23
May
10

So.. Stormrage.

So I finally finished reading Stormrage after much reluctance and venting; only took me a little over a month to read something I normally would’ve finished in half a week had it hooked me, go figure. I’m not entirely sure how to best approach it, but seeing how I think I might’ve spent far more time during the past month trying to decide what I think about it than I’ve spent actually reading the thing, I’ll see if I can put it into something coherent.

Obviously, this post will be drowned in Stormrage spoilers and probably some anti-Knaak sentiment, so if you’re bothered by either, you should probably skip this post.

All set? Grand, let’s get at it.

The first thing I want to do is start with making an acknowledgement – I know this is largely a teen book. In fact, a friend of mine tends to describe what Knaak writes as “male teen power fantasies” – a description I find rather apt. As a result however, I am not part of the intended target audience for this novel, and I’m very much aware that some of the things I consider significant faults with either it or Knaak’s writing in general might not be errors so much as him writing specifically for a certain audience. Furthermore, I have no way of really knowing how much of the story or characterization are squarely on Knaak’s shoulders and how much is by some form of editorial mandate.

As you might guess from the above paragraph.. I don’t really think too highly of the book, nor the author.

While most negative criticism of Knaak – from the Warcraft fanbase, at any rate – seems to focus on his characters, that’s never really been my problem; the greatest issue I have tend to be in a closely related concept – characterization. This again is something where I feel that I have to give a little ground – Knaak is quite obviously a story writer: that is to say, he writes a story and everything else – even characters and the setting – are malleable if it serves that one story. I, on the other hand, tend more towards the other extreme – I’m far more of a character reader/writer, to the point where I tend to put characterization (and often character journey) first with all else being secondary. As a result, I’m pretty much doomed to find Knaak’s characterization flat, empty and shallow, except for the times when I find it inconsistent and broken.

There was actually something I noticed while reading Stormrage – Knaak seems unwilling to let characters speak for themselves; if there’s a dialogue exchange longer than two sentences or any kind of expospeak involved, Knaak almost immediately breaks into describing what was said rather than letting the characters speak. There are a few exceptions, but more often than not.. any sort of explaination or expospeak will be done as a short and quick description rather than through actual dialogue – it becomes especially jarring when a dialogue is cut short by something along the lines of “So characterX explained to characterY” about topics that haven’t been mentioned to the reader yet.

I can’t shake the feeling that a large portion of the book is spent trying really hard to avoid letting the characters speak and act on their own – characters are generally simplified down to just a few traits with whatever depth there might be either immediately explained, mentioned but never shown in any form, or suddenly pulled up out of nowhere for a few moments and then forgotten, and sometimes emphasis is just odd. For example, according to Stormrage (the book), the most prominent feature of the dragon Lethon is that he’s not as large as Eranikus, but still fearsome. Why do we know this is the most prominent feature? Because it’s repeated about four times throughout the same chapter and battle. It struck me as really weird, as if Knaak was trying to force a meme on the Warcraft community. And then there’s..

Okay, you knew it was happening. Tyrande. Yes.. let’s tackle that part, as her characterization is probably the one aspect of the book I find the most aggravating.

In the War of the Ancients trilogy, Knaak wrote Tyrande largely as a somewhat insecure early 20-something who suddenly got shoved into a larger responsibility and whose contributions were mostly convenient magic, love interest for Malfurion and spending most of the third book in one distress or the other. Occasionally we’re told she’s dressed for war and it’s suggested she’s capable, but we’re never really shown that much of it, and it doesn’t take much for her to fall into distress mode. It was.. quite.. the stretch; I could grudgingly accept it then because young acolyte Tyrande is separated from present day Tyrande by ten thousand years, and people do change over time. It seemed like there might be a decent set of character growth between that young Tyrande and the present day one, so I could in the least buy it.

But then came Stormrage and Knaak’s characterization of Tyrande took a stark turn for the worse – not because he changed it, but rather because he didn’t. Ten thousand years later and she’s still an excitable, insecure early 20-something who is plagued by what I can only consider massive self-doubt, whose brief moments of competence are generally overshadowed by her ability to get into trouble and needing rescue. Where, exactly, is the woman who quite distinctly told Malfurion Stormrage that “Only the Goddess may forbid me anything, Furion!”, because she certainly isn’t in this book.

Continuing on a tangent from that, Knaak does permit Tyrande to occasionally express her frustration about Malfurions’ constant absence and how he’s put himself in danger, and on its own I’d applaud that – she showed similar frustrations in Warcraft III which later mellowed out in the Frozen Throne expansion when she had had some time to center herself and be glad to have Malfurion around, so it would make for good and consistent characterization. It would, but then every time she does it in Stormrage, she immediately admonishes herself for doing so, pointing out how it’s wrong to do so and she shouldn’t be upset with him or blame him, utterly breaking what could’ve been one of the few in-character and sensible characterizations in the novel in half.

And then.. there’s one particular moment fairly early on when Broll is casting some spell or other to communicate with a dragon in the Emerald Dream, and High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, undisputed leader of the night elven people and lover of the first night elven druid ever, discovers “for the first time” that druid spells are powered not by the druid him or herself, but also by the nature around them.. yes.. and before there’s even been time for it to sink in just how utterly absurd a sudden realization that would be, Tyrande goes on to point out to herself that she “should’ve known” (yes, she should) because she too was there when he learned from Cenarius..

Do I even have to point out how utterly insane this would-be revelation of hers is – especially when the book already does so for me?

Of course, true to above examples, Tyrande immediately turns the whole insight on its head by spinning it off on a tangent of how Malfurion is tied as much to his calling as she is to hers and how she couldn’t expect him to put it aside for her sake.

And people wonder why I’ve been concerned regarding where Tyrande might end up in Cataclysm; if this particular aspect of Knaak’s writing end up becoming canon like so many other things, the chances of us getting to see the strong, independent and comptentent Tyrande we used to know are all but nonexistant. I simply can not reconcile the Tyrande from Warcraft III – or even the one from World of Warcraft itself – with the one Knaak is trying to portray; am I really supposed to believe that after ten thousand years she still has next to no pride in what she’s acomplished? That she’s not in the least come to terms with her uncertainity? That she’s not at all grown to her station?

It just boggles the mind..

Moving on, I admit I find the scope of the novel somewhat weird. While I realize Knaak is trying to go for something really epic, there’s several times where it seems to go so far past the top that it just strikes me as absurd. Especially when taking into account that both travel and communication has a tendency of becoming increasingly swift and far-reaching the further the book goes, with characters effortlessly mind-speaking back and forth halfway across the world and/or between realms and effectively teleporting back and forth between locations at a maddening pace. It’s especially distracting when the extensive mind speak kicks in and it feels like the book just gives up and hands all the major characters magical mobile phones attached directly to their brain simply for the sake of convenience.

It also feels like there’s some major strange inconsistencies going on; Malfurion and Tyrande not only keenly remember both Brox, Krasus and Rhonin to the point where Tyrande apparently is moved to the point of tears when reminded of the noble sacrifice of Brox (despite it being, you know, ten thousand years ago), but apparently the night elves also built a statue of him.

..I seem to recall the night elves not easily trusting these new, strange peoples they’d never seen or heard of before back during the events of Warcraft III?

I’m also a little askew about the conclusion; so Teldrassil is now not only fixed but also blessed by the life-binder, the Emerald Nightmare is all but completely resolved and we’re left with a whole lot of chaos and death caused, a few ominous hints about how the Old Gods were behind it all and Tyrande and Malfurion married by Ysera and Alexstrasza. Oh and Staghelm’s mind apparently broke when the Nightmare creature that was misguiding him was blasted. To a point, it seems almost like we were just cheated out of a whole lot of content by having both the night elven political depth, their concern about the world trees and the Emerald Nightmare all resolved off-screen in a novel, in spite of all the build-up that the game has held.

I’m actually not sure what I’m supposed to say about it; on one hand, the prose is a bit awkward in places, the characterization is somewhere between shallow and nonexistant, it has very little depth and will generally proclaim immediately whenever someone is wrong or biased in their opinion, leaving very little room for any real thinking on behalf of the reader. On the other hand, it has an epic scope, a going story and stuff happens. I’ve been spending quite some time trying to come up with a decent enough analogy for it, and the closest one I’ve been able to think of is that it’s a little like watching a Steven Seagal movie – if you don’t mind leaving your brain at the door and stop caring about such as characterization, subtlety or depth for awhile and just want to be pulled along for a ride, then Stormrage might very well provide, and I’ll admit I found parts of it entertaining. Just don’t stop and think about what’s happening, because that will somewhat shatter the illusion.

Oh and if you’re a Tyrande fan.. it might be a good idea to skip it – you might find it rather offensive.

By the by, is it just me, or did Knaak develop an obcession with the word indeed somewhere along the book? There keeps being pieces I can paraphrase as “The creature was very large. Indeed, it was huge.” snuck in just about everywhere. It really struck me as feeling out of place. And as for the canonical use of a hearthstone.. no comment.

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112 Responses to “So.. Stormrage.”


  1. 1 Mike
    May 23, 2010 at 07:53

    I stopped reading the warcraft novels by Knaack at Night of the Dragon, sounds like this one sticks to the same formula of “he was really really really powerful, really really really powerful, really really really really powerful.” because repeating something over and over adds emphesis!

    I think he visualises the action well in his books and can make tension, but if you have read one of them you have read them all with a few events changed here and there, although I am sure he is constraned a bit by the editorial people wanting him to write their plot and story.

    As for Tyrande’s charcterisation; although he turns her into a damsel in distress its also natural for a leader to feel self doubt from time to time – but again having not read the book I can guess its done in the usual way ‘she felt self doubt for thinking x’ with about as much creative use of metaphors as a thing that is really really not very good at doing metaphors.

