After the war is lost, all that remains is to survive. And when you know what you’ve done, you can’t hope for anything more.
Bereft in a hostile world, an orc general struggles to come to terms with his role in the destruction of his people. Running and hiding from the humans and elves that hunt him down, he searches for other orc survivors.
When two human wizards finally pin him down in an abandoned orcish mountain fortress, he must use his wits and cunning to prevail, redeeming himself and the magic of his people.
Máire Brophy lives in Dublin, Ireland. By day, she works with researchers to help develop and express their ideas, and by night she mostly sleeps. In between she’s often found playing Dungeons and Dragons, eating cake and watching movies. She is currently considering learning to play golf. Máire cohosts Irish Writers Podcast – a podcast about writing – and tweets @mairebro. You can find out more information on her website mairebrophy.com. And don’t worry no-one else pronounces her name correctly either.
This is a very short book so I'm a bit annoyed that some of the descriptions out there manage to spoil stuff that happens later. It threw me off when reading, because what I thought would be the start was more like the end. Anyway. All one needs to know is that this is the story of an orc after their side, which we would normally see as the bad guys, have lost the war. It's quite interesting and different from the usual fantasy stories, in that I don't think I had read any with an orc as the narrator before. I quite enjoyed it. I picked up the book after hearing the author speak at a panel about what makes a good villain when WorldCon was in Dublin, and I loved how enthusiastic she was about good bad characters. The book delivered, and I wouldn't mind seeing more.
Not often you get anything told in the first-person perspective by an Orc, so this had to be a bit special, and it is. A character-driven tale of survival through the eyes of an embittered fallen and broken creature. The character is brilliantly portrayed, showing all the strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics you would usually associate with human beings. All the settings are described with a vivid vibrancy that are so picturesque you can imagine yourself being there. Even the inner caves are described with great clarity. You could probably, if you wish, draw yourself a map. Although this has some bloody fight situations, it is not a gorefest, neither is it full of colourful language. After the World is an intelligent and inventive story. It makes a pleasant change to read a narrative from the "other sides" point of view. And you can imagine an Orc from any fantasy book you care to mention being in this predicament. I really rate this book highly, one of the best fantasy books I have read in a while.
*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
I have never read anything like this novel. In a good way!
We follow a nameless orc’s first person narrative as he survives after the utter defeat of his people in an epic war against the ‘day creatures’. The story is familiar, yet thoroughly subverted and new, as we see stories similar to Tolkien’s but from the other side of the battlefield.
Particularly clever is Máire Brophy’s skill in retaining the expected orc traits of bloodthirstiness, crudeness, arrogance and so on, and yet still making her protagonist sympathetic to the reader (if not always likable). It was a strange feeling to find myself rooting for the orc against the humans he encounters!
Likewise orc civilisation is shown to be more complex than generally imagined: differences in behaviour and outlook can be attributed to the prioritisation of different values in orc society, and suddenly orcish qualities become more understandable and defensible.
The pacing is quite slow and the focus of the plot is less on the action, which is minimal, and more on the psychology and character growth of our anti-hero as he comes to terms with the crushing defeat and annihilation of his race, and his own part in those events. At times the character almost seems lost in madness and the current events merely products of his traumatised mind seeking redemption.
The ending offers some hope and suggests a promise of more to come in this world-after-the-world, which is an exciting prospect, with the potential of much more food for thought in the twisting of tropes and genre expectations.
Not a long read, but very entertaining, fascinating and utterly recommendable!
It had been years: scavenging, subsisting, crawling, hiding. We forgot in the glory of our civilization how it was possible to survive on so little. Orcs said we would “rather die” than carry on without our place, our people, our dreams. And yet, here I was. Surviving. Surviving on the things that were even slower, or stupider than me, slow and stupid as I was. I fed on them, and time. “Time is a changer; time is a cycle. What was once will be again.” I told myself this on days when I had hope.
