GENTLE, MARY ? GRUNTS! 1992 Bantham Press. Despite her name this Mary is far from Gentle. Grunts are one of the most violent and fortunately deliciously funny fantasy novels ever written. There have been several parodies of Tolkien?s Lord Of The Rings, but few match this in quality or complexity. The basic premise is deceptively simple. A group of Orcs get their hands on a near unlimited supply of modern military hardware, such as Kalishnakovs, Machine guns, missile launchers, helicopters, tanks and fighter jets. A long dead dragoon has transported the weapons from our world to theirs, but the Orcs have ignored the fact that the dragon?s treasure carries a terrible curse. The Orcs are on a mission for a terrible Dark Lord known only as The Unnamed. He is at war with his sister, a character known only as The Named. She is supposed to represent the forces of good, but in fact she is as evil as her brother. The story has few genuinely honourable characters at all. Even the halflings (hobbits in all but name) are thieves, willing to burn down houses as a diversion to their actions. When they celebrate one robbery by visiting a brothel, they are shocked to find their halfling mother is a whore there. The Orcs seem able to tip the balance of their war with ease now, but the Named and Unnamed make a spell that means each weapon will only be of use once in action. The Orcs also find that they begin to redefine their nature and vocabulary. They work together as a trained commando force, and even use modern Vietnam style army parlance. They don?t know why, but they love it. When they win the war, and even taken a shape shifting alien invader, they find the politics of conquest, and peace bores them. Knowing that the Named has gone to rule another planet, and inspired by the aliens they vanquished, the Orcs decide to abandon their World and wage war against the Universe, just for fu. The book celebrates the villainy and makes it triumphant. The Orcs are merely living by their nature. They expect to be killed in the service of their masters, but find themselves made master by their weaponry, but somehow their stance gives them a nobility and character they never had in Tolkien. This is huge fun and utterly irreverent of traditional stereotypical fantasy conventions.