Exclusive first look at Christie Golden's new novel, War Crimes

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|11.18.13

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Exclusive first look at Christie Golden's new novel, War Crimes
Christie Golden, author of a substantial amount of Warcraft novels including The Shattering, Tides of War, Lord of the Clans and Rise of the Horde, recently announced a new novel to add to the list, and we have all the details. Titled War Crimes, the new novel features an all-star cast of nearly every important figure from both the Alliance and Horde, and tells an interesting, new kind of story the likes of which we haven't seen from Blizzard before.

The brutal siege of Orgrimmar is over. Garrosh Hellscream, the most infamous orc on Azeroth, now sits in chains. His tyrannical leadership of the Horde has been ended by his many enemies, and he must answer for his crimes.

Renowned leaders from across the world gather in Pandaria to witness Garrosh's trial. Visions of his past atrocities are presented in vivid detail for all to see. But as history is revisited, old grievances and bitter memories come back into the light, and those in attendance begin to wonder if anyone among them is truly innocent. Mounting tensions and rising enmity steer the court to the brink of chaos... as the world waits with bated breath for the verdict on the war crimes of Garrosh Hellscream.

If you think a novel about a courtroom trial is going to be a dull affair, think again -- War Crimes isn't just a story about a trial, nor is it just another story about Garrosh Hellscream. In fact, it's anything but another Garrosh Hellscream novel. We were thrilled to get an exclusive interview with Christie at BlizzCon 2013 about her new title, a gigantic cast that includes some unexpected faces in the spotlight, and what we can expect to see -- as well as information on the book's release.

We've been wondering when we'd see the next novel from you! Tell us a little bit about War Crimes.

I'm absolutely thrilled to finally be able to talk about this, because I've been so excited about it! I've been working on it since March, about March was when I went out and we started hammering out some of the ideas for it. It's really -- the thing I'm most excited about is that this is actually a rather brave novel for Blizzard to want to do. We're basically seeing a war crimes tribunal, and we're seeing courtroom drama, and we're seeing a total who's who in Azeroth. Everybody's got a spotlight. And we're also seeing the highlights of Warcraft -- of Azeroth, of these great moments in history, going back. As part of the storyline, prosecution and defense are presenting their cases, and we're able to see the actual incidents.

You took Garrosh down the road to evil in Tides of War -- what does the Garrosh of War Crimes look like?

Well you know, that's the great mystery of the story! The fun thing about this is that it is Garrosh who is on trial, but it is presented as what others think about him and how others see him and what others believe about him.

So there's no real internal Garrosh story?

At the very beginning, the prologue, Garrosh is having a dream. But other than that, I've made great care to not get into his head. Because my desire was to -- you know, this is the payoff for having been through dealing with Garrosh through this whole expansion, through when he was introduced way back in The Shattering, and for having this character, what does everyone else think? How do they feel about him? How do they feel about themselves, how do they feel about what's happened? And it really is a little deceptive, because you think "Oh, it's all about Garrosh," and it's really -- Garrosh is more of a mirror to what is going on with everyone else.

It sounds like this book potentially has a huge cast of characters -- who can we expect to see?

It would probably be easier to say who you won't be seeing, because there's really only a very few of them! For one thing, all of the faction leaders will be gathered together in one place together. So of course we're going to be seeing Garrosh, and Thrall, and Aggra, and we'll be seeing Vol'jin, and we'll be seeing Baine, and we'll be seeing -- we are going to be seeing a lot of Sylvanas. Sylvanas has a very strong subplot that is very important for her character development.

You just made a lot of people very happy.

You know, that was actually -- when we were brainstorming, that one of my ideas to bring her in for this particular subplot which I won't spoil! And I know, because I get that all the time, I get "When are you going to do Sylvanas?" I have my Sylvanas t-shirt on, and everyone's all "When are you going to write her story?" (laughs) So now I can say we will see a lot of her and we will get inside her head for sure. We're gonna see Anduin -- we'll see a lot of Anduin -- and we're going to see Varian, and we're going to see a lot of Tyrande.