This is one of the most fun first-person stories I've read in a long time. The world that's ended, perhaps, is a night world of orcs and goblins and the like. A lone orc, formerly General, sits defeated in a cave and can't bear to move until a chance encounter with one of the other few remaining gives the former General a strange motivation. Thus begins a fun mental/sensory journey from an orc's perspective.
After the World by Maire Brophy is a unique and fun light fantasy novel. Told from the point of view of our narrator, an orc, we learn about how his world has ended, and his struggle to find new meaning in a world that he helped destroy. This novel was written in such a way that you felt as if the narrator truly was an orc, without it being over-the-top alien. He definitely seems humanoid, with some fun little quirks because of being an orc. I enjoyed the balance between these two styles. I also enjoyed not being able to predict where the book was going. There's no cliches here, which is so hard to find, especially in a novel that reads on the line between adult and young adult content. The development of both the plot and the character is really well done, and feels very natural. I enjoyed staying up too late to read this! I can't think of anything that I wished for more from this book. It was a fun read, and different than you'd expect. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone with any fantasy interest looking for something unique.
“After the World” grabbed my attention for several reasons. First, it was a choice of the protagonist - an orc, which isn’t so common among the genre and it was a very welcome change! Second, it was the plot itself as the theme of survival in a practically post-apocalyptic world is always so very riveting! And finally, when the said main character is so conflicted and is constantly battling with a feeling of guilt for what he had done, the book becomes impossible to put down. The setting and particularly the part which takes place in the mysterious orc Mountain was so imaginative and vivid that I could easily picture it all in front of my eyes. Brutal battles and their after-effect, captured souls of wizards and their wicked wisdom, and finally, a spark of hope which ignited when everything was thought to be lost made “After the World” a truly unforgettable read. Highly recommended to all fans of the genre!
I love the idea of reading a story told from the losing side because we often read how good triumphs over evil and that's the end of it. This story focuses on a broken down orc that was a commander in the great war against the world and his existence after the war, a war his people lost horribly. He's struggles to survive and hide from the day creatures with one goal that keeps him matching onward: find other surviving orcs. Part of the story you get immersed in his internal lamenting, leaving you to wonder how he can keep on going but but you gain insight into the worldview of a brutish orc. It's a wonderfully written story that will keep you turning the pages as his journey takes him to a mountain orc stronghold and the events that transpire will surprise you. Sorry no spoilers so read it and enjoy! I highly recommend this one!
For a fantasy story I found this a very unique read. A nameless orc who was once a powerful general in his orc kingdom finds himself alone and beaten. As far as he knows he may be the only orc left in this world controlled by day dwellers and elves. At first he hides afraid to venture out and learn what is left of his people after seeing so many destroyed. Eventually circumstances force him out of hiding in a cave and he embarks on a journey that will have him questioning everything about himself and his people. The author did a very good job of painting this character's life and all his emotions. The writing was clean and concise and for a fantasy story it was very good. Very unusual too. There was very little interaction with other beings until the very end. So you were mostly in the mind of the orc. I found it a little strange to read a story with so little dialouge. But it worked and if you are into fantasy I would recommend this story. It was most certainly different.
Unusual and very atmospheric. The story takes a vaguely Tolkienesque concept (a war between humans/forces of light and orcs/forces of darkness) and turns it on its head, as we follow a nameless traumatized orc general through a post-war landscape. Most of the characters are vegetal, mineral, or quite dead, but all of them have a sense of humor. I was startled and pleased by the turns the story took. The world that was is beautifully sketched in negative space as the narrative walks us around the edges of what’s left, contrasted against the mud and hunger of the present. Given that, the ending is as hopeful as I could wish for.
Not often do we get to see the other side's thoughts and fears in a fantasy novel. I really enjoyed the switch up with this book. Well written with interesting imagery, I would suggest this book to anyone who would like something a little different. Hoping for more in the future!
After the World is very unconventional and has the unique perspective of being written from an orc's point of view. The orc used to be a leader of the orcs and in the face of their demise and the loss of his people and their culture, he is forced to come to grips with the part he played in their destruction. The book is introspective, with little interaction between the orc general and other characters, but is focused on a unique communion between the orc and trees and the earth, and more importantly, the orc and the mountain. If you like unique reading experiences, you will enjoy After the World. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading.