    My salute to you Nahni for actually finishing it so any bad thoughts I had about not reading it are now dissolved 😀

    • 2 Nhani
      May 23, 2010 at 12:11

      Oh yes, self-doubt is natural, and my own character of Nhani Moonfall has gone through plenty of it; the difference is often what you do with it. Knaak generally has Tyrandes’ particular brand of self-doubt result in that she’ll defensively burst out that she’s not Azshara from time to time and falter a few times and tell herself how she shouldn’t be upset at Malfurion for never being there for her. It’s this meek sort of “but I can’t do this..” sort of thing that hasn’t changed in the least over the last ten thousand years, and amounts to nothing other than making her insecure and making her match a damsel in distress formula.

      Compare this to Nhani who pretty much ended up in the light version of what Tyrande got into during the War of the Ancients, having effectively gone from former Sentinel into one of the older Priestesses around – you can bet she’s had some significant doubts whether or not she’s been up to the task. The difference though is that Nhani never stood around with knees shivering; she set her shoulders, pulled herself to full height and rose to the challenge, turning “How can I do this?” into “I have been entrusted this task. I will do all in my power to prove myself worthy of it.” She certainly hasn’t always succeeded, and some failures have worn on her (the events of Sunrise in particular), but she accepts that someone believes in her – even times when she herself doesn’t – and tends to try her best not to fail them.

      My first observation of the Tyrande in Stormrage was essentially noting – to my chagrin – that this would-be High Priestess we were shown was far less confident, secure in her station and emotionally resilient than Nhani Moonfall is. Seeing how Nhani has looked up to Tyrande most of her life, it stuck me as a very absurd observation to have to make.

      • 3 Mike
        May 23, 2010 at 13:13

        I think the whole self doubt thing is Knaack’s attempts at making a two dimensional character which he does seem to lack since he tends to base his characters more on actions than words, which makes it oh so shallow when natrually you think ‘why did they do that?’

        I did think while reading WotA that the part where shes chained up to a wall and saying her boyfriend’s gonna come and save her that it reminded me of Olive Oyl shouting ‘oh me oh my save me popeye!’ I think its a bit sad he didn’t capitalise on the opportunity to make Tyrande that hard and gritty personification of the Night Elves that she is supposed to be, beautiful yet strong not sitting about waiting for the menfolk to save her.

        I kinda want to read it now for the laughable wedding at the end now.
        I would suggest everyone on this board reads The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman – a book I actually laughed at when I was reading it because it was so bad – and realise that truly there are worse writers than Knaack. Sadly they are not writing to a massive demographic and the range of ages who play WoW, and I guess that almost everyone on this board is on a roleplay server so it will be hard to find a fan of his here 😀

        They need to get Joe Abercrombie writing the warcraft novels! Then we will get some interesting and ‘orrid tales!

  2. 4 Skyll K. Chagorantis
    May 23, 2010 at 10:32

    Your words are razors of truth and I love how they cut and slash
    with perfect grammatical structures and commatas!

    • 5 Nhani
      May 23, 2010 at 12:16

      I know I can be a little heavy on comma usage and have some sort of fixation on the semicolon. Ahem.

      On that note actually, there’s one particular thing I noticed but forgot to mention.. it seems Knaak occasionally swaps ellipses (“…”) and exclamation marks around. Many times line spoken softly would end in an exclamation mark! No indication whatsoever that it was an exclamation, actually often quite the opposite! On the other hand, several exclamations and loud yells would end like this…

      It’s a nitpick, but I found it really strange. Especially with how more often than not, it makes Tyrande seem like she’s speaking in an excitable and hyperactive manner.

  3. May 23, 2010 at 11:34

    I have to agree with Mike.
    Richard Knaak can write EPIC battle scenes, that’s the (noly) thing i liked of WOTA series.
    But charecture development on both genders, nooooo.

    In fact I think Knaak is somewhat of a Frank Miller type of writer, thiking women are just there for sexual gratification or love interests.

    Vareesa in Day of the Dragon was the typical elf female charecture whom the human hero has the hots for. And yes at the end of Day the epilogue said they became close and come WOTA they were expecting twins. Now dont get me wrong, I like inter racial relationships, and since i’m a male (curse my gender) I think very member of my gender at elast once had a fantasy of being the bad ass human hero who had a elf girlfriend on the side.
    He tries to make her more bad ass in Night, but she that makes her somewhat 1 dimensional.

    Yes we know she’s bad ass, yes we know she loves her family, yes we know her hatred to blood elves is the same as Alleria’s hatred for Orcs.

    In facts let’s compare the sisters.
    Alleria also has a relationship with Turalyon and a kid (in WoW) but that does not define her. She’s a leader in her own right, she leads people into battle. True she was revenge ridden untill Khadgar and turalyon snapped her out of it, but that made her unique. she had charecture devlopment, she shrug loose of the hatred and willing became Turalyon’s lover again.

    Their relationship had bumps in the road, just like in real life making their relationship seem to be morerealistic and thus plausible, while so far Vareesa and Rhonin were Hunkey Dory from the end of the Third War untill Stormrage.

    Tyrande here…well our esteemed hostess said it all. she hasn’t grown, she’s still the same priestess we know from WOTA. True she can kick ass, but in WOTA she did that, untill she became like Princess Peach and got captured.

    My biggest annoyance with this novel is Thura….Broxigar’s niece.
    Dont get me wrong I like the idea of Broxigar’s family and her earning his Ax. But this is where knaak comes in. Malfurion TRICKED her into this novel.

    He kept sending her dreams where Broxigar was killed by him to get her to Moonglade and slash the ax into the tree so he could be freed. Here’s what I dont get….why the hell would he do that? True he’s stuck in the nightmare and propely can only send Nightmares….but you can easily turn the nightmare into a more dramatic vision where she sees Broxigar being killed due to it being her fault, but he could slip in the message saying she needs to save him.

    Thura was a good charecture, dont get me wrong, but she has little to no growth.
    She gets tricked by furion, escapes with the gang, goes to Stormwind, gets yelled at by Varian, helps Broll escape to Darnasus and later plays a small role in destroying the nightmare. And oh yes, she got captured during the nightmare, class act Knaak, really, thanks.

    Why the hell was she even in the novel? Because of the ax?
    At the end of the novel it doesn’t say she has grown to respect the humans or the night elves, if she even minds Furion having mind f**ked her into all of this mess in the first place and why the hell is she a bridesmaid at a Night elven wedding?!

    Oh the wedding, dont get me started (to late).
    I thought Night Elven society was based on mateship like Orc society, where both partners promise each other to be mated for life and stand with each other through good and bad times.
    Marrying I can somewhat understand, but it being blessed by two Dragon aspects instead of, oh I dont know a Lunar Goddess?! Boggles the mind.

    I’m ranting incohorently by this point, so I appologise.

    The Hearthstone being explained in Lore was a good idea, how the heck did we, the adventurers, get these things in our possesion? Oh, they’re super rare complex magical items of which only a limited amount excist? So….how come every char we make has one and a inn keeper can simply change it’s complex magicks while in the novel it could take up months, in a blink of an eye. Huh….

    Right, i’m done, I have revison to do for my Exams…

    Thura coudl’ve been awesome for crying out loud….I swear if she falls in love with Lucian…GRRRRR.

    • 7 Nhani
      May 23, 2010 at 12:52

      Thura, like pretty much all female characters Knaak ever writes, isn’t defined so much by her own traits, actions and accomplishments as she’s defined by the men around her. She struck me like an obligatory Horde representative (as Alyzande points out) and.. well.. that’s about it. Well actually, she struck me as another thing too – Knaak attempting to assert the dominance of his own canon. While he does (eventually) blame the Nightmare on the Old Gods, something the game has been hinting to us continuously, he goes the roundabout way of making his Satyr Tree the immediate tool for it.

      Thura was also somewhat undermined by how the few times she was allowed bias or an opinion of her own, the book helpfully pointed out that she was biased or that she was wrong. She – like many other characters – was treated less like a character and more like an inanimate object to serve the overarching plot.

      Personally, I don’t like Hearthstones being defined in canon; I preferred when I could happily think they were simply a convenient game-mechanical tool to aid in travel. Making them a strongly in-lore defined item has all sorts of problems ascribed, especially with how common they are in the game. Suddenly, distances don’t really exist. You spot a build-up of anything dangerous? You can instantaneously travel to safety and warn the relevant people who can swiftly go there to deal with it. It undermines the very idea of communication lag between seeing something and it finally being reported.

      Travel needs to have a cost, often one paid in time. Narratives work completely different in a setting where there is none.

      As for the battle sequences.. I may have simply become disillusionized by everything else, but even they seemed.. well.. much less than they did in War of the Ancients. It was so much just spells over and over; much of the time it felt like I was reading about a jRPG battle where there’s two sides standing in their respective edge of the screen, waiting for their turn and then unloading spells at the other side. And while describing one spell attack, having it nullified and then going something like “but that was only the distraction! The actual attack was much subtler!” probably could’ve been interesting the first few times around.. it happens so often that it lost any kind of drama for me.

      Again, I think the problem I have here is really how it’s presented; we never really get to see the actual deception taking place, we’re just told of it after the fact. There’s never really any moment given to wonder about what the duplicity might be, it’s just presented by way of “He made an attack! But the attack was rendered useless! But wait, that wasn’t his actual attack, because he also did this! And that worked!”

      • May 23, 2010 at 13:02

        Yeh that pissed me off aswell to no end.
        Tell me whatever you want about WOTA, at elast he did the fight scenes right. You knew what was going on, who was fighitng who and hox the allied factions worked alongside each other.

        The big fight scene with Varian leading both armies was to short and it didn’t go in to much detail on positions or movements. It ALMOST makes me feel nostalgic to pick the WOTA collection back up and read those fight scenes. almost being the key word…

        Thura, agreed, was the token Horde charecture along with Hamuul Ronetotem.
        Personally I wonder how Christie Golden, Warcraft’s best author (along with Chris Metzen) in my humble opinion, will tackle him come Shattering: The prelude to Cataclysm.

  4. May 23, 2010 at 12:03

    I’ve finally trudged through the book after several weeks, after plunging into it with great expectations.

    The story plodded along, in a style that would suit my 10 year old son. About as deep as … uh.. a shallow thing.

