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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Clan daughter: Queen of the orcs, book II, by Morgan Howell

I have already posted on the first book of Morgan Howell's Queen of the Orcs trilogy. The heroine, Dar, began that book as a slave. The subtitle indicates what the end will be, but I'm not there yet.

In the second book, there are some interesting developments. The King of the local humans has an evil magician, who has the current Orc queen under his control, because of the drugs he is giving her. Dar is able to defeat him, to the point that he is apparently dead, and and to rescue the queen. Dar has some visions from spirits. Near the end of the book, the queen dies, and appoints Dar as her successor, which is not appreciated by the mothers of some Orc clans who believed that they, or their daughters, had some claim to that office.

In the first book, I indicated that Howell's Orcs are quite different from those of Tolkien. They are a matriarchal society -- the females are in charge, although they don't go out to fight. They are ethical beings, and, apparently, unable to deceive, which makes them vulnerable to some battle strategies that they cannot anticipate, or makes them vulnerable in battle because they can't carry out plans that involve deceit. However, in this book, we learn that there are some Orcs that can lie. There aren't many of them, but there are some.

Also, Dar discovers that she is in love with an Orc. Their relationship is not consummated, but they do engage in some serious physical intimacy. This Orc's mother does not bless their relationship, because she thinks it cannot result in offspring.

As a negative criticism, I was surprised to find that the cover art on the version I read (New York: Del Ray, 2007) showed Dar with no facial ornamentation. In the book, she received an Orc tattoo. I suppose that the publisher thought her unadorned face would help sell the book.

It's a readable series, and the non-Tolkienish Orcs add interest. I plan to finish reading the trilogy.

Thanks for reading.

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