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Absence of Blade (The Expansion Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 282 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From the first pages you'll feel as if you've been thrust headlong into icy waters, fighting to break the surface and gasp for air. McKenna whisks her audience from scene to visceral scene at a breakneck pace that'll leave you starry-eyed and wondering like a babe in the woods. You'll be looking backward and forward, in shock at what you've made it through, pouring over what you may have missed, and anxious about what lurks ahead.
This novel has something for everyone! Absence of Blade is written with the expansive wildness and world-building of Star Wars, the intrigue of A Song of Ice and Fire, the moral texturing of Star Trek, the imagination of Studio Ghibli, and the rigor of Crichton. Indeed, every topic broached in McKenna's first novel is sopping with a depth of understanding that could only be gained through years of careful study. She'll have you convinced that she is equal measures linguist, pharmacologist, philosopher, war strategist, technologist, zoologist, martial artist, and ethnographer. She says it takes a village to write a novel, but it would take the collective knowledge of half the departments at your local university to recreate anything approaching the quality of writing you'll find between these pages. McKenna writes like a Nobel chemist whose deadly-pure compound has been carefully crafted to delight and exhilarate.
Haunting characters like the cold and grim Gau Shesharrim are rare finds in modern storytelling, and precisely the antidote to this involuntary eye-rolling I've been craving. Gau looms like an earth-shattering comet, a harbinger of doom sucking the air out of every scene he enters. Ears ringing, you'll feel barometric pressure drop, skin spark, and hair stand on end whenever he's around.
McKenna wastes none of her readers' time. Tuned like clockwork, her words will have you imagining exotically ornamental alien species in the space of a sentence or two. Her action scenes play out like a tightly directed Hong Kong martial arts epic, and yet her characters never register shallow. She imbues them with a vitality and grace that makes their tales of suffering all the more tragic and impactful. Each expertly choreographed blow carries an emotional violence that strikes deeply into the heart.
Owning both Kindle and paperback copies, I can confidently attest the physical book is worth every penny. McKenna chooses her designers and editors as a chef chooses produce. The pages are easy on the eyes – comfortable like a warm bath – and the cover is entrancing.
To sum up in three words or less: BUY. THIS. BOOK.
I liked how tough it was for me to sort the goodies from the baddies. Everyone had motivation that I could relate to. Ultimately I cast my vote based on the same criteria I use in real life. Are they willing to hurt others to achieve their objective? Do they trivialize the value of a sentient person’s life in some power struggle game?
McKenna has thoroughly developed the Osk people. They display body language and gestures that humans don’t have. They have a martial arts system centered on their bone blades. They remember one another and read emotion by scent. They are also unparalleled martial artists. I know, I know… I already mentioned martial arts. It’s just that I want blades to come out of my forearms.
I received a free copy of this book and I’m under no obligation to leave this review. There are no Osk warriors threatening to shred my briefcase if I don’t leave this review. If you, Dear Reader, choose not to buy this book even though I left a lovely write-up, this little knife armed maniac here will probably just raid the fridge and not choose to cut stuff (send help!). People give me free books because I don’t shut up about the ones I like. You can read a hundred other review and even watch my book club chats at LARC-SciFi(dot)com. Actually, I took so long to get through my TBR and onto this that poor McKenna may have forgotten I have a copy. Sorry!
I hope this turns into a series because my favorite character, the title character I think, has more adventure coming! This is adults only. There is a scene that totally reminds me of the old scifi movie Species.