by Adrian Tchaikovsky
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Pub Date 15 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 08 Mar 2022
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.
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Average rating from 168 members
I am new to Adrian Tchaikovsky and have only read five or six of his books, which I have found uniformly excellent. Ogres is no exception. The story hooked me immediately, starting in an unexplained bucolic future, neatly introducing the protagonist, and introducing a catalytic event which precipitates the methodical series of revelations about the setting of the book. It reminded me in some ways of an adult version of John Christopher’s old YA books - perhaps The Prince in Waiting. There are slow reveals and some good twists - some predictable and some less so. The second person voice is often off-putting in books but works well here; I think it is challenging for a writer to execute and a measure of Tchaikovsky’s skill that it isn’t overtly obtrusive but, rather, an effective structural choice. Bravo overall.
Ogres is a like a master class on genre bending. Just as you think it's one thing it deftly turns into something totally new and unexpected. It presents a bleak world with some fantasy and dystopian trappings that becomes the stage for a heroic struggle against oppression and injustice. At the heart of it all is a great mystery, with Tchaikovsky doing what he does better than almost anyone. Dropping you cold into a strange yet eerily familiar world, slowly peeling back the incongruities, the horrors and the unknown to reveal the shocking hidden truth.
I so wish to give 0GRES 36 Stars! Not only is this book perfect, but the ending (not trick but nonetheless INTENSE) exploded my imagination. OGRES is seamless. I come to any Adrian Tchaikovsky work expecting profundity, expecting "what we know" to be immensely inverted [think of CHILDREN OF TIME, CHILDREN OF RUIN, ELDER RACE, as examples). I venture to offer that perhaps OGRES is of an even higher order of magnitude. THAT INCREDIBLE INTENSE TURNED-ME-INSIDE-OUT ENDING!!!
Forget everything you think you know about History, Genetics, Society, and the Why-of-life. Start anew.
I also venture to say that this is 5th dimensional quantum- stepped-up Adrian Tchaikovsky.
When I saw the new book by Adrian Tchaikovsky, I had to read it! The author writes unique stories and Ogres sounded fantastic!
There aren't many people who could pull off writing in second person, yet this book is written perfectly. Everything is smooth and works together, the story flows. I'm sure that the writing needed lots of work, but the reading is so pleasurable.
The action takes place in a weird world, when you start reading you think it's sometime around fantasy middle ages just with ogres running the world (I know, odd) and little humans fulfilling their wishes.
It was fascinating to see a place where we couldn't eat animals and their blood could give us rash. That gave me the first clue of what is really going on, but man, when you get to the reveal point it still blows your mind.
There were moments when I thought I'd hate to live in the world as in the book, and moments when I thought that some of the ideas weren't completely bad! It's definitely thought-provoking narrative and I think it's another must-read.
I loved it and it's hard to say anything without writing spoilers. I'll just say that you have to pre-order.
Absolutely incredible story from a master craftsman. Ogres sucked you in from the beginning and refused to let go, culminating in the extraordinary and unexpected ending.
Told in the second-person point of view was weird, but it works exceptionally well. I really enjoyed the change in emphasis as you do not come across it very often.
I was intrigued by how the book would pan out, what with ogres and helicopters on the book cover. Mainly because of the fantasy style opening. But it soon became apparent there was a much larger picture here, a dystopian future with a turbulent and horrific historical past for humankind.
The author has a habit of writing brilliant and varied characters in his novels. Torquell, the leading protagonist here, is no exception. Portrayed as a loveable rascal, then murderer, outlaw, slave and then a hero.
There are some other interesting characters to be met in the novel. Roben, the outlaw and his very miserable, cold and downtrodden men who just happen to live in the woods. (So, no parallels to that other charlatan who lived in Sherwood.) They provide a refuge for Torquell in his early times of need and form the backbone of his rebellion. Then there is the ogress Isadora, your saviour from death and master for many a year. A scientist and no lover of the brutal treatment most ogres dish out to their monkeys (humans). And then there is Minith, who is Isadora's personal human assistant. Somewhat of an enigma who never seems to like Torquell, yet is always on hand when necessity allows.
There are a few twists to the narrative and some, what I can only describe as colourful content, so expect a bit of blood and gore. Well, there are ogres involved, what do you expect.
As with most of Adrian Tchaikovsky's books, there are morals to be found if you look hard enough and the novel Ogres is no exception. Friendship, loyalty and trust are always at the forefront.
Ogres is such a fantastic read that I felt it was far too short. But I said the same about "One Day All This Will Be Yours" and "Walking to Aldebaran", both phenomenal and breathtakingly incredible reads.
This is a brilliant story and a worthy addition to the already fantastic collection of Adrian Tchaikovsky books. I thoroughly enjoyed Ogres and highly recommend it to his fans and lovers of the genre.
Thank you, NetGalley and Rebellion, Solaris, for the ARC.
"They've always been there, your masters the ogres...your father and his father have been wise stewards, no pestilence to blacken the fields...You've never known real privation. You have milk, eggs, wool. Meat is for the masters." Torquell's father, Tomas was the village headman. He prepared all accounts for the Landlord. Each bushel, each sheep on the hillside must be counted. "Woe betide the headman who cheats his Landlord, or even miscounts."
Landlord Sir Peter Grimes, a ten foot tall ogre, approached the village in his motorcade with his retinue. The second vehicle contained his favored servants-his beaters-"a quartet of humans with clubs" ready to mete out justice and punish transgressors. "Blessings to the masters for their protection." The Landlords have come to collect the tithes owed to the top 1% of society. All larders and barns must open. A feast for "the ravenous appetites of a pair of ogres" was prepared. Sir Peter's son Gerald, a landlord -in-training, was a cruel, contemptuous ogre, always ready to demean any and all those beneath his station. Torquell, the headman's son was the village's "lovable rogue" whose pranks included plucking apples from a neighbor's orchard to share with a band of outlaws on the fringes of society. The leader of the outcasts, Roben, was "a scarecrow of a man, having survived seven winters in the forest."
A clash between Torquell, the human and Gerald, the ogre ensued. Torquell was forced to flee his village. By losing his temper, the unthinkable was unleashed. He had now been "stripped down to the bones of who [he was]." He had "earned his outlawry...become an outlaw...one of a variety of skins [he'd] wear throughout [his] life."
"Ogres" by Adrian Tchaikovsky is Sci-Fi/ Fantasy at its best, a cautionary tale told through second person narration. It is a social commentary about the haves and have-nots in a society controlled by genetic manipulation. Will the quest for knowledge and enlightenment help reverse the rules that govern the human populace? Highly recommended!
Thank you Rebellion/Solaris and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I happened to read Ogres right after Elder race, and it is obvious that the two novellas are connected.
The setting is completely different, but they are nonetheless the result of the same reflection on the coexistence of two communities with a different technological level.
In Elder race the point of view is that of the more advanced community, while in Ogres it is that of the challenged one. The results, Tchaikovsky seems to tell us, are equally possible:
either a cohabitation in which the the most advanced group offers protection to the other, or a tyranny from which one can only relieve oneself by laying hands on superior technology by force.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, a singularly prolific author, is one of the most interesting voices in science fiction today, and a master of the novella form, ranging across all SF tropes with fresh and novel results.
I admit that as much as I have a soft spot for his writing, not everything is on the same level. And I have to say that Ogres is not among my favourite novellas.
The idea is very interesting, but there is something unconvincing about it. The first is probably the use of 'you' as the narrator, undoubtedly the most difficult form to handle.
There are of course great examples in literature, but the risk is that the architecture is a bit cumbersome at times.
And then there are some gaps in the story, which leave me a little perplexed and vaguely unsatisfied when I compare it to masterful Elder race.
I thank Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for a frank review.
I’ve had such a strange experience with this author. To quote Drake (a first for me) Started from the bottom, now we’re here. Which is to say the first two books I’ve read of his I didn’t like, almost at all. Practically enough to quit reading him for good and yet somehow, I decided third time might be the charm and, lo and behold, it was, for the third book I’ve read of his was excellent, an excellent time travel adventure for a person who doesn’t especially like time travel adventures. It was just so fun and original and clever. In fact, it became my favorite time travel book.
So now here we are, with Ogres, the author’s latest. Another novella, I love that he writes so many novellas, love the format. But fantasy? I wasn’t sure. Time travel may go either way, but fantasy is really, really not a genre for me. I barely sat through the first episode of Wheel of Time. I mean, sure, GOT was great, but that was an exception. And I certainly don’t read fantasy…or apparently, I don’t until Adrian Tchaikovsky writes it. And then, not only do I read it, but I also enjoy it. A lot.
I mean, this novella has a classic fantasy setup…a remarkable village boy, strong and tall, dares to stand up to the evil Ogre landlord and is subsequently jettisoned into a life far outside the small bounds of the only world he knew. A boy who’ll become a man, who’ll become a rebel. A boy with a destiny. A world divided between Ogres and people/Economics/monkeys, the masters and the serfs.
But then, there’s so much more. For one thing, Tchaikovsky (primarily a science fiction author) throws some terrific apocalyptical-genetic sociopolitical backstory in there that’s a total game changer. For another, there’s such a clever plot twist in the end. Ok, the entire ending is clever, awesome, apt, just perfect. It’s like a page out of “this is how you end a book” textbook.
On top of it, the writing’s good, the characters are great, the plot’s intricate, the world-building is impressive, there’s so much to enjoy here. It’s an absolutely awesome adventure with excellent (and subtly presented) message. The sociopolitical commentary is Ogres is…well, it’s exactly how fiction, especially speculative fiction, should handle such things. It’s timely, it’s smart, it’s inspiring. And it’s pure fun too. Not sure what the deal with the tophats is, but then again the Ogres are flamboyant dressers.
Adrian Tchaikovsky once redefined (made me enjoy) time traveling fiction for me, now he’s done the with fantasy. Gotta love it. Read this book. It’s a great read. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Absolutely incredible story from a master craftsman. Ogres sucked you in from the beginning and refused to let go, culminating in the extraordinary and unexpected ending. I want more!!!
[Blurb goes here]
At first I was a bit let down by the way this books is written. This is an account of a third person view of events, narrated as if you, the reader, where the protagonist. I know that sounds weird, but thats how it felt to me. Soon after, maybe fifteen percent into the book, I was loving it. Adrian Tchaikovsky is definitely a master at his craft.
I can't say enough good things about Ogres, but maybe this will give you a clue: after reading it, I bought a few of Tchaikovsky's titles, knowing that this is one author worth following.
Thank you for the free copy!
Everyone who has been fortunate enough to read this book has given it 5 stars, guess what ? Me too! I find the authors work a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it, now I am most definitely a fan of marmite and do love a good book, my only complaint being no spiders 😉
This is my first time reading something by Adrian Tchaikovsky, but I can safely say that “Ogres” has blown my actual mind.
I am a sucker for books with unusual structures or writing styles, and this book certainly has them, but the stunning story, set in a pseudo-feudalistic, secret-filled future, is all the better for the author’s clever tricks.
It’s hard to nail it down to any particular genre as it cleverly changes style so often. It’s dystopian sci-fi then it’s fantasy with a touch of horror; all this in what is quite a short book. This is testament to Tchaikovsky’s skills as a writer that he can keep control of all these spinning plates to create such a superb story.
With vivid world-building, striking characters and a jaw-dropping ending, “Ogres” is a triumph for Adrian Tchaikovsky and a must-read for sci-fi fans and lovers of nonconformist fiction.