    And where does it leave us now? I was beginning to be a Staghelm fan after completing the AQ40 quest line and starting to understand his character, I thought at last we had a character I could like. An anti-hero, someone with good reasons to be a grumpy git, but a jolly good fellow underneath. But no, it seems he was just a shallow blizzard regular old asshole.

    Thura was simply put in as an afterthought “oh crap, not enough horde love!”.

    So where does it leave us RPers? Do these events happen during the magical overnight period when the expansion is released? When does my beloved night elf druid notice that Teldrassil is fixed, and Malfurion and Tyrande are living happily ever after?

    • 10 Nhani
      May 23, 2010 at 13:23

      I was actually surprised to see Staghelm actually wasn’t possessed himself so much as having his own personal shoulder demon. That, in the least, was a somewhat welcome change from the common Warcraft approach of nearly everyone turning evil being possessed.

      But yes, shallow is a good descriptor for the book in general.

      As for where it leaves roleplayers.. I have no idea; I doubt the event will really take place in-game in any form, or be really represented all that extensively. Suppose we might get a few hints dropped during the odd quest line, but that’s probably it.

      Personally, I’m perfectly happy with largely ignoring it unless it’s mentioned, then quietly make a few notes and that’s about it.

      Speaking of which, where were the Draenei? I can’t recall them being mentioned anywhere, at all.

      • May 23, 2010 at 13:31

        Nor do I, or the Blood elves for that matter.

        • 12 Nhani
          May 23, 2010 at 13:36

          Well, I suppose Valeera was mentioned like.. once.. or twice, and they could theoretically fall under the umbrella of “elves of several natures”

          Draenei though seem utterly absent, especially odd seeing how they’ve been building a Settlement by Forest Song, very close to Bough Shadow.

          • May 25, 2010 at 07:58

            The Draenei get shafted to often.
            Honestly come Cataclysm I have no idea what’ll happen to Forest Song let alone the Draenei race.

            • 14 Nhani
              May 25, 2010 at 09:17

              I looked around the wealth of screenshots that MMO-Champion had up before Blizzard kindly asked them to take them all down until the NDA is lifted; there was like one or two showing the area around Forest Song, and none of them really showed much. The central crystal still seemed to be there, but I saw neither finished buildings nor ruined constructions, so it looked more forgotten than anything.

              That part might’ve been unfinished, of course, or it might be more visible from other angles, but seeing how pretty much every night elven settlement in Ashenvale had rather visible signs of the struggle, Forest Song just looked forgotten.

              Guess we’ll have to see come the beta.

            • 15 Gordrake Thunderhoof
              May 25, 2010 at 10:05

              I would imagine the only reason the Draenei get ‘shafted’ too often is because they are very alien to the world. If you think about it…even the Blood Elves have more reasons for fighting in Azeroth than the Draenei – and it’s short-sightedness on Blizzard’s part because the Draenei’s lifespan over their story can only extend to The Burning Crusade simply because that’s all they have relevance for. Everyone else, including Blood Elves, have grudges against the Lich King and have not-very-fond memories of the Dark Portal. Draenei? Squat.

              It’s a mistake Blizzard have to learn from now and try to sort out, because otherwise Draenei are effectively going to just…be there.

            • May 25, 2010 at 15:51

              The Draenei are my favourite Alliance race (yes i’m Draenor biased) and to not see them have a palce in the expansion unsettles me. After all they are still a powerfull race and if anything the new hostalities with the Horde in Ashanvale would be a awesome place to have a speech like this.

              God bless you Picard…you magnificent bastard.

              But yeh seriously, the Draenei totally have a reason to band together with the Kaldorei nd show those green skinned brutes how deadly a enraged Draenei can be!

            • July 3, 2010 at 07:42

              The thing is, a few people started complained loudly about draenei shortly after they were announced. It’s not that there were really more people complaining about draenei than there have been about, say, blood elves or worgen; it’s just that the people complaining about draenei were louder and more rabid than usual, and kept insisting that draenei “ruined the lore.” (A certain petty retcon, you know. And yes, the retcon was petty.)

              As it just so happens, it—unfortunately—is beginning to look more and more like Blizzard is listening to said individuals. Never mind the fact that we’re talking about a segment of the fanbase that most entertainment companies would make a point of ignoring, or that draenei are actually a moderately popular race.

            • 18 Nhani
              July 3, 2010 at 07:51

              True enough; I mean, I generally tend to use the addition of the Draenei as an example that Blizzard aren’t really putting that much focus on keeping their Lore consistent and together. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Draenei – I think they’re a great addition (and I’m pretty sure Nhani Moonfall agrees, considering she’s romancing one!) with a whole lot of potential; especially since Blizzard downplayed the overall strangeness of Night elves compared to the rest of the Alliance, leaving that spot open to Draenei.

              I’d actually love to see Night elf/Draenei interaction increase, taking more and more of a turn like Forest Song and letting both races grow more adapted to their situation over time. It’d be great to see a fully built settlement combining both styles squeezed in somewhere.

            • July 3, 2010 at 23:34

              There’s definitely a difference between saying “there is an inconsistency here” and crying “ruined 4evar!!!1!” Especially if one follows up the former with “here’s how it could be resolved.”

              And yeah, I’ve been hoping they’d turn Forest Song into an actual town. (Someone had a wild idea about it being jury-rigged more for durability than aesthetics, and how awesome that would look.)

  5. 20 Yunaris
    May 23, 2010 at 12:41

    I’ve read countless reviews and highly detailed both grammatical and story based critiques of this story, personally its left me wounded that after several years looking forward to some Nelf love from Blizzard we end up getting Knaak’s utter rubbish.

    The idea of calling it a ‘male teen power fantasy’ hits it right on the head, personally I get a constant resounding level of sexism in his books that almost makes it uncomfortable to read. Now I’ve read Conan, I’ve read Red Sonja and I get the near humourous sexism present in those books, in modern times they’ve almost started making a joke out of it. The sad thing is Knaak seems to be attempting to copy the same theme without realising its a joke.

    I’ve read several reviews were they mock him for describing scenes by, completely ignoring where, what or how is going on by instead focusing on describing how hot his beloved ginger mage is.

    Considering the massive scale of excellent authors Games Workshop manages to recruit to write pieces, particularly authors like Dan Abnett it does make me wonder why Blizzard seems restrained to so few authors and seem to consistantly attract morons like Knaak while they have the sense and decency to immediately tell Boll to go die when he offered to do a Warcraft movie.

    Being a Tyrande fan, or generally a Sisterhood/Sentinel fan I’ll skip the whole thing. Tyrande’s WC3 personality was carried very well by WoW into classic but her total exclusion up until Knaak’s rubbish has just placed another layer of disgust upon the rather large pie Knaak’s baking for himself.

    • 21 Nhani
      May 23, 2010 at 13:42

      I’ve gotten the impression actually that several key people in Blizzard were large Dragonlance fans, and by extension possibly are Knaak fans. This is largely conjecture on my part of course, and I actually don’t know how his writing was for Dragonlance – never read anything from it, be it his or anything else.

      As for the sexism; I think the impression becomes a great deal worse there simply because he’s trying to write Night elves, seeing how one of the key features of Night elves used to be that they had a very Matriarchal structure, inverting many classic gender roles. The women handled matters of religion, the military and overall leadership all, with the men tending nature. It was an interesting twist where most other societies on Azeroth tend to have a very Patriarchal bent, and gave them welcome twist. Knaak on the other hand seems very determined to push them into being more Patriarchal, which strikes me as not only out of place, but continuously undermining the people he’s trying to write about.

      I can’t quite decide whether it’s something he does intentionally, or something he doesn’t realize he’s doing.

      • May 23, 2010 at 14:24

        You could say the night elves are a more benign version of the Drow.

      • May 24, 2010 at 08:31

        In Warcraft Archive, a compendium of various warcraft novels, Chris Metzen gets to write an introduction. As Day of the Dragon is one of the novels in the compendium, he talks a bit about the time that Knaak called up and said he wanted to write in the Warcraft universe. Apparently, he was in full nerdgasm mode, gushing enthusiastically about the Dragonlance author writing Warcraft stories.

        So, yeah, there’s at least one Knaak fan who’s a key figure at Blizzard.

        I haven’t read Knaak’s Dragonlance stuff, but given his abysmal track record in Warcraft I’m guessing it’s much the same.

        I’m thoroughly cynical and bitter and I’m guessing Knaak doesn’t even realise he’s pushing the night elves into being thoroughly patriarchal. So much of stock-standard fantasy seems to be about the male power-fantasy trip, with female characters being there simply as window dressing or as something to rescue when the plot demands it. It’s easy to assume that crap writers will keep on writing the same torrid sludge because it sells.

        Admittedly, I haven’t read any stock-standard fantasy in years so I might be wildly off base.

        • 24 Nhani
          May 24, 2010 at 09:17

          From what little I’ve seen of it, there seems to be as much a split over Knaak’s work for Dragonlance as there is for his work for Warcraft, with some people expressing it as really good and others flat out accusing him of ruining the franchise.

          On the topic of generic fantasy – and again this is largely conjecture since I admit, I haven’t really read that much fantasy – I think the issue, as such, is part that many fantasy books are aimed at teens, male teens in particular. The whole reason this is an issue is because – as I’ve not only been repeatedly informed but also ended up observing – is that some males find the idea of strong, capable and independent women rather intimidating. While having a damsel in distress is fine, putting a man in distress (and worse yet, having him saved by a woman) puts a whole lot of people way outside their comfort zone.

          Some of my fellow Yelnenubs do read some fantasy, and tend to express how some books elevate themselves above the rest through emphasizing character depth and all, but I haven’t read them and can’t recall what the series was called now. The impression I got though was that part of the reason why they were so different was that they seemed to be more written with adults in mind.

          Actually, as a quick sidenote on the whole generic teen fantasy bit and its overall genericness, the Dragonlance Wikipedia entry mentions that a fellow named David G. Hartwell (never heard of him, personally) “argues that Dragonlance is published under the “omnivore theory” of publishing. In this theory, the readership is made up of teenagers, and completely replaces itself every three to five years. This allows publishers to release subpar novels and still reach a small yet profitable audience.”

