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Empress Hail Bristol is settling down into her job. The various crises that caused her to become Empress seem to be resolved. So, time for a new set of crises, then. The Empire’s oldest allies, the Farians, are acting oddly. When they finally ask the Empire for help, it’s no longer clear which side anyone is on.
Although logically a new sub-series, this is a great continuation of Hail’s story, as she juggles diplomacy, old friends, new alliances, and tricky politics. The first two thirds are relatively calm, focussing on how Hail is settling in, her issues with the Farians and their complex history and life-cycles, and her traumatic claustrophobia brought on from her previous adventures. But when the action starts, it doesn’t let up, leading to a shattering climax.
How will Hail deal with the latest disaster? I’m waiting impatiently for the next volume.
This starts a trilogy that acts as a sequel to The Indranan War (start with Behind The Throne). I'm not sure how well it works as a standalone - there's certainly a lot of careful reintroduction of all the (surviving) characters from the first series, but on the other hand it's such a massive cast I'm not sure that helps. Although ostensibly the adventures of Hail Bristol, space opera gunrunner turned Empress, the series is actually more about her relationships with her sprawling found family of advisors and bodyguards, and as such demands quite a lot of attention. The first series was pretty action-packed, which this takes a lot longer to get to, but that serves to ratchet up the tension quite nicely. This time the focus is on the enigmatic elder alien race of Farians, whose pseudo-magic powers of life and death takes this in an interesting direction for a space opera, as we find they're hiding a great deal about themselves to the extent that Hail's fragile peace may not last.... If you liked the first trilogy then get this - unless you hate really really big cliffhangers.
I really enjoyed the first trilogy so picked this up with eager anticipation. Hail Bristol is now over her troubles and accepting of her place heading up her Empire. Domestic issues have been largely resolved but the new issue is with the mysterious Farians who want her support with so e domestic issues. Hail finds that much of her assumptions about the Farians might have been very wrong and that puts her at odds with the race she thought were her Empire’s greatest friend. My problem was a surprising one, it dragged. And dragged. Yep, Hail shows how she is growing into her political and diplomatic role, but far too much talking and not enough of the pace and action of the first trilogy. There is a point towards the end where the action does kick in, but almost at a level that lacks credibility. Not sure I will get the next one.
One of my favourite female protagonists is back! I’ve been waiting for this book for ages and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s hard to do any kind of summary without spoilers so I won’t bother. If you’ve read the first series then you need to read this book.
I just want to know when the next in the series is going to be published and where’s the audiobook?
too much violence, too much action, too many deaths; gets dull after too many repeats, and too many "returns" from the dead...the religions are pretty mashed up, too, and make little sense...i skimmed and skipped a lot...
Being first in the second trilogy(?) following ex-gunrunner now-empress Hail this novel tries to be accessible to new readers, and so spends a lot of time explaining who all the characters are and what happened during the first trilogy. Particularly the beginning feels very info dumpish, but I was willing to forgive the novel for it since I can see the point of doing it and I'm not that allergic to info dumps, I guess. I'm not entirely convinced it works, though. Ultimately the series lives a lot from a likable cast and the readers "invests" into them by reading the first trilogy before getting here, where they are "just there". So I really recommend starting with the first trilogy.
I also felt it didn't quite manage to turn the corner and get into the "now" though. Hail just keeps explaining stuff, and when she isn't explaining things she's asking others to explain something. Some explanations in particular felt overly long or even duplicated. It felt like the novel needed to be cut a bit here or there, and instead the setting for example could have been expanded through the "tour" through her Empire. We didn't really get to see much of the world Hail lives in.
Then, the plot. As in the previous trilogy it's got the clear premise that this _will_ be about a heroine kicking ass. Even if the problem is political and she's an Empress. She'll still somehow do it. And, you know, plot isn't going to get in her way of doing so. So that sometimes lead to scenes that feel a bit questionable - for example, there's a large, critical diplomatic meeting. And when it happens, there's a bunch of foreign mercenaries in town. Everyone is aware they might start trouble, but they are all "nothing we can do about it". Look, check how a G9 summit works and tell me they let random groups of armed people anywhere near the city they take place in! Am I supposed to believe that in the future governments are completely casual about that sort of thing?
Along those lines the plot felt pretty predictable. It's a new series. Yeah, no, she's not going to avoid all conflict and solve everything in book 1, that's just kinda obvious. But I'm surprised how accurate I was about guessing the end (which is a bit of a cliffhanger).
Now that all sounds negative, but there's still the scenes that make the series great. Hail is a fun heroine, and she's entertaining when she does kick ass - diplomatically or otherwise. There's genuinely touching scenes, some decent snark, and the aliens with their weird prophetic power and religion and whatnot are intriguing enough to make me want to see how where it all goes, even if I'm not always a fan of the "see the future" ploy.
Ultimately... this (at least right now?) is really a very, very cheap book. So, well, give it a try for a fun evening or two.
ps: Hail is a great Empress, but I still think she shouldn't work so hard at abolishing the matriarchy. ;)
This is billed as a new series but truly this is book four in the original series, a series I did not read. The first 50% of this book is a boring and confusing recap of the original series filled with hard to track names, relationships, places and situations. The characters basically sit around and talk, move to another room, talk and ugh, boring. I wanted to DNF this so many times. The story finally starts in the 2nd half of this book and it’s interesting and fun. Too bad it’s such a slog to get there. Jury is out of whether or not I’ll read the next book.