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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About the story...
I picked up Orcs hoping for a good, solid story that took fantasy creatures seriously, and for the first time in a long time, I wasn't disappointed.

The story kicks off with some fast action sequences, and for a few pages I was thinking "Jeez, another book about stupid orcs." Well, there are a few stupid ones in the book, but there is also a culture and a...
Published on September 8, 2008 by J. K. Weld

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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars maybe OK for new fantasy readers
Tad Williams, you owe me $7.

I bought this book on a whim, as part of a little retail therapy. Well, that's why I bought *a* book. I bought *this* book because the cover features an endorsement by Tad Williams, a brilliant sci-fi/fantasy writer whose Otherland series is awesome.

So either Tad's standards are way lower than mine, or he sold out, or...
Published on September 18, 2008 by AlexJB


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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars maybe OK for new fantasy readers, September 18, 2008
By 
AlexJB (san francisco, ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
Tad Williams, you owe me $7.

I bought this book on a whim, as part of a little retail therapy. Well, that's why I bought *a* book. I bought *this* book because the cover features an endorsement by Tad Williams, a brilliant sci-fi/fantasy writer whose Otherland series is awesome.

So either Tad's standards are way lower than mine, or he sold out, or he was shamefully misquoted and should sue someone. If it's b or c, I feel I deserve to get me a piece of that pie. I don't need a full refund- half of my $15 investment would be OK.

Alright, alright, on to the actual review. The book is OK. Just OK. I did read it all the way through, as there is a hint of a worthwhile fantasy topic in there. But although the third "book" (this is a three-in-one deal) got just a hair more complex as the key mystery is revealed, the finish was as lackluster as the rest of it. Anti-climax doesn't begin to describe.

Nicholls likes to write detailed, gory fight scenes - thrusting swords, knuckles cracking, stumbling on bodies. OK, fine. He likes to write some detailed dialogue. OK, fine. A lot of the dialogue was pretty simplistic and repetitive, creating characters that have 1.5 dimensions at best. Yeah, I get it - person A and person B like to bicker. Person C is touchy about his age. Still. Again.

The plot? Super thin, and rather simplistic. Maybe appropriate for a high schooler, or someone just getting into the fantasy genre. Character development is barebones, even for the main plot-driving characters. Secondary folks are kind of like those cardboard cutouts at the mall, except some of them get to speak.

There are a ton of logistical details that make little to no sense. The world that Nicholls' characters are moving around in sometimes seems like it might be smaller than the state of California, and yet he's got a bunch of races (some completely gratuitous and distracting) and cities and climates crammed in there like a junk drawer. Some scenes/transitions make you want to believe that there's a real world in there, like The Wheel of Time or Otherland or even Diamond Age. But Nicholls didn't make enough room for all that- people can travel too quickly from one spot to another, and given the apparent population-density, armies of the size that he describes are completely impossible.

The book is positioned as if it's this great revelation into "the world of orcs", but Nicholls' orcs are just agressive humans with different skin, who expend a lot of dialogue on how orcish they are, while they behave just like humans in 8 out of 10 ways. Ironic? maybe, but not terribly innovative or revelatory.

I could go on, but I won't bother. Overall, it provided a mild distraction and that's about it...
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48 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed and formulaic work for mature audiences only, November 11, 2008
By 
Tim Martin (South Bend, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
Unfortunately, this work is seriously flawed. It is a three-books-in-one edition and each book is weaker than the one before. While the premise is an interesting one (a story from the perspective of orcs) the work never rises above standard role-playing hack and slash writing. The author never clarifies what is unique about his orc characters. They think like humans, act like humans and basically are humans. His orcs are simply the standard noble barbarians that populate fantasy works. Mr. Nicholls never tells us what it is that makes the orcs unique; how they ultimately differ from humanity and why they are important.

The story-line is fairly simple and moves from battle to battle. Mr. Nicholls seems to relish writing battle scenes and they are quite detailed. But, after the endless repetition of blocked blows and slashed throats and impaled chests, the battles become quite tiresome. You will find yourself flipping through the battle scenes just to see what comes next. Mr. Nicholls also makes his orcs seemly invincible. Throughout the book I kept on wondering if all orcs were this good at fighting, why they hadn't taken over the entire land.

