The book actually does a decent job justifying Sylvanas’ choices and making them seem somewhat logical and consistent with her character.Unfortunately, some of those justifications are based on truly absurd stuff (like the Jailer knowing Sargeras would stab Azeroth) that profoundly undermines the carefully constructed logic offered by Golden. What’s more, it’s wild how much of this story/explanation wasn’t in game and will never be known by most players. I’d wager it’s because there were not well established reasons/explanations until now - which just goes to show how poorly the WoW narrative has been handled of late. Christie Golden did a great job attempting to clean up the narrative team’s colossal mess and deserves credit for doing so well if nothing else. Sadly, the Jailer and the story beats of the Shadowlands (and BfA) were just so poorly constructed that she could only do so much. Had the story of the last 4 years been even remotely competent, this book would have been a triumph. But because it has to use that deeply flawed narrative within its own story, it’s merely “as good as could be managed”.
Interesting interview and it's good to see elaboration on how she and Blizz work together for the books.But to echo the first comment, if they have to put important lore in books then they should really make sure those books release at the start of an expansion, and their stories are touched upon in the game. Kinda like writing a mini-bible for the expansion ahead of time and making it available for interested readers, but not making it the only source of the events of the story.Releasing novels after the fact to explain the game's missing parts is... a problem. Releasing them as a way to set up an expansion's story and codify the plot might be a better method.
The best WoW novel to come out in a long time, if not ever. It's some of the best warcraft writing and lore that's been done. LOVE IT SO MUCH! <3
The book is very fun and enjoyable on a surface level. However, the deeper you go analyzing the lore and character motivations, the harder it is to be able to just go along with everything. The 5 signs for Sylvanas to realize the inequity of the universe are pretty terrible. They rely on the Jailor being omniscient and omnipotent, which he clearly is not. It feels like Golden is trying to shoehorn and hamfist a bunch of details together unfortunately.
Since Blizz was not going to explain the things in game but in books, we need like another 2 books to finish Shadowlands. The story for this expansion is very underwhelming and sub par. Golden did a great job, but she can only do so much. I guess I want a book like Sylvanas, but written on the Jailor and the other eternals. For Blizz trying to take the story to cosmic levels we didnt get much cosmic or many levels at all.
Incredible writing given the subject material she was given to work with. hope she actually gets to put some of her talents (i.e. the ability to write coherent storylines) in game instead of just novels desperately trying to string it all together.
Just finished the Audiobook, I adored that Sylvanas' VA read it. Made the dialogue all the more convincing! This is the first Christie Golden book I've heard/read and I'm very pleasantly surprised. She made Sylvanas very convincing, and I didn't feel any distortion to how she's portrayed in-game. I've fallen out of love with the lore in recent expansions, so this was meant to be a parting gift to myself with Sylvanas. I really loved that we got some insight on characters we never see a different side too, I just wish that some of this excellent writing and character motivation was in-game. I loved the special effort that Christie put in adding in-game places or describing areas players may have passed or spent so much time in, or minor NPCs we might remember, it felt like a bit of a love letter to the game and a little nod to players, definitely made me smile and added a little more to some NPCs you only encounter in a fixed quest.My only gripe was how Arthas was portrayed, but I can accept it, as it was mostly from Sylvanas' PoV and I have a special attachment to WC3's portrayal of Arthas as a Death Knight.