What an awesome book. I really enjoyed this! This is not hyperbole - I'm honestly having trouble putting into words just how much I enjoyed reading this. I won't go into the plot, as I don't want to give anything away, but at this point whenever I see a new book by Adrian Tchaikovsky, it immediately goes to the TOP of my list of books to read. I was in the middle of reading a bunch of other books, but stopped reading them as soon as I downloaded Ogres.
Thanks to Rebellion Publishing and NetGalley for providing a copy for me to review!
OGRES is an interesting story and reminded me in some ways of Tchaikovsky’s previous novella, Elder Race. Its most distinct and notable feature is probably the second person POV. It’s executed well here.
It’s an expected book in times of CRISPR. This book asks many of the big ethical questions regarding the future of genetic modification, mainly The Big Question: what’s the limit? When we finally have the tools and means to modify and improve ourselves, where do improvements stop, and complete alterations begin? Will we ever be able to say “…and we’re done”, or just keep trying to create a “better” human?
It’s not a particularly new question, and it will get asked even more in the coming decades. For that ethical aspect alone, this is well worth reading. But another part of this novella I really liked is the similarity with Elder Race I was talking about earlier. Just like in that story, Ogres has a sort of “two perspectives” thing going on, with pseudo-medieval people living in ignorance of their futuristic dystopian overlords. It’s a trope (fantasy from one perspective vs sci-fi from the other perspective) I’ll never get tired of.
Apart from that, it’s a classic tale of starting a revolution, rebelling against your oppression, and how revolutions can snowball into something that changes society.
It’s no Elder Race (easily one of my favourite of Tchaikovsky’s novellas), but it’s a fun and thought-provoking story that juggles quite a few topics and unconventional structural choices in a well-balanced way. Recommended!
I tend to avoid novellas. I like books that are sincere and serious, taking the time to delve deeply into characters and situations. It's frustrating to spend time getting to know a character, just to have the story end. Depending on the author though, I'll make exceptions. In this case, well worth it. This is told in 2nd person, which is always kind of odd, but it's only distracting at first. In the beginning, it's very obvious where the story is heading, but thankfully the story becomes more original and less dreadful after that. The premise is very interesting, the characters well developed and likeable, and the ending well done. Highly recommend!
I’ve been wanting to read something from Tchaikovsky for some years now. I had seen him at a festival in Spain years ago and he caught my attention. I’ve also read lots of reviews of his books that made me want to pick them up, I even have one on my shelf waiting for the right time. Still I feel like I had no idea what I was getting into with his work. I was pleaseantly surprise by the level of social criticism, analysis, twists on folklore and science that translates into a superb mix of genres.
But above all, I was not ready for the second person POV, the way he analyzes the archetypal protagonist through our own conceptions of the normal. Also the incredible, incredible ending.
Even if you feel that the beginning is a bit slow, as it’s a really short story, I reccomend that you try to continue. What Tchaikovsky builds is worth it.
Everything I can say is little and at the same time a lot because it is better that you approach it knowing as few as possible.
If you want something to comment for hours with your friends, this is it.
Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
And all of a sudden, we've got ourselves a political treatise, a medieval fairy tale, and a Red Rising hardcore high-tech revolution all rolled into one tiny novella.
Can you say Adrian Tchaikovsky?
I thought it was funny as hell right at the very beginning that our main character would be named Tocqueville, as in comte de Tocqueville, the French Aristo that argued for the decent treatment of the lower end of the class struggle, who was so essential to the formation of the United States of America.
And I found it equally hilarious how we jumped right from Robin Hood to education to revolution and a great little twist at the end. Class warfare, you know? And it's almost as if we're channeling a little taste of Attack on Titan, too, with a pretty fantastic turn of the knife on vegetarianism.
Delicious. Yum Yum. :)
No one world builds better than Adrian Tchikovsky. If you haven't, please stop everything and read Children Of Time!
In this bleak world, Ogres rule all. Through Second Person Narration, we are pulled into a classic tale of the haves versus the have nots. Ogres are the top 1percent of this world and all others must pay a tax to them. We learn quickly what happens to those who choose not to as Torquell, the village leader's son dares to defy the Ogres. As an outcast he races against time to find out more about who they actually are and how they came to rule.
An awesome 144 page science fiction fairy tale on steroids! Recommended!
#NetGalley #RebellionBooks #solaris #Ogres #Tchaikovsky
With the rate that Adrian Tchaikovsky churns out writing, it's a constant source of amazement that each work reaches the quality that it does. Though I don't think his novellas, such as 'Ogres', attain to the same level, they're always well worth the read. In this short book, Tchaikovsky quickly introduces us to a new world, helps us find our feet in it, and gets us asking questions. The subject here is familiar ground; 'The Expert System's Brother' comes to mind as a recent example of Tchaikovsky's story-telling which follows the same path as the main character discovers the world is not as they thought it was, and technology and science has been abused. There's a lot of intereting ideas here, all filtered through a second person narrative which could do with giving us more insight into its narrator. As with other novellas of Tchaikovsky's, the ending is abrupt, yet the journey there is definitely worth it.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, in my relatively brief exposure, hasn’t yet ceased to amaze me and he keeps up the trend with his latest standalone, Ogres. My heartfelt thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for the e-ARC in return for my unbiased opinion.
Sometime in the future, the world is a peaceful and prosperous place, where the Ogres, officially called the Masters, lord over the world and everything it contains, and the humans exist solely to serve them—as ordained by God. A lot bigger than the humans and possessing the magic of science, Ogres are far superior to the humans; they even can eat all kinds of meat, which is poison to the humans. One fateful day, Torquell, the young son of a village chief, challenges the authority of the Master race—without really meaning to—and instantly becomes a fugitive with painful death hanging over his head. A stroke of luck snatches him from the jaws of death and gives him a life that is better than the best of his dreams. He makes the most of the lifeline and learns many things about himself and the world and how it all came to be the way it is. His knowledge leads him to becoming the Hero who takes the truth to the masses and tries to overturn the world order.
Tchaikovsky, as usual, puts the unwary reader straightaway in the middle of his complex world and leaves them to figure out what is happening. His use of the rare—at least to my knowledge—second person form of storytelling makes the experience entirely immersive. The sharp narrative moves at breakneck speed, uncovering layer after surprising layer of the intricate plot. The twist towards the end was totally unexpected for me and I loved it! The characters are brilliantly etched, with only a few deft descriptions, and the action sequences are vivid. To tell such a splendid story, set in such an intriguing world, with such memorable characters, in such a thin volume—merely a hundred pages—is truly a stunning effort, and I can’t praise Tchaikovsky enough. At the same time, I am furious at him for writing such a tiny book that left me wanting more, a lot more.
Docking a star exclusively for the unsatisfyingly little length—this is the second time I’m doing it, the first instance being “One Day All This Will Be Yours” by the same author—I would rate Ogres 4 out of 5 though it is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is a machine. He writes one excellent book after another, and it's getting difficult to keep up with him.
In Ogres, he delivers a thrilling dark satire told (successfully!) in 2nd person POV. At over six feet tall, Torquell is a giant, bigger than any human around. Compared to Ogres, though, he's punny. Ogres tower over everyone thanks to genetic modification.
I'm not sure if I should tell you anything more about the plot, as the mystery of what is going on is at the heart of the book. Suffice to say, Torquell gets on the wrong side of his Ogre landlord and finds himself on the run. He soon learns who made the ogres, and how did they become lords of all creation.
Ogres is a future dystopia about power imbalance. It shows the far future, generations after attempting to "manage" the human crisis of overpopulation and shortage of resources. There's a twist, of course, and a bitter look at humanity's worst impulses. Nevertheless, Tchaikovsky's sharp social commentary is brutally logical and on point. And rather uncomfortable.
The second-person narration works surprisingly well; readers won't know (or guess) who speaks to Torquell until the last page, and the reveal is well worth it. Such narration choice emphasized the "you are there" effect. I can't guarantee everyone will like it, but I loved it and hope others will, too.
What a delicious romp through a deeply satirical future. I seriously loved the dark humour in this which made me laugh sardonically more than once.
But this being one of Adrian Tchaikovsky's stories, it's not just a nice story and it doesn't just have great worldbuilding or memorable characters - no, it's fun while also being deeply meaningful, addressing terrible problems we face (or hide from) everyday. And all that in an entertaining way that sweeps you right along. One could say this is a "delicios" read. ;)
Ogres, my first novel by the highly rated genre master Adrian Tchaikovsky was a beautiful read, everything I hoped it might be, and much more than I had excepted. In fact I think this short novel verges on the profound, and I really hope a lot of readers make time and thoughtspace for this fast-paced, genre-bending book.
The story, as the book description suggests, is essentially a slave versus master narrative. Told in an almost fairytale style, in the second person (which in this case is no stumbling block, and is in fact essential to the story), we follow ‘you’, Torquell who is the hero and center of this tale, through a very eventful, violent, tragic, and exciting life of rebellion(s), mystery, and many excellent twists and turns.
The main character Torquell is a rebellious sort, hotheaded, and learns many of his lessons the hard way. But he is also, in his own way brilliant and destined to be a leader, if he can survive the harsh and horrible world of The Masters, or ‘the Ogres’ as their slaves call them behind their backs. His journey and development of character leads the narrative through many ups and downs, set pieces and locales, making this novel a real page-turner — I just couldn’t put it down, in fact I finished it at midnight the day after I started reading it, rushing through page after page in doctors receptions, in breaks at work, and well, wherever I could get the chance.
As well as the protagonist, there are many other interesting characters including an Ogre called Isadora, a scientist who is in her own compassion to her ‘monkeys’, Minith who is Isadora’s head scientist, and a few others of note. Some of the other characters are less well explored, but this is because of the storytelling style that Adrian employs, which is both elegant and clean in the telling ( the reason for this style is all explained in a twist at the end of the story).
The world building is excellent in Ogres, and we are introduced slowly to the world through the eyes of Torquell, who is discovering the secrets of the oppressive world and its history at the same speed we are. This leads to some great twists and turns. But alas I cannot discuss these ideas Adrian has embedded into this book without revealing massive spoilers, so we will have to talk after you have read Ogres for yourself (pm me if you would like).
There are obvious themes like slavery, subjugation and dehumanization explored here, and I really felt the emotional journey of watching Torquell’s suffering and being a silent witness to the oppression of his world, his triumphs, and defeats. But there are other themes at play here, such as an examination of the classic ‘hero’s journey', how to nurture a revolution, the value of revenge and when it is the right thing to compromise to protect the people you care for.
Adrian’s writing is confident and sure, and there is some beautiful prose here. It's a short read, too, so don’t hesitate, you’ll be sucked in in no time. To think that he has written so many other books, series and stories really leaves me excited to read more of his work - because Ogres is, maybe, a little bit of a masterpiece.
I want to thank the author, publishing house and NetGalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Ya know, while i didn’t enjoy the format the story was told in, I did really enjoy the story itself. The bits of information you slowly get out of the story that explain what happened to the world, kept you tearing through the book trying to find the last few morsels to complete the missing history. I was delighted with the twist at the end and pleased that the baddies that pissed me off weren't let off with a slap on the wrist. All in all, not my favorite of Adrian Tchaikovsky's works, but definitely a great read and perfect example of his amazing writing.
Torquell lives in an apparently idyllic little town where everybody loves him and tolerates his mischief and bandits share their fire and stories with him.
But Torquell also lives in a town where the landlord’s visit means enduring the disdain of someone who knows is above all, because he is an Ogre, and ogres are bigger and stronger… and they rule the world.