The human enemies are cartoonish and stereo typical: puritanical Christians that want to burn and kill anything that is not one of them and pantheistic pagans that want to put right the evil done by humans. And throw in an evil half-human queen that sacrifices people to maintain her power. It should also be noted that there are two extremely graphic and violent sexual scenes that are completely out of place and render this book appropriate only for mature audiences.

I could go on, but it would only be piling on. Do not bother with this book as it is not worth the effort to read. I have not read anything else by Mr. Nicholls, but hope that his other works are better crafted.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About the story..., September 8, 2008
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
I picked up Orcs hoping for a good, solid story that took fantasy creatures seriously, and for the first time in a long time, I wasn't disappointed.

The story kicks off with some fast action sequences, and for a few pages I was thinking "Jeez, another book about stupid orcs." Well, there are a few stupid ones in the book, but there is also a culture and a tradition that is pleasantly detailed and respectable. The characters are well-defined quickly and with flavor enough to be distinct. Author Nichols made a real effort to create and maintain a baseline of behavior for his characters that gives a starting point and, by the end of the story, something to look back on and say "They've come pretty far."

Enough banality. The reading is good, fast-paced and while there are a few phrasing issues (mostly cause by the differences between English and American) that stumbled me for a moment, those are seldom and minor. The narrative is solid and well done.

The characters are plausible, respectable and man, they are stubborn. But hey, they're orcs (that's praise, by the way). Before the end of the first three chapters, I was solidly in the protagonist's corner.

Nichols does a great job of pacing the book, so the action is moving, moving, moving and the reader almost starts feeling and breathless and tired as the characters. The fight scenes are good; not too detailed, not too vague and good movement from character to character.

I short him one star because the ending was a little jarring. It made sense, mostly-sorta, but it did kick me off the rhythm that had been developing. Readers will have to take a leap of both faith and a little forgiveness. By the time I got to that point in the book, I was willing to do it, and it paid off, but what felt like a plot-shortcut threw me.

All in all, I'd consider this a compulsory read for any fantasy fan. This book is definitely going to be hanging out on my "Favorites" shelf for a few years.

If you liked: Deed of Paksenarrion (Elizabeth Moon), Heir to the Empire (Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy) and/or Doc Sidhe (Aaron Allston) then you'll enjoy Orcs.

p.s. - Nichols includes an introductory short-story at the end of the book. Reading it BEFORE you read the main story might be fun.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whoever wrote the teaser on the back cover should've wrote the book!, January 30, 2009
By 
Greg "KidGreg" (North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
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 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 [...] 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, August 8, 2012
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
I read a little ways into this book, and I'll be honest...I just couldn't really get into that much, so I stopped. The action scenes I read and some of the dialogue weren't too bad, but in the end I just couldn't get into it, and part of it I think had to do with the writing style. On top of that, a couple of the parts I read just kinda disturbed me, one part in particular in chapter 3 even kinda grossed me out a little bit...a rather violent and disturbing rape & murder, let's just leave it at that. Gore & such isn't an issue for me, but there are some things that kinda bother me, and that part in the beginning of chapter 3 kinda got to me. That was only a few pages though, so that wasn't the whole reason. All in all it just didn't do a whole lot for me...I'll stick to other stuff I know & love like the Dwarves series by Markus Heitz & the Inheritence series by Christopher Paolini & the Warhammer 40,000 universe, etc. If you're a fantasy lover, I wouldn't necessarily say that you shouldn't give this book a chance, because you might very well enjoy it...there are some out there who have, judging by reviews I've seen, but it just depends on you the reader. However, I would recommend reading into it a little bit first before you buy it, or check it out at your local library if they have it.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars good idea, horrible execution, formulaic, boring and preachy, October 27, 2008
By 
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
A standard orcs vs humans fantasy novel, except from the point of view of the orcs. This could be a great idea. It IS a great idea. This is NOT a great book.

the opening chapters of the book are great, very interesting to view the standard conflicts from a different angle. However, the book starts to fall down very quickly.

