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7-28-2011 @ 9:26AM
I think one way to look at warcraft III is that it is the time of the Horde. After all, look at what it was before. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II was all about the alliance. They had characters like Lothar, King Llane, Medieve, Turalyion, and others. The humans and their Alliance were the developed ones, the defenders of their kingdom from a great evil that poured from another world with no motive other than conquest and destruction. At the time, the orcs were just evil, brutal, and honestly just plain mean. The humans had their heroes standing up to evil, with big reveals like 'Medieve is actually behind the whole thing!' and 'the orc we thought we could trust just murdered the wonderful king!'. By contrast, the orcs had brutal Warlords like Blackhand the Destroyer, Gul'dan, and the Deathknight Teron Gorefeind. They allied with the bestial dragons and savage trolls, and their assasins killed the king. Hell, the player character was Blackhand's second-in-command, Orgrim Doomhammer, who betrayed his Warchief to become leader of the Horde, and was its last commander, captured by the alliance after a young paladin stepped up to fill his mentor's boots and save the world.That is where the story sat at the end of WCII, with the evil orcs scattered or captured, their allies fled to lick their wounds, the kingdoms ready to rebuild themselves, and the wicked, unrepentant orcs locked away. Then, the novelizations began.Richard (KNAAAAAAAK!) Knaak introduced us to such ideas as different factions of dwarfs with the Wildhammers, intelligent, compasionate dragons like Korialstraz, and the struggle of ancient forces like the wars of the aspects against Deathwing. It also introduced the kingdom of Lorderon as a major player, and allowed for political maneuvering by Deathwing as a compelling story-arc. This, along with our first real look at how an orc behaved outside a war-zone, was the beginning of the Horde's characterization beyond 'bloodcrazed evil from beyond the dark portal'. But it wasn't till the next book that we saw what the orcs could be.In Lord of the Clans, by Christie Golden, we see orcs exiled to the far reaches of habitable land for being conciseness objectors to the first war. They are approached by Doomhammer, not as a domineering overlord, but as an old, tired friend who is afraid of retribution by the alliance as the wars wind down. We follow those orc's son as he is raised by a brutal and cruel human, but also gets a taste of the good in humans that was present in the best of the alliance heroes in the past two games. We follow him as he grows, escapes, and learns of his people, how they weren't always the bloodcrazed horde, and we learn that what we've seen so far was only a small but important part of the Orc's history. For those of you keeping track at home, yes, this is something of a retcon, as it goes against the portrayal of orcs players had grown used to, but honestly, I consider it to be the story and characterization marching on.This young orc, Thrall, meets the greatest of orcish heroes and sees them at their strongest and weakest, he learns orcish tradition, and becomes the first shaman of his generation, something no orc had accomplished since well before Orcs and Humans. Why is Thrall special? Because he was raised away from the taint of demons, because he was shown compassion, and because he had to fight to survive. He was born with nothing but his orcish blood, still with a twist of pit-lord in it, and a blue child's blanket with his tribe's crest on it. He grew up, freed his people, lost much personally, losing his mentor Orgrim in a way both dishonorable and shocking, which taught him that the great die, just as the meek and the cowardly. He then lost Taritha, and in doing so learned the depths of cruelty that man could sink to. It was from there that he led the Horde, as Warchief, and where Warcraft 3 begins.Now mind, all this development, of dragons and orcs and shamanism, happened between WCII and WCIII, and when the game did come out, anyone who had ignored the books were faced with a new, reformed horde. They played as a new human, arthas, and watched as he destroyed and undid all the greatness of the humans that had been built up in the past two games. The humans, lost in their squabbling, ignored the undead menace and their wayward prince until it was too late, and the greatest surviving kingdom fell to the undead. meanwhile, the horde, in its new approach, left the lands it knew, and made a new home, made friends with trolls and tauren, and set about building a home. This was the new horde, and it was focused on because it was its time. It had its turn to take, and it chose to save the world, as the humans did twice before, and as the newly-introduced night-elves did long ago. In doing so, the orcs started their true path to redemption, but lost one of their greatest heroes, and greatest liabilities. THIS is why WCIII had such focus on the Horde, because it was the Horde's time. The humans had won the war, but then lost themselves in the squabbles of divided victors. The Horde, more united than the alliance, was the force that stood up, and said they would defend the world, and a blue-eyed child, raised by humans and with the blood of heroes, would lead them.
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