Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Shattering: A Review

It's been about a month since The Shattering was released, so if you still haven't read it yet, there is a warning that there will be some spoilers released in this review.

I normally don't read books that are based on the Warcraft or World of Warcraft universe. Mostly because I had no interest in it. Well, at Blizzcon a lot of people were picking up the Prelude to Cataclysm book. So a decision was made, and I also purchased it, thankfully on the first day, as it was sold out by the 2nd. I ended up reading it on the way back to the East Coast.

The book itself is situated around several different characters, Varian, Anduin, Garrosh, Thrall, Jaina, Cairne, Baine.. well..basically almost every "main" character in current World of Warcraft lore. It starts off with Drek'Thar (you know, the AV Boss), having a vision of the world crumbling, and then it starts right off with Cairne headed to Northrend to pick up the rest of the troops no longer needed there, and ready to return home. This is the first time you really see Garrosh as well, and seriously, they don't make him very likable. Chapter two begins with a fight against the Kvaldir, which interested me because I really didn't pay much attention to Lore in Northrend, especially against this new race of humanoids. Obviously the Horde defeat the Kvaldir, and return to Orgrimmar where there is a parade of sorts for the heroes.

Then you get switched to the Alliance side of things. Jaina Proudmoore is attending a service to remember the soldiers that fell in battle. They also delve a little into Varian's past, which if you're like me and don't follow Alliance lore too much, it was confusing a bit, cause I couldn't understand why Varian had "been split into two separate entities" [58], or really how it had been done outside of he had no memory of his past. You also meet Anduin here, and by the end of the book, he had become one of my favorite characters. He does grow quite a lot in this book, going from a small boy to nearly an adult. His father decides to allow him to visit Jaina Proudmoore in Theramore, and eventually he also goes to live with the Dwarves which end up with him kidnapped, but we'll get to that later. I should also note, that this book made me hate Varian a little less then I did prior. He's not all too bad a character, and I can now see why he has so much hatred for Orcs.

Eventually you get sent back to Thrall waking up to horns blasting in Orgrimmar, to find the city on fire. He attempts to control the elements, but they refuse to listen to him, which obviously worries the Shaman-Orc. It is shortly after this happens, that Thrall decides he must go visit Nagrand, and requests that Garrosh sits in his throne and watches over The Horde while Thrall is gone. This is currently happening in game, though a bit different then how it is figured. In the book, Thrall commands no one go with him (and therefore all those people at the Throne with him live in game right now, never happened in the game). He also has a small fight with Cairne Bloodhoof, the leader of the Tauren, about leaving Garrosh in charge. Cairne brings up a good point in his argument:
"They love him because they only see the glory! They do not see the foolishness. I, too, saw the glory. I saw tactics and wisdom, and perhaps with nurturing and guidance those are the seeds that will take root in Garrosh's soul. But he finds it far too easy to act without thinking, to ignore that inner wisdom. There are things about him I respect and admire, Thrall. Mistake me not. But he is not fit to lead the Horde, any more than Grom was." [152]

They then switch back over to the Alliance, where Anduin is now staying with Magni Bronzebeard in Ironforge. This is where Anduin really starts to grow as a character. He begins training with Lady Dwarf Aerin, who teaches him sparring and Ram Riding, but does become best friends with High Priest Rohan, as well as several dwarves from the Explorer's League. Eventually the Dwarves find a shattered tablet that is written of the earthen. It speaks of "becoming one with the earth", which then eventually leads the Dwarves to think that whoever does the ritual will be able to speak with the earth, this of course after several Earthquakes, that basically ruin Kharanos. Anduin pleads Aerin to take him to Kharanos so he may assist, and so they go. Eventually they send Aerin down into the distillery to retrieve people who are trapped, but another small quake breaks the inn even further, and in the process kills Aerin, which breaks Anduin's heart, due to the amount of time they had spent together, as well as the amount of trust and respect he had for her. Several days after the earthquake, the ritual is ready, and Magni has decided he will do the ritual himself to talk to the earth. Well of course things don't go as great as they should. The ritual actually meant "become one with the earth", and Magni is turned into a crystal, with nothing that can be done. The Dwarves are left leaderless, for the time being.

Part two is the most interesting of the book, where Thrall meets in Nagrand with Greatmother Geyah, and her apprentice of types, Aggra, who becomes Thrall's teacher, and later his, well, it never says mate, or girlfriend in the book, but the context is there. He asks her to return to Durotar with him, and she accepts, but this is near the end of the book. While Thrall is in Nagrand doing his Shamanistic duties, Anduin is stuck in Ironforge, held captive by none other then Moira Bronzebeard, Magni's daughter, and Dagran Thaurissan, her infant son, and a large group of Dark Irons, who have come to claim her throne to Ironforge. Ironforge is then shut down, no one out, no one in, ordered by Moira, of course, to keep people inside and so the outside world can not hear of the ongoings on the city.

