Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Book Review- In Her Name

     I don't know what you have been reading lately, I don't even know what your tastes are in books.  Reading is a personal thing, everyone has their own tastes, likes and dislikes.  I am sure that there are some people who read who probably stick to what they know and like best and hardly, if ever, try or attempt to read anything that deviates from their own personal likes.

    It's a bit like someone claiming they do not like certain food types, and they say this sometimes never having tried what they say they dislike. So, how can they state they dislike blue cheese, if they have never tried it.  O.k, I know that one is a bit of a stretch and dependant on the blue cheese in question, the smell may be enough to put some people off and there is no way that they are ever going to be enticed into putting something that can sometimes smell like a sweaty sock, into their mouth, now are they?

    Well sometimes you just have to ignore the first sense that warns you off something and get past that initial whiff that might be putting you off what you otherwise might, just might, find interesting and enjoyable.  It may mean that you have to disguise the odious odour that is putting you off by preparing the cheese to be eaten in a different way to the norm, using it in a sauce for example, making it part of something else entirely, go on, give it a go and try something different, you never know, you might just like it!

    Having done with the food analogy that brings me nicely onto something I tried recently that I have not tried, since the late 60's, early 70,s, What was that I hear you ask, well let me tell you.... A science Fiction novel, well to be more precise, 5 novels back to back,  In the last two weeks I have read 5 science fiction novels and have been completely and utterly blown away.  I absolutely resented having to go to sleep at night,  I resented the fact that once in the office I had to actually do some work, and I was almost regretting the fact that I have just changed back, from commuting by rail, to commuting by car, I can't, unfortunately, read while driving, oh, do please hurry up someone and invent the car that does take you to and fro without you actually having to be in control of it, then I can read in that to.......

   So, I hear you mutter, is he going to tell me what these astounding tomes of intense compelling literary works were, well of course I'm not, I just wanted to get you worked up about something before going off in a completely opposite direction............ 

    O.k., O.k., only kidding, Michael R Hicks, known by his twitter name of @KreelanWarrior is the author in question and he can be found at http://authormichaelhicks.com/ and also at Amazon. I know I did this a few days ago, but honestly he does deserve a seciond mention and so...... The books are a series of graphic novels, the first is entitled, In Her Name: Empire and it tells the story of humanity's attempts to remain alive in a war that seems impossible to win.  A war of attrition that is 100 years old and is destined to go on until the Kreelans find, "The One" or they become extinct, although neither of these important points are known to humanity, and even if they were, they are far to busy trying to stay alive to worry about something as abstract as that.  The setting is sometime in the future and we learn that after almost destroying themselves on planet Earth Humanity on that planet are living under one liberal government but that many more humans have now colonized other planets throughout space.  It is on one such planet that the scenes of  this epic opus is  set in motion for us.  The inhabitants of the planet are almost wiped out by the Kreelans.  The Kreelans are a blue skinned female warrior race, with fangs...

     The action starts straight away with Reza Gards' parents trying to stay alive on their home world from the onslaught that has descended upon them.  The Kreelans are 10's of thousands of years older than humanity and this is reflected in their technology, however their sense of honour makes them fight, and kill, humans with weapons and ships that are as close a match to human technology as is possible, after all where is the honour in just exterminating animals just because they exist! 

   During this battle Reza  a young boy not yet into double digits manages to land a blow on the warrior priestess's face cutting her, rather than kill him outright, and as a mark of respect for his courage she marks the boy with a similar scar and leaves him on the ruins of the planet.

    While it is explained that the Kreelans could in fact wipe out all of the humanity on all of the planets they exist on, without any effort, it is again down to their sense of honour and desire to have an enemy fight them that they withdraw after each conflict to allow the humans time to regroup and muster their forces and ships.

