The Bestiary #1: Orcs

Welcome to a brand new series imaginatively entitled ‘The Bestiary’. In said series, we’re going to be looking at fantasy races and creatures and documenting them as if we’re some sort of fantasy David Attenborough. Why are halflings so short? Do dragons ever get burnt tongues? How many ogres does it take to change a light bulb? I’ll offer you my theories and thoughts alongside a great big slice of hard scientific evidence and fact.

Ok, maybe not scientific fact. More like fantatific fact. Or is that just facts about orange-flavour fizzy drinks? Hmm…

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Orc_War_by_grenias

Ukrug gar bethk u skog!

That means ‘Good day, my fine fellow. How is the weather?’ in Orcish. Or does it? In fact, I just made that up. Here’s a ‘proper’ orc phrase from Mr. Tolkien:

Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai!

Which (roughly) means: ‘Uglúk to the dung-pit with stinking Saruman-filth, pig-guts, gah!’

Aren’t orcs just a bunch of lovely individuals?

No? OK, fair enough. But they are a race with a long and varied history, complete with their own language and intricate tribal customs. That depends on what particular type of orc you’re talking about, of course. If we’re talking Warcraft, then you’ll find orc shamans, orc cities and even orc diplomacy. If you’re talking Warhammer, then you’ll be lucky if you can get so much as a ‘WAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!’ out of your average orc as it picks its nose and eats mud soup from a human skull.

Orcs are curious creatures, then. Humanoid, but not human. Sometimes they’re depicted as an ancestor or offshoot of the human race; other times they’re sentient globs of green space phlegm and others they are corrupt versions of elves. This makes determining just what the heck they are supposed to be a little tricky. Personally, I always consider them a distant ancestor of humankind, kind of like Neanderthals or something. Just don’t ask me to explain the green skin and tusks (maybe they cross-bred with diseased mammoths at some point, who knows?).

Orc Warrior

Now, again, depending on which universe you’re talking about, orcs use a variety of different weapons and ride a variety of different creatures into battle. Tolkien probably did it best by showing us the relationship between the wargs and orcs of Middle-earth and then it was only another short leap of imagination for us to believe that the orcs then rode those same wargs as humans rode horses. In other works of fiction, orcs ride all manner of beasts, from gigantic wolves and wild boars to plain old horses and sometimes even more exotic creatures.

Just check out a game series like the Elder Scrolls (or any traditional fantasy RPG) and you’re sure to find an orc blacksmith or two. Orcs love fighting and they love weapons, so why do orc-crafted weapons always look so damn crude and ugly? If they just took a little more time and effort… well, you get the idea.

Hmm, hold on one second…

  1. Enjoys fighting
  2. Loves pointy/bashy weaponry
  3. Often unintelligible

Remind you of anyone else? Yep, you guessed it… dwarves.

And that segues nicely into our introduction for the next instalment of ‘The Bestiary’!

The mountain slopes are alive with the sound of feasting, of drinking… and of war! Secreted safely away in their subterranean strongholds, the dwarves have many foes but fear none. They may be short, but they’re ferocious fighters. And whatever you do don’t tug a dwarf’s beard! And never, under any circumstances, stroll into town and proclaim: ‘Yo! Where the women at?’

Some things are better left uncovered.

Got anything to say about orcs? How about an interesting fact? Oh, do share!

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Reviewed! – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer


Who would have thought back when The Fellowship of the Ring came out in cinemas, how popular and how far-reaching that movie series would become? Who would have thought that a movie based on a book written in the 50’s about elves, dwarves, magic rings and wizards would have struck such a chord with modern audiences? And, most of all, who would have ever expected that Peter Jackson could one day return to that world and adapt Tolkien’s earlier work, The Hobbit, into another trilogy of movies?

Certainly not me. And not you either (no fibbing)!

Let’s get down to the trailer, then. There was an early trailer released a while back for this movie, but it pales in comparison to this new one. What we’re greeted with here is shots of the band of dwarves who scoop up Bilbo for an epic treasure hunt, wise old Gandalf the Grey, some nice scenes of Rivendell and Elrond and tons of goblin/trollage.

The first thing that strikes me from watching this trailer is how different this trilogy is going to be from The Lord of the Rings. Where LOTR focused on the hopeless, desperate fight against Sauron, this movie looks like it’s centred on adventure, high jinks and mystery. It seems to have a great sense of humour, too; something LOTR also had in a poignant sort of way. Of course, you’d need the movie to have that humour, with a band of dwarves and a hobbit driving events.

Not just any hobbit, mind you. This one’s played by the fantastic Martin Freeman, well loved in the UK for his roles in The Office and Sherlock. This man has a natural talent for bringing warmth and a sense of reality to his characters. His face conveys every emotion known to man and he has a really likable “every man” kind of way about him. He’s going to do this character justice and it looks like he’s managed to still keep Ian Holm’s older Bilbo appearance from LOTR relevant and believable.

Now, onto the internet’s favourite Hobbit-related topic… Gollum returns! But wait, it’s not just the old CGI Gollum as you once knew him! This one’s… the precioussssss.

That’s right, Peter Jackson/WETA have ensured Gollum looks his absolute best for this movie, while not detracting from his LOTR look. Somehow, in this trailer, Gollum looks like more of a part of the world, rather than an obvious CGI creation. He has more detail in his face and seems to inherit even more personality from his real-world counterpart, Andy Serkis, who is in my view a fantastic actor. What’s more, we’re going to encounter Gollum just as Bilbo originally did and witness him within his own domain, rather than lost and worn down in the harsh world of LOTR.

With great things promised for this series, including the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon Smaug (who should naturally play off Martin Freeman), the Battle of Five Armies and expanded storylines following Gandalf and Legolas facing off against the Necromancer (A.K.A. Sauron Mk.I), this promises to be an unmissable trilogy of movies.

Now, if they can just develop a tie-in video game of the quality of the highly addictive Return of the King, I’ll be a very happy bunny.

Watch the full trailer on Youtube here.

Have you seen the new trailer yet? Let us know what you thought!

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The Top 10 List of Fantasy Little People

Here’s our new Monday feature, Epic List of the Week! I’m sure I’ve missed out some famous characters and some personal favourites of yours, so join in and let everyone know who else should be included in the list! You can leave a comment on this post underneath or you can click ‘Leave a Comment’ just above.

  1. Tyrion Lannister
  2. Bilbo Baggins
  3. Gotrek Gurnisson
  4. Gollum/Smeagol
  5. Muradin Bronzebeard
  6. Dobby the House Elf
  7. Gimli, Son of Gloin
  8. Frodo Baggins
  9. High Tinker Gelbin Mekkatorque
  10. Gilius Thunderhead

Don’t forget, you can still enter the Fiction Friday weekly contest! You could have your writing featured on the blog on Friday! Just visit this link.