Review: An Orc on the Wild Side by Tom Holt

Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis

An Orc on the Wild Side is the latest comic masterpiece from one of the funniest writers in fantasy. 

Winter is coming, so why not get away from it all?

Being the Dark Lord and Prince of Evil is not as much fun as it sounds, particularly if you are a basically decent person. King Mordak is just such a person. Technically he’s more goblin than person, but the point is that he is really keen to be a lot less despicable than his predecessors.

Not that the other goblins appreciate Mordak’s attempts to redefine the role. Why should they when his new healthcare program seems designed to actually extend life expectancy, and his efforts to end a perfectly reasonable war with the dwarves appear to have become an obsession?

With confidence in his leadership crumbling, what Mordak desperately needs is a distraction. Perhaps some of these humans moving to the Realm in search of great homes at an affordable price will be able to help?

Review

Thanks to the publisher and author for a finished copy of An Orc on the Wild Side in exchange for an honest review. Receiving a copy of the novel did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Holt’s An Orc on the Wild Side is Douglas Adams taking on Tolkien’s Middle-earth with today’s modern conveniences, inconveniences, and overall ridiculousness. Highly enjoyable and oft times sidesplitting, Holt’s newest release is exactly what a reader of the genre needs to break up the seriousness of modern day high and low fantasy, and everything in between.

If neither the title nor the synopsis got the point across, I’ll go ahead and lay it here plain as day: An Orc on the Wild Side is not epic fantasy. It isn’t grimdark fantasy. It isn’t even low fantasy. There are no huge battles or wars, magic systems to learn, or redeemable heroes to root for. To be honest, there is barely a smattering of blood or gore on the ground, no swords being swung at shields in sight, and is as far away from a coming of age tale as you can get (which is probably a relief for most of us that read fantasy religiously).

This book is simply satire.

Fantasy tropes. Race relations between orcs, goblins, elves, dwarves, wraiths, humans, and the like. Modern day technology brought over to Holt’s Middle-earthish world via multi-verse jumping, ring-shaped objects like donuts and Cheerios. Brits buying up investment properties like towers and cavernous mines that have been vacated by their previous owners of wizard and dwarfish descent. As you can tell, this has all the makings to be a hilarious romp through and on top of the fantasy genre as a whole and Holt does a fantastic job of keeping the laughs going throughout the entire novel.

The first half of the book is a series of separate threads that eventually weave together and culminate into a cohesive storyline, giving the reader time to chuckle at each character’s current predicament and the overall hilarity that the author has infused into the world. This was a very enjoyable read throughout and I can’t remember a point in time where I wasn’t fully invested.

Fans of Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore will find tons to love here, but I believe anyone who likes a side of humor with their fantasy needs to give this one a shot.

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