I entered Adrian Tchaikovsky’s new world without any particular knowledge of what I was getting myself into, and I think that worked in the books favour, because the first chapters were devoured as the ogres eat their meat (in a couple of bites), and Torquell’s journey started and took me along the ride.
It had its bumps; I am not going to lie. Its structure, clearly separated into different blocks, made me care more for some parts than the other. Some of the secondary characters were forgotten as soon as Torquell moved on. I did, however, enjoy the social and political commentary, and I chuckled more than once and even found myself nodding in agreement with what I was reading. The second-person narration was an amazing choice and helped, as other noted, the sensation that the reader is inside, not only the world, but the whole narrative.
** I received an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley and the editor in exchange for an honest review **
Adrian is a master of the double twist. Opening one of his novellas is a guarantee of a twisty story with one or two shocking surprises. I found it enjoyable and a quick read, with all the excellent world building Adrian is known for. It's not my favorite of his novellas, mostly because it was a tad more predictable than his usual and it felt like the main character took way too long to figure out something that should have been obvious, however perhaps that was the point. I'll let you read it to see what I mean, but suffice it to say, heroes are easily manipulated.
Ogres explores power and birthright in a world that is all too easy to imagine.
In this book you are Torquell, the son of the headsman of your village and you have lived a relatively easy life. You play pranks and steal from your neighbors in the name of justice. But when you strike the son of the landlord, an Ogre, a Master, you set off a chain of events that leads you to understand that you don't know anything about the world you live in.
This is my first time reading from Adrian Tchaikovsky and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I definitely wasn’t expecting this gem of a book. In less than 200 pages he manages to craft a world that simultaneously feels like a medieval fairytale and a bleak dystopian future. He gives us magic and science and Robin Hood and forced vegetarianism. And somehow it all works together and creates a compelling story that speaks to the problems of our world today.
This is honestly one of the best things I have ever read. It uses the second person "you" throughout, which surprised me at first. But this unconventional choice brings the reader into the story in a way that is unparalleled. The story is about you, this is your future, our future. I feel as though I have lived the events of this novella. I am Torquell (sorry, not sorry, that is a Spartacus reference and there is some of that in here too). I am a lover of novellas so I recognize how hard it can be to get the pacing right in so little space. Tchaikovsky nails the pacing in Ogres in a way that is incredibly difficult to do in short form fiction. Like a snow ball being pushed down a hill the story accumulates as you read, becoming bigger and bigger and sweeping you along with the narrative until you feel as though you have lost control of where the story is going and are crushed beneath its weight. But by the time you get to the end you are happy to be crushed, that weight feels right.
This is an absolute must read for fans of speculative fiction.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.
A world where humans are vegetarians and servants under the rule of the meat eating Ogres, add a robin hood script, then expand it further as a coming of age experience and then start closing it off as a revolutionist. Adrian Tchaikovsky has written a stunner of a book and oh what a splendid plot twist.
Absolutely delightful, one of those books which you'd definitely want to go back again and again.
Thank you Netaglley for providing me an opportunity to read the book in exchange for my honest feedback..
The previous two books I read from this author were firmly sci-fi, and then I see this one about...ogres?? Well, ok, I’ll give it a try. When I opened it and saw that it was in the second POV, I dropped my Kindle and yelled “NO!” When I read I visualize the story as a movie in my brain, so second POV is very difficult for me to read. But do you see my rating? That is the power that Tchaikovsky has! The plot was paced very well, and Torquell is a great character to follow. The plot twist that was revealed that shows the truth about the ogres, and also explains how Torquell is the way he is, was very well done (but I expected nothing less from the author). At this point Tchaikovsky could probably write down his grocery list and multiple people, including myself, would read it because he would find someway to add a twist into it 😁
Thank you to NetGalley & Rebellion Publishing for this advanced reader copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
*An excellent novella that packs a lot in its slim 144-page count*
Adrian Tchaikovsky is prolific. In 2021 alone, he published 2 novels and 3 novellas. At this speed, it may be tempting to assume that quality is compromised. Yet the amount of craft and attention to detail displayed in this book is stupefying.
Tchaikovsky evokes a surprisingly large number of themes (tyranny, social injustice, feminism, science ethics, and the morality of unbridled power) in a poignant, lean, and satisfying tale.
There are no superfluous bits here. Everything fits exactly. All stylistic choices I had reservations about (e.g. the second person narration) made perfect sense by the end.
Pound for pound, this was probably the best book I read in 2021.
This was a wonderful adventure that took me in unexpected directions. The setting was wonderfully put together and fit the story so well.
Second person is such a difficult perspective to pull off, but I feel it was done well here. I was able to immerse myself in the story and the world.
Some of the reveals in this were predictable - but only because the story was told in a way that got me thinking!
The commentary on slavery and oppression was masterfully done in my opinion. I loved finding out some of the historical details because everything felt so realistic (in a horrible way)! The ending was lovely and quite frankly I would love to see more in this world.
I've always wanted more stories about orges. Shrek can't be it for ogres. Enter this novel (they're not green though, I feel like that should be said).
This is a dystopian, alternate future, if you don't know history you're doomed to repeat it, fun time. The first chapter took a little to get into, but once you're there, it's very enticing and you want to learn whats going on in the world just like Torquell. I don't read a lot of SFF novellas and this is telling me that I should be reading more.
I also haven't read anything else by Adrian Tchaikovsky, but I will be picking up Children of Time/Ruin later on this year, and it makes me more excited to read more of his writing.
For the first quarter of the book, it felt medieval. A story about a time past when monsters ruled a world of peasants. At the halfway point, it changed totally. Now it became a time in the future when the current earth was very different; and you start to learn why. As the end approaches, it becomes an indictment of our reality. At the end, it becomes a story of hope.
The writing style is a bit difficult at first; it reminds me of a few other books I’ve come across written in an ancient style. That passes fairly quickly and the pages turned more rapidly. What I really loved was how the author reveals the story behind the story.
I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by the author. This is the best he’s put on paper yet! You can’t add this one to your stack of books to read quickly enough. Amazing and worth sharing with anyone who finds the current state of the world offensive.
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
I love about everything this author writes and was thrilled to get this from NetGalley. At first, it was strange reading it. The way the story is told is very different! I wasn't sure if I liked it in the beginning but I got in the grove and found it was different and had it's perks.
This is a world were ( in the future?) Ogres are top dog and rule over humans. This story is about one human man that is bigger than all the others, but not as big as Ogres, and runs afoul of Ogre's rules. Instead of the death sentence, an Ogress takes him in as a pet and lets him learn anything he wants. He figures out how the races came to be. Then he decides to act!
This has a bit of mystery, lots of action, intrigue, and political statements. I really enjoyed it. The way it was told I think made giving the characters more depth but they had enough to understand the basics of each major character.
Thanks NetGalley for letting me read this book. The opinions are all mine.
Tchaikovsky’s latest novella is an intriguing, engaging examination of a whole swathe of human qualities — ambition, weakness, economics, and more. Interesting from start to finish, it’s packed with original spins on a number of fantasy/sci-fi features. Each year, the author publishes a new book that shows readers that his range is far larger than we already believed.
In this novella, Tchaikovsky offers a vision of world in which humanity is ruled by a class of ogres — bigger, stronger, meaner, more brutal than humans, they are at the top of the heap. Humans are chattel, as well as (in some cases) cattle; they are docile, obedient, and afraid. Until Torquell. After an altercation involving the ogre who rules over their land, Torquell lashes out and sets in motion a cascading series of events that could change everything. Through his experiences, we learn more and more about this world/reality: the history of the ogres, their rise and humanity’s fall. And also the truth of Torquell himself. If you’re even vaguely observant of contemporary Western politics, you’ll see clear parallels.
"They have demanded for generations: can it not be slightly better for us? and been slapped down by the truncheon-wielding thugs the ogres employ as law-keepers. And then you arrive, and tell them that their entire bubble world is like a pot, only hot and seething because someone’s keeping the fire beneath it stoked. The question they should have been asking is, why is it like this at all?"
It’s very difficult to talk about the plot without spoiling things (something I always struggle with, when it comes to reviewing novellas) — it is in the gradual stream of revelations that Ogres works so well. The punch of the ending would land very differently if you knew even a few of the stops along the way. Needless to say, Tchaikovsky builds the story brilliantly. Each character is fully realized on the page, even if their appearance is only fleeting, and through their inclusion in the story we learn more and more about the society, politics, and history of this reality.
One of the things I very much liked about the novella was the extent to which it comments on our current reality — in particular, in relation to capitalism and the expectations it has convinced us are necessary; but also some nice commentary on international relations and/or the history of war. (See, Tchaikovsky really knows how to pack in quite a bit into his novellas.)
"The ogres have set up their pressure-cooker cities so that it’s work or die, and you come to them and say, what if… neither?"
The writing is excellent, and the story pulled me along from the very beginning. Torquell’s experiences are a perfect vehicle to explain this world. He is a reluctant hero, but one who appears up to the challenge. The ending was especially good, as Tchaikovsky shows us just how predictable people can be, and the risks of raising up any saviour without recognizing their innate humanity and flaws. Definitely recommended. This is a must for Tchaikovsky fans, and also an excellent starting place (if you have somehow managed to miss his work…)
🔲 mary-sue party
🔲 mostly 2D
🔲 great main cast, forgottable side characters
🔲 complex and fascinating
🔲 hard to believe they are ficitonal
🔲 you've already heard this exact story a thousand time
🔲 nothing memorable
🔲 takes place in our world
✅ nicely detailed
🔲 even the last tree in the forest has its own story
🔲 you forget you are reading a book
🔲 picks up with time
🔲 impossible to put down
Short, but pretty thought-provoking. I didn't see the ending coming but I really liked it.
My first read from Tchaikovsky didn't disappoint, this novella managed to deliver despite its pretty short length.
This is one of those books that I would recommend to start without any prior knowledge or expectations so you can figure it out for yourself as you go. For me it was pretty obvious what direction will the story go from the very first chapter, but that just made the journey even more interesting. The plot unfolds in a well-crafted, satisfying way and the ending managed to make it even better in my opinion.
I found the character work solid but I wouldn't call it outstanding, it served its purpose well. The worldbuilding was interesting but because of the length we only get to know the bits that are relevant to the story. I wish there were some more details but I can understand the decision and it would maybe bore some people even if I would appreciate it.
The most controversial point of this book is most likely the writing style, since it's told in second person. Yes, everything is "you". At the start it slightly bothered me but with time I kinda got used to it and it made sense by the end of the story.
Overall it was a very pleasant first experience with the author and I can't wait to read more from him 😊
A wonderful book. An adult fairy story or myth. An oppressed people, a hero who doesn’t even realise that the world needs him, oppresses who have forgotten that when cornered even a mouse can bite.
It’s not often a book is written in the second person and even less often is it done well. Here it is done magnificently. I simply could not put this story down. I think that we, as readers, are supposed to work out the heritage of the ogres and the Economics but the ending left me openmouthed with surprise. I really didn’t see it coming but upon reflection who else would tell a hero’s tale.
I have read a few of Adrian Tchaikovsky's books but this was my first novella. I have to say at first it was jarring reading in second person point of view. I was completely thrown off but I got into the flow I enjoyed this story very much. It explores genetic modification and society's idea on the class system. The ending got me and I usually can see things coming. Not this time. I think the read readability of the novella will give a whole new perspective after the first run through. This just furthers my love for reading this man's work. He's a machine and his ability to adapt to different genres is amazing. I will be reading more of his novellas in the future.
