Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review:Empire(In Her Name:Redemption) by Michael Hicks

Empire(In Her Name:Redemption) by Michael Hicks

I received this book free and what a bargain. This book reminded me of C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun series. Mix that with James Clavell's Shogun (I have only seen the mini series- not read book). And an eerie shades of William Golding's Lord of the Flies.

We first meet Reza as a seven year old whose parents are fighting a deadly battle against the Kreelan's. The safe place where he had been was under attack and he came looking for his parents. He arrives in time to witness their death at the hand of a Kreelan priestess and he expects to die and strikes out with a knife slashing the Kreelan's face. Rather than killing him, the Kreelan uses her claw to mark his face in an identical fashion.

A few year later Reza is at an orphanage on a world full of orphans. He's younger than some, but has become a leader of house 48 by force of character. Here we see the shades of Lord of the Flies when an evil warden, Muldoon, attempts to rape a new arrival,Nichol. Reza steps in and immediately all the other children gather round. It gets a bit tense before diffusing, but it looked as though these kids might be willing to do more than complain.

Reza seems to fall for Nichol though she seems to treat him like a brother. She is older and is able to soon leave the orphan world to join the military, much to Reza's joy and dismay. She leaves in time to escape the destruction of the planet, by the Kreelans. For a change, the Kreelans take captives of the children and Reza is almost disposed of, because he does not fall in the given criteria. Out of curiosity the priestess, Tesh-Dar, checks this captive slated for disposal and finds the scar, which matches her own scar. She chooses to include him into the experiment in which the Kreelans attempt to discern if the humans(animals) might have souls. (Soul is something they can feel between each other in the blood)

Taken to one of the Kreelan home-worlds Reza is treated like a pet housed and fed and eventually trained in the Kreelan Way by Esah-Zhurah. He eventually will be the only of the experiment who survives, perhaps because his will and determination match Esah-Zurah's. Predictably this animosity between them will eventually lead to their growing close.

There is an enormous amount of world building packed into this book. And though it seems strange and alien that the Kreelan's can have such advanced technology and yet seem so savage at times, it is a good thing in that we are, after all, talking about aliens. Though it almost seems that parts of the story are slow and ponderous, it does give one the illusion of the time needed to pass for many of Reza's values and attitude to change realistically.

There are predictable elements, but still a lot of surprises and though things often come close to what I suspect; they often suddenly veer off in a different direction that logically fits the plot and the characters.

It almost becomes a story that could be as tragic as Romeo and Juliet.

After concluding the story I purchased the two other books that follow, and will definitely make time to read them.

Every science fiction and fantasy reader should find something good to take out of this book. I'm expecting a lot out of the next two books.

J.L. Dobias

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