          • 25 Yunaris
            May 25, 2010 at 12:42

            I think I’ve yet to come across an author who can beat Garth Nix’s depiction of a female heroine in the Abhorsen series. Although the idea of ‘good’ necromancers is already interesting enough, the idea that magic is created by certain runes and undead are controlled through the use of varying bells that have different effects. He makes fights, using -bells-, interesting.

            He then goes on to present a female heroine who ends up rescuing Prince Charming instead of the other way around, they both end up being partners rather than either taking the lead over the other. Its difficult to describe the excellence done in character progression without adding spoilers, but his work always amazed me by how he can make sure you are aware the character is female but not in such a sense that her being female is more important than what she actually does.

            If anyone wants a good fantasy tale, that believe it or not mixes in 1940’s Britain, I would highly recommend checking out Garth Nix’s Abhorsen triology. Ever since reading it I’ve not come across another book that can depict female heroines so well.

            • June 13, 2010 at 05:59

              Nhani — you’ve reached the conclusion I did when you described Knaak’s work as “male power fantasy”, which is to say, he’s threatened by a competent female, and doubtless regards a powerful one as either too threatening or too absurd to contemplate. There’s no way he could handle Chicks in Chain Mail (or better yet, Chicks ‘n’ Chained Males). At all.

              My favorite female fantasy hero remains Paksennarion Dorthansdotter, by Elizabeth Moon. Very, very highly recommended, especially if you ever contemplate role-playing a paladin.

            • July 3, 2010 at 07:45

              Robin McKinley is pretty good in that regard, as well. So was Louise Cooper (the Indigo series). If you don’t mind stories aimed at younger readers, Clive Barker’s Abarat books and some of Meredith Ann Pierce’s works are worth taking a look at as well.

    • 28 Gordrake Thunderhoof
      May 24, 2010 at 10:37

      I have to admit, I’ve read a lot of the Games Workshop novels (being a Warhammer Fantasy player myself) and so far every book I have read of them personally have been brilliant. I have a friend (who probably doesn’t view this blog, though he may my own) have had a few criticisms on some of the 40K stories that have come out of late, but the general idea from him is that these books are awesome to read. They actually fit in with the logic of the world and have this shared vision of the two universes that makes complete sense to anyone reading it.

      Comparing that to what I’ve read/heard of regarding Knaak…it does make you wonder what the nether they’re doing with this franchise they’ve created. If they want to aim for a particular target audience, aim for those who want CHARACTERS and not STORY. Like I said to Nhani in conversation, nobody remembers an epic story. They remember the name of the story, but they only remember that so that they can tell people what story to look for – and people will mostly remember the display of the characters and the characterisation that is developed for them more so than any overarching storyline the writer can create.

      Think of it like this: Name one great book/film/game/whatever and tell me about the story. If you can do that, then tell me about the characters and describe to me how much of a difference your memory can recall between the two. It can be the age-old “Princess in the tower! Big dragon going to kill her! Knight must save the day!” storyline, but if that princess is also some mystic who guides the Knight and any others to victory and the Knight himself shows character development to a standard that would match WCIII’s Tyrande (not Knaak’s Tyrande…) then it can make for an interesting read despite the clichéd story. It’s characters that make a good story, the story comes second.

      Blizzard needs to realise this and kick the Knaak in the knackers…then follow GW’s example and get some proper writers in.

      • 29 Nhani
        May 24, 2010 at 11:59

        I don’t know much about Warhammer Fantasy; I do know a few people who like the 40k setting however, and I’m generally told good things about the tie-in novels there.

        If anything, the biggest source of criticism I can recall being told of regarding 40k tie-in material tends to be about how the Ultramarines allegedly wear plot armor and shoot plot bullets.

        • 30 Yunaris
          May 25, 2010 at 12:37

          I’ve read alot of 40K and fantasy books, I’ve found that frequently the standard is exceptionally high and the characterisation and development takes a far greater part than the story.

          The Dan Abnett series, Ghosts of Tanith has effectively a cut and paste method of taking each and every tale told from the Sharpe book series however his characterisations are of such an exceptional level the story isn’t even remotely the interesting part. He accepts and understands the universe 40K is built around has a million different cultures and he makes them all interact both in good and bad ways. He also does a bloody good job at presenting females that aren’t just window dressing.

          I’ve also read alot on Eldar, particularly books I can find with them present in them. Effectively being space elves, they make a good comparision with fantasy. The females portrayed in them are mystical, alien, totally culturally insane to us and truly feel like you’re reading about an entirely different race rather than humans with pointy ears. Interestingly in recent years Games Workshop have taken more and more of an interest in having competant females leading from the fore in Eldar society, considering the amount of fluff for Eldar is about as thick as the Night Elf fluff it makes me rather disappointed with Blizzards performance on them so far.

  6. 31 Althilor
    May 23, 2010 at 12:52

    I agree with you entirely Nhani. Even though I admit to liking certain parts of Knaaks works with the Kaldorei, like in Stormrage finally putting the debate to rest about the statue in the Temple of the Moon. Those pieces are few enough that it does not justify putting up with the rest of it. Indeed (I’m doing a Knaak!), I found that the part you did not mention that in the book shocked me most was that Shandris, badass Shandris, leader of the Sentinels, who fought demons when just a child…preferred arranging weddings to leading armies….what the f**k.

    Why of why will they not let Christie Golden write the female characters…she single handedly turned Alleria into my favourite lore character. Alleria is everything Tyrande and Shandris should be, a strong woman who knows her responsibilities and is not afraid to defy her ‘man’ when she feels the needs to. You really get the impression Goldens Alleria could kill more Orcs in an hour than Knaaks Tyrande and Shandris could in a month, what with Tyrande running away in tears and Shandris likely planning her next wedding.

    • May 23, 2010 at 13:10

      Agreed with Althilor, Alleria was way more bad ass in Beyond the Dark portal and Tides of Darkness.
      Christie Golden writes very intriguing charectures and I think female charectures are much more respected since she is writing for her own gender as well.

      I wish Karen Travis wrote for Blizzard, I love how she did the Republic Commandoes and the entire Man’do way of life, imagine her writing Orcs.

      • May 23, 2010 at 13:15

        Ps: Shandris planning weddings….yeh, class act Knaak.
        Why dont you make her fall hopelssly in love with some random guy and loudly wishes she wants a baby.

        http://www.wowwiki.com/Loreli_Fallglade

        ……Ghaaaaaaargh!!!

        • 34 Nhani
          May 23, 2010 at 13:44

          That article isn’t very detailed. Who is she?

          • May 23, 2010 at 14:22

            Yeh my bad.
            She’s a charecture introduced in the WoW comic Special, a night elf woman desiring a child. Reliable source below.

            http://www.lorecrafted.com/the_stacks/2009/12/17/wow-comic-beginnings-and-ends-review.html

            • 36 Nhani
              May 24, 2010 at 09:32

              How is she actually handled, though? Even that review seems to largely just mention that she exists and.. little else.

              Unless that’s pretty much all she amounts to, in which case I see your point.

            • May 24, 2010 at 12:01

              I fear just that, though i have to admit I have not read Mike Costa’s previous work. However since I hate humanity I allways expect the worse.

            • 38 Nhani
              May 24, 2010 at 12:26

              True. Past experience with Warcraft tie-in material does tend to lend towards female characters getting shafted, so the precedent is for something facepalmingly bad.

              That said, one of the archetypes that make up the character of Nhani Moonfall was always The Mother, and the concept of wanting/caring for children isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s plenty of interesting characterization that can come out of an extension of motherhood if treated well.

              Of course.. that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to make good characterization either..

      • 39 Nhani
        May 23, 2010 at 13:48

        While I haven’t read nearly as much of Goldens’ books as I would’ve liked, I have a tendency to hold her up as pretty much the diametrical opposite of Knaak; she struck me as far more of a character writer, and I tend to hold up Lord of the Clans as not only my favorite Warcraft novel, but also the one thing that made me able to sympathize with Grom Hellscream.

        I’d love to see Golden tackle Tyrande and see what she’d make of her, and if she’d manage to undo the massive character derailment that Knaak forced.

        • 40 Althilor
          May 23, 2010 at 14:36

          Here is hoping she writes a bit of Tyrande in her prelude to Cataclysm novel. I can’t recall any confirmation on who is going to be in that novel so one can dream…

  7. 41 Yunaris
    May 23, 2010 at 13:29

    Oh dear, I didn’t even know about poor Shandris. She goes from being Azeroths third (now second, with Vashj dead) best archer to planning a wedding. Knaak writting females just gets more and more sexist the more he writes. The sad thing is I think he really does think its fantasy appropriate. :\

    • 42 Nhani
      May 23, 2010 at 13:56

      Shandris. I’m not sure what to think of Shandris. On one hand, Knaak tries to describe her as competent; on the other hand, we don’t ever get to see it; in fact, her only real on-screen contribution in the latter parts of the book seems to be to get suspicious and then get captured to help prove how Staghelm is Obviously Evil. And while Shandris actually seems to have grown a little from her War of the Ancients incarnation.. Knaak also makes very certain to point out that the little girl is still in there, unchanged, and while this could be a potentially good character moment.. nothing is done with it, and it felt more like Knaak telling us how she hasn’t grown any after all, she just pretends to have.

      Knaak also remarks how Shandris is a priestess, which strikes me as odd not only because she’s never been shown or described as one before, but also considering he never describes her wearing suitable trappings or describes her or her abilities to that end.

      • 43 Yunaris
        May 23, 2010 at 14:26

        It doesn’t seem entirely impossible that she has some training as a Priestess, after all the original batch of Sentinels were all members of the Sisterhood. I have to admit, my favour towards her is mainly due to the fact she takes up the position of Tyrande’s second and gives a good indication towards the level of fanatical, near matriarchal devotion of the Sentinels towards the Sisterhood. Her character got very little time in WC3, however the relationship that helped build Tyrande’s character in WC3 is what drew me to take interest in the first place.

