Tides of War is releasing on Aug. 28, the same day that we'll see the release of patch 5.0.4 on live realms. If you'd like to know more about the book, we have a spoiler-free review of the novel available for those still wondering if they should pick it up. In anticipation of the novel's release, we also had an opportunity to interview the author behind the novel, Christie Golden.
Tides is Christie's seventh novel in the Warcraft series, focusing on Jaina Proudmoore and the events surrounding Theramore's ultimate fate, as well as the lead-in for the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Like her novels The Shattering and Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, Tides ties in with what we'll see in game -- but it's got a unique twist the likes of which we simply haven't seen before.
Christie was kind enough to fill us in on that unique twist, as well as Garrosh, Theramore, and what it's like penning the tales of Jaina Proudmoore.
WoW Insider: The overall trend with the Warcraft series has gotten a lot darker. There's a lot more death, both major and minor. Is that intentional? How do you handle that?
Christie Golden: That's because we are stepping up to having a more martial attitude -– I mean, things are building. And I've never really had a problem with writing dark stuff. I'm quite comfortable with the dark side of things. I think you have to have the dark in order to appreciate the light. I like to write about the triumph of the human spirit, but you know, it's not really much of a triumph if you get up and not really much happens to you!
I like to throw tough things at my characters and test them and see them rise above it. See it make them stronger, because it does make them stronger. It either breaks you, or it makes you stronger, and that's always been something of great interest to me.
Garrosh's personality in game and out has done a lot of shifting back and forth. We see him get a lot darker in Tides. How did you go about developing his character?
I think Garrosh has, at his core, a weak personality. He was very hostile about his father and ashamed of his father, and it took Thrall to say, "Hey, look, you know your dad did some pretty amazing things despite everything." He had to get that validation externally. He also had to prove himself in battle externally. And now he is surrounding himself with some very bad and dangerous advisors, externally.
Because I think that at the core, he doesn't really know. He wants to do well. He wants to preserve the orcs and their pride and their history. But I think he is actually a rather malleable person whose opinions can change. He doesn't have a strong core.
I think the main difference -- Jaina has a very strong core. And when adversity and disaster and personal torment rip her down to nothing but that core, that core is still intact. It's hurt, but it's intact. And Garrosh doesn't really have a strong core. So what he believes kind of changes depending on what the situation is and who's talking. And I think that does not a good strong leader make.
So, Theramore. Opinions about Theramore's destruction have been polarized. People either love or hate the idea. Were you aware of that going into this?
I was not necessarily aware, but it doesn't surprise me. Any time you do anything major, people don't like change. And yet people, especially in a game, need change in order to stay interested. So there's going to be changes that people agree with, and there's going to be changes that people aren't going to agree with, and there are different people. There are going to be people who love this idea, who say, "Oh great, we've grabbed Azeroth and shaken it up," and everything's great, and there are going to be people who say, "No, no, don't destroy Theramore, I like it the way it is."
There's always a part of me that wished that Blizzard had saved one server for vanilla WoW so that we could all just go back and remember what it was like, what it felt like. But you know, nothing stays the same, and if the game stays static, it will no longer be this great force in the gaming community. And they have to make some decisions, some characters have to die so that others can rise.
This thing with Theramore -- I think the intriguing part of it is that you are not just a witness to it. You get to be part of it. I think maybe people's opinions will change once they actually get to be involved. This is not just something that is happening to them; it's something that they are a part of.
The latest round of books seem to have much heavier ties to in-game events. How has the development of the books changed in response to that?
I think that was something that we all realized was something that would make everything more dynamic, instead of "Here's the books, and here's the game, and the books are what you read when you don't play the game" –- which is kind of par for the course for most tie-in works, and there's nothing wrong with that. They (Blizzard) wanted to make it more dynamic. And because I know the game as well as I do, because I have worked with them as long as I have, I am very flexible in order to adapt. So when they throw something at me, I can kind of catch that ball and run with it.
I can set things up for them, and they can have the payoff in the game and vice versa. We'll be doing something that I'm pretty sure has never been done befor, and that is creating in the book a scenario that you then get to go play in the game. You are literally part of the book. Jaina speaks to her friends, and that's the players. So you can read this book, and then go in and play that quest.
And suddenly you are in the scene?
You are in the scene. It says "Jaina turns to her five friends." And the Horde also has an adventure involving that. And that's you! I keep it very vague. I don't have genders or races or classes. It's just five people who are helping Jaina out. You get to be there. That's going to be pretty cool, and I think that may make people like Theramore a lot more. Because they're part of it now.
Is that why the book release was kind of tied in with the patch release?
Well, we have found that it really does help the book sales and increase interest in the game to have these available as soon as possible. I think we all wish that Arthas had come out in time for Wrath of the Lich King. It did very, very well, but I think it would have done even better if it had been closer. The Shattering was amazing. The Shattering came out right before Cataclysm, and that stayed on the New York Times Bestseller list for four weeks.