Pretty sure this is a case of Blizz handing GC a car wreck and saying "Make it look like we didn't wreck this car..."There are still some fundamental issues with the narrative that just don't make sense, even with the book. As an example, we still have no idea what the real threat is while we're simultaneously supposed to believe Zovaal had some altruistic goal to save everything from an external force... and not tell anyone that was his goal. Instead, he goes out of his way to look like a bad guy and give everyone a reason to think his goal is anything except saving existence from some eternal force? I'm calling BS on this, as even the death cutscene of Zovaal would imply he could've mentioned his real goal and either avoided banishment or gotten people on his side. Heck, doesn't it imply that Denatrius knew of his plan, and we're supposed to believe he never asked or was never told why they were enacting this plan?Now, one of the main reasons Sylvannas is supposed to be convinced to assist Zovaal is because the afterlife is unfair. Okay... that's weak even if the surrounding details hold up, but they don't. For example, the lava worms scene was not thought through at all, as the 'injustice' that's demonstrated should immediately be questioned by Sylvannas as she knows at this point that Zovaal was the Arbiter, the guy who was in charge of sending all the souls to specific places. If souls of families and lovers are split up and this is 'unfair', the first person to blame is Zovaal as he would've been the one in control... but she doesn't question it. Beyond just this scene in particular, you'd think she would question if the afterlife was always unfair, and why did Zovaal let it be unfair considering his old position. I highly doubt any major player in the Shadowlands would kick up a fuss if Zovaal was pairing up lovers or family in the afterlife.Furthmore, in a more general overview, Sylvannas is never told (nor really questions) how things are going to be fixed and made fair. Now, I think this isn't CG's fault, it's likely Blizz with their lists of do's and don'ts, so they probably didn't supply information and didn't allow her to elaborate. She makes it clear that she doesn't trust Zovaal, but she never really questions anything beyond trust. I guess Sylvannas is just easily manipulated? I mean, if Zovaal really needed her help, telling her about the real threat should've been way more effective... maybe throw on some 'unfairness' narrative as icing, but don't make it the main reason. Overall, I just can't buy that anyone would be convinced to help in a scheme you know nothing about, with only a vague goal, made by a person you don't trust.Regardless, this is all academic at this point, because none of the novel is in the game despite being crucial (even with its shortcomings) for understanding what happens in the game. I get Blizz is trying for the transmedia angle, but they're executing it in the worst possible fashion. The book should be a supplement, not required reading to understand your game.
I haven't read the book yet, but I certainly will. While I have made my own assumptions based on Sylvanas' behavior over the years (and reading this article, I probably understood her motivations and failings quite well), it can't be stressed enough that much more of this background should have been in game. Shadowlands suffered from too little development over too much time, which resulted in poor storytelling. Which is a shame, the Jailer character has been completely wasted, the "playing the long, random game until something works out" strategy gone unnoticed while many people actually believe Blizzard tried to tell us he had planned all of this into every detail (no, he did not, of course). Sylvanas herself came over as outright stupid at times, at least heavily cognitive dissonant.While I will enjoy reading about all the missing pieces in the book and thank Christie Golden for her awesome work, I am sad that Blizzard chose to tell so little of it in game. Not everyone is as good in reading people, motivations, psychology out of a few character lines ingame. Even when the Sylvanas cinematic threw it in everyones faces that "her deeds are unforgivable", some players cried "redemption arc, I knew it". That alone speaks volumes.What Shadowlands would have needed are some character-driven cinematics as we had in Legion and BfA (yes, even BfA was way better in that regard) - at the start, why not a cinematic about what Sylvanas actually did in Legion while everyone else was fighting the Burning Legion? A dialogue about things with Nathanos? A talk between her and the Jailer? More dialogue with Anduin, as she is telling him way more in the book, more background?And cinematics about Zovaal, why was he banished, what did he chose not to tell the Primus when he asked him about it? If we had seen something about that at the start of SL, we could have had an actual story about a former arbiter who went astray - for whatever reason we still don't know about. There were no quest lines to answer - or even approach - this very elemental question, no cinematics, nothing. We have defeated the Jailer, we helped create a new arbiter and we have changed a lot of things in the Shadowlands for the better - but to this day, we still have no idea why Zovaal did what he did, in what way he failed as Arbiter (what did he actually DO?) - and why he didn't tell the Primus even when he asked him about it. This is the biggest problem I have with Shadowlands.
