An Orc Like Balrek
My review -
I absolutely loved An Orc Not Like Others, author Darren Humphries’ first Orc book, and I’m delighted to see this sequel. Balrek was created as a fighting monster – cannon fodder, you might say – but he has more about him than most humans or elves. He is married to a human woman, a spirited creature named Elynore, and together they are City-king and City-queen in a successful and prosperous kingdom. Many of their subjects are also orcs. Balrek is different from the others in that he is super-intelligent and can out-think most of his fellow city rulers – and the elves. In a botched attempt by elves to assassinate him, his beloved Elynore is struck by a dagger. It’s a superficial wound, but the blade delivered a poison. A quartet of characters embark on a classic quest for the antidote – assuming one even exists.
This book is full of humour, dark at times, and lots of great characters. Balrek himself is still fully orc and when it’s necessary to kill, he does so brutally and quickly. Although he is a superior being in many ways, he is still true to his own nature. His wife, Elynore, is brave, feisty and besottedly in love with him, as he is with her. Some of the minor characters are really well drawn too, and I loved the banter, antipathy and later mutual appreciation displayed by gambler and womaniser Dahl and the healer Adriana. Some of the other city rulers face their prejudices about the orc king and there’s plenty of plotting and fighting here. It’s a thought-provoking read. Shrek it ain’t!