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An outpost of the Illyrian Empire,
This review is from: Conquest (Chronicles of the Invaders 1) (Hardcover)
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A young adult science fiction novel. It's the start of a series, thus there is a lot left unresolved by the end.
It runs for four hundred and eight pages, and is divided into seventy five mostly rather short chapters.
Ideal reading age would be thirteen and up, thanks to some mild adult themes and references, and some violence and grim moments. It's good enough though to be enjoyed by older readers also.
The first chapter describes how the Earth was conquered. By the Illryi. A humanoid alien race who take over planets and rule them the way the Roman Empire used to. They attempt to civilise and bring advancements to the place. But they won't tolerate any opposition or resistance efforts. The first chapter gets through all this quickly and in a good manner, giving you all the information you need and hooking your attention at the same time.
The Illyri have both a military corps and a diplomatic one. They also use aliens from other worlds in their Empire as soldiers. They are not quite so humanoid.
One of the main characters, who we first meet in chapter two, is Syl, a teenage Illyri who was born on Earth. Her mother is dead and her father is a military leader who is based in Scotland. The whole book is set there, and the setting is very well presented, from city to highlands.
She loves Earth art. And it's her birthday.
After meeting her, we then encounter Paul Kerr, teenage human resistance fighter, who is fiercely protective of his young brother Stephen. Even though he can't keep him out of the resistance fighter life.
There's a lot to take in during these early chapters, and there are a lot of alien names, so it's initially slightly slow progress. But then you get your first hint that there's more to the Illyri than meets the eye, when we find out about a shadowy group who are seemingly running things. At this point, it does start to become compelling.
Although the Illyri do talk like humans, there is a point to that. But it does manage a good amount of culture clash and people not being used to each other's ways of life, particularly in the scenes where Syl and Paul first meet.
Obviously the two will end up being thrust together by the narrative and their lives will never be the same again as a result, but they don't dominate the story. The lives of other Illyri do come into it. Thus you get an interesting picture of bigger events going on and characters being caught up in the middle of them.
It does come up with moral questions about war and resistance and fighting and presents them to the reader in a manner that makes you think about them, without ever giving you any easy answers.
It's also pretty clever in the plotting. Setting things up that may not seem important, but do become so further down the line. Steadily, a bigger picture emerges. With at least one twist that I didn't see coming.
Every character is in a different place by the end. And you will be left wanting to know what happens to them next. Thus the end serves it's purpose.
An excellent start to what should be a very good series. Looking forward to book two.