Friday, February 24, 2012
Free Friday Reviews - In Her Name: Empire - Michael R. Hicks
So a few months ago, just before my kindle bit the big one, I heard about this book being offered out as a free book. I thought it was an amazing marketing strategy, but sadly, my kindle died and I never got around to doing anything about it. But I just got a new Nook--life is good--, so I got around to reading it. Best idea I've had all week.
So in honor of Moatb's first Free Friday Review, where I'll be reviewing a random free book or item that you, my readers, can also get, I finished In Her Name: Empire today.
In case you haven't heard of In Her Name, the series is by a self published author who decided to offer the first book completely free to whoever wanted to download it. The idea is that if you like it enough, you'll go out and buy the next books in the series. This idea is genius, although that may just be because the book itself is pretty amazing.
Empire is the first book in the In Her Name series, and revolves around a boy named Reza. As a child, Reza's parents were killed in front of him by a member of the deadly alien race, the Kreelan. After he fights back against the alien, he cuts across her eye and she, for some reason, lets him live after marking him the same. Instead of death, Reza is sent to a planet the human race has turned into an orphanage, where he lives for years until the Kreelan show up and change his life once more. Reza is taken and paired with a member of the Kreelan, part of a grant experiment for the Kreelan to determine if humans have souls.
Usually, when I see a free book, I assume one of three things: it's a sample of chapters that is mislabeled as a free book, it's porn, or it's a novella. Occasionally, though, downloading a free book gives you something absolutely amazing, and this was one of those times. Empire is an amazing first part of a new series, and the fact that it was free only makes everything sweeter.
My favorite part of the book was undoubtedly the Kreelan themselves. The Kreelan reminded me very strongly of the Na'vi from Avatar. They're described as blue skinned women with fangs, claws, and long hair that they never cut. They're described as being connected somehow to one another, they're very nature related, they shun technology, and almost everything they have is hand made. Of course, they're also very different from the Na'vi: they're combat oriented, have a very bloody society, are very technologically advanced despite not using technology in daily life, and invade and destroy other races.
Honestly, I'm pretty sure I could make a case for Empire being an Alternate Universe fanfic for avatar, with some magic thrown in. That's not a bad thing, though.
The idea behind the plot is kind of a cool one. The entire reason that Reza is taken is because the Kreelan, being an advanced race, see all other creatures as animals. Because of this, Reza and several other children are taken to the Kreelan planet in order to be part of a grand experiment to see if one of them can prove that their blood can sing: that they, too, have a soul and are more than just animals.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty amazing idea, and I kind of love where Hicks went with it. Hell, there's a part of me that can't wait to see fanfiction of this book, just to see other people's takes on it.
One of the really cool things about Hicks' writing is his character progression. Empire totals over seven hundred pages on my Nook, which might not be as much on another source, but is still a pretty reasonable chunk of story. It stretches over a very long time, and details Reza and his partner's life through training, challenges, meeting, etc. What's cool about it is how well the characters are developed over the course of this timeline. Reza and his partner's relationship goes from one of master and disobedient pet to tentative friendship, and it's completely believable. Despite the fact that Reza is following the ways of a race of beings which killed his parents, at no point when I was reading did I have to stop and think 'huh. weird how he's suddenly okay with these creatures'. Instead, his progression from hating the Kreelan at the beginning of the book to slowly coming to accept them follows well, without any vast character changes. It's slow and reasonable and it makes sense.
I'm not going to say that In Her Name: Empire is perfect. Because it's not. It's self published and the author probably didn't have a professional editor. There are some mistakes, some adjective abuse, etc. But most of the problems with this book aren't in the story or the writing, so much as they're in the editing. And that's okay, because the story IS worth it.
If you liked the Avatar movie, I'd actually recommend Empire for you. If you like a mix of science fiction and fantasy in your books, then I'd recommend Empire. If you want to try something new, something that's worth the value...well, can't go wrong with free, right?
So if you think you're interested in Hick's In Her Name: Empire, even a little, then pick up your completely free copy from any of the following locations:
Google Books: http://books.google.com/books/about/In_Her_Name_Empire.html?id=PucXedISaRkC
From the author's blog: http://authormichaelhicks.com/books/in-her-name/in-her-name-empire/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-her-name-michael-r-hicks/1102397547?ean=2940000698730&format=nook-book