Short Story Review: The Taking by Stan Nicholls

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An interesting short story, offering further insight into the world of The Wolverines.  4 / 5

Summary

It’s Braetagg’s Day, a day of festivities for Orcs, but when the focal point of the celebrations goes missing, there’s only one place to turn if the day is to be rescued before word gets out regarding what’s happened: The Wolverines.  To make things even harder for the elite warband, they have a new member in the ranks, having only joined The Wolverines that very morning.  Will their inclusion help or hinder the mission?

Favourite Quote

‘Humans were eating the magic.’

(From The Taking by Stan Nicholls, pg 693)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning (see my review here), Legion of Thunder (see review here) and Warriors of the Tempest (review here)) which also included this short story, The Taking, and I have reviewed each of the stories separately.

This short story is set before the start of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy.  It’s Corporal Coilla’s first day in The Wolverines.  As the only female orc in the warband, I find her character intriguing.  She’s strong and intelligent and one of my favourite characters from the trilogy.  I was also pleased to find included in the story the other characters from the three novels I’d already read, especially Jup and Alfray, another two of my favourites.

This was a fantastic short story that showed another dimension to the Orcs, offering more cultural background to their race and the world they live in.  Once again, there was plenty of fast-paced action and the storyline did not disappoint.  It was engaging and entertaining and has only further ensured I continue on reading this series.

The Taking is perfect for those already familiar with the setting and the characters.  I found it to be an interesting, insightful read, which only added to my enjoyment of the series and the world in which it is set.  Sometimes short stories can fall flat if they follow on from high energy, full length novels which are full of adventure because there just isn’t the space within the word limit to emulate the bigger storylines and subplots.  That isn’t a problem here.

All-in-all, this was a great read and a wonderful addition to the Orcs series of stories.

Rating

Book Review: Warriors of the Tempest by Stan Nicholls

Warriors of the Tempest is the final book in the Orcs: First Blood Trilogy by Stan Nicholls.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Fast paced and action packed, Warriors of the Tempest was a fantastic final book in the trilogy. Exciting, unpredictable and unputdownable. 4.5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

The third volume in Nicholls’s critically acclaimed fantasy finds Maras Dantia drowning in war. Stryke, head of the renegade orcs, and his warband have found the long-lost relic they need–but still do not know how to use it. And, while they try to figure it out, enemies hunt them from every corner. Worse yet, the three sisters are close to forming an alliance that will overturn history. Time is running out to save the world. Nicholls’s masterworks are the first to tell the story from the other side–from the point of view of the orcs, the villains of Lord of the Rings.

Favourite Quote

Jennesta’s chariot was decked with flowers.  She’d had the whirling knives removed.  It wouldn’t do to upset potential subjects by cutting their legs off.

(Warriors of the Tempest by Stan Nicholls, pg 625)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning (see my review here), Legion of Thunder (see review here) and Warriors of the Tempest) which also includes a short story, The Taking, and I will be reviewing the books separately.

Now I’ve got to the end of the trilogy, I can say wholeheartedly that this is one of the best fantasy series I have read in recent years.  Honestly, I felt a little sad when I finished it.  I never imagined how entertaining orcs as main characters in a book could be.  Not only that, I never thought that I would find myself rooting for them and hoping they would come out on top.  Stan Nicholls has seriously changed and challenged my view on Orcs.

I couldn’t possibly pick one single favourite character but I thought Stryke was a great leader; he was insightful and perceptive and I can see why others wanted to follow him.  Coilla was feisty and Alfray was wise.  Haskeer was amusing and Jup dependable…Outside of the Wolverines, I thought Krista, the High Priestess from Ruffet’s View, was interesting and provided a counter balance to the portrayal of humans in the story.

This was a fantastic end to the trilogy.  Once more, this volume was fast paced and action packed, full of battles and unexpected plot twists.  The ending was exciting, unpredictable and unputdownable.

Again, we got to see places not yet visited in the previous two books.  Maras Dantia was an interesting world to explore, both geographically and with regards to the people who lived there.

Warriors of the Tempest was a great final book in Orcs: First Blood. Though I’m at the end of the trilogy, I’m pleased to see that there are more books in this series, which have been duly added to my ‘Have To Buy’ list…I can’t wait to read more about Stryke, Coilla and the rest of the Wolverines.  In the mean time, I have the short story, The Taking, to read and review…

Rating

4.5 / 5

Book Review: Legion of Thunder by Stan Nicholls

Legion of Thunder is the second book in the Orcs: First Blood Trilogy by Stan Nicholls.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Addictive, compelling, unpredictable.  A refreshing fantasy read set in an interesting world and peopled with engaging characters. 4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

A blistering sequel to the acclaimed Bodyguard of Lightning takes you into a world full of wonder, magic, and encroaching dark. In the land of Maras Dantias, peace once reigned. Then the humans came, wreaking destruction, killing the enchantment, and bringing war. Even the climate changed, with once-warm summers now autumnal. Of all the races in Maras Dantias, the Orcs, led by Stryke, were the most ferocious. Now, he and his troops have become renegades, chased by his own people as well as the humans. Only a long-lost relic can save them now–and the rest of Maras Dantias, too. But, time is running out and a new foe endangers them all.

