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Orcs Paperback – September 8, 2008

2.9 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This shelf-bending omnibus comprises the first U.S. release of Nicholls's Orcs trilogy (Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest), originally published in the U.K. in 1999 and 2000. When a warband of orcs run afoul of their tyrannical mistress on a mission to retrieve an invaluable artifact, they set in motion a series of cataclysmic events that could free their race from long-standing persecution or obliterate them from the realm forever. Pursued by an irate sorceress, ruthless bounty hunters and two vengeance-obsessed armies, Captain Stryke and his misfit band of mercenary orcs embark on a desperate quest to find a set of ancient "instrumentalities" that could save them and their magic-filled world from destruction at the hands of human interlopers. With grand scale world building, labyrinthine plotlines, extensive backstory and pedal-to-the-metal action, Nicholls captures adventure fantasy at its very best. This edition-which also includes a short story entitled "The Taking" (a prequel to the three novels), and an in-depth author interview-will be a cult classic with quest fantasy fans on both sides of the Pond.
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"A wonderful piece of storytelling.... Underlying all the fun and games is a core of skillfully drawn, fully realized characters who engage your sympathy from the start and never let go." ---Tom Holt, author of Snow White and the Seven Samurai --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Orcs (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 769 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (September 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316033707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316033701
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #672,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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