Earth has been conquered with little bloodshed and is now ruled by a race of beautiful humanoids. Their control is seemingly schizophrenic, trying desperately to avoid loss of life, then being brutally cruel and even wiping out entire cities in retribution. The humans have not given up their planet and continue an unceasing campaign of resistance and rebellion.
The Illyri invaders have also conquered many different alien races and use them as servants and soldiers. But they have never met aliens so similar to themselves, nor as intellectually advanced as the human race. The Illyri are clearly far ahead of the humans technologically, but that is not much of a long term advantage. They are both fascinated and wary of humans.
Syl is the daughter of the Alien governor of Earth. Born in transit to Earth, she is Illyri, but raised on Earth and has a great affinity for humans. Her curiosity catches her in a vast web of conflict and lies, both from her people and the aliens; and she doesn’t know who to trust.
Conquest is a fast-paced story of action balanced with teenage romance and otherworldly technology. The teenage heroes are willing to do the right thing when their adult counterparts are not. The gentle Illyri is a contradiction, not wanting to harm the humans, but needing to put down the endless insurgencies, sometimes violently. The reason becomes clear at the end and would spoil the plot to reveal it here.
This is a well-crafted story with rich characters and believable technology. There is a hint of Dune in the novel, but more of a nod than any kind of derivative story. Perhaps because there are teenagers as the main characters, you could call it a young adult novel. But those are often arbitrary labels and Conquest should appeal to any SciFi lover, especially those who enjoy space opera.
The book is performed by Nicola Barber. There are many very good narrators working today, but Nicola stands above even this excellent crowd. She is magnificent, changing accents and voices with ease, male and female easily discernible. Her tone and pacing are spot on, moving the action forward, slowing when necessary and speeding up during the action, emotion oozing from her voice. You will want to follow this talented performer and listen to other books by her. Just great.
Conquest is an enjoyable listen with a terrific performance. It doesn’t exactly break new ground plot-wise but has well-developed characters that are easy to like (and hate) with an exciting backdrop of war and intrigue. The novel wraps up the immediate action nicely but also starts the transition to the next volume.
Star Rating: * * * * 1/2
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