        However Knaaks depictions of her both seem to come across as difficult, he seems to have real difficulty being able to grasp the concept of a warrior woman and being able to put it into writting. Like I’ve said in other places, Knaaks writting style is better associated with comics because the pictures can help cover his weakness, his inability to describe anything in detail but Rhonin’s rugged ‘good looks’.

        • 44 Nhani
          May 23, 2010 at 14:36

          Well again, the problem is part consistency, part show, don’t tell – she has never been mentioned as a Priestess before, all her other depictions show her as the warrior, including Knaak showing her actions in Stormrage.

          He states she’s a Priestess – I think once – but never once have her either act it or show it. It has no bearing on her identity or her abilities whatsoever, in stark contrast to any other Priestess he depicts.

          • May 24, 2010 at 11:56

            I think she used her pwoers in her Nightmare to resserect a dead Malfurion.

            • 46 Nhani
              May 24, 2010 at 12:01

              That’s Tyrande; I don’t think we’re ever shown Shandris having a nightmare.

            • May 24, 2010 at 14:50

              Yeh my bad, misread.
              Then again we only focus on Shandris once during the entire novel.
              Maybe Knaak would want us to imagine her using her priestess powers when she defends the night elves when Darnasus goes insane.

            • 48 Nhani
              May 24, 2010 at 15:01

              For me, it seemed mostly like Knaak just taking a shortcut to ensure Shandris as Tyrandes’ direct and utter second in command, even in terms of the clergy – possibly so he could ignore or avoid mentioning any other potentially prominent priestesses or having to explain why Shandris could boss the Temple around.

              I still maintain that not once does he have Shandris act, think or otherwise present or carry herself as a Priestess, so it’s clearly not something he considers part of her character.

              Of course, I could be snide and suggest that maybe Knaak is just annoyed about having failed to turn Shandris into the trophy wife of Jarod Shadowsong and is now dedicated to break her continuity as vengeance! And no, I don’t actually think he is :p

            • May 25, 2010 at 16:00

              Speaking of, the hel happend to that guy?
              Jarod was a okay charecture to my best memory. You know the guy who doesn’t want to be in charge but shows very good potential does get in charge.

              No idea why Shandris-Jarod though.

            • 50 Nhani
              May 25, 2010 at 16:12

              Snide version? Because Knaak couldn’t let a remotely competent female character get away with not being attached to a male in some way.

              I know, I know; I think it was probably more along the lines of how key characters must be shipped, always. It neither struck me as foreshadowed, nor really based in all that much depth. Especially seeing how young Shandris is at the time.

            • May 25, 2010 at 18:07

              To be honest i’m a big fan of shipping myself, there has to be a lid for every pot y’know, however the Shandris-Jarid relationship didn’t make any sense.
              Personally I think if he (Knaak) wanted Jarod to have a girlfriend give him a nameless woman like the Saurfang family.

              Also I’m thinking Illidan should’ve had a fling with one of the Priestesses.
              Why? Because I think it would sort of have been trying to get Tyrande after she clearly fell for furion, but he could never have her.

              The relationship wouldn’t last, but it would be a piece of tragic charecture development.

        • 52 Althilor
          May 23, 2010 at 14:44

          The one bit on the Tyrande-Shandris relationship that Knaak added that I did like was Shandris seeing Tyrande as a sort of surrogate mother. It is natural for a child when they lose their parents to latch on to a sort of surrogate figure. That mother-daughter relationship the two have adds something to what you see in WC3, and I feel is a pretty decent idea on the whole.

          I am not against the female Kaldorei being shown to have some heart and interests outside of a hard exterior, I just feel Knaak captured that essence in the relationship between Tyrande and Shandris, the vulnerability both feel is apparent when they talk. He just goes over the top of it and overcooked it to a ridiculous degree when he started letting them GIVE IN to those doubts.

          • 53 Nhani
            May 23, 2010 at 15:09

            Like said, I think the moment had a whole lot of potential, and if Knaak had been more of a character writer and hadn’t spent much of the rest of the novel seemingly trying force both of them to carry the distress ball, I likely would’ve thought it a great character moment.

            What could have been a brief yet touching look into the emotions, vulnerabilities and insecurities of two otherwise very strong and capable women instead becomes their default modus operandi for much of the novel.

            If Tyrande had spent most of the rest of the novel being the secure and confident heroine she used to be, I would’ve found it a touching moment. As it is, it’s just another example of her continuous and inescapable insecurity.

            • 54 Yunaris
              May 25, 2010 at 12:45

              I have to agree, if I’m going to give credit to Knaak for anything its for constructing the whole surrogate mother thing. I think it was one of the few moments I’m aware of Knaak actually having some character development that doesn’t include a female being latched to a males leg so she can actually survive for more than 5 minutes.

  8. 55 Zharia
    May 23, 2010 at 16:58

    Female character development? In my Warcraft universe?

    …It’s less likely than you think. This has been my issue with the Warcraft Universe since WoW and the fact that there are very, very few strong, independent women who are not defined by the men they are associated with. Tyrande you already made great mention to, but there are others. Jaina Proudmoore, who I liked in Warcraft 3, became nothing more than second banana to Wrynn during Wrath, who seems to do alot of “stop fighting children” instead of actually taking a stand. And crying. Maiev, who proved not only a badass fighter, but that she exists only because Illidan was running around. As was said by her after the Betrayer is slain “He is right. I feel nothing. I am…nothing.” Garona: Her son and Medivh. I want to say Sylvanas is a subversion of this, but I dunno, something irks me about her.

    Yes, I know, the male demographic is the larger demographic and will be catered to. But, you know…one consistently strong female lead, is that so much to ask?

    Apparently for Blizzard and Knaak…yes, that is too much. Get back to the kitchen.

    Unless there is something I am missing, in that case, I would appreaciate a remedy for my ignorance.

    • May 23, 2010 at 19:01

      I’m sorry to say this but….Khadgar and Garona made more sense damnit!
      Unfortunatly I have to agree with you, so far only Aegwynn seemed to be somewhat of a female role model, and she got wacked recently to feed the abomination which is known as Med’an.

      Seriously, give me one week and i can re-write him into a better charecture with a plausible backstory. Or hell, a day!

      • 57 Nhani
        May 24, 2010 at 09:39

        Med’an simply seems.. odd. I haven’t had much contact with him since I haven’t really read the comics, though the gist of it seems to be that he’s largely defined by his parentage and his powers, rather than by himself.

        Especially with his parentage being Very Special and his powers being Spectacular, seeing how he seems to be the first example of someone who can multiclass across different divine casters, so to speak.

        I actually don’t know how well he comes across when he’s given a chance to speak and act on his own.

        • May 24, 2010 at 11:51

          Hence i want to be given the chance to re-write him.
          No offense to Walter Simonson, i loved how he did Thor and such, and writing super hero stories and fantasy series are a huge leap, espically one with a huge fanbase of experts.

          Med’an DOES have a personailty, but that is the one of a boy trying to strike out for himself and trying to find out who his parents are. After he found out he pretty much became the instrument of the new Council with little to no personailty treats save he misses his grandmother, but knows somehow she is still with him.

          I believe people hate that Mary Sue-ish ness because he has no flaws and his heritage was to much to take. Garona was udnerstandible and would explain why she did not appear in WC3 like Chris Metzen said, Med’ivh however seemed to be to much since in the Last Guardian there was no hint at all of a romance, save perhaps for Khadgar and her sharing a closer bound.

          • 59 Zharia
            May 25, 2010 at 06:07

            Well he is a Half-orc, quarter Human (divine? Dunno about Guardians who are actually Fallen Titans), quarter Draenei, who seems to have Shaman and Mage powers and wants to learn to become a paladin as well.

            Multi-classing is fine. I know many an RPer who does it. But they only really do 2 classes. A third seems a bit overpowered.

            And what bugs me about the whole Guardians of Tirisfal being brought back is that the Guardians were originally tasked with defending Azeroth against the Legion. Well the Legion has been pushed back twice, by those pesky adventurers (you know, us). Why do we need the Guardians again?

            • May 25, 2010 at 07:56

              That’s the point, we dont.
              The only thing the council did was beat down a cult.
              My guess is the Old Gods are the new threat now, but like you said we all ready go that coverd.

              We’re Azeroth’s ebst defence, we proved that in the past. Here’s the thing, nobody knows where we came from, we’re just there to swoop in and save the day.

            • 61 Nhani
              May 25, 2010 at 09:01

              “divine casters” is technically a D&D term, though the pen and paper RPG edition of Warcraft adopted it so I feel validated in using it. The whole point with the term is basically to put a line of difference between “magic”-based spellcasters (who learn to manipulate existing energies) and “faith”-based spellcasters (who are granted their powers through higher means)

              The best in-universe example I can think of (oddly enough, one written by Knaak at that. Yes, I realize the irony) is in the first War of the Ancients book where Cenarius notes (to Malfurion) that Tyrande will never be able to fully commit to his teachings because she has already promised herself to Elune.

              Through his powers, Med’an effectively is both, at the same time, a priest of the Holy Light and a priest of the Elements. It effectively de-values both followers of the Holy Light and Shamans everywhere because suddenly, it’s less something you “live” and just something you learn; Paladins go from having to master the tenets of Respect, Tenacity and Compassion into something you could learn if you dock a few evenings in a summer course, and Shamans turn from a long journey of understanding and promising yourself to the elements to something hereditary.

              If he’d been a mage, combined in pieces of warlock and mastered five different disciplines of warrior, then fine. But when a character effectively becomes a priest of multiple faiths, I start calling foul.

          • July 3, 2010 at 07:54

            The drumorc shamageicator actually does have flaws. He’s uncertain and panicky and would have been swatted like a fly if he hadn’t had the New Council behind him. A Mary Sue isn’t necessarily a flawless character.

            That said, he’s still the Sammiest Sam that ever Sammed (and Khadgar being his father would have made more sense). I’m somewhat relieved to hear that he won’t actually be appearing in Cataclysm.

    • 63 Nhani
      May 24, 2010 at 09:46

      As a friend of mine tends to happily remind me, female character development in media is generally rare period, really. One of the many things that made WarCraft III stand out was that it actually seemed to have some of it.

