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King's Property: Queen of the Orcs Book 1    by Morgan Howell order for
King's Property
by Morgan Howell
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Morgan Howell does not go easy on her highland peasant heroine Dar in King's Property, the first volume in Queen of the Orcs, an unusual - and brutal - fantasy series. Dar is sold by her abusive father, enslaved, branded, and enlisted in a wartime army as a servant to orcs - and potentially the property of any of the villainous human soldiers who want to use her.

There's a wide cultural divide between the humans and the orcs who are exploited by the unpleasant King Kregant. Though the orcs are capable of sudden violence, they are very particular about cleanliness (unlike the humans in the story) and revere the Mothers of their own kind. Dar, who is spirited and intelligent, does what she must to avoid becoming a soldier's whore. Gradually, she befriends an orc, Kovok-mah, causing him problems with his peers. She learns the orc language and enough of their culture that she is able to seek their protection and to shelter amongst them from the soldiers' abuse.

This, and the calumny of an officer who betrayed Dar's trust, makes her an outcast from her fellow humans, pushing her even more into orc society. She prefers it even after she meets a decent officer named Sevren, who falls for her. After she begins to have visions of the future and foresees the king's betrayal of her orc friends, Dar tries to prevent their massacre, but only manages to save a few, with whom she escapes, setting the scene nicely for the next episode, Clan Daughter.

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