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REVIEW: 'Orcs, Forged for War' by Stan Nichols

You may have already seen Stan Nichols Orcs in the fantasy section as he has written a couple of trilogies that have been collected into oversized paperbacks.  I have yet to try them out, but the great  close up on the orc face definitely catches my attention.  When I saw this prequel graphic novel I decided to give it a go since having read the other books would not be a requirement.

At first as I read this I felt like the art and story was a bit simple.  I was often thinking how it felt like I was reading something aimed at kids, other than the extremely high level of violence in the book of course.  It made an interesting contrast and I sort of settled into the art as the story went on, feeling like I was reading a Disney tale gone evil.  The story unfortunately never really made it far past feeling simplistic to me however.

The world is set up so that Orcs aren't really the evil creatures, humans are normally the villains here.  They have flooded the lands of the ancient races and overpopulated and polluted, hurting the flow of magic and causing the northern ice shelf to expand south.  Sounds like an interesting parallel to what is happening in our own world huh?  I don't normally read stories to try and find flaws, but when something smacks me in the face it's hard to ignore.  I was constantly questioning how a population in a roughly mid-evil type setting could cause the sort of planetary damage that we are causing with todays industry after centuries of damage and if the population was that large then how it could even be a battle fighting these other races as they would easily be overrun.  But I started to feel a bit anal about that, so I ignored that nagging feeling and just went on with the story.

Did he just taste that goo that killed everyone?
Time and again though both the plot and dialogue was just overly simple.  If this had truly been a kids book I think I would have more easily ignored it, but with the depiction of violence, drugs and nudity it was definitely for adults.  It was something that again created a contrast that at times was distracting to me being able to get into the story.

I think however if you are able to get past the things that bothered me a bit you might enjoy this as I said before, as a sort of gory fairy tale.  The characters were fun and the pace of the book kept moving along.  By the end I got more enjoyment out of the book than I thought I might half way through.  It reminds you that not every story has to be complex to be enjoyed.

Although I think fans of Nichol's novels might enjoy this, it is not necessary to have read any of them to get into this graphic novel.  If the idea of a twisted fairy tale appeals to you, check it out.

Story by: Stan Nichols
Adapted/Drawn by: Joe Flood
Publisher: First Second Books