Its a pretty standard hero of a thousand faces tale, lowly grunt, on a quest to retrieve X sacred items and defeat the bad guy, after an old wise guy tells a story and then is killed.

The combat scenes are frequent, long, and repetitive, giving blow by blow accounts of the combat. Over and over. There is only so many times you can read about specific parry/doge/counter attack routines for 3 pages at a time and keep interested. There are MANY of these scenes in the book.

the book starts out with some decent standard fare sex stuff, but goes off the deep end with graphic descriptions of the lead villain-ess raping captives and when they orgasm (due to spells/aphrodisiacs) killing them and eating their hearts to regenerate her magic powers, including raping female elves by using unicorn horns as a strap-on. (Really, im not making this up)

Character descriptions are very two dimensional and repetitive. The exact same introductory descriptions about each character are repeated several times throughout the book, as though you didn't just read the exact same words about a character a few pages ago.

More importantly, this book is a VERY VERY thinly veiled analogy for the author's white christian male guilt. Humans are white settlers from europe. Orcs (and other various fantasy races) are the indians. The humans believe in a single god and (literally, by name) believe they came from adam and eve. They are all evil, and murdering and enslaving the native races, except for those humans who have converted to the local pagan religion.

The author falls for the classic "noble savage" myth, that all the indians were peace loving and had no conflicts with each other, until the humans showed up. (Except for how the orcs were a war race that sold themselves to the highest bidder. If everyone gets along, why would the orcs have a society like this?)

I'm all for moral analogies and learning lessons from a sotry, but at least make things be you know, actually separate and parallel, and not directly reference the things you are trying to talk about over and over.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What profoundly pointless drivel!, May 7, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Orcs (Kindle Edition)
I'm glad I got this as a free Kindle-edition and didn't pay for it. I've no idea why the author named his roaming warband of honorable elite warriors "orcs" - other than to cash in on Tolkien's creation. His orcs have nothing in common with the twisted and mutated elves Tolkien described.

Their quest for some sort of relics which can save the world is the usual unimaginative stuff. The fight scenes are very well described, but get extremely boring after the tenth time everyone slashes and hacks their way through any number of cobolds, gremlins or whatever. In the end I just turned the pages until the fighting was done to get on with the story.

And how bored I am with a baddy - queen Jennesta - whose only characterisation seems to be her perverted sex drive. While we surely can all agree that it's not a nice trait to habitually disembowel your lovers, this just isn't enough to make a believable antagonist, especially not in a political context.

The end is as uninspired and simplistic as was to be expected, as the author obviously has no clear idea himself of how and why his "instrumentalities" work or what they are in the first place.

What a sad waste of my time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not deliver on the promise of the premise, July 30, 2009
By 
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
There was such promise with the premise of this story. Orcs appear throughout the landscape of fantasy, but typically in evil masses that exist to provide fodder for the sword and arrows of the good guys. In many books orcs are like the bad guys in a video game. They are the 1000 angry zombies or demons and you have to kill to advance to the next level. Tackling a story looking at the world through the eyes of the orcs is a facinating idea.

Sadly, the story gives me no insight into orcs. These chacters could have been humans, they could have been orcs, they could have been badgers who talk. The band of orcs is essentially a watered word version of Glenn Cook's Black Company. I agree with the thought that Mr Nichols anthropomorphises orcs. You could take any fantasy novel of the past 50 years and change the race of the main characters to orcs and you would delve as deeply into the world of orcs as this book does.

My other complaint is the use of a magical item (or items in this case) that has to be found to save the world (or at least the protagonists). Is there any horse that has been beaten to death in fantasy more than the quest novel? Ever since Frodo left his front door on a quest to destroy the one ring, writers have felt the need to follow suit. In this case its a series of magical items which all fit together that must be found. Each item is harder to find than the last. But despite the fact that these items have essentially been unknown and lost for centuries, the orcs bumble their way from one to the next in a matter of days or weeks. It takes great mental effort for me to suspend my belief in plot lines like this.

