When the Wolverines, a war band of fierce orcs lead by Stryke, head out on a mission to retrieve an artifact for their queen, they didn’t know that the world as they knew it would be toppled on edge. After being sidetracked by a bit of revelry at their victory and being ambushed by kobolds, they go from being the Queen’s premier troop to being outcasts, thieves, and public enemies.
Yet they aren’t exactly rebels without a cause, if you’ll excuse the allusion. Even after the kobolds steal the artifact, Stryke and the majority of his warband know that they could not return empty handed, so they choose to pursue it. In doing so they find out more information about the artifact they are chasing, that it is the key perhaps to great power for the orcs and other species to reclaim their lands from the invading humans. They chase against the clock, the increasing number of enemies, and against themselves to get these artifacts before anyone else does.
I may have never played Dungeons & Dragons, but I imagine that if you liked playing that or other role playing games you will really enjoy this book. There are clichés of many of those types of games here: you have elves, dwarves, kobolds, goblins, dragons, trolls, humans, a little bit of magic and, of course, orcs. I was drawn to the idea of having the story told through the eyes of an orc, a creature usually seen as the bad guy or at least a menacing nuisance. That being said, I think I would have liked to see something besides muscle mass, skin color and religious ideals distinguishing them from the other races, but maybe that’s the point — maybe we’re all more similar than we like to think… I don’t know if this is a deep thinker, though.
It certainly doesn’t have to be a big thinker, I just like thinking big. If you want blood and guts on and off the battlefield, please stop reading my review and just pick up the book. The plot is essentially a MacGuffin chase with lots and lots of battles thrown in. Lots of battles. Most against impossible odds. Battles against humans, trolls, kobolds, other orcs — you name it. The Queen gets her power from ritual sacrifice and gruesomeness… Maybe I’m just too girly, but at times it seemed like a bit of overkill, but I don’t know if I was the intended audience for this book.
Overall, it was enjoyable if not mind bending. It has the fantasy clichés you’d expect if you are a fantasy fan, but has a nice twist of not being from a wholly human perspective. While this isn’t my normal read, I did find it quite enjoyable and a fun change of pace. It’s full of action and adventure and battles. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever played any kind of rpg as well as fantasy fans in general. I give this an enjoyable B.