Review: A Hill On Which To Die by Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek is a prolific independent author of romance science fiction, and a good friend of mine whom I met at Leading Edge Magazine several years ago. He gave me feedback on my own independent works as I was preparing them for publication. In all this time, I haven’t had the opportunity to share my thoughts on his books. Today I’d like to talk about Vasicek’s R-rated (or M!-rated, according to the AO3 system) orc fanatsy, “A Hill On Which To Die.”

This novella is intense, depicting a brutal sex life for a brutal clan of orcs (particularly for the she-orcs). When his clan elects to join the human Witch-King in battle, the leader, Garak, abandons half his clan to start anew. Though he’s fought and earned his place at the top by using a strategy of asking himself, “Is this the hill on which [I] want to die?” His pride eventually leads him to selfish acts of cruelty toward his “harem” in order to save face and stay in control of his restless followers as his power over them unravels. This leads to his ultimate betrayal by his favorite mate, and to his downfall.

To be honest, the brutal subject matter was uncomfortable for me, and I was immensely glad when the main character died in the end. Didn’t like the protagonist at all–and I think that’s how this story is supposed to be. Most of Vasicek’s other stories  are much more tame and sweet to read. This story may not be for everyone, but I think Vasicek was true to the idea of orcs being an inherently violent, ware-faring species, which he translated in this story to an equally harsh reproductive lifestyle. It was interesting, but definitely a mature read.

If you’re interested, you can find “A Hill On Which To Die” here on Amazon: