ORCS: Forged for War by Joe Flood and Stan Nicholls

7/10 An engaging graphic novel but I feel the characters and story lacked some depth.

This is a graphic novel based on Stan Nicholls’ fantasy world, a prequel to the first book in his series and therefore not an adaptation of any of the novels. It is based in the world of Maras-Dantias and the background is that Orcs, Dwarves and the usual menagerie of fantasy creatures are the natives to this world and humans are the usurpers. Accordingly, the humans hold the position of bad guys and Nicholls does a good job of demonising them supported by the illustrations of their kind by Joe Flood. The novel follows the movements of an elite band of Orcs (and one dwarf) called the Wolverines who are under the leadership of Stryke.

First of all the illustrations are great and once you adapt to the world created by Nicholls the storyline develops into a good (albeit fairly straightforward) story. The Wolverines are tasked with having to protect a precious cargo and its obnoxious Goblin masters by their formidable and cruel mistress, Jennesta. I was drawn in by the graphic novel thanks in main to the quality illustrative interpretation of Nicholls’ creatures by Joe Flood. The illustrations and dialogue also ensure there is enough gore and swearing to make it a grown-up novel.

However, the same criticisms that could be levelled at Nicholls’ non-graphic novels apply here. The Orcs appear too human in nature without much in their dialogue and characteristics to set them apart from the other elder races or indeed the humans. As the protagonists of the novel I also did not feel myself routing for the Orcs at all, in my opinion the mixture of fantasy monster with human style relationships and mannerisms does not work. It is hard to think of them as anything but ugly humans rather than having their own attributes.

Overall, an engaging graphic novel but I feel the characters and story lacked some depth. A good short read that can be easily finished in one sitting.

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