My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First off, I’m going to ask you to stay with me. This review – like the book, In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks – is going to get better, so don’t lose out by bailing out on me after the first paragraph.
Empire is about a young boy named Reza. As the story opens Reza’s parents are fighting against the invading alien army of stronger, fierce Kreelan Warriors that significantly outnumber the human fighters. You don’t have to be a science fiction author to see where this is going. Reza’s moments with his parents are numbered.
Lessons Learned from William Shatner
Hicks paints a poetic picture in Empire’s opening scenes and sets the stage for the struggles that Reza will encounter throughout the story and how he will endure his struggles. But here is where I have to beg the readers not to give up on Hicks and Empire. These opening scenes read like William Shatner’s acting in the early Star Trek TV show. They are just over-the-top and sometimes jerky; regardless of how compelling the plot and world-building truly are.
For those readers that have experienced the riveting interviews and insights of Shatner on his more recent work – Shatner’s Raw Nerve TV talk show – they know that sometimes readers have to endure these less than perfect starts in order to get to the treasure on the other side. By the end of the opening scenes, Hicks has matured his story and his prose. While still poetic at times, the story overall reads smoother and faster. At over 700 pages, Empire may intimidate a newcomer to the SciFi epic, but as the tension builds the pages fly by as if in a spaceship.
Love and War
You would expect, that since his planet is attacked by aliens, Reza’s life is going to be about war. And there is plenty of fighting in Empire. But surprisingly, Hicks has really written a compelling love story. Reza finds nuggets of love in some amazing places and unique characters. While others would turn bitter and weathered by his tragedy, Reza continues on. Regardless of the situations – and he finds himself in many trying situations – Reza looks for a foothold of honesty, kindness, and humanity. It is a lesson for us all.
Creating a Science Fiction World
Hicks has created a full world for Reza. Beside the aliens, which you’ll learn much about, readers will be educated on new animals, solar systems, and religions. While all this provides a wonderful landscape for Empire’s characters to live in, thoughtful readers will grasp that we all need to keep an open mind to the world we live in. There is always an opportunity to learn. There are always new ways of seeing things. Even when parties disagree, Empire strives to show that between ignorance and fighting lies understanding.
Whether you are a long-time fan of Science Fiction or a newcomer looking to expand your reading list, Empire will offer you plenty of adventure, characters, and plot to keep you entertained. I truly found myself anxious to get back to reading so I could find out what happens next. As this is just the first book in the series, I am planning to savor each of Hicks’ other books in the future.
Hicks, Michael R. In Her Name: Empire, Createspace. March 23, 2009. ISBN13: 978-1442123830