In the afterward to this story, the author mentions that it was written for an anthology about orcs Scott Oden was putting together which unfortunately didn’t work out. That’s a shame, because if the other stories were as good as this one, we’ve missed out on some fine reading.
The point of the anthology was to present orcs as more three dimensional than what we see in Tolkien. Gramlich succeeds. This is a moving and intelligent tale. Because it’s a short story, I’m not going to discuss the plot much, but I will tell you why I liked it.
Khales is the sole survivor of a battle between orcs and humans. Wounded and taken captive, he’s imprisoned in a cage. It’s been said that there are only a small number of plots but an infinite number of ways to execute them. Parts of what happens after Khales is taken captive are not hard to guess. It’s how Gramlich handles the events that propel the story. That, and the ecological role the orcs play. This was something I’ve not seen other writers deal with, and as I read the story, I wondered why someone hadn’t thought of this before. It was what made the story for me and lifted it above being just another fantasy story.
The character development was believable, and much of it arose naturally from the situation. Nothing felt forced, either in the plot or the characters. The action was well balanced with the character development. The story is told in present tense, which added to the sense of urgency in the battle scenes.
The production values are professional. There were no typos. The cover art fit the piece well. Overall, a quality product that was professionally done.
I’ve decided to try something new. With the price of gas continuing to rise, I’m not going to be going home or out for lunch. Instead I’m going to brown-bag it, and read some short fiction while I eat. I’ll blog about what I read either during lunch or when I need a break for a couple of minutes. This way the blog won’t be so dormant while I’m reading long novels. My goal is to have at least one post a week result from this practice. “Harvest of War” was the first of these posts. The ones that follow will have a high standard to meet.