There’s few things in this world that make me bounce up and down in my seat and squeal like a deflating balloon without the prior intake of sugar or alcohol. One of the very few exceptions to this rule is discovering the release of the third instalment of a series of books that are so awesome that you can spend the best part of a weekend hammering through them and feel as though you’ve been all the way to Narnia and back. And ORCS: Bad Blood is similar to Narnia in many ways, except grittier, much more fighty, challenging stereotypes rather than building on them, and…ok, belay that comparison, but you get the idea.
I purchased the first omnibus back in 2008 (because that’s what you do on a school trip to France), and I can honestly say: MIND=BLOWN. Stan Nicholls has done the simplest thing an author could do, and made a fairly typical fantasy epic about a band of heroes on a quest to find these magical items just that little bit more amazing. Making orcs the protagonists.
This move would be considered a risky one by many, because let’s face it, how do you write a story that puts orcs in a positive light? In the traditions of Tolkien and the Warhammer universe, orcs are big, brutish, and the only thing that drives them is the prospect of the next fight. Making them into protagonists will obviously have an effect on the ‘orcishness’ of the main characters, in this case an outfit of renegade soldiers who are the fantasy equivalent of the SAS known as The Wolverines. However, Nicholls is able to maintain a distinct feeling of savagery about these guys, by making them the best bloody warriors humanely possible. Think Spartans multiplied by Vikings with a hint of Sean Bean. As well as keeping them brutal warriors, Nicholls presents the orcs as proud warriors with a strict martial code and strong feelings of comradeship. In short, utterly bad-ass.
Anywho, the third part of the second series comes out in December, just after Christmas. Methinks I might leave the reading of it until after New Years Day, since I’d rather like to remember what happens. And essentially from now until then, I will proceed to shake with excitement and spontaneously utter random squeals of delight. Because I’m just that damn dedicated.
Here’s looking with great expectation to the concluding volume of this outstanding, unique series.
*Oh, and here's an image of the front cover. Bow before it's glory...BOW BEFORE IT'S GLORY!*