Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Bastard Reaction: Silent Blade & Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
I'm not a reader of short stories, I don't read romances, and haven't read much sci-fi, so when the opportunity presented itself to read not one, but two short sci-fi romance stories then I jumped at the opportunity to do so, obviously. Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, top 3 easily, and actually my favorite author duo. There's no competition what so ever, bar none, they're at the top. So yeah, I took a chance to read something outside my comfort level since they are worth an hour or so of my time at the very least.
Both Silent Blade and Silver Shark are set in the same world, in a series that's called World of Kinsmen. Far in the future humanity has colonized planets, and through technological advances they have enhanced their genetic make-up to gain "superpowers". These people are called kinsmen. Seeing value in exclusivity, they started controlling their numbers and sabotaged research into the technology so that their descendants and themselves would be the only ones to benefit from these technologies. So now we live in a world which kinsmen control, and they behave as the mafia would including family loyalty as the most important of laws, which if broken penalty is often death.
Much like the era of kings and queens, families use prearranged marriages as tools of creating alliances and consolidate power. Such is the case in Silent Blade by which our main character, Meli, has had her life ruined because of one of these arrangements ended in catastrophe for her family and herself. Years later she excised herself from the family to live in the shadows and became their assassin as to create deniability of involvement of her actions. Using her unique and rare talent as a kinsmen, she has just performed her final act as an assassin when a request is made by her family to kill the very person who ruined her life. What ensues is a romantic plot, mixed trickery, spy games, and hidden identities. The book opens up with a very cool action sequence, but after that it's pretty much dominated by the romance aspects which I have little to comment on. While sci-fi, the science focus is minimal, it's more character driven which is the way I like it. One thing that shows though is Ilona Andrews' talent to create likable sympathetic characters which has been true in everything I've read from them so far. In all, an enjoyable read, but certainly not my type of reading material. Had it not been a romance, this would surely be a story I would have liked very much. That said, the romance here was to my liking, as much as I'm capable of enjoying it. Story is written in 3rd person from two points of view, published in 2009.
Silver Shark takes us to a different planet, one which is controlled by two warring kinsmen families. It's a never ending war that has been going on for about a century, and society is a militaristic one in which displays of emotions are frowned upon. Very violent too. It reminded me of the movie Equilibrium in some aspects. Main character, Claire, is a powerful kinsmen psycher, and due to some circumstances she's deported from the planet and transported to the same planet of Silent Blade, only taking place some years later. Once there she has to hide her identity as a kinsmen and she's forced to take a job or face deportation back to her home planet in which she'll certainly be executed. As fate would have it, she ends up taking a job in a psycher security corporation, a place full of psychers like herself in which she'll find hiding her identity an almost impossible task. Here we meet the romantic interest. In contrast to Silver Shark, while the story has a romance focus too, it's more balanced with a corporate intrigue plot and there's a decent amount of action and a bit more sci-fi oriented. The story and the world is more polished, and once again an enjoyable read with likable characters. If I have one complaint it would be that I really wanted to see the final action sequence, though I understand the omission of it. But it would had been a good prize to earn after going through the romance portions for me. I would certainly read Silent Blade before this since there are some cameos, but no need to do so if you really want to jump in and read Silver Shark. Book is written in 3rd person limited, which I thought worked better, and it was a bit longer too. It has been recently published.
Very much worth checking for all Ilona Andrews fans, particularly those that have enjoyed their The Edge series. Much like their other books, these stories focus on powerful female and male protagonists, which is something I like very much, and as mentioned before, likable characters. And they're fun. I'm not much of a sci-fi reader, but I think if you're a person that likes a lot of science in your fiction, then this will probably not work out for you, but for those that like character driven stories with a science-fiction setting as a backdrop, then this should be to your liking. Even so, I would welcome more stories set in this universe, romance and all, and I'll surely read them as soon as they come out.
Where to buy:
Silent Blade E-Book
Silver Shark E-Book
Regardless of these books, every urban fantasy reader out there should have a look at their Kate Daniels series, which is one of the more kickass series out there. Make sure to check their website for more information and free reading: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/