A humorous fantasy epic follows a pivotal time in the lives of the Orcs, a brawny race whose ruthless fighting abilities and lower intellectual capacities invariably place them on the front lines of battle.
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Imagine a group of generic fantasy orcs who recover a magnificent treasure amongst a Dragon's hoard...I trove of modern firearms and military equipment. Armed with this gear, the Orcish grunts begin to fall under it's spell, gaining the trappings of our modern military, specifically Marines.
This book is a very darkly humourous tale, certainly not for the squeamish or for children. It is, however, for those who have grown tired of weak-kneed Tolkienesque fantasy. And it's not just fantasy it takes on, Science fiction and war-stories in general get a pounding, with some wonderful Aliens-esque sequences later in the book.
The book achieves some marvellous effects though, amongst the villainous (For no matter what happens, they always keep their streak of brutal aggresion) Orcs, there quickly come a number of characters who you come to like, whilst amongst the armies of light there are those who somehow seem just as brutal and misguided as the orcs.
The writing is deft and always humorous and the book never stoops to heavy moralising, it doesn't need to, you always know what's right and wrong. It's just that Gentle's writing makes it seem so.....funny.
So, particularly if you're beginning to find over-exposure to Lord of the Rings too much at the moment, pick this up. It's the perfect antidote.
Now if only we could get a sequel.....
If you know how things usually work in fantasy (Noble & Pure Heros of light, last desperate battle against overwhelming forces of darkness, etc) then you might enjoy seeing things from the bad guys point of view - The forces of darkness are nasty, but the forces of light aren't very nice either.
It gets graphic and messy, and only really works if you recognise the stereotypes its making fun of, so it won't be to everyones taste.
Don't buy it expecting a childrens book
It takes the happy fantasy characters and looks at them in a more "real" situation. Orcs who commit war crimes, S&M hobbits, Heros of the light who aren't as nice as they seem and bad guy's who you like even though they are brutal, nasty creatures.
Do not buy this book for the easily offended or the youner reader. It's a nasty war book wearing fantasy clothes.
Quote of the book
"Pass me another elf, this one has split"
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