The first chapter is kind of setting the scene for how the laws, how this will unfold. And we won't be using the exact terms, but there is -- the terms we came up with is that there is an accuser, and there is a defender. And each of the factions has to select somebody. Through a very slight clever manipulation, poor Baine is stuck defending Garrosh Hellscream. Because he's the only one that they can trust to really try to do what's right and give him a fair defense. And the prosecution is not Varian, the prosecution is Tyrande.

Which only makes sense, because of everything that went on in Ashenvale.

Right! So we're going to see a lot of her, and we really haven't seen a lot of her recently. It was really fun for me, because I got a chance to write all these characters that I really haven't had a chance to write much of, even as little cameos. To get their stories, and to get to do things with them. As I said, this was meant to be a who's who of Azeroth, so we've got everybody, I mean everybody -- apologies to Lor'themar fans, he's there, but the characters we chose to focus on were those who did have some kind of real connection to Garrosh. A particularly powerful -- perhaps an incident, or a slight, or a personal wound. So we really wanted to focus on how the people who felt the strongest about Garrosh really felt. But they're all there -- everybody's there.

A novelization of a courtroom trial doesn't sound like something with a lot of action -- are there things in there to mix it up?

One of the really cool things that we are going to be doing is that we're going to be using the bronze dragonflight's abilities to literally go back in time as a display. To see the actual events, to see these big moments -- and so will the jury, and so will everybody assembled to watch this. That's how we get some of the action in there, is by visiting these pivotal moments in history, particularly that dealt with Garrosh. So there can be no lies, there can be no witness saying something -- this is the absolute truth, this is exactly what happened.

We'll be seeing some of these really key moments, and I think it will be really great for people that are just coming in -- and I think we're going to be getting a lot of people who want to take advantage of "Let's go ahead to 90" -- and so they'll be coming in and this will be a really great background for them, they'll get to see this key moment and this key moment and why it's all important.

Is this going to tie into Warlords of Draenor, like Tides of War and The Shattering?

It's more of a bridge. It'll take us from one place to the other.

Thrall has been down a long road over the past couple of years - do you think he's holding onto guilt about putting Garrosh in this role in the first place?

Thrall gets to testify. And that's all I'm going to say.

Jaina had a particularly rough time and a really stark transition as a character in Tides of War, as well as throughout Mists. What does Jaina look like today?

She's a very main character in this. We see a lot of her, a lot of her point of view. And -- I'm going to throw out a juicy little tidbit -- things are not so great with her and Kalecgos. There is trouble in blue dragon paradise. (laughs) And yes, all of these things that she's dealt with, she's kind of like ... to me, I kind of see her as a warrior, you know. Blocking this blow and blocking this blow and managing to block them, but getting more and more tired. She's getting beat down a lot. But she's going to have some major author love and development to her.

I know Anduin has kind of been your creation as far as fully fleshing out the character - he got a pretty severe beating from Garrosh this expansion. How do you think this has affected his character's seemingly eternal optimism?

You're going to -- again, Anduin is another major character, he's going to feature very prominently. And he's got -- again, as I said, Garrosh is a mirror, and we're not seeing so much of him, he's still a bit of a cipher, but we're seeing the effect. We're seeing the detritus he's left in his wake. Anduin, yeah, he's got a lot to think about. Is this -- what is his path now? How does he really feel, when push comes to shove about it? So we're gonna be seeing a lot of him really figuring out what his path is, kind of getting challenged by it.

Do you know when we'll see the book on the shelves?

Right now, all we know firmly is next year. But we'll know more soon!

Thanks so much for sitting down with us Christie -- and we look forward to seeing War Crimes when it comes out!

Since the interview, we've gotten word of the book's release. War Crimes will be making its debut June 3, 2014 -- and it's now available for pre-order! The 320 page hardcover edition of War Crimes is available for pre-order on Amazon for $20.54. If you're more of an ebook type, you can pre-order the Kindle or the Nook edition for $13.99.

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