Publisher: Penguin Audio (Audiobook – 15 March 2022)
Series: Standalone (Novella)
Length: 4 hours and 58 minutes
My Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
Fear, revolution, and the ultimate nature of humanity all lie in store for readers when they check out the impressive novella Ogres by highly regarded science fiction and fantasy author, Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is an acclaimed author whose highly regarded works often receive much applause for their unique stories filled with overarching themes, messages, and appreciation for both the fantasy and science fiction genres. I have been meaning to read several of his more intriguing novels and series for a while, but my first direct experience with Tchaikovsky occurred last year when I was lucky enough to listen to a version of his debut Warhammer 40,000 novel, Day of Ascension. Focusing on an insidious Genestealer Cult who have infiltrated a corrupt city and started a deadly revolution, Day of Ascension was an incredible read, and it was one of the best Warhammer 40,000 novels I have read. This left me pretty enthralled with Tchaikovsky’s style and ability to quickly and effectively craft elaborate new worlds and peoples and I decided to read some more of his work this year. I had intended to read his latest novel, City of Last Chances, next, but at the last minute I changed my mind and instead decided to quickly listen to his 2022 novella, Ogres. Ogres was a very intriguing sounding novella that everyone was talking about last year, and I figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about.
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.
Because 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.
But when 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.
Well damn, now that was a very impressive read. Ogres was an excellent and captivating read and Tchaikovsky does an incredible job setting up a particularly unique and imaginative scenario and running with it to create a fantastic and highly addictive read.
I really loved the powerful and elaborate story that Tchaikovsky featured in Ogres, and what made it even more impressive was how much he managed to fit into this shorter novella format. The story has a slightly slow start to it that sets up the world ruled by Ogres and introduces the reader to the protagonist, Torquell. After a terrible incident forces Torquell to seek revenge, he goes on the run, only to find out more about the Ogres and the humans they enslave around the world than he ever expected. This story goes into some very interesting places, blending several genres together and simultaneously providing some compelling commentary on the world of Ogres, and ours at the same time. There are some great reveals at the centre of the story, especially as Torquell learns more and more about how the Ogres came to rule, and the revelations he uncovers drive him forward into revolution. This entire last quarter of Ogres, when Torquell brings the fight to his foes, is pretty brilliant, and I loved seeing how he orchestrates his battle. Everything leads up to a fantastic conclusion, which honestly left me pretty damn shocked and impressed beyond all belief. Tchaikovsky brings a ton of great story elements together in the conclusion as you see everyone’s narrative come full circle in a big way. However, the real joy is a particularly excellent and impactful twist that completely changes everything you thought you knew about Ogres and really upends the entire narrative. I deeply loved how Tchaikovsky switches things up at the end, and this twist proves to be the perfect way to end this exceptional and intense novella.
I really must commend Tchaikovsky’s brilliant writing style in Ogres, as there are so many damn layers to how he brings this story together. However, I must first highlight how well the author inserts such a complex story into such a short number of pages. The full story is so well paced out, and he manages to fit in so much worldbuilding and detail, which really shouldn’t be possible. However, it is, and he does, and I loved every damn second of it. This story has a little something for everybody as it stretches between science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and political commentary. Tchaikovsky fits in several intriguing messages about freedom, rights, modern society and more throughout this story, all of which ends up fitting the narrative frame of Ogres extremely well. One of the more distinctive things about how Ogres is told is the use of a mysterious narrator who utilises a second person perspective to tell the story. This was a unique way to bring Ogre’s narrative to life, and it really made this story stand out in several ways. I must admit that at first, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this narration style at first, but as Ogres continues, I did get used to it, and I found that it worked to tell the complex story and give it a more classic, heroic edge. However, you don’t realise just how clever this choice of narration style is until the very end of the book when the twist comes into play. It turns out that there is a very specific reason why the story is told in this way, and I deeply enjoyed how this epic turn adds so much to everything you have just read. Throw in some very well established and polished character journeys, especially around the protagonist, that sees them grow as a person (literally and figuratively), and you come away with a very deep appreciate for Tchaikovsky’s rare ability to tell a story.
While the story and the impressive writing are pretty damn epic, one of the main things that I loved about Ogres was the sheer inventiveness of the world that the story is set in. Tchaikovsky has come up with another elaborate and fantastic scenario for his latest work, presenting a world in which Ogres rule over humans with their size and technology, and the corresponding world is such a joy to behold. The initial view of the world shows the Ogres as domineering landlords ruling over multiple villages, acting very much like country lords romping around their estates, treating all the humans like edible serfs. This was a great concept to behold, and it gets even better when the protagonist travels further afield. He soon sees a world completely dominated by the Ogres, with humans crammed into factory towns, like classic London factories, other humans forced in a Napoleonic-esque war for the Ogres’ amusement, and a weird mixture of technology and society elements from across history are present throughout the world. I loved how Tchaikovsky blended a race of Ogres with settings reminiscent of iconic periods of British history, and it gives the book such a distinctive flair. However, the world gets even more complicated when you learn the full scope of who and what the Ogres are, which provides the book more of a science fiction edge at that point. Tchaikovsky does a beautiful job of effectively introducing every single wonderful facet of his complex world to the reader, and you quickly understand everything about it in a very short amount of time. The story balances wonderfully through this world and Tchaikovsky of course takes the time to add in a few societal messages, and I particularly enjoyed how well this setting skirted the genre boundary and made Ogres a compelling mix of historical, fantasy and science fiction features.
I ended up quickly listening to Ogres on audiobook, which was a great way to dive into this compelling book. Coming in at just under five hours in length, Ogres was a very short listen, but it still has plenty of time to get you hooked and introduced to the entire unique world. Narrator Emma Newman does a great job of dragging listeners in with her quick narration, and I liked her take on several of the characters, especially as when she makes the Ogres seem particularly brutal and cruel. Her voice also works for the second person narration I mentioned before and I quite enjoyed the fantastic edge she gave to this overlying narration, especially towards the end. As such, I would strongly recommend the audiobook format to anyone interested in checking out Ogres, and it proved to be a brilliant way to enjoy this shorter story.
I think it is fairly easy to say that I loved this awesome novella and I am really glad that I listened to it. Ogres is such a clever concept and Adrian Tchaikovsky came up with a brilliant and powerful story that really keeps you engaged the entire way through. The entire novella is extraordinary from start to finish and you will be utterly enthralled the entire way through. I had such a great time with Ogres and I look forward to seeing what other elaborate stories that Tchaikovsky has created.
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