A bunch of Night Elf and Tauren druids meet up to discuss the treaty and the attack upon Sentinels earlier in the book. However, there meeting is cut short by Twilight Hammer cultists, who kill all but thankfully leave Hamuul Runetotem slightly alive, and thus he is able to get word back to Cairne about the attack. Cairne is not too pleased, for the Cultists in their intelligence during the attack, leave Hamuul believing Garrosh requested this attack. So Cairne heads to Orgrimmar and has words with Garrosh, who is getting intricate tattoos upon his face. Eventually Cairne challenges Garrosh to a mak'gora, which is basically a fight to the death with no armor, and one weapon. The fight is written very well. It is here that Cairne falls to Garrosh because of the poison upon Garrosh's weapon, blessed by none other then Magatha, leader of the Grimtotems. The resulting coup of Thunder Bluff is probably my favorite part in the entirety of the book. Baine, Cairne's son escapes and flees to Jaina Proudmoore.

So at this point, to review, Moira is in charge of Ironforge, and Grimtotems are in charge of Thunder Bluff. Thrall is still in Nagrand about to do his Spirit Quest. Varian is about to lead an attack on Ironforge via the Deeprun Tram to obtain his son and kill Moira and her son. Anduin, Baine, and Jaina are speaking in Theramore (Anduin got there via use of a Hearthstone Jaina had given him previously in the book). I don't want to spoil the growth of Anduin and Baine at this point, because I really think people should read the book if not for this conversation between the two growing sons of two opposite Factions.

So eventually Baine recaptures Thunder Bluff, and Garrosh refuses assistance to Magatha and the Grimtotem after finding out what Magatha had done. Anduin returns to Ironforge, just in time to find his father leading an attack and about to kill Moira. Anduin has grown so much in this time, and gives his father advice that a King should be proud of, hearing from his only son:
"Then let her answer to the law, to her people, for what she has done to them. Father -- you're a king, a good one, one who wants to do the right thing. You believe in the law. In justice. You're not some--some vigilante. Destruction... Destruction is easy. Creating something good, something right, something that lasts--that's what's hard. It'd be easy to kill her. But you have to think of what's best for the people of Ironforge. For the dwarves--all of them. What is wrong with the dwarves' deciding how much or how little they want to participate in the world's politics? What's wrong with reaching out to the Dark Irons if they are amenable?" [310]
Varian then decides his son is correct, and instead tells her she must choose a representative from each clan, Dark Iron, Bronzebeard and Wildhammer, and she must listen to the representative. Varian then returns home with his son.

The book comes to a close, soon after. There is of course more delving into Thrall and his spirit quest, but I feel it's unnecessary for me to tell you every little thing that happens between Aggra and Thrall, and if you wish you may read it yourself. Thrall returns back to Azeroth, with Aggra at his side, a vision leads Thrall to believe that the wound started in the Maelstrom, and so Thrall and Aggra head there in the epilogue. Before they leave, Thrall gives his spot up to Garrosh, leaving him as the Warchief of the Horde.

The book also references the War of the Nightmare several times, so I suggest you familiarize yourself with this if you haven't already.
I should note that in the book, they don't fully mention a lot of cultist activity. It's sort of touched on a little bit, with attacks on Night Elves and Tauren Druids, but not really approached at a high level, as they did/are doing currently live in game.

Overall, I thought the book was really good, and give it an 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blizzcon 2010 - A Recap

Blizzcon 2010. Something that will not be forgotten in any stretch of time, at least in my mind. Last year I made a mistake of arriving Thursday, and leaving on Sunday. This year, I rectified. I arrived Wednesday afternoon. The flights over were not very bad, and I should note here that I really am afraid of my plane crashing. Ever since Final Destination..curse that movie. The shuttle took friggin' forever to get to the hotel. Two other girls were going to some Marriott way down Katella, like...10 miles down Katella. And instead of dropping off me first, he dropped them off first. Well... we pulled up to the hotel and my glasses broke. It was horrid. I almost cried, literally. And no, I'm not afraid to say I almost cried. I am a girl you know. But the Hilton staff was extremely helpful. I had three people assist this blind girl into the gift shop, and they GAVE ME a free eye repair kit. Yeah. I didn't even have to pay for it. Well after that, I checked in, went upstairs to the 14th floor (everyone else appeared to be on the 5th-7th floors), and found my King Suite quite to my liking.

I then fixed my glasses, and hurried on out to meet Strio13, Logan1275, Morynne, and EntropiaWoW (All on Twitter), at ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. I got lost, then I had to go find Strio and then we met up and tada, found it. Just in time too. I learned about hockey and baseball during the dinner, and it was hella fun. I can't even remember what time I got back to the hotel, but I know I ended up going to sleep a tad early, for DISNEYLAND was in my schedule for Thursday.

Disneyland had been planned way in advance, and was a server thing. There wasn't many of us, about 8-12 at any one given time. Thanks to Jennifer's friend, we all got in free, working for Disney for 10+ years most definitely has its perks. Fun was had by all, though I was disappointed in the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion. Other things included the Matterhorn, Space Mountain (awesomeness!), Splash Mountain (I stupidly volunteered to sit in the front and therefore walked around with my jeans plastered to my ass all day.), Pirates of the Caribbean, and much more! We left Disney around 7, as to not fall into hitting the Parade Crowd leaving. We went and got our Blizzcon badges, and it was quick. Took us about 15 minutes all together. After we retrieved our badges, a few of us who still had energy left, headed over to the WoW Insider meetup!

I really didn't feel like taking my camera with me, so no pictures from that, sadly. Though I know Strio13 took quite a bit, so you might wanna check his twitter feed for a pictures post incoming soon. The Insider meet up was much better this year, with a larger space and more alcohol to be had, even if I had to wait 30 minutes in line to get to the non-cash bar. I proceeded to get my drinks, and then headed back to the group of guys I was hanging with, all from my server. We met an Asian guy named "Serb", who I deathly already miss, as he was a pretty amazing guy for being a random meet. Also, if anyone was at the meet up, and saw/heard a guy getting thrown in the pool, that was from my server, and the story behind that was, well, drunkenness. All of them were drunk, and they thought it'd be a good idea to throw Celarius into the pool. So after removing his shoes, taking his wallet and cell phone, off he went! And then Dhalaryn bought a round for them in reward. Quests are good I hear. ;-) There was more socializing, I met VariantAvatar who was pretty cool, and ran into Vince Caso and his girlfriend (Bladezz from "The Guild"), and saw Felicia Day on her way out. Also saw Clara sometime or another, though I can't remember if it was actually at the WoW Insider party. Dhalaryn and I ended up leaving just a bit after 11:00PM, cause, well, we were starving. Ordered Hilton food, ate, and then slept for the next day. Blizzcon Day 1.

Well, I remember last year, I got up around 9:00 and was so far back in line it was horrible. I figured I would just wait til after the Opening Ceremony and then get in line, but things didn't go as planned. I had two friends get up earlyish and got in line, and I went to join them. We weren't close, but not all the way around the building to the parking lot beside Anabelle this year. I should also mention at this point, thanks to Strio13, for letting me borrow his girlfriend's badge (who sadly couldn't attend this year), so a friend of mine could attend. Anyways, so we stood in line, and got decent seats for the Opening Ceremony. As by now you should've heard the news. Nothing majorly WoW related, sadly, but the final Diablo 3 class (Demon Hunter), and PVP in Diablo 3. They also showed the Cataclysm Cinematic in high definition with some amazing sound effects. It was quite awesome. We were then released to do as we wished. I wandered with friends and saw many, many cosplay costumes.

Megduck as the Spirit Healer. Not sure who the paladin (?) is.

A huge party of cosplayers. The priest with the Ulduar mace was also from last year, and I think came in 3rd? Or 2nd maybe? (Last year, not this year.) The female Witch Doctor came in the top 5, and IMO, should've really came in 2nd or 3rd.

This is Ysera, she came in 3rd in the Costume Contest this year.

This was a server friend, Rosie (or Emily as she is thus called in real life), dressed I believe she said in the Ebonweave Robe set? I have a horrible memory, sorry Em!

And last but not least, a picture with me and a tree!

We waited in line at the Blizzcon store for 2 hours on day one. Only a little after noon they had already sold out of the Plushlings, the Horde Towel, the Water Bottle, and the Vinyl CD thing. By Day 2, they'd sold out of mostly everything. I ended up playing the Demon Hunter class in Diablo 3 which was a little underpowered, but nonetheless probably my favorite class so far. Jinx store was next, ended up just getting 3 Legendary Shirts: Paladin, Hunter and Druid.

