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Final Battle (In Her Name, Book 6) (English Edition) Format Kindle
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General theme *SPOILERS*
A showdown between the humans and the Kreelans appears to be an unavoidable occurrence somewhere in the near future. For some unknown reason (unknown at least to the human faction) the Kreelans seem to lose their interest in their war effort. The human forces see this change in attitude as possibly their one and only chance to deliver a killing blow to their long time nemesis. However things rarely go according to plans and this unique undertaking is no exception.
1.) an intriguing plot for this book (and the entire trilogy)...the ideological differences between the two races, and the encounters between them made for an interesting story.
2.) lots of action, twists, turns and the unexpected. [see cons 1.) below]
3.) the Kreelans were a compelling, intelligent and worthy alien adversary.
1.) maybe too many unexpected twist and turns...so many in fact, that the plot seemed to lose its focus...it seemed to get into a myriad of new developments. And with each new 'twist' the believability factor (believable within the context of the story) dropped another notch.
2.) swearing by Jodi Mackenzie...the f-word. Making her appear both juvenile and immature for someone in a position of such great responsibility and trust.
3.) the phrase, "Lord of All" (equivalent to 'Oh My God' or 'Dear God') used over and over by almost everyone in the novel. Repetitive ad nauseum.
4.) the humans, some (certainly not all)...short sighted, predictable and intellectually inferior to Kreelans in almost every way. Making many of them unlikeable and unappealing.
5.) Reza, the main hero of this and all three books, seemed to be overshadowed here by a host of events over which he had little or no involvement. His role almost reduced to that of bystander.
6.) the long anticipated last meeting between Reza and Markus Thorella is anticlimactic to say the least...I'd expected much more given all the hate and animosity that had transpired between them. A disappointing conclusion to what looked likely to be the final confrontation of this book.
7.) and finally, a tear jerker, sappy ending.
This third and final book started out reasonably well, but in the end turned out to be a space cowboy adventure...granted, an action filled and diverse space cowboy adventure...and if that's what you were looking for then this book may very well appeal to you. It did have some good moments.
Unfortunately for me, I'd hoped for more of the compelling, thought-provoking writing like that found in the majority of the first book, "Empire". I really got spoiled by the first book in the series and maybe set my sights too high.
Honestly, I was glad to be finished this book.
Will I read the second trilogy in this series...unlikely.
2 1/2 Stars, rounded up.
The story was perhaps a little TOO intense and perhaps could have stood some "breather pacing," but that's just my opinion. I didn't want to put the book down, which is a good thing, but the intensity tired me out a little. The first book had much better pacing in this area.
The swearing did not bother me at all and seemed appropriate, quite honestly, to how I would expect hardened soldiers to be talking in the middle of hellish warfare. I've heard people swear far worse working in a warehouse, so I think it was certainly acceptable and expected. The rape scene was brutal, but well, it's also an unfortunate reality, and I found myself heartbroken for the character that had to endure it. I don't feel a good writer should gloss over the ugly truths in life, and the author made it very clear that some really, really awful stuff goes down in corruption and war. However, I will address my problem with this scene shortly.
What I would like to have seen was more Kreelans and less human side, or at least equally balance it out. In the first book we learn so much of their world but by the end of this one, it plays such a small part in comparison to the human side. For a final book in a trilogy, I expected a return to the beginning to wrap things up more deeply, and I didn't get that.
There was a lot of military talk I just glazed over, but that stuff doesn't typically interest me much anyway. Also, we learn a bizarre history of the villains but then nothing is really done with that revelation later in the story. The information is exposed, and the clueless villain is like "Don't know what you're talking about" and that's it. Would have been better perhaps to have that information leak to the press so that the villains are not only physically defeated by the end but morally defeated right before. Shame and then defeat. Or else don't open the door at all. Once you open a door, you really gotta close it.
Going back to the rape scene, I feel there should have been a justifiable end to the brutality. When someone suffers that much, we want to see justice! Unfortunately, yes, the harsh reality is that many brutal acts do go unpunished, but that is the great tool of the writer. You can take the horrible reality and give it a riveting balance in the scales. I waited from the second book into this one to see Reza tear his nemesis a new one, and I wanted the utmost of brutality to bear on the guy! Instead, the villain honestly got off easy, and I was left with a hanging sense of injustice. I know why Reza did what he did, but I wanted more out of it.
What really made me give this 3 stars is the ending. We start off the trilogy with Reza basically becoming one of the Kreelans, but the focus of the ending isn't even on him. There's a short snippet, but we're focused on another character's view of it. It left me very unsatisfied. I got absorbed into this new world in the first book, brewed up for some hard justice and then some re-absorption into that world, but was left dangling on both.
All in all, I really, truly enjoyed this series, highly recommend it, but I hope that the author in future tales seals up the endings with more power and closure for the main protagonists.
2. All three books in this series I found to be real page-turners, though I can't say for certain whether this one was riding the coattails of it's predecessors in the trilogy. The pacing was, by and large, excellent. No major lulls in the drama/action, and as mentioned, it kept me turning pages quickly.
