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"Stryke couldn't see the ground for corpses."
A series of fantasy novels by Stan Nichols now entering its second trilogy. The first trilogy, called Orcs: First Blood, consisted of Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of the Tempest.
Stryke is the Captain of the Wolverines, an orc warband that was sold into the service of Queen Jennesta, a depraved half-human half-nyadd sorceress who fights in a war between the Manis (those who follow the Manifold Path with many gods) and the Unis (those who believe in only one god) in Maras Dantia, the land whose magic is slowly being "eaten" by the humans.
During one mission, where Jennesta commanded them to retrieve an ancient artifact, the warband falls into misfortune: a group of kobolds steals the artifact. The Wolverines' search for it (and, eventually, others) becomes a bloody trip through Maras Dantia, where they encounter religious fanatics, trolls, and three very determined bounty hunters.
A second trilogy, Orcs: Bad Blood, is being published. The first two books, Weapons of Magical Destruction and Army of Shadows, are out, with the third and final book on its way.
Not to be confused with the 2011 film Orcs!.
- Zero-Percent Approval Rating: Jennesta among her own army (the orcs even start deserting en masse).
- Action Girl: Corporal Coilla. Justified in that she's, well, an orc.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted as every race has its villains and heroes.
- Automaton Horses: Sometimes horses are killed or begin to tire, but most of the time the orcs keep their horses running for long periods without rest or food.
- Big Bad: Jennesta.
- The Big Guy: Haskeer. Out of the three bounty hunters, Blaan also qualifies.
- The Chosen One: There are hints that Stryke is chosen to lead the orcs in rebellian against Jennesta, but he refuses to be a leader of anything other than his warband.
- Combat Tentacles: the Sluagh have them.
- Cool Old Guy: Alfray.
- Creepy Child: Mercy Hobrow, Kimball Hobrow's daughter, who likes to watch sinners beaten.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: More like, Actual Jesus, as the Unis are almost indistinguishable from Medieval European religious fanatics. In fact, they even reference Satan at one point. The Unis also seem to portray modern right-wing evangelicals (unadorned churches, married clergy etc.).
- Dark Is Not Evil: A must when orcs are your protagonists.
- Depraved Bisexual: Jennesta.
- Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): Averted brutally with Jennesta and her assorted victims.
- Dumb Muscle: Blaan.
- The Empire: Queen Jennesta's kingdom.
- Establishing Character Moment: The infamous rape scene. It shows just how sadistic and evil Jennesta is right from the get-go.
- Evil Minions: Especially Mooks.
- Evil Overlord: Jennesta, of course.
- Fantastic Racism: Both against the orcs and against the humans.
- The dwarves, too.
- Five-Man Band: The officers in the Wolverines:
- General Failure: Jennesta.
- God Save Us From the Queen: You really don't want to be under Jennesta or Adpar's rule.
- Golem: The Watchers are mechanical creatures powered by magic.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Jennesta and her sisters are half-human, half-nyadd.
- Holier Than Thou: Kimball Hobrow.
- Humans Are Bastards: Averted on several occasions by showing that the Orcs simply can't understand a lot of human customs and nature, just as the humans can't understand the Orcs' obsession with fighting one another. This is further enforced by the fact that while there is a hyper-racist faction of humans there is also a faction who wishes to undo a lot of the damage they have done and make peace with the other species.
- Humans Are Ugly: not quite name-checked, but close.
- The Horde: The orcs used to belong to the "United Orc Horde" until tough times forced them to be sold into Jennesta's service.
- Interspecies Romance: Coilla and Pepperdyne in Bad Blood.
- Jerkass: Haskeer, on occasion, although sometimes he comes across as more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- McGuffin: The Instrumentalities or stars.
- Mutants: It turns out that Stryke might be a "sport" or genetic throwback that can feel magic.
- Neck Snap: The Watchers do this at one point.
- Our Demons Are Different: the orcs have the Sluagh, which they believe inhabit an Orc hell.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: the only non-orc Wolverine is Jup, a dwarf. The dwarves are said to fight for anybody who pays the best, but Jup is the more honorable kind.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: And how! The Nyadds are at war with the Merz, who are generally peaceable -- unless you fuck with them.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Pixies and Putti.
- Our Orcs Are Different: They combine the traditional Tolkien orcs with Blizzard orcs.
- Out with a Bang: Jennesta kills people after she rapes them (and then consumes their hearts to replenish her magic).
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: All the orcs are pretty much like this, with some exceptions. Haskeer fits it like a glove though.
- Psychic Powers: all of the elder races except for orcs have them to a degree. Dwarves have a talent called "farsight," although it is diminished by the dying magic.
- Psycho for Hire: the bounty hunters.
- Putting on the Reich: Kimball Hobrow and his followers at Trinity tend to talk a lot about "racial purity" and were intent on poisoning the water supply to kill off any non-human race.
- The Reveal: Several towards the end of the book.
- Right-Hand-Cat: Jennesta has a pet cat called Sapphire.
- Science Fantasy: Orcs in a magical world -- that is connected to an infinite multiverse via portals.
- The Smurfette Principle: Coilla is the only female orc in the Wolverines.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Coilla's child with Pepperdyne
- Terrible Trio: The bounty hunters.
- All Trolls Are Different: short, shaggy, and inhabiting a place called Scratch.
- You Have Failed Me: Jennesta does this repeatedly. Basically, if you fail this woman, even slightly, then you're officially screwed.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Jennesta among the Manis (even though she's only out for herself).
- Volleying Insults: Much of Haskeer and Jup's arguments consist of this.