      That said, another friend of mine told me some time back that allegedly the person responsible for – among other things – creating the society and backstory of the Night elves were among the people who had left for Flagship Studios and Hellgate: London, which felt like it might explain a thing or two about how Night elves have fared in World of Warcraft. Of course, said friend didn’t actually have a name for me, so I have no way of verifying whether this is true or not.

  9. 65 Razmataz
    May 23, 2010 at 20:58

    I did end up reading this book with Arthas, after a long time of contemplation. I got immensely confused when suddenly we’re with Sylvanas and Arthas walks back in, and i’m left thinking ‘Wait, didn’t we just kick his pedestal down?’. And then suddenly we’re told that she is dreaming?

    In addition to that, I had a very facepalm moment when he introduced the Hearthstone, something that should never exist in any novel for World of Warcraft in my opinion.

    A let down, but a good thing to base the actions that happened since theres a huge gaping hole in ‘Nightmare’ in the universe at the moment.

  10. 66 LolDrood
    May 24, 2010 at 00:54

    Dunno, if the quel’dori get their Sunwell back, it’s only fair that Night elves get their tree back. Hell, even the gnomes are getting…
    Wait, I just thought of something.
    If Teldrassil is getting blessed, and Nordrassil in Hyjal is going to get healed up, that means there are two World Trees.
    Does that mean Night Elves get immortality AND double jump? Cause that would be sweet.

    Don’t feel bad, Nhani; I too love semi-colons.

    My issue with Sylvanas is that the Forsaken is more reminiscent of the Mafia then a legitimate nation. I hope is that the next major step in the Warcraft universe revolves around them being removed.
    Same goes the blood elves, if they can’t get over their, “waaaah, we suffered soooo much under Arthas, unlike everyone else in Azeroth, even though we technically got our Sunwell back, and really, most of our problems since WCIII have been self-made. Woe!!”
    I mean really.

    Tangent aside, I haven’t read any of the books. I don’t see why Cat can’t take place during the events in Stormrage, though. Either wat, Blizz will do what they want, regardless of what they want, depending on fan reactions. “Night elves worked to stop the Burning Leagion 10,00 years ago. Oh, and they were totally helped by a tauren, a human, an orc, and Marty McFly. Cough.”

    Regarding target audiences, I love me some demographic information. From that one that posted on wow.com a few weeks back, the only race that has higher ration of female characters then male is Draenei. They’re the only ones that even came close to a 50/50% between male and female, as well. Even blood elves were mostly male.
    … well I think it’s interesting.

    Okay, stream of thought wall is long enough. Post!

  11. 68 Myrion
    May 24, 2010 at 02:55

    I can only agree with everything you’ve said, really. Knaak’s an aging fool, who’s lost touch with the target market. Though, that said, I think we’d all be surprised how many people actually like his books. I know I was. I wish Blizzard would finally take some of our criticism to heart, and realise that he really isn’t that well-liked. They’d do better to continue hiring Golden, and finding new authors to accompany her. Lord of the Clans was an extraordinairy read. As was Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, and her collaborations works about Alleria Windrunner, etc. I’m eagerly anticipating her Cataclysm trilogy(?) already, and I don’t even know much about it. That isn’t something I’ve ever been able to say about one of Richard’s books. I think you’d be a better writer for them to hire actually, Nhani. You’ve proven time and time again that you have a clear understanding of the environment you roleplay in, and write about. It appears that those that take part in the game’s roleplay, have a far better grasp of the setting, using you and Golden as an example.

    And what annoyed me most about hearthstones, apart from the being made canon, was that they’re apparently connected to arcane magic? Despite the obvious indication of the in-game effect, that would suggest it’s natural?

    • 69 Nhani
      May 24, 2010 at 10:47

      Someone once paraphrased bits of a PC Gamer UK (I think?) interview with Chris Metzen where he supposedly pretty much admitted that Warcraft is largely wish fulfillment for him and that he felt a little distraught over how some fans over-analyzed it and tried to read a depth into it that wasn’t there.

      Whether that was aimed towards this kind of analysis and criticism, I’m not sure!

      As for my writing.. I haven’t written anything other than a strangely paced what-if graphic character journey in quite some time 😉 One of my fellow nubs occasionally tries to badger me into trying to write some sort of lengthier narrative including ‘ol Moonfall at some point, but it’s never gone beyond planning stages. I tend to lose focus, unfortunately. I find it somewhat unlikely Blizzard would ask me to write for them, though!

      I think there’s a point about how much reverance one has for the setting and how one approaches it. Again, this is all conjecture on my part, but comparing Golden and Knaak, it feels to me as if Goldens’ approach is very “I wonder what interesting stories this world and these characters could tell?”, Knaak seems more “I wonder what interesting stories I could come up with that uses this world and these characters.”; one is about exploration, the other is more.. well. exploitation?

      • 70 Luklan
        May 31, 2010 at 07:20

        “interview with Chris Metzen where he supposedly pretty much admitted that Warcraft is largely wish fulfillment for him”

        Wait, you mean I could set up a better RP Setting with Warcraft than Mister Metzen can?

        …I want in on this billion dollars.

        • 71 Nhani
          May 31, 2010 at 08:36

          Well.. I’ve long said, the thing with Blizzard isn’t that they write great stories – it’s that they present the stories they write well. Packaging is really important, not to mention that there’s far more to Warcraft than simply the story; I think you can summarize up Blizzard’s approach generally as first asking “What would be cool to do?” and then followed by “How can we make that make sense?”, rather than the opposite.

          My one standing example of this tends to be the Draenei, and make no mistake – I like the Draenei, I think they’ve turned out to be a good and interesting addition to the narrative. All that said, their addition broke Blizzard’s own origin story for the Burning Legion, to the point where Metzen later made an official statement going (paraphrased) “Oh, sorry, my bad, I forgot about that.”

          • 72 Luklan
            May 31, 2010 at 17:49

            I do remember that, actually. You’re right about Blizzards approach to their storytelling, and I think it’s the major difference between a Good Storyteller and a Great one.

            Granted, a lot of writing is taught nowadays that you should know [i]exactly[/i] how you want it to begin, and how you want it to end, and figure the rest out from there.

            Which is stupid. A general idea on how it ends, sure, but one should always be open to what makes the most sense from the characters [i]during[/i] the story. Probably why I do so much roleplaying, it’s all on-the-fly, no one really knwos what’s happening next, but they all keep to their characters. And if the characters have to change, then they [i]change[/i], but at least it makes sense within the context of the story.

          • July 3, 2010 at 08:00

            That’s a bit of an exaggeration. The basic story is essentially unchanged, as the eredar were never the only players in Sargeras’s corruption. And is it so hard to believe that Kil’jaeden the Deceiver would claim credit for something he didn’t do?)

            However, a vocal minority flipped their lids and blew it out of proportion and started frothing about “plot holes,” despite the fact that no “plot holes” actually exist.

            • 74 Nhani
              July 3, 2010 at 08:11

              They were always one of the more important players, though, which in turn was why they were generally the top lieutenants. It doesn’t really change anything as such because the Burning Legion is still the Burning Legion and still want to set everything on fire, but at the end of the day.. forgetting the origin of one of your major villains isn’t exactly the best way of maintaining a narrative.

              I general I don’t care about the retcon because we’re talking meta knowledge that no character really should know and ultimately doesn’t change much – no character or plot would really change with it. But I do hold it as a standing example that Blizzard does have a precedent for forgetting what they’ve previously established when they get distracted by shiny new ideas.

              That said, some people did definitely blow it out of proportion, and to a point I think that might be a good thing even if their argument isn’t exactly the most stable – we the audience and customer base obviously care about the narrative they’ve formed, so I think it might be a good thing if Blizzard feel they have to be on their toes and not contradict things they’ve established prior.

              Unfortunately, some take it out on the Draenei, too, which I’m less tolerant of, because the Draenei are a good addition, in spite of the method with which they were added.

            • July 3, 2010 at 23:27

              As I see it, retcons happen. There’s nothing inherently wrong with pointing one out; however, raging about it and blowing it out of proportion is indeed the wrong way to go.

              And you’ll see that happening a lot in regards to draenei; and many of the people raging take it out not only on the draenei, but on anyone who plays them. Which would really be their problem…but, again, Blizzard’s writers seem to actually be listening to them instead of actually attempting to resolve the discrepancy (which wouldn’t be that difficult). And that kind of makes it everyone’s problem.

            • 76 Nhani
              July 4, 2010 at 00:03

              To be honest, I don’t really like acknowledging Retcons as something that “does happen” – it’s like saying it’s okay for books or newspapers to have spelling errors because those also do happen; I mean sure, a single one isn’t going to ruin the entire work, but it’s typically something that one should aspire to prevent.

              The shift to include Draenei is far from the worst-matching addition Blizzard have tried to force (I generally hold the War of the Shifting Sands up as probably the one inserted element of the lore that makes by far the least sense the way it’s been explained thus far), so there’s definitely better targets out there, mind.

              That said, I’ve never seen the people you speak of; mind you, I generally avoid the community forums because I lost the patience to. If it’s as widespread as you say, then it sounds like a whole lot of people need to realize that things done can’t just be undone – another retcon to reduce the Draenei would only make things worse, not better.

              That said, some of my Yelnenu cohorts who play mostly Draenei tend to rather blame that Blizzard simply couldn’t quite figure what to do with the Draenei (or the blood elves, for that matter) post Burning Crusade. Both where introduced with it and were really intertwined with it, but when it was over Blizzard hadn’t really worked out where they wanted to take them after that and pretty much just left both of them hanging; especially with what Wrath has its focus set on.

              With Wrath, humans had Vrykul and the Lich King, dwarves had Titan ruins, Gnomes had machine comic relief and some exposition of their own with Mechagnomes, Night elves were snuck to tend to nature (though Star’s Rest was a nice surprise). Draenei seemingly only had being outsiders as their defining contribution.

