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Old 06-15-2021, 07:09 AM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Grunt On Garona

Quote:
Originally Posted by C9H20 View Post
Good write up.
Yeah, that was kind of setting a high bar for myself -- but it was a passion topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malygos View Post
I hope things worked out for you.
Six months later, I don't even remember what those important tasks were. I guess that means I was successful?

In any case, this blog series has effectively come to an end. Blizzard's corporate leadership is determined not to give out any more freebies, so there's been nothing to do in 2021. While I could go back and examine the things I skipped (the StarCraft anniversary stories, London Calling), I'd rather be moving forward than backward. Therefore, I decided to do something I'd been meaning to do for some time: to explain, as clearly as possible, the mess that is Garona. I wanted to lay out the evolution of the character in each successive source, which is almost always more helpful than the current-lore chronologies usually assembled by lore nerd articles.

As I like to say, "If you want to know the lore, you need an in-universe timeline. If you want to understand the lore, you need an out-of-universe timeline."

There was only one problem: To confirm my recollections, I needed access to obsolete sources, and those sources were no longer available. This came as something of a shock because I remember a time when the sparse, contradictory lore on Garona's wiki page was arranged largely by source. Since the release of Chronicle, Vol. II, though, all of this has been overwritten by a unified narrative, and I was therefore unable to finish my essay.

However, reading the current lore got me thinking about Garona's infamous time paradox, which is still best explained by laying out the sources in layers.
  1. WarCraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) - Garona kills King Llane.
  2. WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995) - Medivh's death puts Gul'dan in a coma. Doomhammer tortures Garona to find the Shadow Council.
  3. WarCraft: The Last Guardian (2001) - Garona defects to the humans' side, becoming friends with Llane. Khadgar and Garona accompany Lothar to kill Medivh. Implied that Medivh made Garona kill Llane against her will.
  4. World of WarCraft: The Comic (2009) - Gul'dan forces Garona to kill Llane.
It's this last addition that creates a paradox, because Gul'dan couldn't have forced Garona to do anything if he was in a coma. While the order of events can be nebulous when so much is stuffed into a single year on a timeline, this is the kind of error that results from looking up the history of one character without understanding the positions of other pieces on the board.

Chronicle (2017) resolved the issue by allowing Garona to resist the magical compulsion until Medivh broke her will -- a solution which, with all due respect to Matt Burns and Robert Brooks (who are otherwise highly skilled writers), I find illogical and inelegant. Gul'dan was no fool. He would never have used a form of mind-control that had any possibility of being resisted on someone as dangerous as Garona. Trained as she was in stealth and assassination -- not to mention privvy to at least some of his plans -- she posed a greater threat than most of his warlocks. He would've used every means at his disposal to prevent his pet from turning on him.

Because of this, I couldn't help but start brainstorming other ways to resolve the paradox.

Khadgar and Lothar don't know Llane is dead. This is the simplest solution. It allows Gul'dan to give the order, but makes it enormously unlikely that a traumatized, guilt-ridden Garona would join their quest. It also makes it very hard for Lothar to return to Stormwind in time to assume command of the evacuation. While there are things to be done with this (Does Garona not yet know of her own actions? Does she not go with them at all?), this solution causes more problems than it solves.

Abrogate the second arc of the comic. Another simple solution is to just declare the later comics non-canon. They kind of did this anyway (Med'an), but the popularity of characters like Meryl Felstorm makes it unpalatable.

Have Cho'gall, not Gul'dan, give the kill command. This fits very nicely and requires few changes. If Gul'dan is out of commission, some other Shadow Council bigwig can do the job. But what of the pathos-filled exchange between Garona and Medivh as the battle commences? It feels like the story loses impact if something didn't happen in that moment.

Gul'dan learns Garona has betrayed him and commands her from afar. Gul'dan took advantage of Medivh's collapsing psychic defenses while the battle distracted him, so it would've been easy to discover Garona's betrayal. But could he have activated the spell while searching through the mad wizard's memories? He was still inside at the moment of Medivh's death. While it could be said he popped back out for a moment to warn a subordinate of what he'd seen (triggering the above), he seems far too focused on his quest for power.

King Llane had Garona warded against mind control, but Medivh broke the shield. In this scenario, Garona knew about the spells that bound her to obey Gul'dan, and protecting her from future commands was an essential part of her defection. Gul'dan learned of what she'd done and tried to invoke his magical chains, but Garona wasn't even aware of it -- until, that is, Medivh punished the breach of his trust by letting it through. Once exposed to the compulsion, she was compelled to obey it. As an additional bonus, it can be claimed the Clerics of Northshire weren't holding Garona prisoner, but rather were attempting an exorcism against her binding spell. She was simply smart enough to make things look good when Doomhammer's war party came knocking.

However, as beautifully as this all fits together, it leaves one gaping hole: Khadgar would surely recognize the folly of sending someone with a magical vulnerability against a magical foe. Might not Medivh himself take control when battle was joined?

Medivh released Garona from her mental chains, then restored them. This, I think, is the most elegant solution to the problem. In fact, Chronicle itself offers the perfect set-up. Page 118 of Vol. II begins the story "Garona and the Guardian," which tells of Garona's first stay at Karazhan and the beginning of her relationship with Medivh. As such, it's also a great opportunity for Medivh to recognize her as a fellow mind-slave and set her free. Garona, still unsure of her loyalties and perhaps not comprehending the gift, returns to Gul'dan, who -- none the wiser about her newfound immunity to his controls -- sends her to stay at Karazhan. It's an order she eagerly obeys, staying in contact just enough to keep a foot in the Horde camp. Later, when Gul'dan realizes Garona has sided with the humans, he uses his magic to turn her acceptance in the royal court to orc advantage, but his spell has no effect. Only when Medivh, who "thought she would understand," restores the curse he suspended does she finally feel her master's command.

Thus:
  • Garona, Khadgar, and Lothar join forces to kill Medivh.
  • Medivh dies before Llane.
  • Garona kills Llane against her will.
  • Medivh makes Garona kill Llane.
  • Gul'dan makes Garona kill Llane.
  • Gul'dan is in a coma from Medivh's death.
All the major facts satisfied by a small change -- with additional weight placed on the tragedy of the Medivh-Garona relationship. I always say the most subtle solution to a literary problem is usually the best.
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