BOOK REVIEW: ORC WARFARE / AUTHOR: CHRIS PRAMAS / PUBLISHER: OSPREY PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 23RD
Osprey Publishing are better known for their highly detailed and beautifully illustrated books on military history. This dip into the realms of fantasy might seem surprising to some, but given the success of Haynes Manuals on make-believe things, it’s not too much of a stretch. Osprey approach the military fitness and effectiveness of orcs the same way they would with a real world unit. The results are interestingly mixed.
The book breaks it down into four chapters; we get an explanation of the different types of orc, the different types of troops orcs use, an explanation of their tactics, and an example of military victories. The writer, Chris Pramas, is an experienced writer of fantasy roleplaying games, and he’s taken a cunning approach with this work. Though he creates a specific world and mythology for his orcs, the setting he uses to describe these creatures is an incredibly generic one.
For example, one of the ‘historical examples’ of an orc victory is of a siege masterminded by a Dark Elf tyrant. Names of key agents and strategic points are given, but these are mainly placeholders; what matters here is the explanation of how orcs would take out a heavily fortified building. Pramas draws upon multiple examples in fiction to craft a great explanation of the orcish way of war without referencing any one specific work.
The overall result is a nice, if vague, dip into all things orcish. Pramas gets the monsters totally spot on; the way they tend to be portrayed in the media is the way he describes them here. He goes into some depth, creating just enough of a setting to explain the creatures without spending too much time on the world building. This means that the book is oddly unsatisfying - by aiming to please a wide audience it lacks spice.
The artwork is also outstanding throughout; this is a short but very pretty book and is ideal for someone looking to get a handle on fantasy’s favourite villains. Those who fancy themselves specialists on a particular made-up world will find the book frustrating, but as a well written and nicely illustrated reference work into something that doesn’t exist, it does the job very well.
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