3. Some of the characters decisions and motivations really rang true for me, particularly some of Reza's friend's choices made late in the book. I love realism in my characters actions, and this book (largely) delivers it, particularly in it's protagonists. Example: there is at least one sequence when secondary protagonists are called to exact rescue missions with incredible risk and very little chance of success. Most of the time, these are, appropriately depicted as very difficult decisions for the characters. Many inferior stories paint good guys as "logic-defyingly" good and uncompromising. Not so here.
4. I felt the ending of the story wrapped things up nicely with very little mess. No real loose ends that remained. Unfortunately this is also a source of frustration for me (see cons)
Cons: 1. The trilogy progressed from dizzying heights of greatness in book 1, diminishing in book two - yet retaining a lot of it's charm, and fizzling in book three. The marvel of the story early on was it's delightfully character-driven plot. Beginning with the latter half of the second book, Hicks begins to shift this to a more event-driven plot. This was a huge disappointment for me.
2. The main character that I found so fascinating, and who hooked me on the series in the first place, with his intellectual discourses, philosophical musings, and sometimes playful attitude is simply GONE in book three. Instead, book three treats us to a rather maudlin stoic (if you can imagine that as anything other than an oxymoron) with less character development and real impact than even some secondary characters. Even Reza's climactic battle feels tremendously anticlimactic, and receives not a shadow of the depiction of violence and struggle that's given throughout the first book. The entire combat scenario is resolved with what appears to be no more than a clever trick.
3. The two primary antagonists are depicted as strawmen characters. They are over-the-top evil caricatures that are not relatable even in the remotest sense. Zero character development for either of them occurs as well. The author even goes so far as to state that their personalities have effectively been set since birth, and this very piece of information is used as a plot point.
4. The rich texture of the wonderful characters that Hicks created in the first 1.5 books continues to be pillaged to serve the greater interest of plot devices. Viz a viz, the Empress (specifically, the BIG Empress - my attempt at keeping this part spoiler-free) is evidently every bit the supreme deity that the Kreelan's tout that she is. I don't know about the other readers out there, but God characters could not be less interesting to me. Their emotions are blunted in serenity, grace, and wisdom; they experience zero character development as they are intrinsically perfect in this regard already (thinking otherwise only reveals that the reader has taken the wrong moral stance or opinion); and perhaps most importantly, they cannot be the subject of conflict, which is what actually makes stories interesting. They are the ultimate mary sue/marty stu. Readers dislike this trope for a reason. I've nothing against deities making appearances in stories, but in this case we're all but robbed of one of the most interesting characters in the early trilogy to this end. Unfortunately, this quite ruined the story for me. The examples don't stop there, however, as in this installment even our hero Reza and others among the cast are boiled down and reduced to one or two character traits (e.g. 1. Reza misses his lover, 2. Reza is controlled, detached, and supremely "polite") that play out through the story, regardless of the situation. Some of this, I understand, was intended to make him more alien, which is used to GREAT effect in book 2, but here he simply comes across as dull and uninteresting.
5. There were (what I felt to be) some major inconsistencies or outright mysteries in the morals and cultural views of the Kreelans. This is not unique to this novel, as they start to take shape in the earlier novels. That the Kreelans are depicted as this evolutionarily mature species is in complete discord for their preferred code of honor. I don't think any Star Trek viewers out there believe the Klingons to be the most enlightened race in the Star Trek universe, but the Kreelans share a LOT of similarities with them. Maybe it's forthcoming in another series by Hicks about the Kreelan, but I can't fathom what justification could be offered for the supremely enlightened and wise Empress to promote the unprovoked attacks that were apparently initiated by the Kreela upon the humans.
Further, if the premise of the initial experiment the Kreelans are conducting, i.e. abducting human children to see if they are worthy of a soul, are valid, and successful (Reza), then why would they continue to treat all humans that are not life long friends to one of their own (again, Reza) as animals?
6. There were at least a few, albeit unfortunately significant, plot holes. Example:
During the scenes on Erlang when Reza falls, Keel-Tath clearly communicates (at least indirectly) to Nicole to instruct Reza's friends to save him, as she is apparently preparing to bring him back to fulfill the prophecy. The entire latter half of the book could have been condensed into a single chapter if Keel-Tath had instead simply revived Reza while he remained in Esah-Zurah's arms, averting the entire crisis of the Kreela.
7. The entire book feels like it could have easily been at most a 3-4 chapter novella simply to wrap up the story of the Empire (or, better yet, a duology with a slightly longer second book - but then I suppose duologies are about queer as two dollar bills). I felt that, in terms of overall central plot, i.e. the story of the redemption of the Empire, the story was 80-90% on it's way to conclusion at the close of the second book. All the political manuevering and scheming that was a large focus of this book seemed wholly out of place for this trilogy, given what had occured previously.
I know that sounds like a lot of negativity. I should caveat that my strong reaction to this book would never have been possible without the greatness of it's predecessors and my strong emotional investment into the wonderful tapestry of characters and society that Hicks previously wove. Unfortunately, this book was a disappointment to me, but as the first novel in this series is definitely a 5-star book (especially for free!), and the second is nearly as good, this book is, in effect, a mandatory conclusion to the trilogy.
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