The variety, speed and quality of Tchaikovsky's output is amazing. I really enjoyed this story of the underdog fighting back in a world where ogres rule. The first half set up the story and the second half of the book explores how and why things change.
No spiders or sentient beings in this one! Just a couple of dogs and a whole lot of "monkeys".
The entire book is in 2nd person which was unexpected but Tchaikovsky pulls it off really well.
Totally unexpected ending. My only complaint is that this could have easily been a full length novel rather than such a short story - I would love to have read more in this story and was sad when it ended.
This was an unexpected treat.
Ogres was one of the best Novellas I have read in a long time and in such a short space was able to defy genre expectations numerous times and continually surprise with interesting twists to keep the reader guessing throughout.
The story is written in second person perspective which isn't that common and may be a little unusual for some readers if you have not seen this before (no worries for me as a former dice wielding role playing gamebook nerd), but this helps to further stretch expectations and give the story additional immersion.
For readers interested in picking up Tchaikovsky but unsure where to start or looking to try some of his work before launching into the acclaimed larger works, this would be a fantastic standalone and would leave you eager to read more.
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Ogres is expected to release 15th March 2022, published by Rebellion/Solaris Books.
"And you’ve struck an ogre. You’ve struck a Master. You’ve done the thing no human may do."
"But when you’re property, it doesn’t matter if your owner treats you well or badly. The ownership is all."
You are Torquell, the son of a village headman - one day, Sir Peter, the landlord and Master Ogre of your village, comes to collect his tax. His son insults and belittles you as naught more than a monkey - you raise your hand to the ogre, the Master, and in so doing your life changes forever.
You know that stupid question that people ask, 'If you could have dinner with anybody, who would it be'? I think my answer would be Adrian Tchaikovsky, and rather than actually holding any conversation with him, I would just ask him to list ideas he's had for stories and novels.
Tchaikovsky seems to so effortlessly conjure up these creative and unique worlds - whether it's the accidentally-engineered intelligent spider society of CHILDREN OF TIME, the bleak and surprisingly intense FIREWALKERS, the majestic galactic terror of the Architects in SHARDS OF EARTH, or the post-apocalyptic expeditionary adventure that was CAGE OF SOULS.
In OGRES, Tchaikovsky creates a succinct but immediately understandable and compelling world where the majority of humanity finds itself under the heels of grotesque ogres, while also using the least used audience perspective; second person.
I can't remember the last time (if ever) I read something written in second person, and it was an odd experience. Torquell is less a protagonist than the player character in a bizarre text adventure - his actions and thoughts are assigned to 'you' and so you think less of Torquell doing it than yourself. It was interesting.
OGRES reads almost like a grim fairy tale, as if being told by a parent - it blends genres, but leans more science fiction than fantasy. The political message isn't exactly subtle, but nevertheless gets you thinking, which I imagine was the point. The world and the slowly revealed mystery behind it is the real star of the show here, though.
A wonderful read that doesn't outstay its welcome. Couple of good twists in the plot, well paced, and a concept which - while simple - I've not seen done before.
Thankyou to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
A story of man vs ogres, told in the 2nd person. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this one, however that quickly changed.
The narrator is a very likeable character who tells the story of the lovable rogue, who daringly faces off the bigger, meaner and scarier characters ogres. Prose is fantastic, making every paragraph enjoyable.
I swallowed this up in one day...I usually take a week for each book but this is completely un-put-downable!
Character and plot go hand in hand. Following the rise of the main character, who gradually unveils the truth about his ogre masters.
5/5 - first 5 star rating of the year and thank you NetGalley & Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky was a novella length book that was enjoyable to read for the most part. I have read no books written in 2nd person that I enjoyed as much. In fact, this could be used by an instructor to show how 2nd person writing should be done.
The politics in it were a little troubling and may be why I can't bring myself to give it a 5-star rating. The novella itself was good enough that I already have recommended it to a friend and added other books by the author to my to-read list… though admittedly that may change if the social leanings in those are similar.
Thank you to @rebellionpublishing (the publisher) and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.
*******Below are spoilers and more depth to my earlier discussion of politics. **********
Ok, the story in this book is like Anthem and Battlefield Earth had a baby at an anti-vaxxer rally. Oddly though, both Rand and Karl Marx would see things to love in this book.
First off, if you read all the way to the middle, you find that this is a story about genetic manipulation on par with Brave New World. Like in BNW, the protagonist is an atavism.... a throw back to what people were before some (the common people) were changed and others (the elite) were not. Unlike BNW, rather than yell into the void, the protagonist leads an uprising of the proletariat against the genetic bourgeois using what they have taught him (hence BE). The author, at one point, describes how the original genetic manipulation began with it being for the common good and people being rewarded and processed to those unwilling to be changed going to prison camps (I felt like I was reading a conspiracy post about the Covid vaccine). The elite, of course, went unchanged (very "for thee but not for me") and eventually became the feudal lords (ogres) of the altered world.
While I enjoyed the inventiveness of the take on genetic manipulation and the style of the prose, the almost right-wing propaganda of the whole thing left me wondering if 2 stars would be more appropriate than 4.
Ogres is a phenomenal genre-bend of fantasy and social commentary. Humans are slaves to the Ogres, forced into serving their every whim. That is until one human starts to ask the bigger questions, threatening the status quo.
Without mincing words, this is one of the best stories I have read in a long time. Tchaikovsky was already one of my go-to authors for an amazing book - from Children of Time to Spiderlight, Made Things to Walking to Aldebaran - he has constantly written some of the best current SFF out there, and this might be my favorite of his work so far.
Told in second-person present-tense (something I’m not usually a fan of that works so brilliantly here), the story goes through a Flowers for Algernon style reveal of discovery as the world expands along with the MCs personal growth. Working along side that, the writing is beautiful, the turn of phrase deployed fantastic.
Honestly, truthfully, if you’re even slightly debating reading Ogres, please just pick it up and do it. It only asks a couple hours of your time and it’ll leave you with important thoughts and questions to think through about what is happening in our world and lives today.
5 of the easiest stars I’ve ever given to a book. Amazing.
Over the course of a brisk 150-page book, Tchaikovsky pointedly outlines a dystopian, yet disturbingly familiar, social order. The ideas here would have comfortably filled out a much longer book, which is not to say that they felt at all short-changed. As I started reading, I was skeptical of the second-person narration (everything is addressed to "you'), but it grew on me. Whether or not you see the plot twists coming will not make that much difference in your enjoyment of the book, and the ending came together in a way I did not anticipate.
7.4/10; 4 stars.
A dystopian novella by Tchaikovsky with many twists and turns,
Tchaikovsky's "Ogres" deals with slavery and genetic engineering while showing horrific solutions to many issues of today's world. It's a good, tight story that takes the best from various genres and mixes them together into an entertaining, thought-provoking Horror-SciFi-Fantasy-Mashup, though some of the meta references and the second person narrator kept pulling me out of the story.
Booktube review to come closer to the release date.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free advanced reading copy in return for an honest review.
A captivating little story, I couldn't put it down.
I have a hard time reviewing this book without revealing any spoilers. That's on the book, though! Even choosing tags or a shelf reveals some parts that are revealed layer by layer in the story.
Ogres dominate humanity, by being bigger and stronger, but also by ogre magic - guns, cars, helicopters.
So what starts out like a fantasy tale quickly transforms into urban fantasy and a dystopia shortly after that.
"Ogres" is beautifully constructed.
This was interesting and exciting. The premise though not the most original, had me hooked from the get-go and it kept me turning the pages up to the very clever ending. I would be more than interested to read a full novel in this world, but for the story that Tchaikovsky chose to tell the format of the novella was great. If he continues writing into this world, Ogres would serve as a perfect introduction.
The plot while describing our heroe's quest to find the truth about the Ogres that hold the humans their slaves, manages to raise some questions that resonate to todays age. I guarantee you, you'll stop and think at some points "hey that's not so different from today".
The prose of Tchaikovsky was what stood out for me the most. Beautiful and atmospheric it did a great job of transferring me to this dystopian world were ogres rule everything and humans exist strictly to serve. The prose was also the main reason I was able to overcome my main issue with this novella...
..The second person narration. Obviously I can't consider this a fault of the author, but it's just that for me the second person narration made me disconnect with the story and every time I picked it back up, it took me a few pages to adjust to it.
Great story, excellent prose and interesting and well developed characters (for a novella at least).
Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion for providing me with this eARC.
"Ogres" is nothing short of a work of genius. I'm glad no one could see my facial expressions while reading, because I'm pretty sure I went through the whole spread of them! I did figure out a major part of the story, but I was given a feeling of triumph over that rather than disappointment. Fantastic story, excellent characters, and, of course, it's written brilliantly.
My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
A estas alturas de la película no creo que sorprenda a nadie afirmando que Adrian Tchaikovsky es un autor extremadamente prolífico y que es difícil seguir su ritmo de publicación, así que si encima pretendemos ponernos al día también con las obras que por alguna razón se han ido quedando atrás, la lectura se convierte en una tarea titánica.
Afortunadamente, también se prodiga escribiendo obras más cortas, como esta Ogres, que ayudan a compensar un poco el atracón de páginas.
Ogres es una novela corta que utiliza la segunda persona para que nos metamos directamente en la piel del protagonista, lo cual tiene un efecto inmediato de inmersión en la historia muy acertado. Además, debido a la longitud de la obra, no pierde su magia a lo largo de todo el volumen. Muy acertada esta elección por parte del autor, que demuestra mucho oficio.
También se puede considerar que la novela corta mezcla géneros, empezando en un entorno fantástico-feudal, con referencia incluso a la leyenda de Robin Hood, pero que luego evoluciona hacia otro tipo de historia, con ciertos toques de miedo, o al menos de truculencia, que se añaden a la mezcla.
Estamos ante una versión muy simplificada de la eterna lucha de clases, esta vez propiciada por una diferencia aún más marcada entre pobres y ricos que la simple economía, pero aunque es ciertamente exagerada no deja de ser una referencia al sistema actual. ¿No es cierto acaso que los hijos de los más pudientes, por el simple hecho de serlo, tienen de partida muchas más oportunidades que los que no lo son? Pues Tchaikovsky parte de esa idea y la lleva hasta el extremo.
Tampoco falta un poco de crítica al belicismo en el libro, con una representación bastante acertada de las batallas en las que los generales enviaban a los soldados a morir casi como en una partida de ajedrez para su regocijo.
Ogres es un libro bastante accesible y recomendable, no es de las mejores obras del autor pero no porque sea mala, si no porque Tchaikovsky alguna vez raya la perfección.
Ogres is that Science Fiction/Fantasy book that seemed quite different from the very outset. The narrative voice was, for me, not my usual favorite The impression is that of a storyteller in the third person. The lead character has his story told. The voice of the narrator is unknown. Despite this sense of unfamiliarity, I found the situations compelling, different, and the tale of the superior race versus the subjugated race to be interesting and at its end, surprising, perhaps shocking.
I had not read anything by Adrian Tchaikovsky before, and I immediately, sought out more by this author. (a good sign!)
Adrian Tchaikovsky does it again. Rollercoaster world building as twists and turns lead you to rethink your assumptions about genre and setting, all wrapped up in an examination of class dynamics and bioethics. Wonderful - perhaps his second best ever novella, beaten only by the sublime Dogs of War. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
My first Tchaikovsky. That was actually meant to be 'Children of Time', which I saw several people whose opinions I value describe as a modern classic of science-fiction. But then my friend Nataliya talked me into a buddy read of this, his new novella, and I read the blurb and thought that it sounded kinda boring, but it seems I can never withstand the draw of the buddy read and so it turned out to be 'Ogres'.
