though the enslavement of Alexstraza happened years before he even set foot on Azeroth.
  • Honor Before Reason: Baine really doesn't want to defend the man who murdered his dad, which was one of the least terrible things Garrosh did, but it's his duty and so he'll do his absolute best.
  • Orcdom On Trial: Even though the trial is explicitly just for Garrosh's crimes, Tyrande tries to steer the trial in the direction of judging the entire orc race and the Horde for their crimes, in an attempt to assure that Garrosh was sentenced to death and executed. It backfires when a few of her key witnesses, Velen, Alexstraza, and even Jaina Proudmore assert that while orcs have done terrible deeds, they have tried to make amends and Garrosh cannot be viewed as an example of the entire race.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Anduin. Kairoz gathers the worse possible versions of each of the Alliance and Horde leaders to serve as a distraction. Anduin's is just kinda a coward, and even then he's still brave enough to pull a Heroic Sacrifice for his main timeline counterpart.
  • Insane Troll Logic: What motivates Sylvanas now.
  • I Regret Nothing: Averted by Garrosh. He regrets that he didn't go far enough, and wasn't involved in some of the earlier orcish atrocities.
    • However, it's implied he's lying and just wants to go down swinging.
  • It's All About Me: The crux of Tyrande's prosecution that's not race-based is to establish that Garrosh's motivations for his actions were due to personal bloodlust, a selfish bid for power and complete disregard for others.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Harrowmeiser has apparently lived the few years since Wrath and Mists as his model has acted. That is, chained up, shirtless, in the Grim Up North.
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Garrosh considers the trial to be a joke since everyone already knows he's guilty.
    • Kalec worries that the use of the Vision of Time is making the trial seem more like a theater. Indeed, when the destruction of Theramore is shown, Anduin notes that the only reason the assembled audience didn't turn into an angry mob is because they wanted to see what other atrocities Garrosh had committed.
    • The Celestials were using the trial as a Secret Test of Character for everyone there and state they would have shown mercy to Garrosh, implying they may have overturned Garrosh's sentence if he was convicted.
  • Karma Houdini: Vereesa gets off scot free for trying to poison Garrosh and almost joining Sylvanas. Garrosh himself admits to having no remorse for sins, before stepping through a time portal and getting away.
    • Played with involving Garrosh as it's implied he does feel remorse for his actions but would rather die than admit it. Literally.
  • Kick the Dog: The book is basically a chronicle of Garrosh's dog-kicking.
  • Moral Myopia: Tyrande uses the trial as a pretense to publicly rail against the Horde and accuse them of being violent savages incapable of peace. However, she's the one who initiated the night elves' conflict against the Horde when she decided to attack Grommash Hellscream and his men for cutting down the trees in Ashenvale for lumber without even attempting a peaceful encounter with them. She also to killed her own people without regret when the Watchers guarding Illidan tried to stop her from freeing him.
  • Mundane Utility: The trial basically uses time travel to get error free witness testimony. Later subverted, as all along Kairoz intended to use the Vision of Time to enable Garrosh's escape.
  • Not Hyperbole: When Thalen Songweaver laughs at Harrowmeiser's 'joke' about keeping his zeppelin airborne with a Troll voodoo fetish, the goblin simply points to the objet in question.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • Tyrande's attempts to bring the Horde's reputation down with Garrosh often backfire and make her look prejudice and paranoid, occasionally even causing Taran Zhu rebuke her.
    • A literal case with Garrosh, who refuses to help Baine with his defense despite having plenty of information that could potentially put him a better light.
  • Not So Different: The crux of Baine's defense is to establish that Garrosh's motivations for his actions were the same sort of feelings most of his condemners have; he just went way too far.
    • At one point, Garrosh compares himself to Arthas Menethil.
  • Odd Friendship: Anduin muses he has this with Wrathion.
    • Christie Golden says Anduin came within inches of having this with Garrosh.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite clearly still infuriated at the Horde for the destruction of Theramore, Jaina's still willing to admit that not all of the Horde are evil, as shown in her testimony to Tyrande.
