In the Company of Ogres
  • In the Company of Ogres
  • In the Company of Ogres

In the Company of Ogres

4.4 26
by A. Lee Martinez

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An uproarious new novel in the tradition of Robert Asprin and Terry Pratchett!

For someone who's immortal, Never Dead Ned manages to die with alarming frequency--he just has the annoying habit of rising from the grave. But this soldier might be better dead than face his latest assignment.

Ogre Company is the legion's dumping ground--a motley, undisciplined

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An uproarious new novel in the tradition of Robert Asprin and Terry Pratchett!

For someone who's immortal, Never Dead Ned manages to die with alarming frequency--he just has the annoying habit of rising from the grave. But this soldier might be better dead than face his latest assignment.

Ogre Company is the legion's dumping ground--a motley, undisciplined group of monsters whose leaders tend to die under somewhat questionable circumstances. That's where Ned's rather unique talents come in. As Ogre Company's newly appointed commander, Ned finds himself in charge of such fine examples of military prowess as a moonstruck Amazon, a very big (and very polite) two-headed ogre, a seductively scaly siren, a blind oracle who can hear (and smell) the future, a suicidal goblin daredevil pilot, a walking tree with a chip on its shoulder, and a suspiciously goblinesque orc.

Ned has only six months to whip the Ogre Company into shape or face an even more hideous assignment, but that's not the worst of his problems. Because now that Ned has found out why he keeps returning from dead, he has to do everything he can to stay alive. . . .

In the Company of Ogres does for fantasy, what A. Lee Martinez's previous novel, Gil's All Fright Diner, did for horror--and elves and goblins may never be the same!

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist on In the Company of Ogres
Martinez's follow-up to Gil's All Fright Diner is as joyfully fast paced and funny. Ogre Company tweaks fantasy clichés most excellently.
Voices of Youth Advocates on Gil's All Fright Diner
Do you know a young man twelve to seventeen years old who hates reading? Then this is the book for him!
bestselling author of Dead to the World on Gil's Charlaine Harris
Can a vampire find true love with a ghost? Can a teenage witch open the gates of Hell? Anything can happen in Martinez's wacky debut.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Foucart
Never Dead Ned is perhaps a bit of a misnomer for the main character in this engaging story. Never Stays Dead Ned might be a more fitting name for the new commander of Ogre Company, the last stop for misfit soldiers in Brute's Legion. Ogre Company has been going through commanders suspiciously fast lately, and a commander who rises from the grave each time he dies has a certain appeal for the higher-ups, and especially when he has bookkeeping experience. Through the course of the novel, readers are introduced to a host of goblins, orcs, ogres, and other common fantasy characters, but with many quirks and entertaining personalities. Teens will enjoy the frank discussions of legion life, but there are parts some readers might find objectionable, such as when Ned wakes up after a night of drinking with a siren in his bed. Although a little longer than perhaps necessary, Martinez's second novel is witty and entertaining and should not be missed by any fantasy lover.
VOYA - Laura Woodruff
Never Dead Ned, who has died forty-nine times, hates soldiering but loves bookkeeping, which he does well-so well that he is promoted to commander of Ogre Company, a dubious honor, because all previous commanders have experienced fatal accidents. Upon arriving at Copper Citadel, Ned is crushed by his giant bird transport, a small inconvenience because as usual, he is restored to life by the Red Woman. Gradually Ned becomes acquainted with his hard-drinking, promiscuous, completely undisciplined group: ogres, goblins, orcs, shape-shifters, salamanders, treefolk, and especially Amazon Regina and Siren Miriam, each of whom finds him strangely attractive. Incompetent and fearful, Ned somehow manages to escape innumerable destructive plots, and in the end, discovers his secret power. Following the popular Gil's All Fright Diner (Tor, 2005/VOYA October 2005), Martinez's second novel borrows heavily from Rowling but lacks her light touch. Never Dead Ned is an older, uglier, less-intelligent, and less-interesting Harry Potter, but the mission is the same: A clueless, anointed hero battles evil to save the world and humankind. Ned's enemies, however, are more grotesque and more inclined to explode, bleed, vomit, or defecate. Although the tone is intended to be exciting and humorous, it becomes, after the first one-hundred pages or so, repetitious and predictable. There are probably no movie rights here, although the book might entertain adolescent lovers of nasty. Martinez should leave the fantasy to Rowling and stick to horror.
Library Journal
When Never Dead Ned, so called for his penchant for returning to life after dying, is reassigned from his position as bookkeeper for Brute's Legion to the Commander of Ogre Company, a collection of monsters no other army unit wants, he fears that what lies before him is the most challenging and desperate battle of his several lives. The author of Gil's All Fright Diner turns his hand to fantasy with a military tale of orcs, ogres, and other monsters led by a man who is all but immortal. Martinez's broad humor should appeal to fans of the late Douglas Adams and other contemporary authors of comic fantasy. A good choice for large libraries or where humorous fantasy is popular. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.68(h) x 0.91(d)

