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Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review - Honor Among Orcs

This time I'm reviewing the book Honor Among Orcs by Amalia Dillin. This wasn't one I won from LibraryThing, although this is an early review of sorts. Like those LT books, I'm giving this an honest review in exchange for a free copy of the book.



Here's the description of this book from Amazon:
After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father's abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid. 

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side.

Fans of Kristin Cashore's FIRE and Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS will appreciate the collision of romance, adventure, and epic fantasy -- all with a new adult edge -- in Honor Among Orcs.


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When I saw the author post about this book online, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy. I love orcs in a way that everyone I know thinks is odd. Hey, some girls like werewolves, elves, or vampires. For me it's the green skin and tusks. A story where an orc is a main character and it's a romance? Yes, please!

I can happily say that I wasn't disappointed. The two main characters, Arianna and Bolthorn, have depth to them that makes them people rather than flat characters. For me what makes or breaks a book is characterization and the protagonists had plenty of that. I honestly wasn't sure if I would like Arianna, fearing that she'd be some sort of pathetic princess. (I know, I know, I shouldn't have, but with a romance, you never know.) I was pleasantly surprised that even in her times of weakness, which I certainly couldn't fault her for, she still had strength and determination. Bolthorn... well, let's just say that he's now another orc I have a massive crush on. I found him to be more interesting than Arianna; not that she was flat, he just had the more interesting backstory and personality, in my opinion. I really got into the orc culture and how they live and interact with each other and the world.

Speaking of that, the world-building had detail that I appreciated. The history of the elves and the orcs was particularly interesting, and I enjoyed reading about the orcs' culture, so I'm hoping we get more of that in later books. That's the other thing: when I got to the end of the book and realized that it was the first in a trilogy I think I gave a little squeal of delight. Needless to say I will be reading the next one!

This is another book where it's hard for me to put into words exactly what I liked about it because I want to say "everything". While that's accurate, it's also incredibly vague. Basically the characterization, the world-building, the star-crossed-type aspect of the romance, the main characters triumphing against odds... it's all there. The only shortcoming I can think of is that I thought it felt a little disjointed to start, but once the plot started rolling I had a hard time putting this book down.

I've been waffling on the stars to give this one. I have trouble giving books 5 stars out of 5 unless the book is something super awesome perfect and amazing, which never seems to quite be the case in most things I read, but I also don't want to give this 4 1/2 because I did really enjoy it. It wasn't quite at the level of blowing me away, but I think I enjoyed it way too much to give it only that half star. Since 4 3/4 probably isn't an option, I think I will give this 5. Keep in mind that this is a fantasy romance with a non-human character, so it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're into fantasy and unusual love stories, then this might just be for you. (It does have sexual content in it, so keep that in mind, too. I didn't think it was particularly over the top, but it is there.)

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