Usually things like that don't end well, because I know myself as a reader and if the blurb says 'boring' to me then more often than not I end up being bored and whoever recommended the book to me is only in for one thing - disappointment. And frankly, we started on the wrong foot here as well. Second person! Goddammit, Tchaikovsky, is what I thought. Additionally, the rather standard plot of the oppressed raising their hand against the oppressing (ogres), paying a steep price for their insolence, and then going on the often told hero's journey to come back and take their revenge didn't really interest me all that much.
But even though I didn't care much about what happened in this rather cruel fantasy tale, I could still see that Tchaikovsky is indeed a very good writer and not even the (usually) dreadful second person narrative got on my nerves any longer after only two or three chapters. As for the plot, it turned out I've been wrong and this book actually takes a very interesting science-fictional turn around the halfway mark and has a couple of things to say about our societal, economical, environmental shortcomings as human beings in both our current days and our past. And what about our future? Are we going to make the same mistakes all over again, because that's just how we are? Or can we be better? Do we even have the chance to, or is it the system that screws us over and we are lost?
In the end this turned out to be a well-written novella with a nice genre twist in the middle and an equally nice plot twist right at the end and I came to both appreciate the book and Tchaikovsky as a writer. Well done, my friend.
Another very enjoyable short book from Adrian Tchaikovsky. Really enjoyed the characters, and the story was enjoyable also. #Ogres #NetGalley
Torquell is the son of the village headman in a bleak, dystopian world that has reverted to a feudal economy ruled by Ogres who treat the human population as their servants. Torquell has enjoyed a free ranging upbringing, smiled on by the village even as he plays pranks and steals apples and meets with the outlaws who live in the woods. However, one day when the landlord, Sir Peter Grimes, a ten foot ogre, comes to collect his taxes with his cruel and oafish son Gerald, Torquell loses his temper and lashes out at Gerald and suddenly finds himself an outcast.
Tchaikovsky has clearly had fun writing this enjoyable novella. At first the world seems strange but as Torquell learns more of its history, it becomes a cautionary tale for our polluted, overpopulated world. Told in the second person, with the narrator only revealed at the end, there is a streak of humour and fun threaded through this sardonic fairytale.
Adrian Tchaikovsky continues to deliver yet another excellent sci-fi book. It starts off as a fantasy novel, with a twist. We follow, the headman's son, Torquell, the village's lovable rogue. While still young, bigger and stronger than all humans around. Nothing compared to the landlord and the other ogres who run the world, using humans as expendable workers for the farms and factories. After an altercation with the ogres he is forced to flee and learn to function in the strange world he knows so little about. This is a mystery novel, where we through the story of Torquell layer by layer learn more. The second-person perspective threw me off a bit, but after getting used to it I'll admit to it being successful and it all comes together well in the end.
I am a big fan of Adrian Tchaikovsky. I've read a number of his works and have always been intrigued by his writing style, way of telling the story, and his plot and character development. Ogres is no different.
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect going in to this book and whatever I did expect, it wasn't what I ultimately got. The hint of suspense, keeping you guessing what was really going on and how things were going to pan out, kept driving the story forward. The story never felt slow and moved with good pace. It was hard to put down at times, leaving me wanting more.
I really enjoyed the story and look forward to Tchaikovskys next book.
I'm going to skip over giving this a synopsis because it's quite twisty from the get go and I don't want to spoil anything. I'll just keep things short. This is an incredibly well-balanced novella that has great ideas, plot and characters without sacrificing anything to stick to the shorter length, and without any padding to justify a novella rather than a short. Tchaikovsky deftly explores some interesting political ideas without it feeling like a lesson in political science, and his simple but often lyrical prose is a joy to read. I will say, I was initially a bit put-off by the second-person narration, but it didn't really take away from the experience for me.
I'm looking forward to his next release, which I'm sure is only a matter of weeks away!
“But when you’re property, it doesn’t matter if your owner treats you well or badly. The ownership is all. We don’t split hairs about who is a better slave master. And you would have been the best owner of all, and that still isn’t enough reason to keep you alive once you’ve decided that owning people is fine, just so long as it’s you that owns them.”
This is a story that doesn’t do what you think it would. It takes turns that are sadder and crueler and angrier than I anticipated, seamlessly joining fantasy and science fiction (remember that murky line between magic and sufficiently advanced technology? And I would have been less surprised had I paid attention to the helicopter on the cover). And bringing up the eternal questions about fairness and privilege and exploitation, the haves and the have-nots.
“You understand where the ogres came from, after that.”
“Because in the end, changing the world was too complicated, and left to their own devices people wouldn’t change their habits, and so we had to change the people.”
Yeah, Adrian Tchaikovsky is good. By now he’s absolutely perfect at novellas. And he’s good at delivering a well-timed punch that sets things on a path that changes everything, mixing humor and pathos without a second thought.
“You’re all about the big picture, and you’ve become aware that there is a very big picture indeed, buried in the history of the world, and everything in your life seems to have been thrown up to hide it.”
I’ve read an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin recently that focused on the rhythms in the narrative, both oral and written, and it made me pay much more conscious attention to the rhythms of the story. And it’s very impressive how well Tchaikovsky’s story flows, how right from the start it falls into a rhythm that makes it click for me — competently and seemingly effortlessly. He’s obviously really good at his craft, good at his prose, and it shows.I love competent writing which is a pure pleasure to read. And yes, here he takes a risk of putting the entire story into the second person narration, which to many people is the instant sign to back away slowly, but you needn’t worry here — Mr. T knows what he’s doing, and he’s very good even with this difficult style. Just trust him, and he’ll make it worth it.
“But so the stories go, and you prefer them. Already you’re starting to see the world in a certain way, with that overlay people paint where desperation and necessity get gilded over into stories.”
“The might of the ogres isn’t solely contained in their great limbs and strength. But that is what strikes the eye, when you see them. You, big and strong for a man, are used to weighing others by the amount of world they displace and the force they can exert.”
Don’t be annoyed at the start by seemingly standard plot of a fantasy hero’s journey from lovable rogue to a competent leader; it will evolve into quite more by the end. Tchaikovsky will bring his fantasy not only to science fiction but also to too-real reality, and he has quite a bit to say about that. Are we doomed to repeat the same old history because of our nature? Do revolutions ultimately return to status quo because it’s all about getting a slice of that proverbial pie for the leaders? And why are there no spiders in this book, at all?
“And then you find a book which finally teaches you the right questions.”
4.5 stars which I will round up because he’s that good. By now I’ve read quite a few of his novellas, and this is among my favorites, close to “Walking to Aldebaran” and “Spiderlight”.
Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing Ltd. for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is another excellent Tchaikovsky novella that does a lot in the limited amount of pages. Tchaikovsky is one of my favorite discoveries of the past year and the amount of inventiveness and creativity he has is staggering. Each book I read of his is unique and tackles different ideas.
This book focuses a lot on various classes in this world and the inequality that follows, how the upper class controls the poor through religion, economics, and pure brutalism.
There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, the writing is very tight and effective of conveying the deep ideas that are packed in with a level of nuance and subtlety of his previous works.
Highly recommend, this one is really interesting and very relevant to society today. Another great science fiction book that explores the bug ideas and muddy ethics that face us today.
If you enjoy masterful writing, great story telling, and a dystopian science fiction plot, read this book now and don’t bother reading any reviews. Trust me.
OK, I guess you want more details?
This is the story of a boy, Torquell, born of two sickly parents who both have died, and yet he flourished and grows to be an unusually robust, exuberant, and rambunctious young man.
Immediately, it’s evident that the narrative style is very unusual in two respects and both of these aspects evoke the feeling of a mother talking to her child.
The first thing of note is the narrative style and verb tense. There’s a first-person narrator speaking to Torquell the way an expectant mother might speak directly to her unborn child instead of speaking about him to others. Like she might say “Remember that you are gifted my son; you will become a successful author and will not need to practice law” while we as bystanders eavesdrop. (Some reviewers say the story is written from the second-person point of view, but I disagree because the “you” mentioned is not you, dear reader, it is Torquell; and the “I” who is speaking is another character in the story as revealed later.)
This “motherly” narrative is compelling but a bit disconcerting because the story is relayed in the past tense instead of future tense, so we realize that a lot has happened and we are catching up. And with every subsequent action and success, that troubling past tense leaves an ominous twinge of dread instead of hope and anticipation of what the future will bring.
We learn there is a very good reason for us to proceed with fear. Torquell lives a precarious life as a villager subjugated by the larger, more powerful ogre overlords. Like the peasants of old, the villagers owe their lord a percentage, and the lord claims that with an air of nonchalant greed and cruelty.
The other thing that immediately stands out in the narrative is the rhythmic, lyrical cadence that feels like a lullaby or free verse. It flows as gently as if you were in a boat carried downstream, bobbing, swaying, drifting naturally from one plot point to the next, with no trudging through a tangled thicket of syntax. It’s euphonious, mellifluous, natural, and beautiful. It’s as soothing as a lullaby.
As the book progresses, the author intensifies the anticipation and horror with small bits of subtle but unmistakable foreshadowing woven in so briefly, lightly, and skillfully. The early scene in the kitchen builds up with foreshadowing and finally explodes when Torquell sees remnants of bones, cooked and the ogre’s son taunting him. He comes to a full realization and retaliates, a fateful act that begins his hero’s journey.
As the story unfolds, there’s an obvious allusion to Robin Hood in the woods, which sets up the anticipation of three classes: the ogres (as rulers, masters, consumers); the people or populace (as slaves and property); and the forest-dwelling outlaws. These outlaws protect themselves, but are they capable and full of honor of a hero like their namesake Robin Hood? Can they “steal from the rich to give to the poor?” Or will they cower, double-cross, and cheat?
Toquell is captured and held as an indulged pet of an ogre for six years. The relationship between the people and the ogres that has been hinted at now become the focal point as the story grows clearer and clearer while Toquell struggles to figure out their relationship.
By the mid point of the novel, it’s interesting that the prose switches from the style of subtle fantasy and agrarian subculture as Torquell’s reading material becomes more and more sophisticated. As his knowledge grows, the prose becomes more conventionally science fiction, which is a really cool technique—and very good timing, too, because by that point, the tension so high I want to devour the story as quickly as I could turn the pages.
In the end, the story becomes as crystal clear as it can, wrapped up almost as tightly and neatly as babe in swaddling clothes. I would have loved more emphasis on honor, for Toquell to have more unambiguous human interactions, and a stronger ending as a catharsis to clear out all of that slowly building existential dread. The silence evokes the earlier “unsaid” truths to show the prevalence of silence as a tool of subjugation. According to Wikipedia the derivation of Toquell is “Thor” (Norse god of thunder) + “kettle” (sacrificial cauldron). I ended the novel with so many unresolved feelings about him, Minith, and the Economics. Let the silence lay.
I adored this novella. This - believe it or not - is my first Adrian Tchaikovsky book, so I had very, very, high expectations.
Now I have given many fantastic books five star reviews, as I have here, but it is very rarely that I call a book 'perfect'. This to me, is a perfect piece of work. Beautifully and emotionally written, and not one single superfluous word between these pages.