Favourite Quote

Alfray remembered that gnomes were notorious for knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.  Good road courtesy, for instance.

(Legion of Thunder by Stan Nicholls, pg 314)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning (see my review here), Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest) which also includes a short story, The Taking, and I will be reviewing the books separately.

As the second book in the trilogy, Legion of Thunder was just as good as the first book, Bodyguard of Lightning.  Sometimes middle books in a series fall flat or are simply there to fill out the space between books one and two, but not so in this case.  The plot moved with purpose and direction and did a great job of continuing to hold my interest after the first book whilst setting up the story for the final book in the trilogy.

Once again there is a lot of fast paced action, and plenty of well-written fight scenes and battles.  If you’re a writer and what to learn how to write battle scenes, I recommend you give any of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy a read.

The world-building continued to fascinate me. Whilst the story unfolded, we got to explore more of Maras-Dantia, as well as meet more of the wide-ranging folk who live there.  My favourite were probably the centaurs but the gnomes were quite fun too (see favourite quote above).

Once again, I was surprised at how easily I found myself willing on the orcs that make up the warband the Wolverines.  This fantasy story is so refreshing and unique.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy traditional fantasy with the usual tropes, but once in a while it is nice to be taken by surprise.  I didn’t know what to expect because the story isn’t predictable.

Whilst I’m writing this review, I have already finished reading the final book of the trilogy, Warriors of the Tempest.  What I have read has been addictive and compelling, and I’m pleased that I had all three books of the trilogy to hand in the omnibus edition; I would have hated waiting to get my hands on the next one (these days, I tend to only read paperback books rather than ebooks).

Rating

Book Review: Bodyguard of Lightning by Stan Nicholls

Bodyguard of Lightning is the first book in the Orcs: First Blood Trilogy by Stan Nicholls.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An unusual and surprisingly engrossing fantasy that sees orcs take centre stage; full of action and fast paced, this is an interesting world, full of interesting characters.  As soon as I finished the first book in the trilogy, I had to start reading the second. 4 / 5

Summary (from Amazon)

A fast moving, action packed epic that for the first time tells the story of fantasy’s traditional enemy, giving orcs their own heroes, motives and destinies.

An epic quest that takes orc warband leader Stryke and his warriors on a journey to secure five artefacts of power with which they hope they can buy their freedom but which actually hold the key to everything and the explanation of the sudden incursion that is leeching the magic out of Maras-Dantia.

Favourite Quote

‘…it continues to this day, and grows more fevered. The rounding-up of free-roaming animals for their meat and hides, the overgrazing…’

‘The fouling of rivers,’ Coilla added, ‘the levelling of forests.’

‘Putting villages to the torch,’ Jup contributed.

‘Spreading their foul diseases,’ Alfray said.

(Bodyguard of Light by Stan Nicholls, pg 109)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest) which also includes a short story, The Taking, and I will be reviewing the books separately.

To begin with, this story takes what we usually find in fantasy stories and turns it on its head.  Orcs, while not wholly the good guys (that would be far too simplistic), in terms of this tale, the orcs that make up the Wolverines (the warband led by Stryke) are pretty much the heroes.  On the opposite side is nearly everyone else, including humans.  So, from the outset we know this isn’t going to be your usual fantasy fare.

I quickly became caught up in the story.  It’s strange, because I never thought I would easily find myself supporting orcs, let alone positively liking them.  Perhaps they’ve just had too much bad press in fantasy stories…?  Hmm… Or perhaps, which I think is most likely, they have never before been portrayed as they have in these stories (at least, not in the stories I have read).  Usually they are seen as stupid, mindless, skirmish / battle fodder, yet here they are presented as intelligent, sensible, sensitive to the environment, and even on occasion, capable of mercy and compassion, and not just towards their own kind, but other species of the elder races, and sometimes even humans, albeit, rarely.

I found myself genuinely liking and rooting for some of the characters, Stryke and Coilla especially, but Jup the dwarf and Alfray too.  But there are some truly nasty characters peopling the story too, the worst two being Jennesta, the part-human part-nyadd Queen of Cairnbarrow and Kimball Hobrow, the leader of one of the two groups of humans, who are split along religious lines.

The world the author has constructed is fascinating, as is how humans are depicted.  If aliens were to stumble across Earth, I wouldn’t be surprised if the conclusions they draw about us are the same, at least in terms of wilfully damaging the environment.  I spent a long time studying and appreciating the map of the world – geographer here! 😉  It’s an absorbing, varied landscape, with some interesting sounding place names, such as “Scratch” and “Ladygrove”.

There is much action to be found in the story and as such, the pace is fast.  It is also comes across as a bit gory – a bit too much for my liking, hence the losing of a star when I came to rating it.  That being said, it held my attention firmly, from start to finish, and, as soon as I finished it, I threw myself straight in the next book in the series.  So, overall, I found this book addictive reading.

If you want something different to the usually fantasy read, and enjoy lots of well-written fights and battles, there’s a good chance you would like this.

Rating