Queen of the Orcs Trilogy

My agent believes that writers’ proposals should describe their books in one sentence.  This is the one that launched Queen of the Orcs:  “A young woman, enslaved to serve the king’s orc army, discovers the orcs’ nobility and leads them in revolt.”  The story evolved during its creation into a struggle more epic than a simple revolt, but the original concept still remains at its core.
I had two goals when I wrote this trilogy.  First, I wanted its central character to be a woman who is resourceful and compassionate and who strives to solve her problems without resorting to violence.  I use the word “strives” because she lives in a world that often forces her to fight.  When her back’s against the wall, she doesn’t shrink from defending herself and those close to her.
My second goal was to portray orcs as sympathetic characters.  This idea runs counter to most fantasy writing.  Usually orcs are the epitome of evil—a bloodthirsty race with no redeeming qualities.  To explain why they are viewed this way, I imagined their position as similar to that of Native Americans in the nineteenth century.  My orcs are a defeated race.  As such, their conquerors malign them.  The orcs buy a measure of peace through fighting in human armies.  There, they are feared and exploited.
Dar, the book’s heroine, initially fears that the orcs will eat her.  As a young peasant woman, she’s a second-class citizen in a world dominated by men.  Dar leads a hard life and it becomes much harder after she’s conscripted into the army.  Branded on her forehead so she can never leave, she’s sent to an orc regiment.  Although orcs do the fighting, men also serve in the regiment.  Dar is encouraged to learn this, but she quickly finds that the men prey upon the branded women.
Trapped and desperate, Dar embarks on a risky plan.  Although the orcs terrify her, she tries to learn their language in hope of gaining some advantage over her oppressors.  When Dar begins to understand the orcs and their culture, she is drawn to the destiny that will unfold in the course of the trilogy.