by Toni L Meilleur, futuristic (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.75, ISBN 978-1-59578-414-8
This one starts off with a bang. It's 2172. On what I presume to be Earth, Our heroine Allantra lures a vampire in a seedy bar to the backlane, presumably to sell him blood fresh from the source, only to stab that fellow with an "injector". Alas, the injector is a tainted one, so instead of merely entering some kind of paralysis long enough for her to check through his pockets, the vampire dies. Allantra knows that she's in for a hell of time when she realizes that she's accidentally killed Demetri Buscan, the brother of the Executioner. In this place called the Civil Lands, vampires rule everyone and everything, you see, and the Executioner is the big boss of everybody.
Allantra is a shifter - she can change into, say, an old man, just like Mystique in those The X-Men comics - but sigh, that doesn't stop her from being busted by the Executioner himself shortly after the accidental murder. However, there is more than meets the eye here. Allantra claims that she's being set up. Khaelen, the Executioner, exhibits no grief over the death of his brother. What is going on here? All of that is, of course, revealed as the story progresses so I can't reveal more or I'll be spoiling the story.
I have to warn you guys, this book is meant to be the first in a series so there are plenty of loose ends dangling by the last page. The Bloodlines series, from what I can see in this book, is going to be a genuine series with recurring characters over several books. As to whether I will be following this series, I'm not sure at this point, to be honest.
You see, I like the energy in this book. Allantra is a pretty spirited heroine who is no sitting duck waiting to be rescued while Khaelen is a pretty okay as a familiar and therefore rather boring hero compared to the heroine. I also find the setting pretty interesting, what with the caste system and all.
However, the two characters have sex pretty early in the story, which don't make sense to me given that the heroine is supposed to be in a precarious situation where her life is in the hands of Khaelen's whim. Sure, Khaelen is a nice guy, but I know that because the author shows me his point of view. On the other hand, Allantra doesn't know and has no reason to believe that Khaelen is a nice guy. It doesn't make sense to me, therefore, why she'd hop into bed with Khaelen so soon.
The villain is also purely cartoon material, completely with hysterical shrieking and psychotic raging.
This is a rather long novella and to Ms Meilleur's credit, I find Alliances a well-paced story that is always readable and engaging despite the bumps in the story. I'm not exactly breathless with anticipation for the next book, to be honest, but given that the author seems to know how to tell a story well and there is always plenty of opportunities for improvement in the next book, I may just give the next book in the series a look. As for Alliances, it has its share of strengths as well as flaws. An interesting but flawed effort, if you will.
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