It takes over your brain at the beginning as you believe you are reading a fairytale of some description. However, as you progress, the underlying themes start to emerge and you will be absolutely transfixed at just how damn clever this author is. I love stories like this where you could actually write an essay about the contents: genetic engineering; slavery (a race thought of as 'monkeys'); the treatment of women and many more. You'll notice that I'm telling you nothing about the actual storyline, I truly don't want to spoil your enjoyment.
Wonderful writing. Mr Tchaikovsky, you've got yourself a new admirer.
I chose to read an ARC of this book, which I voluntarily and honestly reviewed. Many thanks to the author and NetGalley.
One of the best books I have ever read. Reminded me why I love Orwell's works so much.
"Ogres" is an important book to read ; written in an exquisite style. The idea of the book isn't exactly unique. But the story is unlike anything I have read before. It's unparalleled and extraordinary. I loved this book a lot. This novella is packed with way more significance than you can imagine. The first book that I'm going to add to my list of the best books of 2022.
My second Tchaikovsky of the year already. One of his shorter books and, as with Firewalkers, they don't tend to be his most subtle work. But, again as with Firewalkers, at this length you can get away with a burst of concentrated fury at the state of the world and its likely destination. We open on a pastoral sort of setting, where humans labour in the fields, told by the church that it is only right and proper that they stay in their place; it is divinely ordained that the Masters are bigger, stronger, better. Not only do human not have any right to use the technology ogres do, or eat meat – they physically can't. Certainly it's unthinkable that any human could ever think to strike one of their huge overlords, however much the ogres might figuratively or literally throw their weight around.
Until, inevitably, the protagonist does.
Now, even when he's in his more direct mode, Tchaikovsky is not a writer to take the route one approach to storytelling, and where it goes from there is not either of the obvious routes, or at least not immediately and nor is that where it ends up. I suspected a few things ahead of time, but even for those the breadcrumb trail was played out with sufficient aplomb that I didn't resent being ahead of the game, not least because – unlike when that happens in eg a detective story – there are very good reasons for the reader to twig ahead of the protagonist. Even being told in the second person is ultimately justified, with only the slightest sleight of hand. So yeah, very much the second-best new book from him I've read this year, but the bar is high enough for that not to be the diss it sounds.
Tchaikovsky does it again! Bravo! This was entertaining from the first sentence until its conclusion. This is one to add to your reading list!
4.5 / 5 ✪
Ogres is a bit of an oddity as it’s written almost exclusively in the 2nd person. While that’s something that is often difficult to pull off, this novella handles it quite nicely. Part of this might be its small size (which at least helped), but the writing style and story also pair nicely with this choice, combining to convey Torquell’s tale as something of a legend, or epic. Which makes perfect sense, as Torquell <i>is</i> a hero.
Ogres starts as many other stories (especially dystopians) do: with an assertion. “This is how the world is”. And the point of the tale—at least in part—is to discern just how or why the world is this way, and what’s to be done about it. In this particular world, Ogres rule over their flock like gods; masters uncrossed and unequaled by ‘man, culling and controlling the populace to ensure no one rises above their place. With all the climate-change novellas that Tchaikovsky has put out recently, it’s refreshing to see a new tact. But while this may not be the obvious connotation (of a world ruined), it isn’t <i>not</i> that. I won’t spoil the mystery, as to just how or why this came to be, I’ll just say that you shouldn’t be surprised if there’s an allegory for life somewhere within. If you’re familiar at all with Tchaikovsky however, this will hardly shock you.
It’s quite a good read, honestly. Tchaikovsky’s short fiction is surprisingly good—often stronger than his novel-length works of late. And he’s been very consistent—pumping out 1-2 novellas a year like clockwork. One of the best parts about them is that they don’t read like a novella, and Ogres is no exception. Although it is a shorter read, the text does not skimp on world-building; the world is well-formed, detailed, and well-rounded, set up, and executed. While it loses some of this depth in the later stages, by then the plot is firmly int he driver’s seat and the audience isn’t going anywhere. I had absolutely no trouble reading this, and I hope you’ll prove the same. While I didn’t spend much time within its pages, Ogres left a long lasting impression, somewhat in contrast to its smaller size. The only negative I can give this is its price tag—which has become all the more common of late. $10 is too much for an ebook, particularly one that will probably only last 3-5 hours. But it’s no less expense than anything else nowadays, and is actually cheaper than a comparable story from the likes of Tor.com.
I gratefully received an advance copy of Ogres via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
I have become a fan of Adrian Tchaikovsky over the past few years. Children of Time and The Doors of Eden being two of my favorites. This is a novella length story that reminded me of Firewalkers which I very much enjoyed. Humans are subservient to their Ogre Masters in this story. They farm and work so their masters can have everything they desire. Its just the way its always been. Our protagonists journey reveals the history of the Ogres and their bloody appetites. I enjoyed almost all of what I read. There was one paragraph that made me cringe as it could be construed as very "antivax". I hope that's not the case but it certainly left an impression. Other themes involving the "masters"/1% and the 'monkeys'/ working classes were well done. Its well timed to write a book that deals with power and wealth inequalities in 2022.
Mr. Tchaikovsky's work is always a fun experience and I look forward to whatever he happens to do next!
Everyone raves about Tchaikovsky and after being reassured there were no bugs, I began reading Ogres.
I love a fairy tale; ogres, serfs, the chance to put right the wrongs…The opening is pretty much what you expect from the blurb but then it starts to twist and turn, leaving behind the book you expect forcing the reader to face up to our own inadequacies.
“For if humanity found itself able to eat meat, we would multiply beyond all reason and strip the world bare, not a beast, not a fowl left.”
Exactly, thought my veggie heart. Although, why can’t they eat meat? Hang on, that carriage sounds like a car…. Is that a gun? What is going on!
It’s these twisty turns that Tchaikovsky weaves in so effortlessly that make this novella feel like a fully fledged book.
Unusually, Ogres is written in second person. I can’t think of many books that use this device - Leckie’s excellent Raven Tower comes to mind. It initially jars but quickly allows the story to grow, echoing the scientific values found in the latter half.
It’s super short, only around 100 pages, but they deliver a well thought out tale that kept me up far too late.
Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for providing this E- ARC in exchange for an honest review.
‘Ogres are bigger than you, Ogres are stronger than you, Ogres rule the world,’
Ogres, Adrian Tchaikovsky – Coming March 15th 2022
‘Everyone Cheers. Hooray for the Ogres’
Ogres, is Adrian Tchaikovsky’s latest novel, yet another piece of evidence that Tchaikovsky is an expert in the craft of World building. After his previous examples of expertise, including Arthur C. Clarke Winner Children of Time (2016) and Doors of Eden (2020), we needed little convincing of the fact, but upon entering the world of Ogres, you are reminded of Tchaikovsky’s undeniable skill, as you are engulfed by a new world and an engaging flawless narrative.
“They’ve always been there, your Masters the ogres.
All your life and your father’s life and your grandfather’s and his.”
Torquell is the son of the headman of his village. Living in the farmlands of a fantastical land, peasant community who inhabit the village work hard for the Landlord, who’s visit is overdue. In an interview, Tchaikovsky describes Torquell as ‘a bit of a rascal,’ as he often steals apples and runs off with a group of outlaws in the woods, just before the Landlord arrives. The narrative is constructed in a way that forces you to make assumptions about the setting. With achingly obvious, yet brilliant, allusions to Robin Hood:
‘The leader of the outlaws in the wood is called Roben. And yes, he wears a hood’
His band of ‘Merry men’ and nods towards ‘Merry Greenwood,’ having similarities to Robin Hoods homestead of Sherwood Forest. Tchaikovsky seems to consciously position the novel in this fantastical medieval-style village to ground you in this setting. It is only when the Landlord comes to visit that these assumptions do not seem to fit. The introduction of the Ogres and their magic, human genetic vegetarianism, the weirdly oppressive (but not unfamiliar) attitude of the church and the Ogres ideology, you do begin to ask questions that you know will have a morose answer, the more you read the more the more you wonder… Who are the Ogres? Where do they come from? And why can’t people eat meat…?
Longer review coming soon on https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/
A huge thank you you Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for this review copy!
Lucy Nield PhD Candidate, University of Liverpool. Twitter: @lucy_nield1 Instagram: @lucy_dogs_books
Adrian Tchaikovsky's books take a little warming up to get into (I'm usually questioning whether to continue after the first chapter), but hey are worth the effort.. In "Ogres", Tchaikovsky shows us what seems like a fairy tale: a young man in a village oppressed by ogres, fighting back. As the story unfolds, we learn more and more about these ogres and their world, and start encountering some elements that seem out of place - cars, trains, helicopters... - until the story switches genre. The story is told in the second person, which is very odd at first, but makes a lot of sense by the end, in a masterful twist that Tchaikovsky managed to pull off.
Highly recommend. This is a very unique book. The less you know about it the best, to experience all the surprises the author has in store.
This was the first book I have read by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and his newest! Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing Ltd. for this digital ARC in return for my honest review.
The start of the book was a bit strange to say the least. The story is told through second person narration, and it annoyed me and confused me so much at the beginning that I almost DNF’d it, but I decided to push through it a bit, hoping it would become better after a few chapters.
And it did! I got used to the second person and enjoyed it, luckily. This book is small, but very surprising. Never read anything like it. Tchaikovsky does a great job with upholding the mystery, giving tiny breadcrumbs throughout the book until all is revealed. We follow Torquell on this life's quest to find out who he is, how the world works and how he becomes an outlaw. And it was especially rewarding to find out who was talking to Torquell the whole time. Completely original story and amazing execution, although for me it would’ve been a bit better without the second person narration.
If I'd known beforehand that this story have been wrote using the second-person narration, I may have hesitated before reading it, even liking the author as I do like Adrian Tchaikovsky's books.
All my precedent experiences have been hopeless: this narrative technique is, in my point of view, nearly impossible to manage without making the reader voyeuristic, inconfortable, assaulted - and consequently isn't likely to make for a good read.
In the end, I'm really happy that I wasn't prejudiced, being in the dark, as I loved this short story, in which I manage to immerse easily, effortlessly.
Here, the narrative technique induce the reader to wonder about what could have happened between the beginning of the story and the end. And if one big mystery is quite easy to guess, and enjoyably so, the final twist managed to surprise me.
A very entertaining story which deals with quite a lot of important actual topics!
Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky, a well thought out book that makes you think you know whats going on but leaves you knowing that you really didnt know.
Another enthralling novella from this author that is full of surprises and a look at humanity that is quite uncomfortable. Not quite dystopian, nor sci for or even fantasy but a story that bridges many genres to bring a tale that had me desperately turning the pages seeking answers.
I thoroughly got behind the protagonist who struggled to go from much indulged farm boy to something much bigger, a hero ! Yes this young man did indeed grow as a character and his journey actually resonates with world I view today which is quite a scary thought !
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Año nuevo, mismo objetivo que los últimos: intentar mantenerme al día con todo lo que Adrian Tchaikovsky va publicando durante el año. Este año comienza casi como los últimos cuatro, con una novela corta que se publica en estas fechas en la editorial Rebellion de Reino Unido. Si no me equivoco, esta es la quinta de una serie de obras de una duración mas contenida donde el autor británico revisa algunos de los tópicos de la ciencia ficción para darles una vuelta de tuerca a veces bélica, otras cómica, pero con gran originalidad en la mayoría de las ocasiones.
Como referencia, la ultima novela corta de esta serie (todas ellas historias independientes) fue One day all this will be yours, publicada en catalán por Chronos como Un dia tot això serà teu pero aun inédita en castellano. Editoriales, por favor, echad un ojo a esta divertidísima visión de los viajes en el tiempo. Una maravilla a la que no pude evitar darle cinco estrellas como cinco soles.
