Empire by Michael R. Hicks

EmpireSource: Own Collection
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

EMPIRE is the coming-of-age story of Reza Gard, a young boy of the Human Confederation who is swept up in the century-long war with the alien Kreelan Empire. Nightmarish female warriors with blue skin, fangs, and razor sharp talons, the Kreelans have technology that is millennia beyond that of the Confederation, yet they seek out close combat with sword and claw, fighting and dying to honor their god-like Empress.

Captured and enslaved, Reza must live like his enemies in a grand experiment to see if humans have souls, and if one may be the key to unlocking an ages old curse upon the Kreelan race. Enduring the brutal conditions of Kreelan life, Reza and a young warrior named Esah-Zhurah find themselves bound together by fate and a prophecy foretold millennia before they were born.

This is probably the first book I picked up that I could truly place within the modern SFR genre – that is, since my reading of Anne McCaffrey’s novels. It is free on Amazon, and if I could put my reading of it into a single word, it would be ‘Wow!’ The book is arguably a war story, but it focuses on the brutal military training of Reza Gard, a human captured by the Kreelan Empire (yup, aliens, and about as alien as they can come) and a very unlikely romance.

What really impressed me with this book is how totally alien the Kreelan race is. As a human reading the novel, it was initially very difficult to grasp life on the Kreelan Homeworld – just as it must have been difficult for Reza Gard – and how one became used to it as Reza in turn did. This is spectacular writing.

The vision of this book is incredible, though I must admit I have yet to pluck up the courage to read further in the series. One becomes so immersed in the alien mindset and world that coming back to reality almost induces culture shock!

An excellent escapist novel – but don’t expect it to be a pleasant read. The Kreelans are brutal!

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