Monday, April 24, 2017

The Weight of Blood: The Half-Orcs Book I

David Dalglish brings two new creations to fantasy with the Weight of Blood, Book One of the Half-Orcs.

Readers are introduced to street raised Harruq and Qurrah Tun. One of them is a warrior, healthy, strong, and blessed with a great endurance. The other is hunched, whispy, and weak with a croaking voice. Oh, and their twins.

Remind you of anyone?

But these twins story is a bit darker. They are individuals who live in poverty and misery set up their initial vile activities including murdering of children. They go to serve a dark priest-wizard who fought at the dawn of a great war between two deities who are also brothers, Velixar. Velixar is an interesting character in that he's old, he's scared, and while his red eyes remain constant, his face ever changes.

David shortcuts the quest for power in some ways. The twins are given items, iconic items, by their master. Harruq, the warrior, is given two red sabers, Salvation and Condemnation. His brother, Qarruh, a whip that can ignite into flame. 

The story is fast paced and moves quickly. The characters initially are roughly hewn and seem to come off as being deliberately stupid at times, especially Harruq's love interest, the elven wizard Aurelia. 

Love interest? Oh no man, is that going to test the ties of the brothers?


Things move quickly but by the end of the book, alliances are tested, trust is broken, and the setup for the next book is in play.

Things that the author nailed?

He got a good cover artist. Peter-Ortiz has his own section of Deviant Art and I suggest you take a look at his work. By giving the characters iconic weapons, he allows them to be easily identifiable. 

Giving the mage a flaming whip instead of a staff? Different enough to be notable.

Bad things? Well, look at his website and how he describes it "The first four books have been in the top 100 Kindle list for Epic Fantasy. No Mary-Sue characters. No long-winded descriptions or delusions of being the next Tolkien. Just a powerful, character driven story following two half-orc brothers, their descent into darkness, and their long, bloody road to redemption." 

The twins are Mary-Sue characters. In this world, the elves who sided with a faction in the original war became orcs. Some of the original weapons can only be used by someone who has both orc and elf blood.

These half-orcs? Oh yeah, their father is an elf. It's not enough to be a half-orc you see, you have to be a unique half-orc and half-elf. It's one of the reasons why Quarrah has such potential as a spellcaster despite being raised in poverty. This makes them... yup, Mary-Sue.

Velixar, their mentor? The guy from the original war that almost broke the planet? Mary-Sue.

The friend of Aurelia, an ancient elf protector who rides around on a magical pegasus and can actually fight Velixar? Mary-Sue.

Now there are no long-winded descriptions and I'll agree that their no delusions of being the next Tolkien. The setting is new, humanity is a race that's only been around for something like 500 years. The story is very character driven.

And the good news? It does get better as it goes along.

The Weight of Blood isn't a great start but it is a start and it gets better.