Paperback, 688 pages (August 12, 2004)
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 0575074876

At times, this almost lived up to the promise of its concept, hack and slash fantasy from the point of view of the other side. The opening battle is excellently thought out and does a good job of establishing the characters of the main protagonists. The Orcs are well depicted as a neo-pagan band of Klingon-eque warriors, forced to serve an evil sorceress out of desperation rather than intent.

Unfortunately, when reading it never quite comes together to deliver. Much of the plot is just movement from A-B; it begins to feel like an old AD&D PC game. The ending is horribly predictable as well. The action is well described throughout, but combat occurs with regrettable predictability. The characters never quite develop enough to overcome this. The prose is at worst workmanlike, usually very readable and often subversively witty, you just feel he could have done more with the concept.

Despite the fact that the main characters are Orcs, it still makes the hideous fantasy faux-par of moving into tweeness, with Gremlins, Centaurs and other stock fantasy types showing up to play their parts. Humans are not well presented, described as environmentally destructive religious zealots. This is a nice twist, compared to the earth loving shamanistic Orcs and their mythical mates, but after reading you do end up feeling that these concepts were never explored to anything approaching their fullest extent.

Orcs is not quite the wildcard in fantasy writing that it wants to be seen as.

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