Culn: Tales of Culn by James Lutze is a tale about one man’s journey to survive via any means necessary in a brutal and harsh fantasy setting. This book was recommended to me by Sarah over at Goodreads and I want to thank her for doing so! Now, I do find this book to be quite odd at first in that the book’s description doesn’t really give hints as to what exactly the story is about. However, the book was offered for free at the time and it seemed pretty short so I decided to take up on Sarah’s recommendation. To say the least, I was shocked at first but in a good way. It’s honestly been a while since I’ve read a fantasy story or setting that primarily deals with a fantasy race that drives fear in many humans and creatures. Yes, I’m talking about orcs! Yes, orcs! They usually don’t get the attention they deserve but many hardcore gamer’s know that when you want to play as a character that can handle a massive beating as a meat shield in addition to being able to dish out massive amounts of damage over a period of time, they play none other than the orc race! Also, orcs tend to invoke lots of hilarious dialogue in a video game but trust me, there is absolutely nothing funny with these orcs here in Culn. Absolutely nothing.
In Culn, we have a very young protagonist that has been struggling with life every single day and who could blame him? You’d to if you were held prisoner in an orc camp with no escape deep within a mountain! Since having been captured, Culn has known everyday to be a living hell and thus begins his story of survival and hopefully, freedom. Through it, we follow in the footsteps of Culn through his adolescent years where he details in brutal imagery of what he had to endure at the hands of his orc captors. If this hasn’t been made clear yet, Culn is a dark and grimy story with lots and lots of violence and gore.
Orc culture is interesting if only in how it differs from humans and that’s what initially got me so hooked to the story. In fantasy type settings, many people think of races like elves, dwarves, goblins, trolls and even dragons but not orcs are usually just cannon fodder and rarely deserve a dedicated story line. Everything from their behavior, language and their disgust of humans makes for interesting lore and background information on this interesting race. However, things got disappointing for me when the story decided to focus more on action than on human and orc interaction in the later chapters of the book. Obviously both is important but I just personally didn’t like the turn of events and to make things worst for me personally, I did not like how the author describes the fight scenes at all. Not only did it make things very hard to follow but it also made for some very one-sided fights and although that may not be true in every single encounter, it certainly felt that way due to how it was written.
I’m not exactly sure if this is just book one of a multi-part series because it definitely feels that way. There were a couple of unanswered questions I had at the end but it could definitely also stand on its own as a novel. Action seekers will definitely get their fill here. There’s almost non-stop action sequences during certain parts of the story. The plot itself is a bit simplistic and I would have loved for more plot twists and surprises. As it stands, Culn got off to a good start mainly because I was shocked to be reading about orcs of all fantasy races. However, things turned a bit sour for me in the second half mainly due to repetitive chapters with mainly predictable outcomes. Whatever the case may be though, one thing is for sure and that is evil orcs must die!