I'm thinking we'll see this one on the list too.
I hope so. This book really has special meaning for me. My father passed away as I was writing it. So when we're talking about darkness and death and rising above things ... It got very personal for me in certain parts of it. But I know he was very proud of me for finishing it. I know he would have been happy, because he gave me my work ethic and my first computer and was always supportive of my writing.
I kind of had my own personal Jaina moments getting through it, and it would make me really, really happy if this one got to the New York Times Bestseller list. That would be really, really exciting for me.
When we interviewed you in 2010, we talked about people's assumption that Thrall and Jaina would get together. You said that was an unlikely romance -- yet we see an equally unlikely romance in Tides of War. Can you tell us a little about the development of that?
That was something that was part of the outline we wanted to see. If we're not naming names here, I will say that the character that was suggested as a romantic interest for Jaina -- to me, when I first heard about it, I went, "Oh, that's perfect." Because they are very temperamentally well-suited to each other. They are both two very nice people, in the end. They're both very powerful, but they're very nice people. Their personalities are similar. They have both loved and lost and been terribly, terribly hurt. They have both faced incredible losses to their identities during the course of this book or prior to it.
And I think that the gravitation to one another was not really born of their differences, as it would have been with Thrall, or born of opposites attract, as it was with Arthas and Jaina, but of kind of a kindred spirit. They are both very, very similar. Their hearts are wounded and guarded but not closed. I really think there was a lot of chemistry between the two of them, and I very much enjoyed writing it.
Jaina seems to have found her place for now. Do you think it's the right place for her to be? Do you think she'll be happy there?
I think so. I think she has changed too much to go back to a true neutrality. At least until something changes, like getting rid of Garrosh. Garrosh can't -– she has to stand against him. She's got to stand against him, and she's got to stand against him in a way that she can live with. In a way that she feels is right. And I think she's in exactly the right place.
Have you had a chance to play in the beta at all?
I got to see it at BlizzCon, and it is so beautiful, and the music is so beautiful. And it's funny, because I remember people a few years ago were clamoring for pandaren to be playable. And now they are, and now the same people are all, "Oh pff, Kung Fu Panda." And I'm like, "Dude! You all are so fickle!" Geeze, where's the love? I do think once they start playing it, we'll see a lot less of that.
Are you going to write anything with the pandaren?
I haven't. There's nothing on the table yet.
Has there ever been a moment where you had to write something and wished you could take it back?
Nope! There are times I wish I could have gone back and polished up my writing -- but no, I think the structural bits are all in place. Things are there for a reason. I don't think there's anything I could say that about.
Is there a character you wish you could have given more attention to?
I really like writing Anduin, which kind of came as a surprise. He kind of showed up in The Shattering, and he and Baine really just kind of took off on their own. I really, really liked him a lot. I'd be happy to do more with him. I've not really delved into any of the blood elves very much, or the undead. I did a little bit with Vol'jin this time. So I wouldn't mind doing more with that. I did a lot of roleplay with blood elves in my day when they came out, and they're a lot of fun. But I'd like to do a lot more with Anduin. He's a good guy, he's a good kid, and he's going to grow up to be a good man.
You introduced Aggra back in The Shattering. Today, it seems like there's a lot of confusion as to who she really is and where she came from. What's her story? Can you tell us a little about that?
She's from Nagrand, and she is not tainted by the curse, so her skin is brown. She's a shaman, and she's studied basically in the last place that was the old world that hasn't been affected yet. I love going to Nagrand, it's so beautiful there. Aggra's got –- it's interesting because we tried to play with –- Thrall has worked with human women. And here comes an orc woman, and they're different. They're not better, they're not worse, but they're different. So his way of interacting with females is based on humans, and he doesn't quite know what to make of her -- her bluntness, and her honesty, and her kind of in-your-face attitude.
It's a little off-putting for Thrall, at first. But he gradually begins to see her for who she is and to value this. And he hates it when she's right, but a lot of times, she is. She sees it, and she calls it like she sees it.
And he's learned to value that and appreciate that, and I think he has taught her in return that just because people aren't orcs, it doesn't mean they don't have value. She was a little dismissive of "Oh yeah, Taretha and Jaina." They're not orcs. They are not orcs -- this is an entirely different culture, this is an entirely different species. That doesn't mean that anyone is lesser or greater, but they are very different. And Aggra is, I think, the orcish heart in a very pure form.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us!
Oh, my pleasure, thank you!
Are you ready for war? Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War is slated to release Aug. 28. Preorder the hardcover edition on Amazon for $15.37 or the Kindle edition for $12.99. Or listen to the novel by ordering the audiobook version available for $23.95 on Simon & Schuster's website.
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!