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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On orcs and what they mean to me

I have long been a fan of orcs. First as the perfect bad guy for D&D games, and later as heroes and anti-heroes in fiction and games. I readily admit that my preference is for the "Warcraft" model of orcs. They are alien and powerful, and the lore in that world makes them very cool in my eyes. However, that's just a preference, and I really enjoy most of their incarnations (though the early "pig-face" orcs from old-school D&D is bothersome).

IN an effort to expand my enjoyment of orcness, I have read a lot of fiction concerning them. recently, I read the first book of Morgan Howell's Orc Queen trilogy, King's Property. I have to say, no book has so engaged me in a long time. I read the 350+ page book in a matter of about four days. That's quite a feat for me. It was an amazing read, with engaging characters, fantastic lore and easy on the eyes prose. It was even further amazing when you realize that even after completing the book, the world is very slim in description. Unlike the overly fleshed out worlds of gaming fiction, or even Tolkien's Middle-Earth, the world this story takes place in seems very limited. Which works well, considering that the main character's experience in the world is extremely limited, so it really helps keep the story in the proper place. I am eagerly awaiting book 2 from the library.

It also inspired some creativity in me. I brushed off an old orc book of mine that was floundering at around 14,000 words. I deleted the last two pages of prose so that I could take the story in a completely different direction from where it was headed. I think what I have come up with now is much more interesting.

Additionally, I recently read a snippet in Writer magazine where an author suggested reading with a writer's eye. So, as I was reading this book, I took mental notes of what worked and why. What made the story and characters interesting. It was very enlightening. And every tidbit of knowledge seems to help.

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