Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Of Orcs, Ogres, and Cyclopes (A Repost)

In honor of the release of Honor Among Orcs, I'm reposting some of my "Orc Romance: In Progress" posts from those days in 2012 when I first began writing it -- with my early thoughts on what makes an orc, and those creatures which seem to have influenced our ideas of them. Here's the first!

Giovanni Lanfranco Norandino and Lucina Discovered by the Ogre
A cyclops-esque ogre!
I'm not entirely sure why I'm doing this to myself. The what-if kind of took over my brain, I guess. But the end result is that I'm meditating on the semi-fluid definition of what makes an Orc an Orc.

There's the Warcraft definition-- the green-skinned brutes kind of reminiscent of Gamorrean Guards, right down to their tusky-teeth. When I was little, I called them pig-men. But if you go back further, there's Tolkien, and the SILMARILLION tells us that Orcs were elves once, stolen by Morgoth when they wandered too far afield into shadow, and twisted into evil and darkness by torture. In mannerism and behavior, you can see clearly the relationship between Tolkien's Orc and the traditional Ogre of the human consciousness. They're vicious things that like to snack on naughty children when you get down to it.  Not too dissimilar to the idea of the Cyclops of Greek Myth, but with two working eyes, though we imagine them, generally, to be a whole lot uglier.

But isn't that the nature of dark things moving beyond our sight? That what we imagine them to be is often worse than the truth of what they are? An Ogre or a Cyclops has no real redemption. It is what it is, and it is bound by its nature and, in the case of the Cyclops, the gods. But Tolkien's Orcs are something else. They were, once, all that was good and beautiful.

Why didn't he ever use that?

Or maybe the better question is: Can I?

You can decide for yourself by grabbing a copy of HONOR AMONG ORCS!

Kindle | Paperback | Nook
After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father's abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid.

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side. 


  1. I find it interesting that you mention the Warcraft definition. In Warcraft, the orcs have a long and varied history, and the main reason they're known as green-skinned savages is because they were tricked by an incredibly powerful demon who posed as one of the ancestors' spirits they consulted for advice and wisdom. To sum it up, they were mostly shamanic nomads, but the demon lord not only tricked them, but riled them up against another race, and got them to drink another demon's blood, which turned them green in the first place. As a race, they've been through a lot.

    There's a little bit of a parallel there. The orcs of Warcraft were never beautiful, but they were honorable and in touch with the elements, and some are striving to bring back those days.

    1. I think Warcraft has a TREMENDOUS influence on how we see Orcs today, as a culture -- certainly it's influenced me. I used to play Warcraft II and III when I was in middle/high school and college, and I *always* preferred playing horde over alliance. I was never more than casual about it, but they still brought something to the table for me -- and definitely to our consciousness of orcs, generally, imho.

      And maybe that's where some of my interest in writing a more noble orc came from :) Because I already had an idea that it was possible, a la warcraft, I just had to find my own way to it.


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