Friday, August 2, 2013

Kindle Spotlight -- Etched in Soul and Skin

It feels like it's been a while since I last reviewed a book I read on Kindle. But I'm back today with Joshua Legg's ambitious novel Eteched in Soul and Skin.

The story takes place on a planet very different from our own. Adanna is a young woman in a nomadic tribal village. The villagers are proficient in magic, but Adanna's family is by far the best at it and thus they are the leaders of the tribe. Unfortunately, even their best magic has proven ineffective at fighting off the Sky Demons, mysterious marauders who periodically attack the tribe and abduct people. Everyone in the tribe lives in constant fear of these supernatural foes.

Well, as it turns out, the Sky Demons are actually commandos from the floating city of Shuran. They need the lowly ground-dwellers' magic to stay afloat. Eric and Allison are experienced Shuran soldiers, and one day they, along with their squad, are sent to attack Adanna's tribe and secure their latest sacrifice. Things don't quite go as planned, however. Upon seeing her friends and family fall prey to these Sky Demons, Adanna erupts into a full-on Carrie-esque magical beserker rage. She vaporizes everyone in the squad except for Erik and Allison. The slaughter is only stopped when Erik manages to sneak up behind her and stick a tranquilizer in her neck. Thus the soldiers acquire their target and bring her back to Shuran where she is plugged into the core so her magic can keep the behemoth engines running.

However, Erik feels bad about what he's done and promptly goes rogue to free Adanna from Shuran's clutches. Allison, as his commander, takes the blame for this "betrayal" and so is tasked with capturing Erik and recapturing Adanna. Can these fugitives evade their pursuers and escape the flying city? Whose side will Allison ultimately end up on? And is that motley crew of pirates friend or foe? You'll have to read the book to find out.

I really like Etched in Soul and Skin. The story is strong and the characters are compelling. Those who have played the videogame Bioshock Infinite might think it's a rip-off because of the similarities, but if they give the book a chance I think they'll be just as hooked as I was. The narrative continues to build steam until the satisfying finale.

However, I do have a few complaints. I feel as though Erik is too quick to abandon the only life he's ever known and his military discipline. I think he should have agonized over his potential decision to rebel against his own people a bit more. After all, these are his comrades (amoral as they are). Instead, he dives right into said rebellion without much thought.

Also, each chapter begins with a big hanging letter on the first sentence. That's not so unusual, except the letter hangs significantly lower than the sentence itself and is spaced kinda far away. It just looks awkward and unprofessional.

Still, these are ultimately minor gripes and don't really diminish the enjoyment I had with Etched in Soul and Skin. It's well-written and well worth your time.

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