The day soon came to an end with the Costume and Dance contests. A small, quick recap:
Jay Mohr was given a babysitter by the name of Kat Hunter who was a horrible addition to the Contest. Jay Mohr had to read his jokes, some of which were VERY HILARIOUS, but I heard this was due to concerns/comments/idiots who were offended at some of Jay's jokes last year. There was a really good band that people LOVED, but no one knows the name of. The machinimas, IMO, were sadly weak this year. The costumes were extravagant and some even unnecessary. I see a rule being added that if you can't walk by yourself in your own costume, you can't enter, cause that was just ridiculous! The Monk from D3 won, Illidan (complete with Warglaives and wings that worked), came in 2nd (I dunno how, I think Blizzard is smoking something), and Ysera (photo'ed above), came in 3rd. The Witch Doctor female (also photoed above), and one other came in 5th. (Sorry, I can't remember the full top 5!). I do remember thinking that one of the Spirit Healers should've came in the top 5, as well as the male Witch Doctor.
The Dance Contest was quite crazy, with males stripping unnecessarily (-cough- Ogre male, -cough.). The Dwarfs won again this year though! The Male Dwarf came in 1st, The Goblin Female, complete with Beyonce-looking outfit, came in 2nd, and the Female Dwarf came in 3rd. The guy who won doing the Female Dwarf last year, sadly slipped on the floor (which I heard was quite horrible to walk/dance on). The Ninjas were back this year again, though it wasn't as good as it was last year, cause the surprise was mostly off. And they don't really do a specific dance... they just do their own dance. Also, if you hadn't heard it yet.... the guy doing the Undead Male Dance broke his leg. I dunno if he was just drunk... or..what.. but he was getting major lift, and fell once, then got up, was limping a bit, then did it again and fell on his ass, breaking his leg. That will be remembered for times to come... I guess that wasn't as small and quick as I thought it'd be. Oh well.

And so day one was brought to a close, with me winning a Deathwing Mouse Pad from the Steel Series chest! (Yes, it is -not- fixed, people can actually win!) I ended up trying to get to the Twisting Nether meet up, but it was so crowded that me and my friend just ate and left. I got to bed earlier then I imagined I would, and prepared for Day 2.

Day 2 started with us getting immediately in line at the Store again, in hopes to get somethings that had been sold out the day prior. I only was able to purchase the Stormrage book (bought the Shattering on day one), but Emily was able to finally get her water bottle, and she was quite excited! I then decided to go check out the Worgen starting area cause the line was very short, so I left my friends and went on a quest. Worgen starting area had been greatly increased since last Blizzcon, and I was happy to see it, it looks fantastically amazing. I also saw a bit of the Goblin starting area from the people sitting next to me.

The day continued on. Q&A panels were amusing, but nothing really "huge" was discussed. (BOOMKINS WILL GET CURVES AND BOOBS /sarcasmoff), and some sorta hot older chick wanted the female models to look like they didn't step out of a Victoria's Secret model. I think they should screen Q&A sometimes, so the people with GOOD QUESTIONS, get through. At 2:00 I went over to the Realm Meetup and as per usual, our server meet up was extravagant (with a later party at my hotel room with pizza!. Thanks for the CCers who donated money so I wouldn't have to pay for it all!). Then I went up to visit this "Community Chat" thing that was partaking upstairs, and was new for this year. The topic was "Roleplaying" which I do, and so I sat in and it was awesome. Got to meet some really cool people and chat about some cool things from each RP Server. I think I may even roll on Wyrmrest Accord sometime soon. Matticus (From "World of Matticus"), was then nice enough to meet up with me upstairs and we chatted quite a bit about a topic of things. He was amazing and I'm glad I got the opportunity to chat with him.

A server meet up picture, don't we all look adorable!!!

I went and watched a bit of the Final 3v3 Arena for Warcraft. Saw one 20 minute match, and then left. I ended up going to the Closing Ceremony for enough time to see whoever the hell was up there make stupid jokes and then finally announce that Blizzcon goers were gonna get DIABLO THREE BETA KEYS! Well I was very excited, until I learned that only 1,000 random people are getting them. My luck is just not that good folks, but if I do get in, you'll be the first to know. Then I headed back to the hotel, had a few drinks, waited for my server people to show up, and then bam! Partied hard.

Thanks to Strio13 for hanging out with me on our quest for Blizzcon employees. We met Samwise, Ghostcrawler, Zarhym, and a very, very wasted Metzen. We sadly couldn't find the Candle or Morheim. I got pictures with Sam, GC and Zarhym, waiting for Strio to upload them and then I'll update this blog with them later. :-)

The Hilton Afterparty, if you don't go to it, is way, way worth it. The Hilton also learned this year, and instead of just having the bar, they had FOUR cash bars open as well. The only sad thing was they actually had security posted at the pool, and you needed a Hilton card to get in. Thankfully I did have one, but from what I heard they would't let Morheim or Metzen in. Of course, all they had to do was go around and knock on rooms that had patios out onto the pool, which they of course did.

Overall, the Con was much easier this year around, it seems in everything, from the restaurants/bars being prepared, to the hotels being prepared, to even the Convention center being easier to navigate and it appeared less crowded there. Also more seats in the Main Hall was a great idea. So the Hilton Afterparty always signals the end of a wonderful weekend. And so it was.

We gotta do it again next year guys.

For the Horde!!!