It was a time of change. Deathwing has been defeated. The dragon aspects have lost their power. Go’el is at peace. This is the setting we are presented with in World of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War written by Christine Golden. Golden’s other works in the Warcraft universe, such as Arthas: Rise of the Lich King and Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, give her the bona fides necessary to tell a good interleaved and accurate story.
The story is a transitory one. We have the heroes of the first generation being removed from the active storyline to make way for new heroes and personalities to take roles of responsibility and gain the player/reader buy in for their viewpoint. As evidenced by the title and cover, it’s about Jaina Proudmoore, the ruler of the kingdom of Theramore and all around peace loving apologist for everyone, trying to make the world a better place between the Horde and the alliance.
From this point on, there are spoilers into significant plot points of the book so if you’ve been waiting to read this yourself I strongly suggest waiting until after to read this.
Kalecgos, the ex-Aspect of Magic is flying around doing whatever blue dragons do (I guess they muck around with the flow of magic) when he is informed that a powerful artifact, the Focusing Iris, has been stolen while it is being transported to a new and safer location. Elsewhere in the world, Baine Bloodhoof is not exactly happy at being called to Orgrimmar where Warchief Garrosh Hellscream has conviened a war council in which it has been decided that after the failed incursion into Ashenvale, the horde will take the entirety of Kalimdor for themselves. Starting with Northwatch Hold, Garrosh lays out a plan of attack that involves destroying the kingdom of Theramore and their leader Jaina.
During the book we are also presented with an evolving Jaina. From her new apprentice Kinndy Sparkshine, a gnome with all the manerisims and plain spokenness thereof, to the instant magic communication across the lands, to random strangers who pop in for some tea and to have Jaina solve their problems (like Kalecgos and Tauren couriers). When Kalecgos arrives and the loss of the Focusing Iris to Jaina a great amount of effort and research is spent on finding a solution.
As the horde move in to take over Northwatch Hold, the grumblings that have been for the most part polite and well behaved from Baine Bloodhoof and Vol’Jin are finally raised to the level of active disrespect of the Warchief and his new right hand orc Malkorok, a Blackrock Mountain resident. A choice by Garrosh to have the shamans enslave molten giant elementals for the attack is greatly distressing to the disenters to Garrosh’s plan, as it was the enslavement of the elementals which is viewed as a contributing factor to the shattering of Azeroth.
As Jaina hears of the events at Northwatch hold, she sends out emergency pleas for assistance to the Alliance and to the Kirin Tor. This illicits several of the high level generals and a significant portion of the Alliance Naval fleet. The Kirin Tor send assistance in the form of Archmage Rhonin Redhair, his wife Vereesa Windrunner (sister to Sylvanas and Alleria), and a dozen mages to “defend” Theramore. While the Alliance gears up for a significant defense of Theramore, the Horde remains encamped on the ruins of Northwatch. This causes some concern as the Horde has a significant army that could easily overwhelm the defenses, but the delay is allowing a evening of the odds.
Once the alliance has gotten good and settled, Garrosh and the Horde go on the offensive and do a fairly good job at assaulting Theramore. When the Horde pulls back the defenders are stunned. The answer come from a Goblin float ship carrying a mana bomb powered by none other than the Focusing Iris. The mages do what they can to get as many of the defenders out, but the Iris has been specifically tuned to disrupt all magic, including portals. Jaina and Rhonin use their combined power to open a portal. Rhonin realizes that by pulling the mana bomb into Jaina’s arcane infused tower that he will be able to attenuate some of the blast. Rhonin makes the ultimate sacrifice by pushing Jaina through the portal and pulls the bomb onto himself. Jaina, needless to say is very distraught that her kingdom and people have been destroyed by Garrosh and his deliberate attack. As Jaina goes back to Theramore to see if there were any survivors she encounters her apprentice charred and disintegrated into a fine purple dust.
At this point Jaina loses it. She’s given up on the concept of peace between the Horde and the Alliance. She also discovers in the wreckage, the Focusing Iris and thinks that it would be wise for the Horde not to be able to carry off such a devestating attack again. From the Alliance and Kirin Tor she implores for a straight up “eye for an eye” attack on Ogrimmar and Garrosh. Both groups turn her down and as such she seeks a bit of forbidden knowledge from the great library. A book reveals to her that the Focusing Iris enhances arcane commands. With this knowledge and a spell designed to bind the elements, she plans to outright wipe the entirety of Ogrommar and the Horde from the map as evidenced in her oath given in the newly formed crater of Theramore “Your people are despicable cowards! You are nothing more than rabid dogs, and you should be put down. You spit on mercy? Then you will have none. You want carnage? Garrosh will get more blood than he ever bargined for.”