An Orc on the Wild Side

Boy did I need this book. Such a gentle delight.

Tom Holt specialises in plausible fantasy grounded in good science.

I grew up loving Tolkien and all his creations. But there was a small element missing. Humour.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. Tolkien was writing from his experience as a soldier in World War One. At that point, the greatest slaughter the world had ever known. Therefore his “one small, but very principled, chap up against all the forces of evil” did not lend itself overly toward giggles.

But now that the world of Middle Earth is safely saved it can be explored in a plethora of other media including … fan fiction.

Sorry Tom, to denigrate your finest efforts as fan fiction, but that is very much what this book is.  And an almost cap-doffingly respectful fan fiction at that.

In ‘An Orc on the Wild Side’, Middle Earth is a realm easily accessible from Earth via a new technology. The world-weary English suburbanites looking through the portal see unspoiled idylls, magnificent scenery, friendly (if rather odd) locals, and dirt cheap property prices. It’s like Spain in the early nineties! Ex-pats are flocking in and not reading the contract small print about ‘no indemnity against former owners claim of prior possession can be assumed.’

Into this reality-upsetting state of affairs strides our anti-hero – Mordak, the recently elected Dark Lord with a radical agenda to defeat Good once and for all.

Mordak intends to cut the legs out from under the high horse by pro-actively ending the indignities that galvanise the forces of Good (which really weren’t that economically viable anyway).

His approach has earned him enemies on all sides, but maybe his amazing idea to build a super-goblin will be the panacea to all his woes. Perhaps it won’t trigger a doom-laden prophecy after all.

The gags are good, well measured and impactful. The world is wonderfully, lovingly and respectfully drawn and the characters are all … well … cracking.

And so this brings me loyal readers to the finest of all questions.

What is the funniest book you have ever read? Do tell.

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