Fantasy Daily

– Half-Orcs Series Review ( Books 1 – 5 ) –

  • Noah
  • Series Review
  • September 8th, 2017
  • Comments Off on – Half-Orcs Series Review ( Books 1 – 5 ) –

Since David Dalglish’s Half-Orc series was planned to end at book 5 I thought I would review it in its entirety, books 6 and 7 are the beginning of a new story and so this review will solely focus on the events of books 1 to 5 and will definitely contain spoilers as I want to review it as comprehensively as possible.If you wish to find my non-spoilery reviews of the series you can find them starting here.

Last warning, this review will contain SPOILERS. 

Story

So, the story there were parts of the story which I loved, there were parts that I hated but overall I did find it enjoyable if not up to the standard of some other fantasy authors, the main problems which I felt the story had were slowly ironed out throughout the series, in my opinion this was due to the growth of the author in that time. First off, what I enjoyed about the story, I loved the way that Dalglish played with expectations, it was nice to see non-human heroes to start that really did help to set this series apart and give it a selling point, there will however be more on the characters later, so enough of that. I found that the author’s willingness to kill off characters really did serve the story well, some of the deaths that hit me really hard were Aullienna and Delysia I felt that these deaths as well as being shocking, really did help to develop both characters and the story. Dalglish really did tie his story together well, it was nice to see how some characters were defined by their experiences, in particular Harruq and Qurrah’s grief comes to mind when I mention this. I felt that the story as a whole was very strong although there were elements that I did dislike, I thought that there was always something going on within the book, never a dull moment something I simultaneously loved and hated, I loved it due to how fast paced it made the book feel, the reason why I hated it will be explained below. I found the story that was revealed throughout the series to be very enjoyable, it was much more complex than the first book led me to believe and although the ending was somewhat clichéd, it was nice to see all of the plotlines come together so nicely to finish the series, I thought the ending was exactly as it needed to be, it wasn’t too informative, but left me with just enough to desire more.

On the other hand, there were parts of the story that I really didn’t like and even some continuity errors that while some might miss really did impact the story for me and showed some carelessness with both the writing and editing of this book. A prevalent continuity error that comes to mind is High Priest Bernard who is shown to have lost a hand during the end of book 4 and Haern states “It didn’t look like he’d be receiving too much healing magic anymore.” And then during book 5 Bernard is shown to be entirely capable his injury is completely gone, and while it could be said that he was healed, I feel that is something we really ought to know, and that brings me to my next point. In some cases I felt that the story was rushed, this entire series could have been written by a different author and he would have wrote twice as much and while in most cases I didn’t think it was too impactful, in some areas I really did want more, whether it was character development, a fight scene or even just some facet of the world I often felt large points were just brushed over so we could get back to the action. The beginning of the series is a great example of this for me, there seemed to be very little down time, it was adventure after adventure, battle after battle, at some points I just wanted a normal conversation between characters to help the flow of the book. One big example of this for me, is book 2 when we find the half-orcs join the Eschaton mercenaries, this felt so forced and all of the problems that I imagined would occur were brushed over so we could move onto our next fight scene. Towards the beginning of the series I also felt that the writing was very simple, it was often very easy to predict the outcome of each new development, book one in particular is very guilty of that, I felt that Harruq’s redemption story was plotted out within the first few chapters and nothing was really able to surprise me. It was nice to see that this improved throughout the series, storylines often got more complex, this was really helped by Dalglish splitting up the two brothers, it allowed for concurrent storylines that did well to mirror each other and compound the differences between them. My final problem when it came to the story was in the use of the undead, while they are a somewhat generic enemy, that was not my problem, my problem came in Dalglish’s reliance on them for the fights within the series, they just aren’t fun to read, they become repetitive. As faceless enemy number 564 died I found that with no real emotional involvement and my belief that an author wouldn’t use such a mundane enemy to kill off a main character scenes such as the fall of Veldaren really had no weight to them.

Overall, I found that the story of the series was well done while it had its faults in the beginning, they were ironed out throughout the series and Dalglish managed to bring it all together for a great finale.

