"To subvert the will of the Chieftain is to subvert the will of the Darkorh. It has always been so. It will always be so. A Chieftain cannot be rash. A Chieftain cannot be impulsive. A Chieftain must consider, always, the safety of the tribe, above all else."
The Wildlands are a harsh place. Scarce resources, giant predators, and countless orcish tribes mark the savanna as one of the deadliest places in the world, where survival demands tough choices and sacrifices. The Darkorh tribe are no exception to the rules of The Wildlands. Ousted from their previous home by a more powerful orcish tribe, the Darkorh orcs find themselves in a harsher region with fewer resources.
"Fine. I say that when the scouts get back, we ride east until we hit the Glass Road, and we wait there for something worth our time to come riding by."
Markusei Darkorh, son of the Chieftain of the Darkorh tribe, recognizes the antiquated ways of his tribe. The world changes constantly, and if the Darkorh do not change with it, they will perish. He loves his people fiercely, and he will break any tradition to give them a better chance of survival, even if he is punished for his actions.
"Were you wiser, as a Chieftain should be, you would know of the elves and their treatment of revenge. No slight goes unpunished, no stone unturned. They would find us, and they would obliterate us."
Spurred to prevent his tribe's withering, Markusei dares to raid a populated highway. He succeeds, plundering elven weapons, armor, and paintings, as well as an unexpected item: an elven hostage. A painter by the name of Allora Anendel. Unaccustomed to killing civilians, he takes her back to the tribe, and thus Markusei finds himself in a race to find someone to ransom Allora off to before a member of his own tribe kills her. The elves were responsible for the orcs' pain, and the hatred of the immortal race runs deep. When Markusei learns that Allora is connected to warlocks who will seek revenge for her kidnapping, the pressure upon the Chieftain's son turns to desperation: if he doesn't find someone to ransom Allora off to soon, the Darkorh will be destroyed.
Gregory V. Diehl
This is a fantasy novel set in a Mongolian-inspired milieu. There are some delightful illustrations scattered through the text. The "romance" is between orc and elf, and there is an uneasy union between genres that is perhaps reflective of the difficulty of the two species' relationship ... or maybe it's just that it doesn't quite work, because the entire panoply of world-building, with weirdly-named creatures and other fantasy elements, doesn't entirely mesh with the story-telling. Nevertheless it is a noble effort to blend genres and worthy of interest.
The story takes place in the northwestern region of Central Rhydallia, an area known as The Wildlands. It is a region inhabited by incredible beasts, and only the nomadic orcs have been able to survive in this dangerous region.