    From the very first page of this novel I was hooked, and chapter after chapter was not  disappointing.  Unlike other SyFi novels that I have picked up over the years, but never been tempted to read, this book did not contain any of the techno babble that some of that genre seems to believe that it must contain.  These books were written in clear unambiguous ordinary english by an author who wanted to tell a story and not cloud it for himself and more importantly for us the readers, by constantly referring to rubbish that would take you away from the story and ultimately and probably end up with you discarding the book into a corner, or worse still, the waste bin.

    So, the story continues In Empire, and moves on 5 years into the future and we find 13 year old Reza on one of the many orphanage worlds where the orphans of this 100 year old war are sent and used effectively by the administrators of the planet as child labour.  Having started off with non stop action and graphic scenes of death I thought we were then going to get a wishy washy tale, however that was not the case and the time spent detailing Reza's and the other children's existence on the planet and their battle to survive against the abuse of their own kind was just as compelling as the first chapter and the more you read, the more you wanted to read.  This story was just getting better and better, and I'm only two chapters in.  

   Learning that Reza is now 13, we also learn that he has become the protector of other orphans both younger and older and that he has developed an intellect beyond his years by his many visits to a library on the planet that they are not really supposed to visit.  He is also somewhat under the wing and unstated protection of a retired Marine Colonel, who while letting matters with overseers run their course would be able to step in and save Reza if an ultimate threat from the worst of these overseers were to manifest itself.  A new bunch of orphans arrive at Rezas' site, delivered by the most brutal of overseers, and amongst them is Nicole Carre, older by a year and she is saved from being raped by the overseer by Reza, and this starts a thread of love and friendship that spans the series of books as it does the years and galaxies covered within the books.  

   Look at that, right out of left field, you have been dealing with the harsh realities of human destruction and devastation, human horridness against human, and then,  suddenly,  a love interest is introduced, is this guy Hicks nuts or what, has he just ruined what was turning out to be an all action adventure, NOT ONE BIT OF IT.  It just adds to what turns out to be a complete and compelling story, and you just have to keep turning page after page to see where it is going and where it takes you.
    The fight for survival on the orphan world continues and we learn that the children may be able to escape from this living hell that they have been subjugated in when they are 15, so while Nicole has just arrived, and Reza has been the for over 5 years, she will be able to leave in a year while Reza and the younger children must endure.....  The story moves on and Nicole does indeed leave the planet to attend Military Flying Academy.  The story then moves to informing us more about the Kreelans and one of the many facts we learn is the the Kreelans believe that Humans are little more than animals with no soul, but that within these animals one will exist whose 'soul' will sing with the Bloodsong, and that He will, if found, end a centuries old curse that will lead to the Kreelans not dying out. However if they cannot find ' The One' they are more than prepared to remove the animals from existence in the course of their search for him. 

    A decision is taken by the Kreelan Empress that they must find out if the animals do have a soul and so they decide that the only way to discover this is to attack one of the orphan planets and carry of all of the children back to the Kreelan system where they can be 'tested' to see if it is likely that one of them will have a soul and where one does other might too.  This of course leads us into the title of the Book where Reza is once again on  a planet that is attacked, only this time he will not be escaping and is carried off by the Kreelans, and while this is happening Tesh Dar, the Warrior Priestess cut by Reza all those years ago, sees a young human animal with a scar similar to her own and remembers their encounter all those years ago.

    Reza awakens, from a drug induced sleep not knowing whether he is on a ship or on a planet. His warden or jailer is named 'Esah-Zhurah and so begins his introduction into the Kreelan Empire as befits an animal of low standing.   The rest of Empire is a fast moving story where Esah-Zhurah is tasked by Tesh Dar to see if the human can be trained in the 'Way' of the Empresses people, and while he is to be kept alive, that is only to be if he can survive, but no matter, once they have learned all they can of these animals, it will be unlikely that he will prove to have a soul and his survival will only last as long as he manages to do so or until there is nothing more that can be learned from him at which point Esha-Zhurah will put him to death.

    Reza, quickly learns that Hell does exist and that he is in it.  As the years move on and he learns the language of the Kreelan, becoming better able to communicate, he also learns that his life is balanced on a knifes edge and while determined not to submit to the will of the Kreelans he is battered and bruised and brought to the edge of death on many occasions as he has to learn to fight as taught by his jailer/mentor.  Their relationship is built on over the years and inextricably these two of different races and mortal enemies are drawn together by that bond that always seems to be generated by opposing and mortal enemies who are forced into working together.  Eventually, Reza and  Esaha-Zhurah  comit the ultimate crime of falling in love, even although Tesh Dars' second sight he seen and warned against this, warning that it will even cost Reza and Esaha-Zhurah their lives, but in the course of this love Rezas' soul sings with the Bloodsong of the the Kreelan and he is accepted into their society.

    I am sure that I have not done this book the justice it deserves here, but you really do need to put aside any misconceptions you may have of picking up, either in book form, or as in my case Kindle , and read this for what it is.  An epic tale of war and love, of a race destined for extinction and its race to find the one who can save them from their own self destruction..

    The ultimate test of Rezas' acceptance to his new life as a Kreelan will be to join one of the armadas regularly despatched to human space to destroy his own kind and you need to read the book to see if he can do this.

    The next two books in the series, which are all available in one omnibus edition, which was what I purchased and was glad that I had, are; Confederation and Final Battle. Confederation goes on to introduce the machinations of the humans in this war and the dirty tricks still played by some politicians and military officers who instead of concentrating their efforts in defending humanity from annihilation are more concerned with murdering their own kind while they consolidate their own power bases. New characters are introduced, and the bloody mixture of the first book is repeated again and again, but without repetition.

 You would think reading these novels that your sympathies would be firmly on the side of Humanity, but Mr Hicks has written them to skilfully that even while Tesh Dar is single handedly wiping out the inhabitants of the largest city of one human planet, numbering in the millions, yes single handedly and not by bombs or bullet, but by mystical powers that only she and the Empress have, but rarely use, you do not get to feel any real animosity towards these creatures, regardless of their constant death dealing, and I think that is a measure of the writing and presentation of the author.  That he has managed to get you engaged both in sympathy towards what is happening to your fellow humans, he also gets you empathising with the protagonists of this epic tale.

    I did say that I had now read 5 of Mr Hicks' novels and so I have.  Completed No 5 earlier this evening and that is what compelled me to write another blog on them.  After reading the omnibus edition of In Her Name  it was back on to the Kindle store to purchase and download the next two instalments.  You see Mr Hicks has done a bit of a 'Star Wars'  on us and written a prequell, again this is going to be three novels and so far he has written and published two, with the third in production.  The prequel takes us back to the first encounter of Humans and Kreelans over 100 years before Empire 
and in, In Her Name: First Contact and In Her Name: Legend of the Sword we learn how Humans are sending survey ships into space looking for habitable planets or planets that can be easily tera-formed and how one of those vessels stumbles into Kreelan territory and while all but one of the ships crew is killed in an arena as they are given the choice to fight or die much like gladiators in ancient romans times on earth.

    During this slaughter, Tesh Dar has to select one Human to survive, so that he or she might tell the others of its kind that the Kreelan Empire now knows they exist and and that they will be coming to wage war on them and that they should use the time allotted to them to prepare for the attack on the Planet that the Kreelans have told them they will arrive to destroy.

    Again I was not disappointed aand neither will you be if you purchase these books they will leave you on the edge, you'll feel elated, you will feel the tenderness between Reza and Nicole and Reza and Esha-Zhurah, You'll find yourself wishing that someone would just kill Colonel Thorella Rezas' nemesis on returning to the Federation and you will feel immense sadness at the death of many of the characters that you came to know so intimately through the course of these novels, and most of all you will feel, if you buy them all, you will feel that you want to give author Michael R Hicks a kick up the bum to hurry up and get the next instalment finished and out into print..............

Sorry for rambling on ..................

Best Wishes


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