In Her Name by Michael R. Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reza Gard, an orphan from House 48, is captured by the Kreelans, a race of female warriors with blue skin, fangs, and razor sharp talons, as part of a grand experiment to discover if humans have souls. Immersed in the brutal conditions of Kreelan life, Reza forms a new Kreelan identity in his struggle to survive, slowly gaining the grudging acceptance of his captors. However, time is running out and Reza must prove that he has a soul or be killed after his seventh and final Challenge.
The book started off pretty slow - whilst much of this back story is important to the novel as a whole, most of these could probably have been dealt with as a flashback within the story proper. As it was, the first few chapters dealing with Reza’s life as a human felt rather like a prolonged prologue, with the real ‘meat’ only starting with his wary dealings with his guard and tresh, Esah-Zhurah.
Despite the rocky start, I was captured by Hick’s writing as he navigated the fragile teen through the complex, rigid, and unforgiving Kreelan society. Within the 491 pages (on iBooks), he fleshes out realistically a harsh and yet beautiful world, a culture so alien from our own - one trying to survive an ancient curse and pursuing release through an ancient prophecy.
This is a story of a boy growing into manhood on a world not his own, a society that doesn’t understand or accept him, and how he survives through sheer determination, grit, and guts. This is also a story of learning to understand different cultures, not just by knowing the way they do things, but to understand the reasons behind them.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, Confederation.
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You can get a free copy of In Her Name: Empire from Michael R. Hicks' website or you can buy it from Amazon.