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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Though the young Warchief Thrall ended the demon curse that had plagued his people for generations, the orcs still wrestle with the sins of their bloody past. As the rampaging Horde, they waged a number of devastating wars against their perennial enemy — the Alliance. Yet the rage and bloodlust that drove the orcs to destroy everything in their path nearly consumed them as well. Long ago, on th…

Overall Book Review:

In The Rise of the Horde, Christie Golden introduces the reader to the orcs, a shamanistic warrior race who will need no introduction for players of the World of Warcraft video game. Golden delivers a rich, detailed narrative, and her gift at storytelling allows the reader to experience characters that range from the heights of heroism to the depth of villainy and some who travel from one to the other. This book is filled with action and battles, which is to be expected since the title starts with “war”, but it also has heartfelt, touching scenes and witty dialogue.

The author’s use of a narrator who is telling the story as a historian is innovative and allows for foreshadowing of other events in later books. The narration between chapters also serves to give the reader an ability to see the events through the lens of the wisdom of hindsight. Golden skillfully uses these narrations, as well as the story itself, to take the book from simply being the superb fantasy story that it is to being a commentary on social topics that is relevant to the real-world present day. Through the unlikely character of the orcs, this novel encourages the reader to think about what it means to be human.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 mild obscenities. Note: A character’s last name, Hellscream, is mentioned a few times and the word “Hellfire” is used in the proper name of a place. These are not counted in the tally.

Violence/Gore:  One character cuffs another; a few rallying speeches include mention to drinking enemies’ blood, slitting their throats, and similar imagery (3); a death threat; character threatens to beat a youth as discipline; character threatens another (humorous); few reports of characters killed in a hunting party or battle with few or no details (5); mention of a past massacre; vision of a slaughter with brief inclusion of blood; blood, humanoid and other, is used in rituals (3); past war is mentioned (2); report of women and children killed; recount of a death with no details (2); fight between two children resulting in mild injury; gladiator-style fights are mentioned; character is injured by an animal with some blood described; an extended scene of a fight between characters and an animal includes blood and mild gore (2 pages); a few scenes of fantasy violence with little or no blood (3); characters are tortured using magic; an animal is killed, with blood an exposed bone mentioned; characters are subjected to torturous magical augmentation; property is destroyed for fun; siege engines are used on fortifications; characters are killed in battle scene (2 scenes of 2 pages each, not detailed); captives are tortured; many characters, including innocents are killed in a battle with little physical detail; scene in which an innocent is killed as a sacrifice, there is a fist fight, and animals are hunted (2 pages); battle scene, including blood and brains exposed (3 pages); extended battle scene including blood, mutilation, and deaths, both military and civilian (6 pages); brief but descriptive mention of a character’s head being smashed; a character’s wrist is slit non-fatally to obtain blood.

Sex/Nudity:  Character admires another’s (clothed) physical perfection; speculation about a character choosing a mate; characters hold hands; characters caress areas not normally covered by a bathing suit (2); characters hug each other; implied sexual activity (2); mating is mentioned as a strategy to ensure population growth. 

Mature Subject Matter:

War, death of a family member, suicide (considered), character goes into danger to choose their manner of death, intentional sacrifice of troops as a military strategy, famine.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults smoke pipes and drink alcohol; a character uses unspecified herbs to facilitate visions.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.