What Mr Nichols does well is write military prose. He is an excellent writer of fights and battles, an area many writers stumble in. The action is fast paced and the novel an easy read. There are a couple of scenes where the antagonist rapes and then eats a human in graphic detail. These scenes render the books adult reading only.

If you substite the word orcs for humans, this is maybe a 2-3 star novel. Maybe. For failing to live up to the promise of the premise, its a weak 1-2 stars for me. The worst thing I can say about it is I am not buying the new Orc book which Mr Nichols published... and I read just about anything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Had some potential but ultimately fails to deliver, July 20, 2009
By 
Media Man (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
[Note: This review is based on an (ARC) Advanced Reading Copy]

After seeing the cover and reading the back I thought, "this book has to be great!" Sadly this wasn't the case. Don't get me wrong, the book wasn't bad, it was just sort of a let down. It didn't really live up to what I was expecting. It had a lot of potential but ended up being a rather run of the mill fantasy. It left me feeling like the main characters weren't really "orcs" but just another band of human adventurers.

Pros

+ Nicholls does a decent job on developing the personalities of the main characters. You get a good sense that Stryke (silly name but whatever) is indeed a gruff, stern and stubborn leader. That Jennestra is really the queen of mean etc.

+ Fast paced and action driven story. There are lots of visceral fights which the author does a decent job of describing in detail. Not for the faint of heart.

+ Some interesting character concepts. I thought the idea of the half breed Nyadd queen Jennestra was an interesting villain. Jup (another dumb name for a dwarf) was by far my favorite character in the book even though it was about orcs. I found the fact that he was the only non orc character in an all orc band of mercenaries was different. His ongoing hostility with Haskeer was also entertaining to read.

+ Great cover art.

Cons <Contains SPOILERS>

- Stryke's vague and constant dreams involving the female orc and an orc paradise became very tiresome. I found myself starting to skim the passages because they were so terribly boring.

- Humans portrayed as the invaders and corrupters of the land is perfectly fine with me. However, did Nicholls have to resort to using the typical "One God" Christianity paralleled worshippers as the secondary villain? Not only is this idea so overused it's also terribly boring. I read fantasy novels to escape the influence Christianity has on this world so I don't care to see it in the genre. They came off as vicious sounding Mennonites by their description. Not something I found particularily fearful.

- The descriptive way in which Jennesta would sexually arouse her victims in order to eat their still beating hearts for youthful sustenance. Not that I was shocked reading it, I just simply didn't care to read about it and found it unecessary.

- As another reviews so aptly stated, this book did indeed feel like someone's pen and paper D&D adventure written into a novel. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, it was just bland.

- The map was incomplete and innacurate. As the warband was travelling around the land I'd refer to the map realizing that the directions they were supposedly heading didn't sync up with where they were currently at. I found it slightly confusing.

Would I recommend this to a friend? No. Will I read the next in the series? Yes but I'm in no rush.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Augh, not orcs, closer to civilized mongols, June 5, 2012
By 
N. Trachta (Colorado Springs, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Orcs (Paperback)
Sometimes when I pick up books because the cover is neat and the topic sounds interesting I find a book that's a home run; usually though they're not that successful. Orcs attracted me with the cover and the prospective of being able to read about orcs, the mean terrible creatures of Tolkien and fantasy who fight to live or is that live to fight. As I started reading this book I realized that Mr. Nicholls orcs weren't our classical orcs I've ocme to enjoy, instead, they're closer to being mongols. Misunderstood by humans, moving about in daylight, riding horses, and being vicious in a fight, yep, sounds similar to a mongol. No wargs, no moving or doing at night, nor striving to further themselves. Augh, when I merge these "orcs" with a story that's cut from cardstock and predictable (once you're past the "orcs" doing heroics and able to kill tens of humans individually) I really started questioning this one. While Mr. Nicholls may have been trying to write a "different" story about orcs, I think he might have helped himself by giving readers something they could align to, but telling a story about mongols having it be as serial and teenagerish as this was drove me away. For me, a 1 star book that's to be avoided.
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Orcs
Orcs by Stan Nicholls (Paperback - September 8, 2008)
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