When you read a story (or see it in a game) you always need characters with a motivation to an end goal whether it's good or bad. I wasn't certain if Sylvanas wanted to be the antagonist or the antihero. For a character in WoW that was a good antihero look back at Illidan, who did a better job of back and forth between being a hero, a flawed one, at part of his existence, to being the outright villain yelling at us that the hunter is nothing without the hunt, to being the antihero who smugness was the defining reasoning for his existence. He DID explain in the moment with Xe'ra why he wasn't buying her arguments. In a split second made her into a villain. In the next second showed us the flawed nature of being "in league" with the Light in relation to Turalyon... Illidan and Turalyon going up against one another could have been replicated in a good way in Zovaal and the Primus going up against each other...Oh and Illidan also played the long game until we came to give him his reckoning atop the Black Temple and imprisoned him.There are parallels I can see between the two stories, with Illidan being replaced by Zovaal, and Turalyon being replaced by the Primus. But the end result was a hodgepodge that left the people, who Sylvanas supposedly cared about after a fashion, out of the loop. The first time I was delivering the necklace to Sylvanas from the quest on a Horde alt I was intrigued by Sylvanas. She was an enigma; a force to be reckoned with. But what I saw happen to her character was like the better part of her story got left on the cutting room floor, and the bits that were all a mess were deemed "green lit" for a story. Her redemption story should have begun after she'd seen the darkness after jumping off Icecrown. I would have believed the "trial" and the things that Sylvanas said BETTER if they'd had the only character not with any motivation as a living being to be against her to speak for her. Vol'jin should have been there and repeated what he said as last words: "In life I never trusted you..." then adds a new set of words, "... but the actions of the Maw Walker allowed me to see what you were doing. The part that made you a good person was reunited with the part that I saw as I watched on with dying eyes. When you accept the judgement make certain it's the voice of that part of your soul you listen to..."At this point we, and all present, see Vol'jin go towards one of the many portals. After watching after him, Sylvanas says the words about Tyrande, and now her place there goes from an antihero who seems to get redeemed to a flawed protagonist in her "next chapter" who decides to buck redemption in favour of justice she had wanted for all lost souls and all undead; the right to determine their existence. Her additional words to Tyrande, "... I can make certain all the souls get the free will they deserve."Just those few words would have connected THIS Sylvanas with the Sylvanas in the throne room of Undercity who'd sing about the plight of the Sin'dorei. Then she adds, "He reminded me of what I always wanted for the people whose leader I was..."Everything else in the cinematics goes as before, except now the whole sequence doesn't feel like a redemption falling flat on its face but as a renewed pledge towards "her people" (the Forsaken):“Those who do not stand with the Forsaken stand against them. And those who stand against the Forsaken will not stand long.”After a moment she restates it as: "She who does not fight for the free will of the Forsaken stands against them. And she who stands against the Forsaken will not last long as their leader." (she gives both Lilian Voss and Calia Menethil a stern look, then glances over her shoulder towards her sisters then jumps as seen in the cinematic).This added wording would not redeem Sylvanas but serves as a reminder for the new leadership not to follow her step in the mistakes she had made...This is generally headcanon of the things I thought of while watching the ingame cinematics. Just one individual's opinion, and everyone is entitled to express there own...
This whole "everyone is robots serving the ultimate robot Jailer" is just......bad.It's just bad.
Honestly, Christie Golden deserves an award for being able to take all of the poor narrative decisions and retcons over the past 2 expansions, and turn them into something mostly coherent. That being said, a lot of what there book says, should have been in the game from the start ; especially the turning point where Sylvannas decides to ally with the Jailer; albeit with MAYBE some more hinting to the overarching narrative. I think it could have even made the Jailer more formidable; having more ominous Vader / Palpatine "what is thy bidding, master" moments where you can tell Sylvannas is serving a new master in secret; without giving it away its the Jailer until Shadowlands.Anyways, massive props to Christie Golden; she did probably the best anyone could ask for at this point.
The main problem I have with anything I've seen from the book so far is Jailer predicting the sword. All the rest is either vague, easily guessable or something he was behind and simply tweaked to feed Sylvanas the information to trick her. The sword, though, makes him too smart, when his in game portrayal is an inpatient overconfident dumbass who failed because he didn't take any of the ten chances he had to kill us, after watching the same thing happen to Arthas.