A Scientific Comparison on Chimeric Protagonists and Antagonists
I will admit right now, I am no thesis writer nor scientist. I enjoy writing, and I have written many a paper in my time, but by far my preference is fantasy, fiction and my own personal thoughts. I have some experience in technical writing, which I enjoy, but I would write a story or a blog post over that any day.
So scientific comparison aside, what I really want to base this post on is the differences between two of my favorite fantasy worlds – World of Warcraft and R.A. Salvatore’s view of Faerun (AKA the Forgotten Realms).
This idea came to me while reading R.A. Salvatore’s the Hunter’s Blades Trilogy: The Thousand Orcs, The Lone Drow and The Two Swords. Lately I have been reading on my phone’s Kindle app, which I am surprised to say I greatly enjoy. I am a lover of the smell of a bookstore, and the feel of a book in my hand, but reading on my phone is just so darn convenient. I can read while waiting in the drive thru, when early for a get together (wait, I am early ever?) or when waiting on a dungeon or BG queue.
I have read nearly everything Salvatore has written about Drizzt Do’Urden and his friends. Somehow, I missed reading this trilogy, though. It is possible it was due to one of my low reading stretches. At times, my reading drops, and at times my writing drops. Both of which make me happy, so I have yet to figure out how I drift from them.
But an odd line of thought came to me this morning while reading – the orcs in R.A. Salvatore’s books are quite unlike the orcs in WoW.
First, let us look at Salvatore’s orcs.
The orcs of Faerun are primitive, cowardly cannon fodder of low intelligence. They are goblinkin, and live in caves with seemingly little family structure. These orcs are only brave and loyal when they think a victory is imminent, but at the first sign of defeat they turn tail and run. In large battles, there seems to be no concern for loyalty or well-being – either of themselves or their fellows. Orcs charge through lines and doors blindly, push their comrades out of the way or throw them into danger in their stead. Lastly, orcs are quite dumb – they speak very broken, to the point where they can barely understand each other, and other than war tactics, I would not trust these guys with my homework.
Salvatore’s orcs are pretty bottom of the barrel. The only thing going for them is ugliness, sheer numbers and ferocity.
They are also pretty hairy. lol
As for WoW’s orcs, these guys are more advanced, more courageous and honorable, and more intelligent – many evenly intelligent with humans and other races.
The orcs were originally organized into clans and of a fairly primitive nature, but always infused with the presence of magic – originally the primal and elemental magic of the natural world. Shamans were the spiritual leaders of the race, almost as highly revered as the clan leaders themselves. It was only the draw of bettering themselves and being duped into thinking the Draenei were trying to destroy them that led the orcs to become the rampaging creatures that drove the Draenei to near extinction and sought to conquer Azeroth in the first and second wars.
They say power corrupts, that and the Burning Legion.
But orcs are mostly a race of hardened warriors, valuing their honor more highly then their own life. To die honorably is the greatest accomplishment an orc can hope for, and to live in dishonor affects not only them but reflects on their family and their clan. This pride was part of their downfall, but also is a major part of their tenacity and rebuilding.
The orcs of Warcraft are actually more akin to Salvatore’s dwarves than their own counterparts.
I just find the differences interesting. Basically, Salvatore’s orcs are a prime example of a brutal monster you love to hate, and Warcraft’s orcs are the honorable humanoids you almost hate to love.
At least, that is my biased Alliance position. ;)
I do not play Horde much, and I cannot play an orc, but I have a fair amount of respect of them as a race – especially Thrall, the eternal peace keeper. They took the polar opposite of him for the new leader of the Horde, in Garrosh, which I still do not totally understand. Not that Thrall had a lot of choices at his disposal, but even he has to see the stress fractures eating at the edges of the Horde with Garrosh in charge.
It is one of those frustrating situations of knowing something that the story characters do not all seem to see.
The images in this post are property of Wizards of the Coast and Blizzard Entertainment.