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Read an Excerpt

In the Company of Ogres

By Martinez, A. Lee

Tor Books

Copyright © 2006 Martinez, A. Lee
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0765315475

Chapter One
His name was Never Dead Ned, but it was only a nickname. He could die. He'd met his death forty-nine times, and forty-nine times he'd risen from the grave. Although, after his reputation spread, people stopped bothering to bury him. They'd just throw his corpse in a corner and wait for him to rise again. And he always did. But every death took a little bit away from him, put another ache in his joints, sapped a little more spring from his step. And Ned learned the hard way that there were worse things than dying.

There was dying over and over again.

Ned didn't have much interest in living, but he did his damnedest to avoid perishing again. Not until he could do it right. Not until he knew with absolute certainty that he would stay dead. For a soldier, fearing death was usually a career ender, but Ned found a position in the bookkeeping department of Brute's Legion. It wasn't much. Just counting coins. It didn't pay well, but it was relatively safe. As safe as it ever was when your supervisor had a strict policy of devouring anyone whose books were out of balance more than three times a month.

War was the Legion's business, and business had been good until four hundred years earlier, when the various species of the world had finally managed to put asidetheir differences. The Legion's accountants had predicted a swift and irreversible downward spiral in profits. And sure enough, the following three decades had been rough. But what everyone should've known was that paranoia doesn't vanish with peace. Soon every kingdom, every country, every hamlet with two pieces of gold to rub together suddenly needed a military force. For protection, of course, and to deter the benevolent military forces of their neighbors from getting any ideas. Never mind that most had gotten along just fine without an army before. Never mind that most didn't have anything worth taking. The Legion was only too happy to lease its armies to the world. War had been good for business. But peace was far more lucrative.

Gryphons never stopped growing, and Tate, well over three hundred years old, was a giant beast. His impressive black wings spanned twenty feet when spread, but he didn't spread them often in the confines of his office, a literal nest of ledgers dating back to the very beginnings of the Legion. Back when it had been a handful of orcs, a few dozen mercenaries, and a pair of dragons with a vision. Back before it'd become the most successful freelance army on three continents.

Tate spoke. He rarely looked at who he was speaking to. This was a blessing, since his cold, black eyes focused with an unblinking, predatory stare. They always made Ned worry about becoming lunch, even when his books were perfect. He wasn't interested in coming back from the dead after a trip through anyone's digestive system.

Tate glanced through the ledger slowly, methodically. He turned the delicate pages with his long, black claws. He missed nothing, not the slightest detail. Especially since he was always hungry. His sharp beak bent in a frown. His great black wings flapped once.

"Very good, Ned. Impeccable as always."

"Thank you, sir." Ned adjusted his spectacles. He didn't need them. In fact, they blurred his vision, but they made him look bookish, which was a look he very much wanted to cultivate.

Tate handed back the ledger. He swept the chamber with his gaze, never quite settling his eyes on Ned. "For a soldier, you make an extraordinary bookkeeper."

"Thank you, sir." Ned adjusted his spectacles again in an effort to look even more bookish, but his flesh wore the reminders of forty-nine grisly ends. The scars crossing his arms and face, particularly the long, nasty one across his right cheek down to a red slash around his throat, made a far greater impression than his eyeglasses. And of course, there was his missing eye, his cauliflower ear, and his bad arm. All the marks of a man who should've been dead long ago. For a bookkeeper, he'd made a barely adequate soldier.

The gryphon cleared his throat, and Ned took this as his dismissal. When he turned to leave, Tate spoke again.

"When you were first assigned to me, I assumed you would be my dinner within the week." He ran a black tongue across his beak. "Instead, you've become one of the most trusted members of my staff."

"Thank you, sir."

"Pity I have to lose you."

Ned, taken aback, stared into those merciless eyes. Tate's gray and black feathers ruffled, and he sneered.

"I've just gotten the news today. You're being transferred."

"Transferred, sir?"

Tate nodded very slowly. He smoothed his feathers back with a talon. "I tried to talk them out of it, but this comes straight from the top. Upper, upper, upper management." He rummaged through his nest of paperwork and pulled out a blue scroll.

Ned swore under his breath. Blue scrolls were irreversible, unstoppable. As inevitable as death or, in Ned's case, even more inevitable than death. Tate handed over the blue scroll, but Ned refused to unroll it and take a look at his new orders just yet.

