May 20th, 2008

there!, Hello

Dar walked alone down a mountain path, carrying a load of firewood.

The rather uninspiring and uninteresting first line comes from a surprise entry for next book read...

A funny thing happened on my way through Coffin County. I found I had to stop, put that book down for a while, and read something a little lighter. Lordy, lordy is Gary A. Braunbeck's newest book an emotional sucker punch. Yes, I'll pick it back up (already have, actually), but yesterday I found myself looking for a bit of escapism.

Odd the place I found it...

37) King's Property by Morgan Howell. (2007, Del Rey, 315 pages)
This is the first volume of the Queen of the Orcs trilogy, which appears to take the approach of high fantasy, low life as found in Robert Howard and Glen Cook.
When hill girl Dar (why yes, that is a stupid name) is sold by her loveless family into servitude to the King's Army, she becomes the titular property. Dar soon finds herself a permanent addition to an auxiliary unit assigned to one of the human King's Orc-based outfits. Comedy ensues. Okay, not really, though there are a few funny moments.
The piece follows the forging of Dar as a strong character, hardened by human chauvinism and sadism. Oddly enough, the orcs are presented as the more sympathetic group (and matriarchal to boot), and it is ultimately to them that Dar develops a bond. While the novel hits the stereotypical setup of Armies gearing up for war (one of my least favorite tropes of the fantasy genre), the war aspect is actually given little page time (nice!). Really, what's on display is the building of a character who straddles racial boundaries and who (I suspect) will become the titular Queen...
The style is certainly readable and the tone is decidedly dark. King's Property is an engrossing little read... Though it plums some really nasty characters and has plenty of downbeat moments, it's strangely uplifting. And learning the orcish language along with Dar is fun, too (although, for cheaters, there's a glossary in the back).

Currently reading: Coffin County by Gary A. Braunbeck.