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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.  Also, I have linked the book cover with Amazon.  If you buy the book through this link, I will get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
 It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

I really enjoyed The Diabolic, by S,J, Kincaid.  With all the royal intrigue and double dealings, I rather thought of it as Ancient Rome...In space!  So I was eager to read this sequel, called The Empress.  While I still loved the main character, Nemesis, I was taken aback by some changes to other characters, and by the abrupt plot twists that left me confused and unsatisfied.
What I Liked:
I really like how Nemesis evolves from almost a organic robot into a person with a deep feeling for humanity.  While Nemesis will do anything to protect Tyrus, she also doesn't want to kill people needlessly.  Her resolve is sorely tested by the conniving Senator von Pasus.  She would love to kill him for what he is doing to Tyrus, but knows it is better to keep him alive.

Senator von Pasus is a classic villain.  His schemes are complex, and his personality is cruel.  He is dreadful, but with this character, you know to expect that he is up to no good.  It is the reader's (and Nemesis's) job to figure out how he plans to sabotage your  dreams.

This novel is set in the very distant future with cool technology like devices you wear in zero gravity to help you propel, medical robots to heal you, and beauty "bots" to give you instant plastic surgery!  

One of the major plot points is about who can control a scepter that is used to control every piece of technology in the galaxy.  As Emperor, Tyrus is supposed to be able to wield it, yet he is unable to.  What will happen when he, or anyone, is able to control everything?  What would that kind of power do to a person?

What I Didn't Like:
Character Changes:
Both Tyrus's and Neveni's personalities change drastically in this story.  While I understand that story arcs always alter characters in some ways, their core essence should not.  In the first book, Tyrus pretended to act like a spoiled member of the Grandiloquy while secretly holding heroic ideals.  When he becomes Emperor, Tyrus begins put his ideas into action by implementing reforms.  In this book, his character seems to change from an idealist to a cynic, drunk on power.  I really didn't like this change, as it makes much of the sacrifices of the first book pointless.

Neveni, Nemesis's best friend, also drastically changes.  The once loyal friend is changed forever when she witnesses a horrific tragedy.  She then becomes cynical, murderous, and only concerned with herself.  I grew to hate this character by the end of the book.  She has no remorse for her actions, and Nemesis seems to forgive her all too willingly. 

Drastic Plot Twists:
While I am all for keeping the reader on their toes, the rapid plot twists made me dizzy, and were very unsatisfying.   One of the joys of the first book was the elaborate schemes and plots that various characters cooked up.  As a reader, I want to see each plan through so there can be a resolution.  But in The Empress, plots are developed, and then abandoned, briskly.  It's as if the author couldn't decide how to proceed, so she just randomly threw a wrench in the scene so she didn't have to resolve it.

Overall, I would recommend this book as I still love Nemesis and her quest to be seen as a real person.  The contrast between her and other characters who place little value on most people's lives illustrate how easy it is to lose our empathy in our own journey, unless we make a concerted effort to look for the value in everyone.



Release Date:  October 31st

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

Page Length:  378 pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:  Packed with action, this book was enjoyable.  I would have liked it more if some of the characters had retained their core values.  It would have made for a stronger story.
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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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