Characters

As I did with the story, I will talk about what I liked and disliked about the characters that Dalglish has created in this book, and so to begin what I liked. There is no doubt in my mind when I say that the two half-orcs are some of my favourite fantasy characters I really did enjoy reading about them, the way in which Dalglish was able to portray these two characters emotions was masterful, I really did begin to share Harruq’s grief following Aullienna’s death I really thought that the descriptions of his character were superb. As for Qurrah, I felt his writing was exceptional too, seeing the internal struggle play out really was immersive and even when he was being shown as the bad guy, doing terrible things, I still found myself feeling sorry for him, if that isn’t good writing I don’t know what is. As for characters who weren’t the half-orcs, there were those I loved and those I hated, I really enjoyed the Eschaton, however I am somewhat biased due to the fact that I read Shadowdance first and already loved all of the characters, saying that it really was heart-breaking to follow Tarlak as he had to deal with so much grief. I have to say this was superb writing on Dalglish’s part, I found that I was constantly empathising with the characters he had created which in part obviously comes down to the story, but the characters felt so genuine that it was hard for them not to evoke emotion as Dalglish dropped them into another heart wrenching situation.

If we ignore the first couple of books, I would say that there is very little I disliked about the characters in this series, unfortunately I can’t do that, during the first books of the series I felt that there was a real issue with character development and characters of the story in general. Book 1 is a prime example of my issues, my issue was that there were 5 characters who were in any way memorable, and one of these was Diredon, unless you had read Shadowdance, there was very little you knew about him, this makes 4 characters who you actually felt you knew. My point about Diredon brings me to something else that I really had a problem with, that was how Dalglish incorporated characters from his other works, I loved the idea of it and loved seeing characters like Haern meet the half-orcs but these characters that he introduced had no explanations, there were lines like “he’s an assassin through and through” okay, how about something that makes him stand out from all the other generic fantasy assassins, I don’t need a 6 book series, but had I not read Shadowdance, there was little to make me feel invested in the new characters Dalglish brought into the story. My problems with characters in this series always stemmed from side characters, they often felt rushed and it often felt Dalglish wanted just to get back into his story, a prime example of this can be seen in King Vaelor in book 3 who is a complete enigma to the reader, and not in a good way.

Overall I feel that the main characters themselves were very strong in this series, my problems came down to development of some pre-established characters from Dalglish’s other works and the side characters he introduced however as with the story I found that things improved as the series continued.

World building

As you have probably worked out by now, like and dislike, to shake things up, let’s start with what I didn’t like, some of my main problems when it came to this series were in how generic parts of it felt. I feel that this is incredibly prevalent during the beginning of the series, the world itself in the first book is limited to a very generic fantasy village that I felt we learnt much too little about and the people who we see that inhabit this world feel very generic also. One of my other main problems with the series came with the religions, while I did enjoy them I feel that there could have been more complexities in the world itself, it was very obvious that the two religions were mirrors of each other from the beginning, it might have been nice to see something more there. My other real complaint with the world building came with Dalglish’s use of undead, which I am linking to world building, it was very monotonous as I mentioned in the section about story, and I really do think that he could have been more imaginative with the religions and their “soldiers”.

On to what I liked, I thought that the world of Dezrel was great, it had its faults but I really did find it to be immersive, I loved the races that he used, there was an element of uniqueness to hyena-men and the other races of the Vile Wedge. Although they weren’t expanded on much in this series, the following books introduce us to them much more and I do find them to be interesting and a good edition to the world. I really liked the way in which Dalglish tied the world to a much larger universe in books 4 and 5 it really did help to give a better impression of the world as we learnt more about its history with the other gods. All in all, I thought that the world Dalglish created was perfect for this story, at times I felt that it did lack some depth, but there was so much going on in this series that it was very easy to overlook due to the real strengths of the series, like the superb action sequences.

Final thoughts

So here it is, the end of the review, some final thought I have on the entire series, I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable, as you have probably inferred, and I definitely preferred the final 2 – 3 books much more than the beginning of the series. Overall I would say that the series is a strong epic fantasy series, although it does take some reading before it starts to feel very epic, Dalglish definitely focusses on his strengths with his action writing, sometimes to the detriment of the other areas of his books, but since they are so well written that can be forgiven easily. It was a very enjoyable series and I am very happy that he has decided to continue it for the foreseeable future, I would definitely recommend the series, often the first few books can be found for free on amazon and if not they are not a very large investment.

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