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Literature / Orcs

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"Stryke couldn't see the ground for corpses."

A series of fantasy novels by Stan Nicholls now entering its second trilogy. The first trilogy, called Orcs: First Blood, consisted of Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of the Tempest.

Stryke is the Captain of the Wolverines, an orc warband that was sold into the service of Queen Jennesta, a depraved half-human half-nyadd sorceress who fights in a war between the Manis (those who follow the Manifold Path with many gods) and the Unis (those who believe in only one god) in Maras Dantia, the land whose magic is slowly being "eaten" by the humans.

During one mission, where Jennesta commanded them to retrieve an ancient artifact, the warband falls into misfortune: a group of kobolds steals the artifact. The Wolverines' search for it (and, eventually, others) becomes a bloody trip through Maras Dantia, where they encounter religious fanatics, trolls, and three very determined bounty hunters.


A second trilogy, Orcs: Bad Blood, is being published. The first two books, Weapons of Magical Destruction and Army of Shadows, are out, with the third and final book on its way.

Not to be confused with the 2011 film Orcs!.

Provides Examples Of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Jennesta among her own army (the orcs even start deserting en masse).
  • Action Girl: Corporal Coilla. Justified in that she's, well, an orc.
  • Agony Beam: The Sluagh have one that attacks the brain directly, forcing targets to become subservient to their will.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted as every race has its villains and heroes.
  • Automaton Horses: Sometimes horses are killed or begin to tire, but most of the time the orcs keep their horses running for long periods without rest or food.
  • Big Bad: The Evil Sorceress Queen Jennesta is the ruler of the polytheistic Manifold Path religion and leads their war against the monotheistic Unis. She forces the orc heroes, her slaves, to recover ancient artifacts created by her father Seraphim, then turns on them when she mistakenly believes they betrayed her, forcing them to fight off her army.
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  • Big Bad Wannabe: Kimball Hobrow could be a contender for main villain status, but his plans are built more on zealotry rather than competence and are quite easily undone. He himself dies unceremoniously before the end of book three, knifed in the gut by Jennesta's orcs while pathetically pleading for mercy.
  • Big Good: Sephraim, Jennesta's father and the creator of the Instrumentalities.
  • The Big Guy: Haskeer. Out of the three bounty hunters, Blaan is physically the strongest.
  • The Chosen One: There are hints that Stryke is chosen to lead the orcs in rebellion against Jennesta, but he refuses to be a leader of anything other than his warband.
  • Combat Tentacles: Some of the Sluagh have them.
  • Cool Old Guy: Alfray is the oldest orc in the Wolverines (though he hates being reminded of his age), and is no less skilled a fighter than the others. He's also the warband's medic, helping to get many injured orcs back on their feet throughout the journey.
  • Creepy Child: Mercy Hobrow, Kimball Hobrow's daughter, who likes to watch sinners beaten.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: More like, Actual Jesus, as the Unis are almost indistinguishable from Medieval European religious fanatics. In fact, they even reference Satan at one point. The Unis also seem to portray modern right-wing evangelicals (unadorned churches, married clergy etc.).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A must when orcs are your protagonists. The main orcs are brutal in battle, but they only fight when the need arises and otherwise would rather keep to themselves.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Jennesta rapes and murders men and women of all races.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted with Jennesta and her assorted victims.
  • Dumb Muscle: Blaan, one of the bounty hunters hired to catch the Wolverines.
  • The Empire: Queen Jennesta's kingdom.
  • Enemy Civil War: Adpar's death causes one among the nyadds, which creates more problems for the Wolverines when they go to the nyadd realm as part of their deal with the centaurs. Fortunately, a vengeful group of merz arrive to cover the Wolverine's retreat.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The infamous rape scene. It shows just how sadistic and evil Jennesta is right from the get-go.
  • Evil Minions: The orcs under Jennesta, as well as Kimball Hobrow's followers.
  • Evil Overlord: Jennesta, of course. Kimbal Hobrow isn't too pleasant himself.
  • Fantastic Racism: All over the place. The Unis are the most obvious, despising all other races as "subhuman", but other races can be equally prejudice against one another (dwarves, for instance, are seen as untrustworthy mercenaries, a reputation that Jup hates being saddled with.