  • Remember the New Guy?: All of the witnesses are familiar faces from the Warcraft universe... except for Gakkorg, an ex-Kor'kron who has never appeared either in the games or supplementary materials, making his appearance somewhat jarring in contrast.
  • Revenge: What the trial is supposed to avoid, but still a major motivation for many participants.
  • Secret Test of Character: The whole trial is an intentional test of Garrosh's character, since his guilt is completely unquestionable. It's also a test for those who want to condemn him. He fails, they pass.
  • Series Continuity Error: One of the visions of the past shows Garrosh wielding Gorehowl during the Northrend campaign. Trouble is, he didn't receive Gorehowl until well after the Lich King's defeat, as seen in The Shattering. See YMMV for more examples.
  • The Stoic: In contrast to his normal demeanor, Garrosh spends the vast majority of the trial completely silent and stone faced, almost never showing a shred of emotion or even interest.
  • invokedStrawman Has a Point: Both sides have this at times. Part of Baine's defense for Garrosh trying to kill Vol'jin for being a traitor. He shows Vol'jin's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, in which the troll a) challenges his rightful warchief's authority and b) threatens to kill him. Vol'jin was already acting treacherous, long before Garrosh committed most of the atrocities he is accused of. Also part of Tyrande's prosecution of Garrosh. She shows that Garrosh was ruling the Horde in a tyrannical fashion before they rose against him and successfully shoots down any excuse used in defense of his personal actions.
  • Stripperific: Averted. Apparently Alexstraza thought her usual bikini wasn't fit attire for a courtroom, and donned a more modest dress instead.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Baine and Tyrande are both apparently skilled enough in judicial matters to act as attorneys in Garrosh's trial.
  • Surprise Witness: No one expected Baine to call Varian Wrynn as a character witness for Garrosh.
    • And Tyrande calls Perith Stormhoof, Baine's right hand man, who reveals Baine's friendship with Anduin and his collaborations with Jaina before and after the Cataclysm.
  • Taking the Bullet: During the battle against Kairoz' time duplicates and the attempt to break Garrosh free, Jaina does this for Varian when Zaela tries to snipe him. Thanks to Chi-Ji's healing, Jaina survives.
  • That Was Objectionable: All the damn time. Tyrande objects to almost everything Baine says and he's not much better. Taran Zhu spends a lot of time sorting through it all.
  • Together in Death: She doesn't reveal this to Vereesa, but had they gone through with everything, Sylvannas intended to kill Vereesa in her sleep to raise her as an undead so they could rule side by side.
  • Trial by Combat: What Saurfang insists is the orcish way to handle Garrosh's punishment. He fights a Duel to the Death and if he wins is pardoned.
    • Easily Forgiven: Averted. Saurfang notes that even if he wins, Garrosh will have an uphill battle actually making anyone like him again.
    • Might Makes Right: Since orcs lack the usual idea of a god supporting the righteous side of such a duel, it results in this.
  • Troll: Garrosh spends most of his time screwing around with people, such as refusing to enter a plea either way and calling the trial more entertaining than the Darkmoon Faire.
  • Undying Loyalty: Zaela, Shokia, and Thalen Songweaver to Garrosh.
  • We Can Rule Together: After reconnecting as sisters, Sylvanas eventually makes this offer to Vereesa. Vereesa comes frighteningly close to accepting it.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Many character grouse that they have to sit through this trial because Varian wouldn't let Thrall crush Garrosh's head with the Doomhammer. Even Varian begins to think it was a mistake.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Varian absolutely explodes when he finds out that Jaina and Anduin had sent Alliance resources to Baine during the Grimtotem Civil War without his consent.
  • Worthy Opponent: Garrosh has this attitude to Anduin according to Word of God.
    • He only develops it to Baine Bloodhoof after the latter is exposed for his role in warning Theramore.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Garrosh. Even finding someone willing to defend him is difficult... and it ends up falling to a guy who regretted not killing him much earlier.

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