I have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I've seen the movies. I thought I knew all I needed to know about orcs. Chris Pramas revealed my ignorance in his book Orc Warfare. Pramas acknowledges J.R.R. Tolkein, author of the aforementioned classics, as the one who "set the template of the orc in modern fantasy." But since Tolkein, role-playing games, video games, fantasy novels, and movies, have expanded the view of the orc.
Pramas covers the different types of orcs, their characteristics, and their strategies and tactics. He then relates the tales of some important orc battle victories. As you might expect, he describes their lifestyles as nomadic, reliant on raiding (and occasionally trading with other orcs) for supplies. They do have limited skills, like tanning hides, but have not developed metal working, due to their nomadic lifestyle. They are meat eaters exclusively, so they must move around to hunt or raid settlements.
I would have liked for Pramas to provide some sources for his stories and data. I'm not Tolkein expert, but much of this material seems to be outside the scope of Tolkein's Middle-Earth. I wonder if he drew on specific novels or other materials, or if this is original material? I suspect there is some of both.
Orc Warfare is a fun read that may not satisfy the purist, but Pramas provides enough information here to entertain and expand the reader's view of the orc. Orc Warfare is not a picture book, but it is generously illustrated, adding to the value of the descriptions.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!