Tate cocked his head to one side, then another. His lion's tail swished lazily. He cleared his throat again, and again. Before Ned could leave, the gryphon spoke up.

"It's a promotion. You've earned it."

Ned snapped his teeth together softly, as he often did when irritated. "Thank you, sir."

"Congratulations. Upper management must have a great deal of faith in you."

"Thank you, sir."

He held the blue scroll tightly in his right hand, while his bad left arm tried to pry it free. In one of his more unpleasant demises, the left limb had been severed. The arm had come back to life without him, and though a medic had stitched it back on, it still had a mind of its own, with obnoxious tendencies in tense situations. Given a chance, he knew the bad arm would throw the scroll at Tate. That might get Ned eaten, and he had enough worries already.

He turned to leave once more. Tate cleared his throat, and Ned stopped.


"You're dismissed. Send in Yip. Very sloppy work lately. I suspect disciplinary action is in order." Tate clicked his beak with a grin. "And tell him to stop by the commissary and bring up some bread, cheese, a bottle of wine, and a dinner salad. Something zesty, but not too filling."

Ned walked from the office, feeling very much like a condemned man. A blue scroll was supposed to be a good thing. It meant upper management had taken special notice of him. But it was like being noticed by the gods in the heavens. More often than not, it was a one-way ticket to a tragic fate. Up to now, he'd done a fine job of being unexceptional. Except for not staying dead, but that wasn't his doing.

His fellow bookkeepers avoided looking at him as he walked through the halls. And everyone averted their eyes from the blue scroll clutched in his hand. Rumor had it that blue scrolls were enchanted to strike all but their intended reader blind. This was mere conjecture, since almost no one had actually ever seen a blue scroll. But no one was willing to take the chance of looking directly at it.

Ned returned to his office, a small chamber he shared with two others: Yip, a ratling, and Bog, the slime mold. Yip was counting a stack of gold coins. He'd shove one in his pocket once in a while. Ned and Bog always pretended not to notice. Neither liked the ratling, and they weren't about to discourage anything that might get him eaten. Bog was busy weighing bars of silver. Yip glanced up from his work just long enough to grin and chuckle.

"Tough luck, Ned."

"Have you read it yet?" asked Bog.

Ned shook his head.

"It could be good news," offered the slime mold.

"Betcha it's a transfer to the wyrm farm." Yip clinked two coins together. "Up to your neck in dirt and manure all day. And those wyrms stink. Oh, boy, do they stink."

Ned sat, laid his head on his desk, put his arms over his head. His bad arm yanked at his hair.

"Glad I'm not you," said Yip.

"Tate wants to see you." Ned didn't have the energy to raise his eye to glimpse Yip's face, but he heard the ratling swallow hard. That made Ned feel a little better.

Bog's eyes bobbed in his transparent flesh, floating to look at Ned from slightly different angles. "You should read it before you start panicking."

"I'm not panicking."

"He's moping," said Yip.

"It's probably not as bad as you're imagining," replied Bog.

"Probably worse." Ned held the blue scroll down on his desk as if it might jump up and attack him. "I don't have a very good imagination."

"Give it to me." Yip bounded from his desk and snatched the scroll. Ned held fast, and they commenced a brief tug-of-war.

"Just give me the damn thing already!" The ratling snapped at Ned's hand, and he let go.

"You'll be struck deaf," said Bog.

"Blind," corrected Ned.

Bog adjusted his eyes with his tentacles. "I suppose that makes more sense."

With the same fearless stupidity that was soon to make him a gryphon's dinner, Yip unfurled the ominous document. Both Ned and Bog lowered their heads (or head-like protrusion in the slime mold's case), expecting something terrible. But there was no flash of lightning, no torrent of shrieking phantoms, no unholy blackness to fall upon the office. Not even a single cackling imp or cold snap.

"Well?" asked Bog. "Are you blind?"

Yip rolled up the scroll and set it back on the desk. "Sorry, Ned."

Ned opened the scroll. "They've given me a command."

"That's not so bad," said Bog with feigned enthusiasm.

"It's Ogre Company."

Quiet descended, a silence so consuming that even the drafty corridors ceased whistling. Bog wasn't certain where to look, so he solved the problem by plucking out his eyes and sticking them in a drawer.

"Tough luck, Ned." Yip strolled from the office with a frown, stopping in the door on his way to the belly of a monster. "Glad I'm not you."

Copyright © 2006 by A. Lee Martinez


Excerpted from In the Company of Ogres by Martinez, A. Lee Copyright © 2006 by Martinez, A. Lee. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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