It was refreshing to read a fantasy story with a different perspective. The story has a well developed plot. The author did a wonderful job of helping the reader to visualize the world in which the story takes place. It's a different kind of novel that I suggest you give a read. I look forward to more from this author.
Fantasy twist The first word that came into mind was unconventional, partly because of the Orc POV. I liked the way the book had a contemplative, introspective aspect as we see the orcs' life, rise and fall, as well as the orc's particular relation with trees and nature. Very different read for me, but an interesting philosophical read.
Fascinating! This is the first novel I've read that's told from the standpoint of an orc. Who knew that the blood-thirsty creatures had emotions other than anger? Guilt predominates this orc as he searches for others of his kind. Why guilt? You'll have to read to find out.
Much of it's written without dialog since he's traveling alone, but it doesn't hamper the story. I was kept captivated by his journey, wondering if he'd come across those of his kind. As it got closer to the end, I hurried through the pages, not wanting to stop.
Most books written from the perspective of orcs are humorous – at least that's my impression. Orcs are presented as big buffoons who use excessive force and insufficient reason, and it's a good laugh. I'm sure there are books that don't fit that description, but so far I haven't read them. Well, except for this one... After The World follows an orc warlord after he lead his race into ruin in the war against the daylight people. It's a thoughtful and introspective story – more focused on getting to know and understand the main character than on fast paced action. In that way, it's very different to pretty much everything else I've read lately. Things I didn't enjoy. The story does occasionally feel a little bit slow. Things I enjoyed. The unique perspective. It's not just that the main character is a fully realized orc; he's also responsible for driving his entire race to the brink of extinction. This isn't something I've come across before, and it's interesting to ride along with his thoughts and emotions as he makes his way through the world. The pace. It's not a fast story, and it doesn't just jump from action scene to action scene, and I quite enjoyed that. It's refreshing. For the most part the story still doesn't feel slow, but rather like it's setting a leisurely pace without the need to rush. Would I read the sequel? I believe there is a sequel in the works, but it's not out yet. I'll make sure to get it when it comes, though.
This author has accomplished something quite difficult...in that the entire story is done within this character's head. Lovers of action and thrilling events probably should stay away from this book because it is more cerebral, more internal, and very well done in that respect. The orc general is lost and feels unworthy after a war--more of a holocaust really--that destroys everything. His emotion is accentuated the more he travels, the more devastation he sees. There is great world building and details. The reader really feels the situation along with him.
For an orc who claims to be so dumb, he manages to outsmart even the wizards out to get him. Now that the war with the humans is over, this former General finds himself all alone in a world full of humans. The pain he feels for having let down his people and the sorrow he feels about being the last orc known to be left alive is a palpable thing. I can appreciate how the guilt keeps him feeling depressed, but I also like how he uses that sorrow to gain the greatest of treasures.
This is an interesting story, full of the inner workings of an orc’s mind. It’ll be great to see where this orc’s adventures lead him in his search for his kind.
I received an ARC of this book to review on my blog. Although it is short I found it full to the brim with information. Following the main character, you never learn his(?) name, as he deals with the trauma of losing everything he knew. His journey is entertaining yet makes you think about people who go through something similar in real life.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read the flip side of the outcome of traditional epic fantasies.
I enjoyed reading this book. The writing was good and the ideas were fresh and new. This is definitely a perspective we don't usually see in fantasy. Definitely recommend for anybody looking for a new twist on classic fantasy.
This was not what I expected when requesting the tile. I should have read what the book was about. Interesting to humanize an Orc but this whole thing was off for me. Intriguing concept/idea just execution fell flat for me.
Thanks to Netgalley, Maire Brophy and Books Go Social for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
For such a short book, I struggled immensely to stay engaged. I tried going back to it several times but still couldn't even make it halfway. Love the idea of the story being told from an orc's POV, it could have been so interesting but unfortunately the writing wasn't for me.
*Free e-copy received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.