Tour #7: Lord of the Clans
We’ve taken all of the printed and in-game material and arranged it into a roughly thematic order within each expansion and we plan to go through the story using a number of thematically appropriate toons. We’ll be discussion our impressions here. Be warned: our discussions will contain spoilers for all currently published Warcraft material. This isn’t meant for first timers, but for old timers like us to experience it in a new way.You can find our tentative list here.
I’ve heard amazing things about Lord of the Clans, and Golden is far and away my favorite Warcraft writer, so I was excited to read this one. I admit I was partially excited because I wanted too see how it changes my view of the orcs from the First and Second Wars.
So. Does it?
Yes, of course it does. Well, after the little bit in the prologue where Durotan reminisces about talking around the fire while children dream of slaughter. I mean, this is not good social behavior?
But my problem with orcs was that they were genocidal invaders. That is what I reacted to in the previous books. My morality isn’t that ambiguous: genocide is always wrong, and should always be resisted. Durotan could never actually get that far, and I still judge him harshly for it. But equally, slavery is always wrong, and should always be resisted. So can I support the humans fighting against the orcs in one scenario, and the orcs fighting against the humans in another? Yes, without reserve. Because genocide and slavery are always wrong.
Thrall deliberately and repeatedly refuses to kill, or allow to be killed, humans who are innocent of enslaving him or the orcs. The orcs who did their best to eradicate the draenei and then moved on to the humans simply because humans had something they wanted are literally no more or less evil than the cartoonish Blackmoore. Thrall is a hero in the same vein as Tirion, who refused to kill an orc just because he was an orc.
- The only point of note in the introduction is that Metzen wrote it before Golden has turned in her draft of Rise of the Horde, which is interesting. I like that both were written by the same person, and Golden certainly gave orc individuals a great thematic arc in Rise of the Horde.
- We open with fucking Gul’dan. The fact that we will not be rid of him until Legion is just depressing. Two deaths was not enough. (And even dead his Skull still causes trouble!)
- Golden does a great job of picking this one up where Rise of the Horde ends (will end) – with the Frostwolf clan in exile in Alterac.
- In Chapter One, we have already learned that Blackmoore is a drunkard and an abuser of both women and horses. I’m pretty okay with not valorizing a slaver (which is absolutely what he is), so it’s fine; it’s just kind of cartoonishly evil. I think WoW has advanced incredibly in terms of subtlety from this point.
- Help! Who was Blackmoore’s father who was a traitor? Why am I expected to know this?
- I got really, really confused by Doomhammer being alive because I had already forgotten that he and Lothar didn’t actually kill one another. And I’m really glad he was, because across all the books, Doomhammer has been a great character. I’m still trying to figure out why I like Doomhammer’s character and not Durotan’s.
- I got misty-eyed twice: once when Snowsong Chooses Thrall, and once when he asks the spirits for the stag. (Incidentally, now I wonder if Christie Golden likes Lackey, because wow, did that strongly remind me of Companions Choosing their Herald.)
- I think “green Moses” fits Thrall better than “green Jesus,” actually. We get the whole basket in the rushes analogue, the destruction of the empire that he served as a slave, and later a terrible mistake that he has to atone for (lookin at you, Garrosh)
Actually, let’s talk about that. Back in the day, you just could not get rid of Thrall. He was everywhere, and everything was about how awesome he was. It felt like he was as omnipresent and annoying as people say Arthas was in the Lich King. And dear gods, Cataclysm. I’m convinced that’s part of why I dislike that expansion so much.
But this book did so much to rehabilitate him for me. He makes poor choices because he wants so desperately to belong. The first non-comatose orc he meets is Grom Hellscream, and Thrall latches on instantly. It’s why he trusts Grom (wrongly) during Warcraft III. He creates the Horde for the castoff, the adrift, the ones who don’t belong. The Horde contains the Forsaken, the blood elves, the trolls, even the goblins, because they had no home. It’s not in him to not want to provide what he had to fight so hard for.
And Grom’s eventual redemption is why he trusts Grom’s shit of a son later. It’s only after he leaves the Horde – this thing he created to give himself a place to belong, filled with other races that needed their own sense of belonging – and finds worth on his own that he can come back and correct his grievous, terrible error. It’s him who mirrors Grom’s redemption, not Garrosh.
My biggest problem with these earliest books is that every human is so one dimensional. Blackmoore is evil. Taretha is innocent. Sergeant is honorable. Langston is a coward.
Most of the orcs aren’t treated much better, but Hellscream, Doomhammer, Drek’thar and Thrall all have emotions that at least come from different pieces of the metaphorical pie.
Also, I wholeheartedly agree with Sonaira about genocide, slavery, and abusive asshats. Just so we’re all clear.
- In an earlier section, we talked about how the orcs were being propped up as noble, and the heavy hand is still quite present, though softened with Golden’s writing.
- I’ll admit to a certain amount of cringing every time Blackmoore appeared on the scene. He was so easy to hate. Honestly, almost too easy.
- Drek’thar’s words at the end ring so beautifully. “Of course you are what Blackmoore made you… And you are what Taretha made you. And Sergeant, and Hellscream…”
- For those wondering, Aedelyn Blackmoore (Aedelus’ Father) was accused of selling state secrets prior to the formation of the Alliance.
- Also, naming is getting confusing in some cases, with Blackhand, Blackmoore, and Doomhammer (then Thrall) wearing black armor.