Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
Published by Tor on April 14, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
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The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction . . . and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.
Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.
Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?
It’s the final leg of the Interdependency trilogy and things have been on a dire note since the beginning- end of humankind sort of deal. It’s for all the marbles now and I love when a book or series of books, in this case, reaches that point. I was in high anticipation to find out how things would conclude this amusing bit of futuristic sci-fi.
I don’t plan to offer up any spoilers intentionally, but there may be series spoilerish things noted here since these books are all one story and need to be read in order.
As I said, I was pretty jazzed to pick up this last of the trilogy. I described the book as a survival-style space adventure, but in truth this series has been more political intrigue than anything else since the beginning with a dab of desperation on the side. I really should have remembered that when I went into this book because if I thought the focus was going to be on saving humankind, I was only going to be a little right. In fact, the intrigue was stepped up. I wouldn’t have minded this because I got to enjoy the snappy witticism of several characters and even the wry tone of the overall writing (it’s not a big downer even if it seems like it would be), but I was really starting to wonder what the ‘Hail Mary’ was going to be to save everyone.
And, this brings me to the heart of my moderate level of dissatisfaction with this book. On one hand, I was highly entertained and chuckled a few times at the entertaining dialogues, even by the villains, but, on the other hand, I felt like things stalled out. All the tension was reduced to Marce Clairmont losing sleep as he worked feverishly to figure out enough about Flow physics to see if there was a way to get around the inevitable and the emperox trying to stay alive between coups and assassination attempts to have the authority to allow Marce to work and save as many people as she could. It felt like more of the same from book one and two with the same greedy aristos content to let the world burn because they would get to End and who cared about anyone else. And, there were those who thwarted them which made for some entertaining moments and a very little excitement, but it didn’t seem to be leading up to anything.
But, what really sunk this one was the rushed end. I felt like the big play was all off stage and the rules got changed at the last minute to accommodate a slap-dash ending. I sat there staring at the acknowledgement page and asked myself, “What was that?” A two page wrap-up was the big moment. I felt it was a cop out and I hate saying that because right up until that last chapter I was enjoying myself even with all the passive ‘tell not show’ passages and summations that skipped over direct dialogue and action, but to go the whole series for that?
In contrast, I enjoyed learning the final secrets of the Memory Room, Kiva’s rude humorous personality, sweet and dedicated Marce, and a sensational setting out there in the stars.
In summary, I was having a good time right up until the end. I would still recommend the series for light, sci-fi entertainment. I definitely plan to read/listen to more from this author and am already pondering which series I will start.
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