Orcs: These orcs are pretty tame

fantasy book reviews Stan Nicholls Ocs: Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, Warriors of the Tempestfantasy book reviews Stan Nicholls Ocs: Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, Warriors of the TempestOrcs by Stan Nicholls

The Wolverines are an elite Orc fighting unit bound to the service of an evil witch-queen. War rages between religious factions — those who follow the one god who places humans above the elder races (orcs, dwarves, trolls, etc.) and those, such as the Wolverines, who worship the old god. On a mission to secure a mysterious relic, the Wolverines discover a slim hope of salvation for all the elder races, but they must turn renegade to achieve it.

The shadowed brute on the cover of Orcs caught my eye, and it’s got endorsements by great authors like David Gemmell and Tad Williams, but it was this teaser on the back cover that got me hook, line, and sinker:

There is fear and hatred in your eyes. To you I am a monster, a skulker in the shadows, a fiend to scare your children……

Feel the flow of blood and be thankful. Thankful it was me, not you that bore the sword. Thankful to the orcs; born to fight, destined to win peace for all

Wow! Now if only whoever wrote the teaser had written the rest of the %@#^ed book!

I managed to finish the first novel (Bodyguard of Lightning) of this three-book omnibus before realizing that what really kept me going was the 14 bucks I paid for it.

Stan Nicholls had a great idea… if only he’d done something with it. I expected to find a leather-tough, savage race born into slavery and caught-up in a war not of their making. Instead, I got creatures with no remarkable traits at all. They might just as well have been human barbarians except they’re almost too civilized. On a good day, these orcs couldn’t hold their own against a squad of Marines. It’s mentioned several times in the cheesy dialog that orcs are a race born to war, but they’re more talk than walk. In fact, the Wolverines could win an award for being the most democratic military unit ever; They discuss, if not vote-on, every decision. Sure, an argument breaks out among them from time to time, and a few of those almost come to fisticuffs. And … oh, my goodness!… sometimes they even use real cuss-words! Otherwise, these orcs are pretty tame.

I’d almost say Orcs was intended as YA, specifically teen-aged males. What boy doesn’t enjoy a little gratuitous combative violence? (Heck, I still do.) But, the plot includes some explicitly detailed sacrificial rapes and murders committed by the sensuous cross-species-bred queen. I guess the intention was to show her evilness, but I can’t decide whether it was vulgar or just ridiculous.

Besides all that, the writing is mediocre at best.


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GREG HERSOM’S addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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2 comments

  1. Pity. I liked the cover and blurb too.

  2. Well I hope I saved you some money. :teeth:
    Like good whiskey, I’ve mellowed with age, so I usually don’t out-right bash-a-book like I once would have but this one kinda ticked me off. I really felt mislead. The cover blubs really were the most exciting thing about it and I’m big fan of Gemmell. With all due respect,I took his endorsment to heart and this is not even close to being in his class. Orcs is in the top five worst books I’ve ever read, or started I should say.

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