First Second, 198pp, graphic novel paperback,
£12.99 cover price
Reviewed by R A Bardy [@mangozoid]
A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away… well about 10-12 years ago actually, somewhere West of Midlandia, a younger man going by the name of Stan Nicholls decided that he really didn’t like the bad press all the poor Orcs were getting, mainly because of that bothersome Tolkien chappie who wrote expansively of their sheer evil-ness… And thus it came to be that Stan decided he would redress the balance somewhat, and proffered some good old fashioned journalistic integrity by um… writing a few tales from their own perspective… When in Rome, so to speak…
Orcs: Forged For War is the first graphic novel set in the author’s Orcs universe, previously explored in two trilogies: the appropriately titled Orcs: First Blood trilogy, and Orcs: Bad Blood trilogy – neither of which I am partial to, by the way. That said, this is set prior to the events in both trilogies and as such, does actually serve as an excellent introduction to both the high fantasy world of Maras-Dantia and to the Wolverines, a 30-strong warband of mercenary orcs led by Captain Stryke and enslaved to the maniacal despotic Queen Jennesta.
The story itself is pretty basic, and follows the Wolverines as they carry out their latest assignment for the crazed Jennesta – a relatively straight-forward escorting/bodyguard task characterised by one of the orcs remarking: “So we gotta babysit a bunch of f**king goblins, in charge of a f**king weapon we don’t know about, under orders that ain’t clear.”
And that sums it up rather nicely… there is plenty of action, plenty of gore, plenty of betrayal, plenty of fighting, plenty violence, and indeed ’tis a graphic novel of plenty indeed – including some plenty excellent (albeit erratic) artwork to boot.
I really enjoyed this, and once I started it I know there was a big fat cheesy grin on my face through to the very last frame. This goes down like the very finest mulled wine at Christmas-time: easy, smooth, but with just a hint of spicy cinnamon to keep things rocking… Highly recommended, and the artwork grows on you like only the very best seasonal jumpers… Enjoy!
* This review originally appeared on the British Fantasy Society website here