              It really strikes me that Blizzard ran with them full from start to end in Burning Crusade, and then with Kil’jaeden defeated and the Aldor/Scryer narratives coming to a close with the Shattered Sun Offensive, Blizzard effectively ran out of story to tell and haven’t really made anything new for them.

    • 77 Gordrake Thunderhoof
      May 24, 2010 at 11:01

      Hearthstones… /facepalm

      I’m sorry, but now I’m utterly confused. Hearthstones? Those very same things that we use time and again to return to some tavern/inn in the middle of somewhere/nowhere simply because it’s quicker than flying? And they’re being used as a story/plot device?! Flaming heck, next we’ll have Knaak depicting how the BubbleHearth(tm) works! Complete with Night Elf Paladin, oh yeah! (/fail) And…they’re Arcane magic. “Arcane?” Arcane. Yup. The very thing Night Elves cast out thousands upon thousands of years ago because it fucked up the moonwells and almost summoned the worst demonic hordes Azeroth has ever seen! It’s why druids are druids in the first place – they derive power from nature as opposed to the arcane flows and ley-lines.

      And on that note, any IC NElf Mages are seriously going to have a hard time in Darnassus.

      …and in closing, I vote Nhani to work for Blizzard in regards to the Character Development department.

      • 78 Nhani
        May 24, 2010 at 11:14

        Oh yes, after Knaak conveniently lands Tyrande, Lucan, Thura and Broll in Stormwind to say hi to Varian, he has earlier four head over to the Stormwind Trade District to fetch the Hearthstone (created by arcane means, but it’s apparently been blessed by Elune so it’s fine, or somesuch) the Night elven ambassador apparently has so they can conveniently teleport Broll to Darnassus while still keeping Tyrande, Lucan and Thura together in one place.

        It utterly reeks plot contrivance.

        As for the source of Hearthstones, Tyrande does mention something that apparently Hearthstones can be made by non-arcane means also, but that it’s apparently easier to de-arcane an arcane Hearthstone than to make a non-arcane one from scratch, hence why the current one is an ancient one made by arcane means but later de-arcane-ized which is why it’s okay to use, and .. yes. It’s Magic(tm).

        As for Druids, clearly you missed the part where apparently the very idea that druids gain their powers from nature is such a guarded and well-kept secret that even High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind was unaware of it in spite of having studied under Cenarius.

        I don’t know, Knaak wills it.

        • 79 Gordrake Thunderhoof
          May 24, 2010 at 11:35

          Hmm…then yeah, I must’ve missed it. But then I’ve been converted to believe that Knakk == Fail. Thus, his will is invalid, as is his argument.

          And if it’s such a well-guarded secret, how come the books in the game and, of course, some of the quest lines actually explain how the druids work?

          “This is written by fail. Indeed, I am fail.” – Proposed self-confession from Knaak.

          All I’m going to say is that I’m not following Knaak’s trends. Alverenia is young, learning and growing into the world around her, taking life one step at a time as she trains her communion with nature alike many of the Sentinels before her. Valuria got booted from the Sentinels for being too merciless in her methods – reminded them too much of an orc’s bloodlust, probably – so she’s been having the excuse that she’s intending to prove everyone wrong and show that her methods are the only way. Yvalor is my druid and, having followed the quest lines, he has every fragment of reason to distrust Staghelm and any under his command while having devotion to Stormrage simply because he is among the greatest of druids, in essence an idol for him to follow in the footsteps of.

          Oh…and two of those are female, yes. Because that’s how Night Elves were designed to be in my eyes – Leadership for the women, worldly nurturing for the men.

          • 80 Nhani
            May 24, 2010 at 11:46

            It’s mostly the part (fairly early on, even) where Knaak somehow expresses how Tyrande gets to see “for the first time” how Druids gain their powers from nature around them, which is officially the one point in the book that I found the most totally mind-bogglingly broken, not only from a characterization standpoint but also from the sheer logic of how the world is presented.

            How could she not know that? It makes no sense.

            • 81 Zharia
              May 25, 2010 at 06:16

              Especially mind blowing since Knaak wrote the book where Tyrande was learning under Cenarius to begin with. And this was all *before* Krasus and friends were sent back thanks to the timey wimey ball.

            • 82 Nhani
              May 25, 2010 at 09:10

              Made even worse by how Knaak had Tyrande point out to herself that she should’ve known about one or two lines later. It’s like she suddenly goes into total airhead mode, noting how she missed the very core point of what Cenarius was teaching.

  12. 83 Thunderbraid
    May 24, 2010 at 11:44

    Fully agree with both Yuna and Nhani. (Hello Yuna! I knew you read this comic)

    Knaak is certainly more suited for comics, no doubt about that.

    In my opinion Golden is very much a superior to Knaak when writing novels, I am looking forward to her next Warcraft novels.

    Knaak is to Warcraft fans as Karen Traviss is to Star Wars fans, he took a perfectly good original race/s (Elves for Knaak. Mandalorians for Traviss) and destroyed them to the extent they’re nearly unsalvageable in the eyes of non-roleplayers.

    Going off on a complete tangent – Those new Eldar 40K novels that are coming out soon look kickass.

    • 84 Thunderbraid
      May 24, 2010 at 11:47

      Forgot to mention. Lucasarts have done the right thing and have scrapped Traviss’s contract. Blizzard should learn from them. xD

      • 85 Gordrake Thunderhoof
        May 24, 2010 at 11:51

        Seems there’s a lot of companies Blizzard could learn from…and not just for idea hijacking purposes, either.

        Funny you should mention 40k as well…that’s what the comment I linked to there refers to.

        • 86 Thunderbraid
          May 24, 2010 at 11:58

          Yeah. I shouldn’t suprised from Warhammer’s popularity. But truth is I -do- get suprised when I run into people who not only know about it but also like it, and not just because they’re fanboying over those blasted Space Marines.

          • 87 Nhani
            May 24, 2010 at 12:03

            As far as I hear actually, the best tie-in material to Warhammer 40k is actually the ones centering around the Imperial Guard, which does make sense seeing how they’re the one human element fighting aside and against all these superhuman, larger than life entities.

            • May 24, 2010 at 12:13

              The Orks are rpetty cool to, if only for a good laugh.

            • 89 Nhani
              May 24, 2010 at 12:34

              Orks are interesting; they have this property where you get a few together and have them shout Waaaaagh! and it somehow makes it easy for people to just jump right in and relish in the mayhem. Someone I know who tried Warhammer Online told me that Orks was the one race that by far inspired not only the most random in-combat RP but also the most overall unity.

              Just have someone charge in shouting Waaagh!, and suddenly just about every ork within earshot would charge right in with them, shouting just as well.

            • May 24, 2010 at 14:46

              I think everybody likes Orks exactly for that reason, and their main strategy is so easy to understand. The shame of it all is, you cannot make a story around them since as charectures, they are like animals.

              Orks are made fo’ fightin’ and winnin’!

              That’s it, nothing else.
              However i know a lot of people who love the Tau because of the same reason as the Orks, unity.
              We have Tau, Kroot, Vespids and even human helpers who are all respected in the same way because they all follow ‘the Greater Good’.

            • 91 Nhani
              May 24, 2010 at 14:51

              I like the Tau, even with the changes that Games Workshop affected as part of their kneejerk reaction to people thinking of the Tau as “the good guys”.

            • 92 Gordrake Thunderhoof
              May 25, 2010 at 10:39

              Orks/Orcs & Goblins have always been fun to play for anyone wanting to get into either Warhammer universe. They’re fun, crazy and anyone who can get into their characters would look mad to anyone else – but those into the game will play along with it and have a laugh. It’s like when we (as players of WoW) run into a mass of enemies shouting at the top of our character’s lungs the immortal words of “Leroooooooooy Jeeeeenkiiiiiiiins!” It’s random, generates a laugh almost every time and it’s completely fitting since it is, in one respect or another, a part of the world we’re all in.

              Personally, I can see the appeal of Space Marines, and there are a lot of good books out there that go in-depth with how Space Marines should be. The sad fact, however, is that you then get the gamer-boys who see the blue and yellow/gold of the Ultramarines and think “They are the largest! They are the first! That must mean they are the greatest!” Uh…no. The Ultramarines are 40k’s equivalent to Death Knights. Yes, you get them at 55, then when you get your letter of approval to give to Thrall/Wrynn you think they’re the best thing ever because they are the “First” “Heroic” class. It’s only when you get faceplanted by a Paladin of the same level that you begin to realise you’re too hyped up on bullshit.

              I should have a friend of mine look in on this post…he collects WH and 40k books, he would definitely have something to talk about.

          • 93 Yunaris
            May 25, 2010 at 13:02

            There is a book around simply called “Fifteen Hours” it follows the concept of the twenty minuters back from WW1, the idea being that this is the average life span of an Imperial Guard on the world they arrive on.

            It follows one character, 15 hours of his life, entire book dedicated to it. The entire thing is a massive piece of character development and an exceptional read, one of the few books that left me entirely unable to predict how it was going to end.

            I think the problem is alot of authors are looking at World of Warcraft and deciding that indeed, Darkshore only has one town because WoW says so. On the other hand GW’s lore points at a massive chunk of the universe and perhaps names maybe ten planets? Authors go crazy on the other two hundred they don’t mention.

            The Space Marines, personally, perform a very important role in GW pieces. They keep all the, as your friend aptly put “male teen power fantasy” in one section so the rest of the works are superb. I heartly recommend both ‘Execution Hour’ and ‘Shadow Point’ a pair of books following an Imperial Warship. The Eldar, particularly their female Captain are portrayed very very well. The book also does a great job looking at how society turns on itself when their self preservation instincts kick in from knowing doom is coming.

            Between my brother and I, I think we’ve read a good hundred or more fantasy and 40K books. The Space Marine ones are by far the worst, I would personally put Eisenhorne or one of Gaunts Ghosts’s at the top. The focus on characterisation and cultural concepts is wonderful.

            I really hope Blizzard turns to authors like yourself, or the ones mentioned in the books I’ve mentioned in this blog so we can see some really competant, interesting lore developing around the game world. Blizzard have a franchise that has the capacity to take over, with ease, things like Games Workshop. I don’t know why it doesn’t make sense to capitalise on such.

