Thursday, December 03, 2009

Time To Give Tolkien Fans Aneurysms

You know what I've always wanted to write? A version of "Lord of the Rings", as told from the perspective of the orcs.

Because that's got to be fascinating stuff. You figure the orcs are all hanging out in Mordor, disaffected and unhappy with their lot (let's face it, they live in the arse-end of the most hideous part of the world, while the elves and humans get to live in freaking tourism ads made real)...and then all of a sudden, Sauron comes back. Not as a physical being, just as this sort of vague, whispering corruption that says to the orcs, "I can give you more..."

And that sounds awesome. Sauron's talking about crushing the hoity-toity elves, giving them real lands where they can raise their children tall and proud, letting them run free in the beauteous lands of Middle-Earth...all of the orcish leaders are telling everyone it's a great idea. They're making big speeches about the destiny of the orcish race finally having arrived, promising great things...

But it doesn't escape everyone's notice that in practice, this amounts to vast numbers of orcs being funneled directly into the path of a freaking human wood-chipper named Aragorn and his two buddies, who make jokes about their orc-slaying competition. And so some of the orcs start to say, "Hey, whoa, wait a second. Mordor sucks, but at least it doesn't involve me being spitted on a lance by the Riders of Rohan."

Needless to say, that's when things get nasty. You get orcish secret police, mutiny, dissent, coups, counter-coups, and behind it all, the voice of Sauron, always whispering, always searching, always plotting...I think it could be a lot of fun as a story.

I mentioned it to an actual Tolkien fan once. Turns out there are, um...issues with the idea, canonically speaking.

11 comments:

magidin said...

I would have no problem and great interest, provided it did not end up as big a freaking disappointment as "Wicked" was... Of course, don't forget the Orcs who live in the Misty Mountains, just minding their business after getting the crap beaten out of them in the Battle of Five Armies seventy years back. They got some of their own back when the Balrog helped them get at the dwarves in Moria, but now they are forced to go smash against Lothlorien and against Dain in the Lonely Mountain...


As for the Orc secret police and so on, did you ever see the animated "Return of the King"? Had a great song for the Orcs in it: _Where there's a whip, there's a way_

E. Wilson said...

As someone who's never been able to trudge through all of the books or the movies, that sounds like something I'd read. Continuity be damned!

magidin said...

I also don't see why it would be a problem; we get a glimpse of the Orc psyche in both "Two Towers" and "Return of the King". The guys from the Misty Mountains were quite annoyed at being forced to go with the ones from Isengard, and did so only under pain of death; we had the "secret policeman" Shagrat who kills the Uruk-hai leader when nobody is looking, etc.

There *is* one continuity problem with your scenario, but easily fixed: the issue with the three guys who play games about how many Orcs they kill is not about Orcs from Mordor: those are Orcs from Isengard. They guys from Mordor get skewerd by Rohan lances on Pelennor's Field, not Helm's Deep. Easily fixed, though, if you ever decide to actually try...

MissE said...

I think that sounds like an excellent idea. And pffft to the canon... says the Lord of the Rings addict.

Don't forget that wonderful bit where orcs are in fact the descendants of elves who'd been twisted and tortured by Sauron... or something like that.

:o)

Nitz the Bloody said...

Given how the racism portrayed in Middle-Earth is thick enough that you could cut it with a broadsword, I'd love to see this.

JD Atlanta said...

It sounds interesting to me, but why limit yourself to the Tolkein universe? The story you describe is not limited to a time or place. The lure of "hey, let's kill our enemies and take their stuff for our own" still pulls at people's souls. This would be interesting in any fantasy setting.

John Seavey said...

Actually, MissE, that's the canonical issue I was talking about. My girlfriend (who loves my writing with a passion) said she couldn't buy into the idea because the orcs had been made over into Sauron's pawns by dark magic, and wouldn't rebel.

(I still feel like that might be true of the original elves that became orcs, but not their descendants...but I'd have to read a lot more Tolkien to see. :) )

magidin said...

It's nonsense to say that Orcs would not rebel; they were fighting each other and openly talking about defying Barard-dur (i.e., defying Sauron) several times during LotR, both during the trip across Fangorn (which involved almost no Orcs from Mordor), and also in Minas Morgul after the Nazgul leave. They would probably not *openly* rebel, or not rebel while the Eye is upon them (or the Nazgul are around), but they are certainly an unruly lot. They also flee against orders (Pelennor). They are essentially bullies and cowards so they would probably not stand up to Sauron, but they *can* (and *do*, in the book) perform acts of rebellion and insubordination. And Shagrat (in "The Two Towers") is quite clearly a 'political officer'.

Greg Fleming said...

Canon, schmanon. It's a good concept. I'd read it, and I've considered myself a Tolkien fan* for most of my life.

*Disclaimer: never made it through Silmarillion. I'm sure that puts me on some kind of second tier of fandom, but, eh.

Daniel Peretti said...

The problem isn't continuity, it's copyright.

John Seavey said...

Well, it wasn't just rebelling specifically against Sauron that I was talking about; I was saying some of the more worldly-wise orcs might be feeling like it's better to be a live orc who doesn't feast on man-flesh than a dead orc with a belly full of it, and they want to settle down and try farming. (Being, as it is, a lifestyle that involves significantly fewer battles with dead-eyed elven archers.)

She felt that no, orcs are too addicted to bloodlust to go for it.