A bleak glimpse of a
world of savage tyrants, from award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky in
a beautiful signed, limited-edition hardcover.
Ogres are bigger than you.
Ogres are stronger than you.
Ogres rule the world.
It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.
the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and
strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural
order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.
the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s
son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the
Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.
Part Pierre Boulle, part revolutionary dystopian tale, Adrian Tchaikovsky's new entry in his Terrible World's trio of short fiction tells the tale of Torquell.
Torquell is a rogueish teen who lives in a pastoral village which is governed by the tyrannical Sir Peter Grimes and his equally cruel son, Gerald.
It soon becomes apparent that things are not as they seem. We learn that the world that is ruled by the 1% (not much difference there I hear you say) except that in this world the ruling class are bone crunching, carnivorous Ogres and the underclass are vegetarian serfs whose only function is to be the play things of their masters.
Torquell's destiny is irrevocably altered when he strikes the Lord's son after he is teased and taunted by the vicious Gerald. The repercussions from his actions lead to a tragic conclusion which results in Torquell becoming a hunted fugitive, and a social oddity.
He is subsequently procured by the socially precocious Lady Isadora, who indoctrinates him into her staff retinue. Whilst there, he is guided by Lady Isadora to begin his education of the world around him and the reasons behind the social structure that has emerged, and question its legitimacy as she similarly questions as she fights the male dominated world of the Ogres.
Now whilst the reader may be expecting a cosy fantasy, especially as it has well known Tolkienesque creatures in the title, Ogres is in fact a biting social commentary. It raises questions about class and social behaviour, the use of automated weaponry in war, and also what makes a figurehead.
The narrative itself is written in the second person which brings a kind of mythic detachment to the story, whilst also engaging the reader to experience the events that Torquell has throughout the story. Some readers may find this style of writing off putting, but due to Adrian Tchaikovsky's storytelling skill, it does actually become quite beguiling. In some ways it can be quite clinical as you never actually empathise with the characters. However, determining the labyrinthine puzzles at the heart of the plot strangely moved the story along as both the reader and the main character fathom the events that have lead to the current structures of the world Torquell inhabits.
Ogres is a twisty conundrum of a book that is at once strangely immersive, yet leaves you feeling clinically detached and is Tchaikovsky at his experimental best!