[[caption-width-right:300: ''"Pass me another elf Sergeant, this one's split!"'']]

''Grunts!'' is a a fantasy novel by British author Creator/MaryGentle and originally published in 1992. It is told from the point of view of a band of [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orcs]] (the titular "grunts"). It riffs on the ideas explored by Gentle and others in the anthology, ''Villains: Who Needs Heroes Anyway?'' published in the same year, writing HighFantasy from the perspective of the {{villain|s}}. At the time, this was a new idea in fantasy writing and ''Villains'' and ''Grunts!'' were considered pretty innovative for it.

Samhain is fast approaching and the [[FinalBattle Last Battle]] between the forces of Light and Darkness with it. [[HighFantasy Mighty armies and noble heroes gather.]] The Dark Lord's forces are legion and the wings of his dragons and wyverns shall blot out the sky. The forces of Light are outnumbered and full of reckless, headstrong heroes whose idea of tactical thought is discussing which way they're going to charge. [[TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin They'll win, of course.]] And orcs, the poor dumb sword fodder on the frontline for the Dark Lord [[WarIsHell will die in droves.]] This is the way of things. So it has been and so it shall be.

Ashnak, a War Captain of the Agaku, is ordered by the Nameless Necromancer to steal powerful artifacts from a [[DragonHoard dragon's hoard]]. It turns out that said dragon is dead, and that the dragon with her dying breath cursed the hoard, to turn every thief into that which was stolen. The dragon was also the multiverse's keenest collector of weapons and militaria. Guess what the orcs steal.

The novel involves a lot of BlackComedy, RefugeInAudacity, and generally reveling in subverting a bunch of fantasy and Hollywood war and action movie stereotypes. Gentle wrote the novel while recovering from injuries she suffered in a car crash, which caused chronic pain.

!!Tropes seen in this work include:

* AbnormalAmmo: Tech-Captain Ugarit comes up with a lot of this in his attempt to get around the vulnerability of the orcs' modern firearms to simple magic; ceramic swords, teflon-coated arrowheads. Later, during a ShoutOut to ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' a sentry gun is loaded with smart bullets.
-->'''Smart bullet:''' ''"Sir! Ready for action, sir! Shoot me at the bastards now sir!"''
* AlienBlood: The orcs have green blood.
* AlienCatnip: The bugs ''really'' love tea. When they discover it, a few of them seem to get sleepy and forget what they were fighting about.
* AlternateUniverse: Dagurashibanipal's cave also contained several stable portals to other worlds / universes, which is where the dragon collected her militaria from.
* AntiMagic: Talismans which create a field of this are how [[spoiler: the orcs get around the problem of their guns being vulnerable to simple spells to stop them working.]] The orcs wear them as dog-tags.
* ArmedFarces: Military joking aplenty, oddly enough. From the hapless recruits under [[DrillSergeantNasty Gunnery Sergeant Ashnak]] early in the evolution of the Orc Marines to the equally hapless elf recruits and their orc trainer Sgt. Dakashnit later on. Dakashnit's advice for her recruits on what to do if their parachute fails, in particular.
* BarbarianHero: Lord Blond Wolf, is a northern barbarian; complete with wolf-fur boots and cloak, huge blond braids and a [[{{BFS}} really big]] [[AnAxeToGrind axe]]. However, he's only 2' 7".
* [[BatheHerAndBringHerToMe Bathe Him And Bring Him To Me]]: [[DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale Poor]] [[FishOutOfWater Sgt. Stryker]].
* BlackComedy:
** As anthracite. War crimes trials, rape, torture and eating your own wounded played for laughs.
** Pretty much the whole book, to the point where, if you don't like that kind of humor, you won't like it.
** It's not a case of ''getting past'' the cannibalistic rapist burglar hobbits and orcs with machine guns riffing off ''Film/FullMetalJacket''; these sorts of things are the the point of the book.
* BlackComedyRape: "Pass me another elf, this one's split" also qualifies as HarmfulToMinors.
* BloodSport: Orcball a game strongly resembling UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball and/or Rugby and played with the [[SeveredHeadSports severed head of a fallen enemy]]. Or sometimes, when you want a game and there's a paucity of fallen enemies...
-->'''Sgt.Major Guzrak''': The good news is, you made the Orcball team! The bad news is...as the ball.
* BugWar: Near the end, when a race of insectoid aliens appear.
* ButchLesbian: Sgt. Varimnak and her unit of Badgurlz. Non-feminine job or attire? Well, soldiering is generally considered less than feminine and guns, fatigues, tattoos, mohawks and belts covered in spikes aren't either.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Will and Ned Brandiman, halfling thieves. Backstabbed Ashnak and his small band who were escorting them to start with and promptly sold the Nameless Necromancer's plans to the Named shortly after. Moved on to double-crossing the forces of Light. They were trying to double-cross the orcs again when they brought the [[spoiler: nullity talismans]] to Nin-Edin, but hadn't banked on Ashnak still being alive and recognising them.
* ComedicSociopathy: Most of the major characters invoke this to some degree - Ashnak and the orcs savagery, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking rape, cannibalism and cheerful commission of war crimes and election rigging]] are definitely being played for laughs.
* CrapsackWorld:
* {{Curse}}: Dagurashibanipal's horde of weapons came equipped with a powerful curse, ''"You Will Become What You Steal,"'' causing the orcs to take on the mannerisms of the original owners of the stolen arms. It was also flavoured with a geas encouraging them to teach others their ways and thus, spread the curse further.
* DarkIsEvil: Exaggerated with the Dark Lord, whose footsteps kill flowers and cause flagstones to crack from age and conversed early on:
--> ''"Sir! Permission to call this squad Black Squad, sir!"''
--> ''"Denied. We already have fifteen Black Squads, twelve Dark Squads, four Raven Sqauds, three Midnight Squads, one Sable Squad, one Ebony Squad and one," she glanced at a sheet of paper, "Pink Squad. Yes...we're all a little worried about '''Pink''' Squad."''
* DartboardOfHate: In this case, the orcs don't use a picture; they nail one of their own to the wall and paint a target on her belly.
* DemonicPossession: It's what the Dark Lord does to [[spoiler: The Named]].
* DiedInYourArmsTonight: During the Siege of Nin-Edin [[spoiler: Amarynth's closest [[BashBrothers battle companion]] Kazra is killed by an [[BoomHeadshot orc sniper]]. Amarynth cradles the dead dwarf and emits a SkywardScream of grief.]]
* DistinctionWithoutADifference:
-->'''Lt. Gilmuriel:''' I don't care if it'' is ''orders, Sergeant! Marines never retreat!\\
'''Sgt. Dakashnit:''' Not, L.t., course not. Just think of it as advancing to the rear.
* DragonHoard: Parodied -- it's not a deposit of treasure, but a collection of weapons.
* DrillSergeantNasty: Immediately after falling victim to Dagurashibanipal's curse, self-appointed Gunnery Sergeant Ashnak turns into a classic case of this.
* ImAHumanitarian:
--> ''"They aren't history, they're field rations."''
-->-- '''Major Ashnak'''
