Saturday, October 29, 2011
Review - The Weight of Blood (The Half-Orcs)
My rating: 4/5
I have mixed feelings about this book. It contains some of the most powerful storytelling I've seen in a long time. The story has fantastic impact, and I can't wait to learn what happens next in the series. It's a deeply affecting story that will get right under your skin.
Yet it's hampered by writing that's a bit clumsy and by a need for decent proofreading. The story overall, the big picture, is mind-blowingly good. Line by line, sentence by sentence, it is reasonably okay, and that's all. Now, if I had to choose between a lame story told with consummate skill and a brilliant story told in an unpolished way, there is no question which I'd choose. And despite my misgivings, this is certainly a book I recommend.
Harruq and Qurrah Tun are half-orcs living in a human city. They're the ultimate outsiders, abused and distrusted by everyone around them. They only have each other, and the bond between them is tremendously strong. Then Qurrah meets a powerful magician, a necromancer, who can elevate him beyond his wildest dreams using some very dark magic. Harruq is where he's always been, at his brother's side, disturbed by the unpleasant things he must do to support his brother's magic, but unwavering in his support.
The tension mounts when Harruq meets an elven woman who is as decent and kind as the necromancer is dark and twisted. He would choose his brother over his enchanting new friend without hesitation, if not for the growing rumbles of his conscience...
The Weight of Blood is a complex tale full of action, moral ambiguity, and gut-wrenchingly tough choices. Harruq is a surprisingly charming, likeable protagonist, despite the ugly things he does to support his brother. It's a very dark story of complicated people trying to find the right path in the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
The orcs, elves, and humans are to a large extent lifted straight from Tolkien. The book is fairly light on world-building, with most of the author's attention going to the exploration of characters and relationships, and to plenty of sword-swinging action. The book is bursting with adventure.
Did I mention that David Dalglish is a very bad man? He gives the book away for free, knowing that you will become hooked (you will, trust me) and have to buy the rest of the series. You can save a buck or two, though, by buying the first three books in an omnibus.
The Half-Orcs is a five-novel series. Watch this blog for reviews of the remaining titles.
Check it out on Smashwords.