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Queen of the Orcs: King’s Property by Morgan Howell

28 Aug

Favorite Lines: “The only thing a man gives a woman is a big belly. Nothing else comes free.” (32)

Dar has a hard life; she is from a poor family in the highlands of King Kregant’s Realm. When the king’s men arrive in her village in search of new recruits for the army, she is given to them. Thus begins Dar’s new life as a slave in the King’s army.

Branded on her forehead she learns that she is to work in the Orc encampment for the rest of her life . If she is found away from the regiment she is assigned to, she will be killed. Dar rallies and decides to befriend the Orc’s and learn their culture. This places her on the outs with the humans. As she learns about the Orcs, she makes powerful enemies determined to destroy her.

Queen of the Orcs: King’s Property is book one in Morgan Howell’s Queen of the Orcs trilogy. DEL REY has made me happy by publishing a book in the series each month, instead of making us wait a year for the next installment.

This book is gritty. It is hard, yet sentimental. It takes a woman and places her in a horrible situation forcing her to live or die. The life of the women in the camp is beautifully detailed and realistic. The women act like women. They snip at each other like dogs fighting for a bone. It is a matter of survival. It is ugly. It is war.

Many things happen without Dar’s knowledge or consent. We the reader know and cringe before applauding Dar’s innate ability to sense trouble and at times avoid trouble. She is the only one able to sense an ‘otherness’ to the Orcs. She quickly realizes that her survival depends on befriending the Orcs, something that causes dissension between Dar and the other humans.

This book takes a new look at the Orc. It is like meeting the vampire of old and replacing him with the new vampires. (For example, we used to equate the vampire with a person who was possessed by a demonic spirit. Now many books have reinvented the vampire as a person with a rare blood disorder or a species from another planet stranded on earth.) The Orcs introduced by Howell are simple minded. They are a maternal society who are fierce yet fail to comprehend lies and manipulation. If you want to learn more about Howell’s orcs go here. (I want to send a shout out to Tia for this link she posted over at Fantasy Debut.)

This is a great book. Book two will be released today and I’ll be there to pick it up.