Estamos hablando de ciencia ficción, pero esta novela se llama Ogres (Ogros, en castellano). ¿Qué está pasando aquí? Lo que esta pasando es que Tchaikovsky sigue en su intención de mezclar dos géneros tan unidos y, a veces, indistinguibles, como son la fantasía y la ciencia ficción. Ya lo hizo con su reciente Elder Race, publicada a finales de 2021, donde una trama aparentemente fantástica termina derivando en una historia de ciencia ficción de la que no puedo dar mas detalles para no romper la magia de la lectura. Lo cual me lleva a la pregunta de ¿volveremos a ver a Tchaikovsky escribiendo una novela de fantasía como la de los inicios de su carrera próximamente?
Ogres nos cuenta la historia de Torquell, el hijo de la persona que lideró un tiempo atrás el pueblo en el que viven. Sir Peter Grimes es el dueño de este terreno y aparece cada cierto tiempo a cobrarse una especie de diezmo. Grimes es un ogro de gran tamaño que se acompaña de, entre otros, su hijo aprendiz de terrateniente. A pesar de la docilidad de Torquell, una de estas visitas termina en una pelea entre él y Gerald, el hijo de Grimes. Las consecuencias de esta pelea hacen que Torquell tenga que abandonar el asentamiento para siempre.
Como venía avisando en la reseña, esta no es la novela que esperabas al comenzar la lectura. Si bien la sinopsis que os resumido con mis propias palabras parece proponer una historia de fantasía o incluso un camino del héroe clásico, a mitad de lectura cambia totalmente de tercio. La ciencia ficción y, en especial, lo distópico, entra en juego para darle un punto de vista muy distinto a lo que habíamos leído hasta ese momento. Incluso temas como el cambio climático, que ya apareció en una de las novelas cortas de esta colección anteriormente (Firewalkers) vuelve a aparecer con un giro inesperado que hacen de Ogres una lectura cuanto menos sugerente.
Otro punto característico de esta novela es que la novela se cuenta en segunda persona. Algo que siempre resulta un riesgo y su ejecución no siempre un éxito. En este sentido, la lectura de Ogres no se ve especialmente condicionada por este factor hasta que al final todo cobra cierto sentido. No recuerdo haber leído ninguna obra de Tchaikovsky escrita en segunda persona hasta ahora, pero en cualquier caso el resultado es notable.
Ogres es, nuevamente, una nueva vuelta de tuerca a algunos de los temas mas conocidos de la ciencia ficción. Si bien en anteriores novelas del autor solo con la sinopsis podías intuir cuál era el que iba a retorcer, en este caso la sorpresa llega mediada la lectura. En apenas doscientas páginas, Tchaikovsky propone un relato en segunda persona donde casi nada de lo que creías estar leyendo era lo que estaba pasando en realidad.
Ogres is a short sharp novella from the prolific Tchaikovsky, and I have come to think of his short books like appetisers, spaces where he can work an idea that doesn't lend itself to one of his doorsteps or multipart fictions. Usually there's a concept or a setting he has knocking around that he gives a run around too - the time travel romance or an aspect of climate change. Ogres is a little odd on that front therefore, and it isn't so much a bold new idea (though he plays with the expectations of some of his ideas), rather it feels like a sketch of a much bigger piece of work that he realised he didn't want to go into too much detail on, or perhaps more likely, he knew he couldn't hang his ending on. The longer a story is, the less likely it is that you will get a twist at the end - its the nature of characterisation and reader investment. This hasn't got much of a twist, but it has got one which latterly explains why I thought the main character felt surprisingly flimsy for Tchaikovsky.
We start in a word where ordinary people are the serfs of the Ogres, the land-owning class who - like Ogres are bigger, stronger and as despotic as a landlord class usually is. Our hero, Torquell is the son of the local overseer, the human who collects the taxes for the property, and the surrounding villages. A little bit of an arrogant knob he strikes out against the landlords son, even more of an arrogant knob, and has to escape.As the story unfolds we discover why people are shocked that a human could even hurt an Ogre, and Torquell goes on a journey of discovery and then revolution. And its not as if there aren't some interesting ideas thrown in here, and the final shape (and cynicism) of revolution is very much a part with the political underpinnings of his other books. But it all rushes by so fast, as if Tchaikovsky knows you've read this type of thing before, or you can fill in the blanks because actually he doesn't really want to spend that much time in Torquell's head because it might tip the wink of the ending but also, he's a bit of a knob.
I enjoyed Ogres in the one sitting I read it in, whilst being pretty sure it is more of an exercise than anything. It reminded me a little of Animal Farm, or even some Plato, where via some quite generic storytelling he can tease out a few philosophical ideas which sit in the left wing libertarian zone (there is a central consent conversation here that feels analogous if very different to vaccine arguments). And the biggest surprise to me was that there was never really an explanation for the title, or indeed the top hat on the cover, except perhaps as a minor misdirect in the early chapters to make you think of a Victoriana, or proto-steampunk setting. Minot Tchaikovsky, but fun.
This is a cautionary tale about what could be. About what we as a species may be in for. And about standing up for yourself against oppression.
I don't want to say much more as that would really start to spoil the short read of what it reveals throughout its tale. But if you like stories of subordinates standing up to their masters this book is something you should be excited for.
Adrian Tchaikovsky has yet to disappoint after his amazing latest novella, Ogres. Narrated in the second person, it discusses various ideas and themes well balanced with its initially straightforward plot and characters that then unexpectedly diverges into something fascinating. How he can think up these concepts and stories and still put out well-written books at a consistently rapid rate is beyond me.
The set-up is fairly familiar, reminiscent of a classical fantasy beginning. Torquell is the son of the village head, a rebellious teenager with roguish charm, tentative friends with the outcasts in the forest led by Robin. When the region’s Ogre overseer Peter arrives with his son to collect taxes, an incident with Torquell kicks off what seems to be his hero’s journey. Partway through, however, the story takes some interesting turns and really delves into what it wants to explore. It touches on many themes, prominent among them being slavery and servitude, the perils of excessive ambition and greed, the many facets of institution and rebellion, and at its core, what drives people to be who they are. Given the book’s short length, it mused on each for the appropriate amount of time and wove them together wonderfully as the story progressed. It is very well paced; enough time is spent with each plot beat such that they don’t overstay their welcome while also giving each aspect its proper time to breathe: before the inciting event, the flight from Theo, Lady Isadora’s service, and the rebellion.
I loved the second-person narration, it lent itself well to the story direction and the eventual twists at the end. It allowed for pithy meta-commentary on the nature of heroes and tales and relevant events in general, which definitely added to the experience and injected the novella with a distinct narrative personality. The characters were solid. They served their purposes well with what they represented and were decently faceted enough to not feel sparse. Lady Isadora, for example, being an Ogre in a very interesting social position, between her seeming sympathies and her actual institutional entrenchment in the society that privileges her. The worldbuilding was excellent as well, one of the more fascinating aspects as we got deeper into the story. While not of excessive depth, the world was sketched in a way to make it feel real, having enough detail and later revelations that provided an initial sense of mysterious familiarity and made everything seem sensical. Tchaikovsky does this wonderful thing of seamlessly blending science fiction and fantasy to create his worlds and explore concepts, something that was much more the focus in his other novella, Elder Race.
The ending was unexpected, but fitting and fantastic. Revelations about the constructed society and the narrative twists at the end really nailed the themes and their nuances and wrapped up the story itself quite memorably. It also added context to the necessity of the second-person perspective, which I was a fan of. I would say that Ogres was a consistently engaging and fun read that ranks among my favourite novellas alongside Elder Race, The Emperor’s Soul, and The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince, though I’ve not read very many as of yet.
I don't even like second-person narratives, its why I have put off reading The Fifth Season for a few years, but of course Adrian Tchaikovsky somehow makes it work. I think this book took about a dozen left turns so that in the middle and near the end I had no clue how the story was going to wrap up.
Ogres was so good that I read it in one sitting but I could read more stories that are set hundreds of years in our future if a sequel is ever released. I think this author has become a favorite of mine because all of Adrian Tchaikovsky works are so creative and any author that can make me appreciate second person perspective is truly one of the greats.
Ogres is a dark allegory for what faces us in a modern world of climate change and late stage capitalism.
Told from a second person perspective (which I love), the subject being a village headman's son, Torquell. Torquell is a bit restless for a villager, much less subdued than others, associates with outlaws and whatnot. Village life is simple and seemingly content, except for the periodic visits from the Ogres who sweep through demanding a large portion of the village goods and produce, being wined & dined, all for being bigger and stronger than the villagers, as well having magic. Because Torquell doesn't seem to accept submission being his lot in life, one day his attempt to stand up for himself completely changes things forever.
This is an incredibly challenging read, it's bleak and gruesome. At the simplest level this is a thinly veiled slavery narrative. The Ogres of course don’t know themselves as Ogres, but Masters and landlords, viewing the villagers as something less, to be exploited and used. Many elements align with real world history, ranging from the way religion is deeply entangled with oppression to medical experimentation. There are elements of being elevated from Torquell's life in the village, but in a way that compels him to do terrible things for the will of the Masters, still viewed as subhuman. Beyond the historical connections, there are also thoughts of the future, what could gene editing mean for mankind in the coming age.
Tchaikovsky here, as often, does a good job of obscuring worldbuilding in a way that initially appears one way, then slowly reveals it is entirely different from those preconceptions. However, I thought for the most part it was a bit obvious the direction it was going. The real impact of this was with the more grounded ways it engaged the topic, the human past and future regarding slavery and workers rights, more so than that speculative about the technological futures. I would say this frames a quite scathing view of capitalism, <spoiler>with the masters quite literally eating their own kind who they've exploited</spoiler>, and looks at the power of resistance. I think this would be a great book club/buddy read, fairly short with a lot of thought provoking elements to discuss.
Let me save you time - get this book and make sure you have some time because it is unputdownable.
From the king of quick hitting stories comes "Ogres." I have read a number of Mr. Tchaikovsky's novellas and while they are all very good - I think this one is his best.
Told from a second person's point of view this story starts out at over 100 mph (or 160.934 kph) and just does not let up. Great snark and nasty politics - just good stuff.
Adrian Tchaikovsky does it again! Powerful, deep questions delivered in a bite-sized story.
Tchaikovsky's Ogres is the story of Torquell, our protagonist and headman's son, in a feudal economic world ruled by ogres. This is the natural order where humans are servents and ogres are the masters of the world, property, and the people themselves. Nobody dares defy an ogre. But when Torquil raises his hand against an ogre, all hell breaks loose. The story follows Torquill's journey in the world of ogres and the reality behind it. Anything more would spoil the fun.
It was an interesting book to read. The second person narration was off-putting in the first 2-3 chapters but it grows on you. Everything happens not to Torquell but to 'You' . We start to learn about the world layer by layer, about the power imbalance, and the place of humans in a society of ogres.
Like his other books, Tchaikovsky's contempt for humanity's grand plans for saving the species forever is on full display here. <spoiler> Ogres's is not a world of fantasy or alien invasion. This is a world where some elite thought to manage the 'human crisis'. It is the world of gene editing, selected elites, population crisis, and more importantly twisted human nature </spoiler>. His sociopolitical commentary is brutal and on-point. Concise story-telling at its finest.