* EvilTwin: The Named and the Nameless Necromancer are twins. The former is female and on the side of Light, in case the Necromancer part hadn't given away which side the Nameless was on.
* EvilVersusEvil: The Light is a bunch of monumental jerks, the orcs are at best FauxAffablyEvil. Played for laughs.
* FantasticRacism: Where to start? Well, let's see...''everyone''?
* FantasticSlurs: "Greenies" (for orcs) and "squeakies" (for elves) are what immediately springs to mind.
--> ''"Hordes of spear-chuckin' greenies from Bongo-Bongo land."''
-->-- '''High-King Celtos Magorian'''
* FantasyGunControl: Averted, since the book explores what would happen if a band of orcs stumbled upon a dragon hoard filled with modern firearms.
* FantasyKitchenSink: Orcs, humans, wizards, halflings, elves, dwarves, trolls and horrible aliens from space.
* FauxAffablyEvil: The orcs.
* FishOutOfWater: Sgt. Stryker, [[SemperFi USMC]], was fending off some hooligans outside an English pub when he was ripped from his world and deposited on a battlefield in a magical fantasy land. [[spoiler: After a brief HeroicBSOD, he [[BringMyBrownPants craps his pants]] and [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere runs away screaming in panic]].]]
* HalfIdenticalTwins: The nameless necromancer and The Named. The first time Ashnak meets The Named, he is certain that she is her brother.
* HugeGuyTinyGirl: General Ashnak (leader of the Fighting Agaku orc tribe) and Magda Brandiman (hobbit dominatrix).
* InfantImmortality: Averted. [[spoiler: A [[Film/{{Aliens}} Newt]] {{Expy}} gets eaten. And the Brandiman brothers kill a human toddler within the first two chapters.]]
* LightIsNotGood: Light is, on the contrary, ''incredibly'' {{jerkass}}-ish.
* LivingWeapon: the aforementioned Aliens grow chitin machine guns from special organs on their stomachs.
* TheMagicVersusTechnologyWar: It starts after the Orcs get their hands on a cache of modern weaponry from our world, which is cursed so that they ''become'' Marines.
* MedalsForEveryone: Barashkukor really, ''really'' wants this to happen.
* {{Mordor}}: A glance at the maps in the frontispieces of ''Grunts!'' quickly tell you where the Dark Lord lives. Yep, over there, in the East. Where it says "The Dark Lands"; separated from the rest of the world by a huge mountain range littered with orc forts and a Necromancer's Tower.
* NoOneGetsLeftBehind: [[SubvertedTrope The wounded are gathered to be field rations for the march-capable]].
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: After the breaking of the siege at [[spoiler: Nin-Edin]], the Orcs attack the Light's baggage train, supposed to be sacrosanct under the Rules Of War in retaliation for hardships suffered.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: Because we've fitted them with a cloaking device and turned them into a stealth bomber.
* OurOrcsAreDifferent: Not so much ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' orcs, per se, as an odd blend of the Tolkien and ''Warhammer'' varieties with modern military influences. Big, burly, [[FangsAreEvil sharp-toothed]], vulgar, and aggressive, with skin that varies from black through shades of green and gray to pure white. Prone to ComedicSociopathy. And they have [[AlienBlood green blood]].
* PintsizedPowerhouse: Will and Ned Brandiman and Barashkukor turns into one after [[spoiler: the bugs turn him into a {{Cyborg}} Orc.]]
* ThePoliticalOfficer: Having spent a lot of time reading over the political philosophy texts in Dagurashibanipal's hoard, Marine Razitshakra turns into Marine Commissar Razitshakra, complete with CommissarCap and Russian Army greatcoat, monitoring her fellow orcs for "idealogical instability".
* ScienceFantasy
* SemperFi: As soon as they start taking the cursed weapons from Dagurashibanipal's hoard, the orcs begin aping marine manarisms, and almost instantly become true believes in the myth of the marine as a [[BloodKnight blood-thirsty]] [[OneManArmy powerhouse]] of a warrior.
* SeveredHeadSports: Orcball until it's gentrified.
* ShoutOut. So. Many.
** To give a few examples, no 80's sci-fi/action movie is left unscathed. Alien and Terminator references figure prominently.
** The ''"man-smart, fighting Agaku"'' are an {{Expy}} for Tolkien's ''"fighting Uruk-hai!,"'' i.e a breed of Orc smarter, larger and nastier than the common greenskin.
** Orcball, a violent version of American Football played by orcs, halflings, elves and other fantasy races. [[TabletopGame/BloodBowl Sounds familiar... .]]
* SoundOff:
--> ''"I don't know but I've been told"''
--> ''"Orcs is[sic] vicious, mean and bold!"''
* SwirlyEnergyThingy: It's how a United States Marine finds himself transported to the Orcs world.
* TheTropeWithoutATitle: The nameless necromancer, and his sister, The Named.
* TheUndead: Unsurprisingly, given they work for the Nameless Necromancer (at least initially) there are some Undead Orcs. They, being magical, can't use the nullity talismans and decide to devote themselves to covert commando operations, forming the Special Undead Services, Motto: "''Death'' Then Glory."
* VoteEarlyVoteOften: Upon his return, the Dark Lord declares that war is passe and he wishes to conquer the world via politics instead. Eager to please their EvilOverlord, and ensure his victory and their own continued success, Ashnak and the orcs get down to some serious ballot box stuffing.
* YourMom:
--> ''"Orcs!"\\
"You called?"\\
"Your mother wears combat boots, and pisses standing up!"\\
"[[InsultBackfire Doesn't everyone's?]]"''