(AP, Oslo, Orgrimmar) Thrall was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work to improve international diplomacy and rid the world of the Undead Scourge — a stunning decision to celebrate a figure virtually unknown in the world of Azeroth before he launched his campaign to found a new homeland for the Orcish Horde on the barren plains of Kalimdor nearly five years ago. The surprise choice of Thrall, the current Warchief of the Orcish Horde, as this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner has drawn both praise and criticism.
In honoring Thrall, age undetermined, the Norwegian Nobel Committee echoed a global embrace of the Horde's Warchief that has seen his popularity overseas often exceed his support among Trolls, Tauren, and even his fellow Orcs. Though Thrall's name surfaced early among contenders, the announcement astonished observers — drawing gasps from the audience in Oslo — in part because Thrall is still leading the Horde, in sometimes bloody contention with the Human Alliance of Azeroth, in a war upon the Undead Scourge of the Lich King Arthas on the icy polar continent of Northrend.
The committee praised Warchief Thrall for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen the bonds of diplomacy and cooperation between Orcs, Trolls, and the rebel Forsaken Undead, who broke free of the Lich King's deadly embrace under the leadership of the Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner," and singled out for special recognition Thrall's call for a Horde free of the demonic influence of the Burning Legion and the absolute destruction of Icecrown Citadel and the Scourge, the subject of a major speech given before the assembled warriors of the Horde April 5 in the mighty fortress city of Orgrimmar.
Heralding Thrall as a transformative figure in Orcish and Horde diplomacy, the committee said: "Only very rarely has a person, much less an Orc, to the same extent as Thrall battled horrors from the infernal regions and given people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the Horde must do it with an iron claw, ruthlessly destroying the triple menace of Ghouls, Undead Abominations, and vile Lich King cultists."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the news. He said Warchief Thrall "embodies the new spirit of dialogue and engagement" on Azeroth's biggest problems, including the threat of dragon invasion, and sorcerous disarmament.
The foundation of former South African president and previous Nobel winner Nelson Mandela also welcomed the choice, stating it hopes the award will strengthen Warchief Thrall's commitment to "promoting white magic and the eradication of the the undead menace."
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama congratulated the Warchief, as did German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Thrall's recognition was also toasted by Witchdoctor Sen'jin, leader of the vicious Trolls of the Darkspear Tribe, and Elder Shaman Cairne Bloodhoof of the mighty Tauren peoples of Mulgore.
Retired politicians also commended Thrall, including Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and Garrosh Hellscream, leader of the Warsong Offensive and son of the former Warchief Grom Hellscream. "I've had my share of disagrements with Thrall on matters great and small, including his tolerance of the pathetic Alliance, but I must say this award is well-deserved," Hellscream said from his base in the Dragonspine Mountains of Northrend.
But others say the decision is premature for a Warchief who five years into his reign still struggles against the terrors of Azeroth, including the vile dragon queen Onyxia, the elder god Yogg Saron, and has no definitive progress in sight on a range of foreign policy fronts including the Horde's ongoing skirmishes against the Human-led Alliance of Gnomes, Dwarves, Night Elves, and the mysterious alien Draenei.
From his castle in the Human City of Stormwind, King Varian Wynn of the Stormwind dynasty, also a Nobel laureate, said it is too early to award Warchief Thrall with the peace prize, saying that the Horde still gives safe harbor to monstrous Warlocks such as Neeru Fireblade, who plunged the world into cataclysm years ago under the leadership of the Orcish Necromancer Nerzhul.
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican Party, stated on Fox News Channel's morning television show Fox and Friends that the Warchief "was selected as the Nobel committee's last slap at George W. Bush," while talk radio host Sean Hannity called the selection "a vote for death, demonology, and degeneracy in children around America and Azeroth."
From his towering citadel in the far off reaches of Northrend, the Lich King himself condemned Warchief Thrall's selection, saying he has escalated the conflict there. "We will crush this puny orcling in his turn, and bring all Azeroth under the will of the Scourge!" said a spokesman for the Lich King.
Many say it is not what Thrall has done, but what he may do that is important.
Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said the award "speaks to the promise of Warchief Thrall's message of hope for an Azeroth free of the tyranny of the undead."
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed his hope the Warchief's award would inspire the youth of the Middle East to set aside violence, much as the Horde and Alliance have done in the cautious detente that has prevailed since the Scourge invaded the Eastern Kingdoms in October 2008, unleashing a plague designed to eradicate all life.
The head of the United Nations Necromancy Agency, Stuart Reeves, said Warchief Thrall has rekindled hope for an Azeroth at peace with itself, and a final bloody reckoning with the Lich King for the millions of lives he has stolen.
Warchief Thrall announced that he was humbled and surprised by his selection, noting that he did not accept the award as a personal honor, but in the Warchief's words, "For the Horde!" as recognition of the valor of all of the mighty legions of the Horde, whether Orc, Troll, Tauren, or Forsaken Undead. The Warchief will receive his award at a ceremony in Oslo before the Norwegian parliament in December.