Thanks Solaris/Rebellion Books and Net Galley for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I really loved the blurb.and thought this book would be in.yo start off the pace was really slow. But it picked up and got to I couldn't stop reading till the end. Well written and unique. Will try look for other books from the author
Ogres are bigger than humans. They are stronger. Ogres rule the world, and humans stay in their place. But life in the village is good, provided they meet their landlord’s demands. Good, that is, until Torquell strikes his Ogre landlord’s son. Fleeing his home, Torquell unwittingly sets off on a journey to uncover the dark secrets at the heart of the Ogres rule and maybe change the world.
Part dystopian future, part sci-fi, Ogres is a masterclass in storytelling. Using the second-person narrative, we follow the misadventures of Torquell as he moves from idyllic village life to high-tech city life. Put like that, it seems like an extreme genre swing, yet as the story unfolds, each progression forward in narrative and technology makes sense. At no point was I overawed or confused by the leaps. This is Tchaikovsky at his best; the genre rules fit his story and not the other way around.
Ogres explores the theme of the Haves vs the Have Nots, a topic continually in our news. The Ogres have everything; land, education, science, meat, and humans are separated into land workers, factory workers, and even soldiers so the ogres can play at war. Kept downtrodden and in fear of their masters, the humans never rise up, although they are more numerous. All fight has been removed from them.
Tchaikovsky makes a case for education as a great leveller. Torquell bumbles from mistake to mistake until he is taken in by Ogress, Isadora, a scientist who collects humans with a keen mind. Under the supervision of Minith, Isadora’s human servant, Torquell learns to read and study human history from before the arrival of the Ogres in the land. I won’t go into too much detail because that would ruin the experience for you, but Torquell’s discoveries push him to rise up against the Ogres hoping for a better future.
Normally, I am not a fan of second-person present tense as a narrative style, but it works here, especially when you understand who is talking. That revelation made me go back over certain sections to see where the mysterious speaker gave details of Torquell’s life versus guessing his thoughts and feelings, where dialogue is used and where it isn’t. Ogres is so cleverly written that the clues are there all along. But, like a magician, Tchaikovsky encourages us to see what he wants rather than what is right in front of us.
At a time in our lives when the wealthy act as if they are above the law, and we’re bombarded with warnings about eating less meat to reduce global warming, Ogres acts as a warning against being told what to do and submitting our bodies to the extremes of science without question.
**Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for the eARC of this incredible title!!**
This book was an absolute rollercoaster!! I have always heard great thinks about Tchaikovsky and recently read my first novella from him so I was super excited to be approved for this ARC.
The book follows Torquell, a human that lives in a village controlled by ogres….. like every other village in the world. Ogres are superior to man in every way and control everything that there is to control.
What starts out as a fairy-tale sounding land, quickly tumbles a little too close to reality for comfort. There were some insane twists that I did not see coming, and it’s the first time in a while that I yelled out loud at an ending to a book….
My only gripe about this book, and the reason for the loss of half a star, is that it is written in first person. I just couldn’t get into a good rhythm while reading it, and even though it was only 150 pages and I was hooked on the story, it felt like an effort.
I will definitely be recommending this to anyone that will listen for some time. Ogres is for you if you like science fiction, alternate histories, rebellious main characters, and thrillers.
Book of the month for me for February 2022--5 Stars
Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This novella is told in 2nd person and I was very unsure how I was going to react to this. This decision to do this was brilliant. It made me connect so much with the story and the emotions. It felt like I was living this story.
It’s Ogres vs Economics!
The Ogres are the Masters, but how long can they expect to keep the humans under their boot-heel? Torquell, the miscreant, has something to say about that!
This astonishing look at a possible future for our planet will have you contemplating the effects of science on our biosphere. What may first appear to be a simple story has the depth to keep your curiosity engaged.
Another excellent novella from this wonderfully prolific author. Find anything he’s written and read it today!
A little longer than novella length, a very well-constructed and paced book with twists and 'reveals' throughout as the story unfolds. A (slightly) rebellious prince of the land begins having problems with the landlords and rulers, in a world where ogres rule and take tribute from regional farmed settlements. I had suspicions from the start that all was not what it seemed, and (no spoilers!) that is the case as the nature of the world is gradually revealed. Highly recommended!
Ogres rule the world. They are bigger and better than you humans, and God even designed them to rule over you.
Ogres is a standalone novella from Adrian Tchaikovsky following Torquell, a rebellious son of a local headman. His father reports to the landlord and Master, an ogre. We follow Torquell as he struggles to find his position in this world after raising a hand against his betters.
The first thing I noticed in picking up ogres was the use of second person. It is written as though we are Torquell and our life story is being told to us. This is a very underused style in speculative fiction and it gave Ogres a highly distinctive feel and tone. As always Tchaikovsky has brilliant if somewhat efficient prose, and I think he made use of the second person perspective very well. It felt very visceral to me, and immersed me deeply considering the small word count.
Overall, the plot, themes, worldbuilding, enticing tone and prose made this an absolute hit. I couldn't have found a better way to spend a few hours in an evening. This is definitely the best novella I have read from Tchaikovsky so far, easily outstripping Ironclads and Firewalkers.
Would highly recommend. 5 stars.
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 cozy 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 atomated 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!
Another masterpiece by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This is the second novella I've read by him and I was once again blown away by how much he can pack into a short novel! This was not what I was expecting at all. The blend of fantasy and sci-fi was immaculate. The same theme as Elder Race occurs in this one with a different setting... the thin line between the truth you were taught and "the truth". It touches on social, economical and environmental issues and genetic manipulation. So much happens in this little book with so many twists that keeps you gripped all the way!
Knocked half a star off for the second person narration. It was hard to get into at first but well worth the effort.
Thank you Rebellion/Solaris and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 Stars - Original, insightful and twisty
(Mild spoilers ahead)
Ogres is another novella by Adrian Tchaikowsky who seems to be able to produce books at an awe-inspiring rate. The last of his novellas I read was "One day all this will be yours" and this one is very different but with the same dry wit and insightful writing I have come to expect from him.
Our story follows Torquell, the local "prince" in a world that sounds like it comes straight out of a quaint fairytale. He lives a peaceful life and the only trouble he has is the one he gets himself into, roaming the woods and living the life. But then we hear about the "Masters" or "Ogres" as people call them. They look like humans but are much larger and visit their villages to take what is theirs: taxes, resources, girls - it sounds like a classic medieval setup of a feudal system with the according power dynamics, no? But then we find out that the Ogres actually drive cars, have modern weapons and are the only ones who are able to digest meat or even touch dead animals.
Torquell, who has a bit of a short temper, gets into trouble again, but this time with the Master's son. He has to flee his very small world and only then we learn bit by bit just what it is that is going on with the world. And we realize that this is not a Fantasy novella after all but rather some sort of dystopian Sci-Fi.
The pacing here is absolutely brilliant. Since the story is told from Torquell's perspective we start out just as igonrant as he is and follow him along his journey to understanding a world so vastly different from what he considered normal that it is absolutely mind-blowing. We watch him grow more mature and responsible with this knowledge, which felt very true to me.
This journey is also the perfect backdrop to ask some very pertinent questions about the current state of our society and the pickle we have gotten ourselves into, the nature of power and the future of mankind. Who will pay the price for the mistakes that those in power have made?
There was one thing that annoyed me though - time and again it is being implied that humans need animal protein to be strong and virile, and pure vegetarianism is being connected to weakness on a physical but also personality level. Really?! I was rather disappointed that Tchaikowsky would go with a "real men/women need meat" narrative.
But other than that this was a smart and entertaining read that should appeal to just about everyone who enjoys speculative fiction.
I really like Tchaikovsky’s writing. It’s “simple” and straightforward but never simplistic or boring. This book is no exception.
It’s a simple story, that touches on many important subjects such as slavery, racism, new technologies and may result from them, and many others themes.
It’s a 4,5 stars for me and it’s an author I’ll keep reading for sure.
Look out Dystopia, here we come! Supposedly a book of fictional characters and situations. I am not so sure as this reads so much more like faction than fiction. Ogres and humans, no, someone has been at the genetic engineering cookbook and the result is here in black and white, described all too well by Mr T. If you want to know what the future holds, this is most certainly a book you should read and sooner rather than later.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Rebellion Publishing for giving me a digital copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.
Ogres is written in the second person perspective, which I found quite difficult to gel with, as I have not read very many books written from this perspective. I found it a little distracting to begin with - but once I had got used to it the story came to life and I felt able to engage with the characters. The world in which this story is set is made up of a ruling class of tyrannical ogres and their vegetarian serf humans, who sometimes also serve as their food.
Tchaikovsky's excellent storytelling skills soon have you invested in the world of the ogres and I found myself rooting for Torquell, the roguish teenage human son of the village headman, who loses his temper and punches Gerald, the malicious son of the village's landlord. The cruel landlord, Sir Peter Grimes has come to collect taxes and assure himself that all is running smoothly in his villages. Torquell finds himself on the run, hiding out in the woods with Roben and his band of outlaws, in order to preserve his mortality. On returning home a heart-breaking and somewhat jaw-dropping tragedy unfolds which leads to Torquell losing his temper once more with Gerald and killing him. This time when he flees into the woods its as a bone fide outlaw and he quickly joins Roben's band. His story does not end there and the remainder of the narrative explains the further stages of this hero's journey. Soon Torquell is captured by a brutal bounty hunter and eventually taken into the household of the unusual ogre, Lady Isadora, where scientific research and genetic study are the main focus of her life and he finds himself intrigued by history having seen a book with photographs of scenes without any ogres present and with cities full of hundreds of humans. How did society go from that to what is now the status quo with a ruling class of ogres and no more meat eating allowed for humans? Could the humans have brought this upon themselves somehow? We discover these possibilities along with Torquell at about the halfway point in the narrative and the story became much more intriguing and compelling for me at this point.
This short story is clearly a clever allegory for a possible future if we humans do not mend our ways and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it!
Ogres rule the world in this novella, subjugating every human to get what they feel is their right as their "betters". It is a cruel and unrelenting life. One day Torquell does something that may change everything.
This book is simply extremely good and it's impossible not to draw parallels to what is happening right now in the world (the last pages of the novella specially). His writing is so good; he is able to completely draw the world and its structures whilst developing the narrative and moving it along. I really like the second person narrative; it could be done really badly but the author is very competent. How he inserts little snippets and musings through this voice is so well crafted. He blends fantasy and sci-fi so well and so seamless that the switch is made swiftly between the two, and it expands the world and the story. When everything starts to be revealed, it is so satisfying even if some plot points I could see coming, there was enough to keep me highly entertained and surprised (the main plot twist I could not guess).
All of the characters are so interesting, layered, and well developed; even characters that have little screen time are extremely real (the monologue about the Gerald is specially good in this situation). Our main character is really compelling and charismatic; it's easy to root and despair for him, while still seeing his limitations and faults. I specially loved Minith. The section of the book where he tries to piece it all together because we see his development and we are following along with the discovery.
My favorite part is the plot; it's just so smart and well-crafted. The first parte sets up everyhting perfectly for the last part, and the latter delivers an amazing view in revolution and its leaders and their goals. I could not predict the last twist but it fits so well with the rest of the narrative. I loved the ending so much, specially the last page.
I have to comment about something that can be seen as spoilers so I'll leave it to the end of the review (marked as spoilers).
Thank you Netgalley, author, and publisher for the ARC.
I loved reading this novella after I read Upgrade by Blake Crouch; this one feels like as extra exploration of the effects of the main theme that is talked about in Upgrade.