  • Five-Man Band: The officers in the Wolverines:
  • General Failure: Jennesta.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: You really don't want to be under Jennesta or Adpar's rule. The former rapes and murders her subjects on a whim and has zero tolerance for failure, while the latter likes executions to be drawn out and as painful as possible, and indulges in quite a bit of psychological torture as well.
  • Golem: The Watchers are mechanical creatures powered by magic.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Jennesta and her sisters are half-human, half-nyadd. This is a result of their mother's magical experience, as their father is quite human.
  • Holier Than Thou: Kimball Hobrow and his Uni followers.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Averted on several occasions by showing that the Orcs simply can't understand a lot of human customs and nature, just as the humans can't understand the Orcs' obsession with fighting one another. This is further enforced by the fact that while there is a hyper-racist faction of humans there is also a faction who wishes to undo a lot of the damage they have done and make peace with the other species and the Big Good is a human sorcerer who wanted to return all the elder races to their homelands, where they'd be happier and free from the ongoing conflicts of humans.
  • Humans Are Ugly: not quite name-checked, but close.
  • The Horde: The orcs used to belong to the "United Orc Horde" until tough times forced them to be sold into Jennesta's service.
  • I Choose to Stay: Jup decides to stay in Maras Dantia rather than follow the Wolverines to the orc home dimension, saying that he'd be even more out of place than he already is.
  • Interspecies Romance: Coilla and Pepperdyne in Bad Blood.
  • Jerkass: Haskeer, although sometimes he comes across as more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • McGuffin: The Instrumentalities or stars. They can be used to open portals to other dimensions.
  • Mutants: It turns out that Stryke might be a "sport" or genetic throwback that can feel magic.
  • Neck Snap: The Watchers will do this to anyone that draws a weapon on their watch.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The orcs have the Sluagh, which they believe inhabit an Orc hell. They're actually extradimensional beings, but still as vicious as the legends describe.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The only non-orc Wolverine is Jup, a dwarf. The dwarves are said to fight for anybody who pays the best, but Jup is the more honorable kind.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: And how! The Nyadds are at war with the Merz, who are generally peaceable — unless you fuck with them.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Pixies and Putti.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They combine the traditional Tolkien orcs with Blizzard orcs. Those of the orc home dimension are much closer to Blizzard orcs, while Maras Dantia orcs were bred to be more subservient and brutal like Tolkien orcs.
  • Out with a Bang: Jennesta kills people after she rapes them (and then consumes their hearts to replenish her magic).
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: All the orcs are pretty much like this, with some exceptions. Haskeer fits it like a glove though.
    • The Centaurs as well, though not to the extent of the orcs. It allows the two races to find common ground during the orcs' quest.
  • Psychic Powers: All of the elder races except for orcs have them to a degree. Dwarves have a talent called "farsight," although it is diminished by the dying magic.
  • Psycho for Hire: The bounty hunters.
  • Putting on the Reich: Kimball Hobrow and his followers at Trinity tend to talk a lot about "racial purity" and were intent on poisoning the water supply to kill off any non-human race. They also dress heavily in black.
  • The Reveal: Several towards the end of the book.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Jennesta has a pet cat called Sapphire.
  • Science Fantasy: Orcs in a magical world — that is connected to an infinite multiverse via portals.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Coilla is the only female orc in the Wolverines.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Coilla's child with Pepperdyne
  • Teleporter Accident: Weaponized; Sephraim tosses Jennesta into the portal while it's still warming up, causing her to disintegrate as she's dragged through.
  • Terrible Trio: The bounty hunters.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Short, shaggy, and inhabiting a place called Scratch.
  • You Have Failed Me: Jennesta does this repeatedly. Basically, if you fail this woman, even slightly, then you're officially screwed.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Jennesta among the Manis (even though she's only out for herself).
  • Volleying Insults: Much of Haskeer and Jup's arguments consist of this.


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