This is a HYSTERICAL story of the usual fantasy battles - from the orc's point of view! Far from just being the dumb brutes we see in every fantasy novel, these poor fellows just want to fight and survive and eat... and working for the bad guys is making that so much harder!
Mary Gentles work is usually rather surreal, complex, dealing with cryptic symbolism and occult knowledge and gritty violence, often done by female warriors.
Well, except for the warriors and violence, this is quite a departure.
Its a parody/satire orcs in a Tolkien-esque land raid a dragons hoard of 21st-century weapons and are cursed(?) into acting like Marines.
However, its not just a spoof of Tolkien (though that might be primary) but also skewers military/action fiction, D&D, stuff like Heinleins Starship Troopers, and all those books where someone from our world gets zapped into another and ends up a big hero. And more.
It is pretty funny at times, but I have to admit that as far as humorous fantasy goes, its no Pratchett or Adams. The scope is a little too broad, the plot doesnt really flow like it could, and at over 450 pages, it goes on a little too long.
Not bad, but I have to say I prefer Gentles more serious works.
from the back of the book:
What is an orc? An orc is a fire plug of a fighting machine made of muscle, hide, talon and tusk, with a villainous disposition and a mean sense of humor. And, of course, an orc is a poor dumb grunt - the much abused foot soldier of the Evil Horde of Darkness.
The usual last battle of Good against Evil is about to begin. Orc Captain Ashnak and his war-band know exactly what they can expect. The forces of Light are outnumbered, full of headstrong heroes devoid of tactics - but the Light's still going to win. Orcs - the sword fodder in the front line - will die by the thousands. Life's a bitch.
Grunts is a triumphant tactical advance into comic fantasty territory by Mary Gentle, capturing the grim realism and grim comedy of sword and sorcery from the bad guy's point of view.
Cross HAMMER'S SLAMMERS with THE LORD OF THE RINGS and you get Mary Gentle's GRUNTS. What more could you want? Fantasy with attitude!
"Occupies roughly the same territory as Harry harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero...moves at a good clip and provides a hefty measure of gags" Stan Nichols, The Dark Side
Satire of Lord of the Rings characters. This is from Orc's point of view and it is hilarious!