November 3, 2010

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Trebro Tees Off: The Orc's Treasure

Written by Kevin J. Anderson
Illustrated by Alex Nino
Ibooks

[This is one in an occasional series where I just did not like the book at all, and feel the need to explain why in stronger language than I usually use. I did this a lot more in the old days. Now I'm more inclined just to drop the book.]

Never, ever compare yourself to Lord of the Rings. It's a hard standard to live up to, and you're going to fail, Mr. Publisher Blurb Writer. So please, please don't do it, especially if the link is "men fighting orcs." That's like saying, "this movie is just like Citizen Kane--it features rich men!"

Given the high expectations of the blurb, it was no surprise that I didn't much care for The Orc's Treasure, a story that doesn't have a lot of depth behind the idea that treasure means much more than money. It's an idea we've seen before, and while I am no stranger to reading familiar themes (I do read shojo manga on a regular basis, after all), you have to do something interesting with the idea to make it work.

Unfortunately, Anderson is far too pedestrian, and he's not helped by the artist. This one might have had a good story to tell, but the "comics living legend" (as described by the book) Alex Nino muddles it down in so many lines, crude drawings, and characters that look alike that I could barely make out what was going on. I couldn't even tell which were humans and which were orcs in several places!

I think the point is that the orcs think treasure only means money, and of course, it's a whole lot more according to the humans. When one goblin starts to think like a human, things start to unravel, though don't ask me how because the artist didn't give me any way to see what the heck was going on! After this, I will never knock Klaus Jansen's pencil work ever again.

This book really shows why having clear artwork, even if it's primitive, is so important. I require my comic book art to help me see the story the writer wants me to read about. Stick figures are just fine with me, as long as those scribblings are working in a way I can understand. Just as you'd not use stick figures for an epic fantasy, neither should you use muddled art. In fact, I think I'd take the stick figures instead. Because this one fails that basic test, I just can't see myself recommending this to anyone for any reason. The Orc's Treasure for me was just a lot of fool's gold.