            • 94 Thunderbraid
              May 25, 2010 at 20:57

              Haven’t read those two you mentioned, Yuna. I’ll get hold of them sometime. I have had a slightly unhealthy thing for female Eldar (maybe) since the Farseers from Dawn of War. Why aren’t there any female Farseer models from Games Workshop yet? They’d sell a lot, me tinks.

  13. 95 Tos
    May 24, 2010 at 14:00

    While I was reading your rant on Stormrage…I noticed a wow gold ad. Are you allowing those kinds of ads?

    • 96 Nhani
      May 24, 2010 at 14:25

      I don’t run advertisement; more specifically, I’m not allowed to. To quote the relevant page: “Adsense, Yahoo, Chitika, TextLinkAds and other ads are not permitted on WordPress.com blogs.”

      Unfortunately, there’s also a small caveat further down, going: “To support the service (and keep free features free), we also sometimes run advertisements. We’ve tested a lot of different ad providers and currently use Google AdSense and Skimlinks. We try hard to make the ads discreet and effective and only run them in limited places.”

      They also mention elsewhere that “The ad code tries very hard to not intrude or show ads to logged-in readers, which means only a very small percentage of your page views will actually contain ads.”

      I don’t have any control over them save for scraping together some money to pay to have them removed entirely for a period (x2, once for Beyond the Tree, once for Thoughts for Food), and seeing how this is something like the.. second? time I’ve seen anyone mentioning seeing advertisements at all across two “blogs” in a period of some two years, it hasn’t been something I’ve prioritized; I don’t get to see them myself, so I have no idea of how common, how intrusive or for what they might be.

      Of course, if they’re going to start reoccuringly advertise gold selling then I’ll simply have to dig up the coins from somewhere and get rid of them. Like said though, I have no idea of where the ads are or what they’re advertising at all myself – I don’t see them.

  14. 97 Lyrati
    May 25, 2010 at 15:35

    I’ll miss Staghelm. At least he was somewhat revolutionary in night elven culture.

    • 98 Zharia
      May 26, 2010 at 06:08

      You mean back to being xenophobes who wanted thier immortality back and thier dominion over nature and ignore the issues of the world outside of Kalimdor?

      I believe the term is “reactionary”. Could be wrong.

      • 99 Sarista
        June 11, 2011 at 10:55

        I actually thought him somewhat revolutionary especially with his whole lets regrow the world tree idea, mainly because it was not blessed by the aspects but he still gave it a go to get the elves back their immortality i like that. Everyone all ways seems to look for cosmic power for approval of their actions rather than just deciding i think this is right i like they like is is for the best of the people i lead so i will do it if a giant half extinct species of lizards that almost always refuse to get involved with a problem they did not cause by either the actions or inaction don’t like well tough.

        Also am i the only one who wonders why the dragons do not bless all the species of azeroth at least temporarily with enemies like the scourge or the legion the ability to resit diseases at least would be useful that and seriously they live at Wyrnrest or at least some of them do and they did not bother doing anything about their own dead being raised dis their species survive on eating idiot balls or what?

  15. 100 Lyrati
    May 26, 2010 at 08:31

    Reactionary as well as revolutionary when you think about it.
    Considering he’s done a great deal for the night elven community(among training generations of claw druids aswell as being one of the architects to Teldrasil).
    Let’s face it, he wasn’t a treehugger and was all for expansionism altogether. Maybe his views were somewhat radical and clashed with Tyrande, but I thought that was a good thing.

  16. 101 Ilyara
    May 26, 2010 at 15:27

    I really enjoyed the article and suspect that the book would only infuriate me.

    I’m not sure what to add; it’s all too tempting to bemoan Blizzard’s general attitude to the storytelling side of things and the anecdote attributed to Metzen is all too depressing. There’s a lot to like about the setting and it’s potential, immediately pre Wow, but the way they have spent a lot of that capital since is disapppointing. There’s just no excuse for the way the Night Elves have been reduced from a conceptually fascinating race in Warcraft 3, to their current state: it does feel as if there’s been a completely different person/no-one at the helm of their ship (how half the female animations passed muster I will never know).

    Resolving the Emerald Nightmare, Fandrell Staghelm, Malfurion’s disappearance, the political conflict within Darnassus and doing it in a fashion that damages the perception of their culture and key lore figures, *within a badly written novel* is really inexcusable: and to take those game specific stories away and then annihilate their lands and place in the story is just very lazy writing. Change and bad things happening is part of how you tell a story, but this feels more like an attempt to reinvent them as something dumber and more convenient.

  17. 102 Shadda
    May 28, 2010 at 18:31

    In spite of my deep-seated hatred of Malfurion I quite enjoyed Stormrage. Yes, there was that rather unfortunate scene that had Tyrande running off in the middle of the Emerald Dream like a teenager in a huff (after ten thousand years as the head of state, I would think she’d be more composed) and yes, she did manage to get herself captured once, but as a whole I thought her portrayal much more fitting than that of the War of the Ancients Trilogy. Yes, Tyrande has some personal insecurities, but she hasn’t allowed them to hold her back. She has seen numerous examples of powerful individuals whose pride was their downfall (Azshara and her Highborne, certainly, but more recently there’s Illidan). As a leader, she’s very aware that power corrupts, which I can’t imagine is a bad thing.

  18. 103 Whick
    May 31, 2010 at 01:26

    I tend to steer clear of Knaaks work whenever possible. If he wrote something about one of my favorite characters I would be drawn to it like a moth to a flame despite knowing it would be horrible but unfortunately Malfurion isn’t one of them.

    I don’t DISLIKE Malfurion I’ve just never had any strong feelings about him as a character at all. Since Warcraft 3 he’s just been this character I keep overlooking because I find his brother and his girlfriend more interesting. The only reason I would have read this is because of Tyrande or perhaps a mention or two of Illidan but I know how Knaak has an irritating tendancy to ‘demean’ female characters in his work. This is basically the first image that springs to mind whenever I think about Knaaks writing: http://www.suvudu.com/suvudumedia/Conan%20the%20Barbarian.jpg

    Do you hear me, Richard? If you pull this shit with Sylvanas I am going to be very cross with you.

  19. June 13, 2010 at 06:34

    You know, having read this whole thing, and reading all the knaak-hate, I can think of two possible reasons he keeps getting work.

    One: His works sell reliably to the male teen fantasy segment.

    Two: He’s the prose equivalent of cover artist Darrel K. Sweet. He turns in his work by the deadline, to what the contract specifies, and under budget. Never mind that he’s a hack producing hackwork, and that there’s at least a half-dozen better people available. We’re meeting the goals in our business case, on time and under budget! What could be better than that???

  20. 105 Aldrius
    August 2, 2010 at 22:35

    Not sure if you’re still responding to posts here, but I have to say I very much agree with you. Tyrande is arguably my second favourite character in the entire mythos of WarCraft (Ner’zhul is my number one favourite if you were wondering), and I’ve been really disappointed with her portrayal since The Frozen Throne.

    The Frozen Throne characterized her as this very wise war-seeing warrior. Furious in battle, uncompromising in her valor, but also very selfish and close-minded when it came to personal matters. (Much like Furion in this regard. Actually most Night Elves seem to be this way.) She releases Illidan because she loves him, and because in part because she wants to see him redeem himself. (And in part because she’s pissed at Furion for ordering her around.) Then in TFT, while softened, and a bit more open-minded, she’s no less overzealous or combative. She argues with Maeiv, despite blatantly being in the wrong (and even admitting to being in the wrong 20 seconds later in a conversation with Illidan).

    Her following of Elune was also an important aspect of her character, but never all-consuming. It is where she received her power from, and it was what she believes in, but it was just an aspect of her personality. In addition to that she was a powerful warrior, a strong general, a wise mentor, a devoted lover, a true friend (to Illidan, who seems to pretty much be her only friend in WC3 at least) and a loyal ally. (To Kael and the Blood Elves, but I think in part she just enjoyed spiting Maiev.)

    Since then, though, Knaak (who has pretty much been the ONLY person writing her, seeing her non-involvement in WoW except as Loremaster) has made her into a religious zealot with an extremely indirect and wimpy personality. She can’t seem to decide on much and even in WOTA, she needs Furion’s approval to take action at times. She’s treated as stupid and often ignorant of things, when in WC3 she was very wise and knowledgeable (despite being hot-tempered and a little bitter). Obviously this could be a sign of her younger age (though this doesn’t seem to have affected Illidan or Furion very much), but it still just feels very wrong.

    Also, to be really petty they’ve messed up her aesthetic. She’s now forever in that white robe, and while I don’t think the skimpy battle armor of the sentinels suits her very much either. The robe is just so… generic. And so unbecoming of a priestess of the moon. (Who I’ve generally associated as being warriors.) I’m not sure what they could possibly do to change that now, but something… different, would be nice. Something to make her look a LITTLE more impressive than she does now. (I thought the anniversary picture would fix up her aesthetic the way it did for Cairne, but… seemingly no such luck.)

    • 106 Nhani
      August 4, 2010 at 08:35

      I actually rather liked the anniversary picture – it was the first time Blizzard managed to sell the dress to me in terms of visuals. Prior visualizations tend to make it just a shiny, pretty dress; the anniversary picture added a rough and rugged look that – to me – looked like she could easily stand up to any of the other leaders in that picture in said dress.

      It was the first time in quite long that I’ve seen Blizzard depict Tyrande as someone who could actually lay down any kind of direct, martial hurt on people, so it’s actually up there among my favorite images of her at this point.

      As for Knaak’s way of handling her.. he writes her pretty much exactly the same way in Stormrage as he did in War of the Ancients, and Stormrage is present time. The age excuse no longer holds – it’s simply how he has decided to characterize her, period, in any time and age. That he decided it would make perfect sense for her to not know that Druidic power comes from nature (and then go on to point out that she should’ve known because she’s studied under Cenarius in War of the Ancients!) just blows my mind – how do you even start with something like that? And, unfortunately, that’s a very consistent element in how he writes her.

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