Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Orc Trifecta

Apologies on being late with this post.  Busy month, lazy month, etc.
Most of you know about these stories, and with the slim number of followers I have, I suppose this is late and preaching to the choir.
But, I need to keep this blog afloat so, here goes.

Recently, three writers have self-published e-tales involving Orcs.  The only common thread, aside from the Orcs, is that the stories were salvaged from a canceled anthology.  Each runs for $.99, or sometimes free if you catch them at the right time.  For $.99, they are cheaper than a cup of gourmet coffee, and each is satisfying in its own way.

Amarante: A Tale of Old Tharduin by Scott Oden.
Of the three tales, this felt the most "epic" fantasy, though Oden delivers hard-hitting scenes that put this tale more into the "sword-&-sorcery" sub-genre.  Two Orcs, barely escaping some powerful (and well described) sorcery, seek vengeance against the humans who refuse to bow to their Orc overlords.  Oden creates a well-crafted viewpoint between the Orcs, with good interplay between the reluctant allies.  The Orcs are right bastards, and the "bad guys" - you don't exactly want them to win,  but there is enough tension that you want to follow them through to the end.

Harvest of War by Charles Gramlich.
Gramlich flips our expected sympathies by showing the dark side of humanity, as a lone Orc is captured, tortured, and treated worse than a zoo exhibit.  Not that Khales the Orc, doesn't have blood on his hands, either.  The nice turn in this story is not only the examination of human brutality, but human shortsightedness.  The humans zealous extermination of the Orc race puts them at a disadvantage they are not even aware of.  A really well-executed tale.

Blackskull's Captive by Tom Doolan.
Doolan takes us into space opera territory, which might seem odd to some readers, but Black Library, for instance, have Orks in their futuristic universe of Warhammer 40,000.  Doolan's setting is also heavily influenced by the animated movie, Treasure Planet, (in turn based on Treasure Island,) so we also get an Age-of-Sail vibe.  A captive human, Jack Munro, becomes an unwitting aide to an Orc pirate captain.  Staying alive could be at the price of his soul, as the Orcs ply him to help plan attacks on more human ships.  Doolan could easily have skirted the issue with a tale just long enough to get Jack off the ship before the next raid, but instead he makes Jack deal with the issue, and this gives the story an extra emotional edge.

All these tales are worth your time, and worth your three dollars!

(p.s. - for now, I will ignore that Tom Doolan published another Orc tale this week, thus breaking the trifecta theme ;P  But, you can check that out, too.  More at his blog.)


  1. Better late than never, Paul. And since I wasn't aware of Scott Oden's story, it's good you posted IMO. I'll have to download it and put it in the lunchtime short fiction queue.

  2. I've read Charles tale (excellent) started Scott's and still need to snag Tom's.

    I've been way late posting reviews myself.

  3. Definitely a trifecta. I like that. thanks for the kind words on "Harvest." Glad you enjoyed.

  4. I've only read Gramlich's "Harvest of War" so far, but I have to say, it is an excellent story, well worth the time it takes to read.