It is not often in fantasy that you have heroes with names such as Regina, Ward, Frank, Ace, Miriam, and Tate. It is even odder when the heroes are orcs, goblins, ogres, Amazons, sirens and so forth. But that is the way of the world in “In the Company of Ogres” by A. Lee Martinez.
However the star of In a Company of Ogres is Never Dead Ned. Ned’s issue is not that he cannot die, he often does and usually in a grim manner, it is that he does not stay dead. He does not come back as a zombie, although zombies do exist in his world, but as a not too motivated human.
In a time of peace, providing troops for ‘emergencies’ and peace keeping is a very profitable business and Ned has found himself assigned to lead Ogre Company in Brute’s Legion. The reason for the promotion is his skill in coming back to life, since the unit, the last stop for misfit soldiers, has been loosing commanding officers.
Ned reluctantly takes over the command of the unit only to discover more death (not surprising), love, the most powerful force ever, conflict, leadership and a whole lot more. There are demons, evil wizards, combat and personal issues all needing to be overcome.
I have always enjoyed humorous books and this one has shot to become a leader of the pack in terms of how much I enjoyed it. The humor is constant and not forced. Not a lot of laugh out loud moments, it just keeps a grin on your face sentence after sentence.
While other books of this style often give a sly wink to other novels in the same genre, but not this one. I had thought maybe a Lords of the Ring, or any of the similar type stories would be somewhere in the book but no, it seemingly blazes its own trail and the only reference, that I caught, was of all things, Arlo Gutherie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, enough that I read it twice-the second time on a flight where a little girl in front of me was seemingly enamored or puzzled by the cover.
Just as a side note I recently watched what might be the worst Sword and Sorcery movie from the 1980’s. I was a fan of this type of movie, just for the corny fun, but Deathstalker II may have killed that enjoyment forever.
The dialog was horrible, the sets and props apparently stolen from a failed Renaissance Faire, and the action scenes some of the worst I have ever seen. The climactic battle between Deathstalker and the evil wizard/swordsman will not bring to mind Errol Flynn versus Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood, or for that matter even the original Deathstalker. The female lead, Monique Gabrielle is possible the worst female actress I have ever watched. They should have made a Krull II, I mean look at the original cast!