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The Empress4/5

The Empress

S. J. Kincaid

Review

The Empress is the sequel to The Diabolic, which at the time was published as a standalone book. My first warning is, that you will need to read first book before reading this one as it will become very confusing if you try to treat it as a stand alone.

The story picks up with Tyrus now the Emperor, however meaning you have the power doesn't mean you get your own way. The people will not except Nemesis as his/ their Empress as she is a non-human, so the Vicar Astra refuses to give her the blessing of the 'Living Cosmos'. Due to this Tyrus doesn't have the full power of a Domitratian so he is weakened and powerful people around this loving couple constantly attempt to kill them.

Second warning, the story is full of political intrigue, who's right/wrong, and due to the huge character list can become confusing as there are so many names to remember. However, please don't let me put you off reading The Empress as it is full of twists and turns, and galaxy time delays etc. It also has a fantastic, strong leading lady (Nemesis) who loves with all her heart and is still learning new emotions and the consequences of the decisions that she takes.

The book could do with a glossary at the back for some of the more difficult language, but sci-fi readers may find the technical information dumps easier than I did. At times, the plot became confusing as I wasn't sure how much time had passed(in years) depending where in space they were. As you may have already guessed dystopian space novels are really not my thing, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the story. As it happens, I found the plot to be well written, full of twists and unexpected turns, especially towards the end; I can't say more as it will become a spoiler! If you enjoyed The Diabolic you must read this.

I feel that as the story goes from, in my opinion, a YA read into Adult ( as the characters have got older ) it is a book for confident readers of Dystopian sci-fi, 14+, as there is some mild sexual content and recreational drug taking, which is the normal thing to do in this future era of time and space. 378 pages of pure adventure and I will look forward to reading the conclusion when it is released, just to see what Nemesis does next with the decision she makes at the end of this book!

384 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Reviewed by: Linda Brown


The Empress4/5

The Empress

S. J. Kincaid

Review

The Empress is the sequel to the thrilling, fast-paced Diabolic and does not disappoint as a second book. From the very beginning, the story is fast-paced with twists and turns at every corner. Nemesis is still struggling to adapt to a life where she hopes one day she will be accepted as a human. Her partner and love, the Emperor Tyrus, is also finding it difficult to maintain power over the Grandiloquy and together they must seek confirmation of their status, perhaps from a higher power. Unable to trust anyone but each other they set off on a dangerous mission, with the outcome uncertain.

I loved this sequel and each time I thought I had worked out the plot another twist shocked me. I cannot wait for the next book to find out Nemesis's ultimate fate and think students will be gripped by the fast pace and harsh reality of this universe.

378 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

Reviewed by: Lorraine ansell


The Empress4/5

The Empress

S. J. Kincaid

Review

The Empress is a cracking sequel to The Diabolic, which reimagined the deadly politics and brutal excesses of the Roman Empire in a galactic setting for a YA audience. Inspired by 'I, Claudius', it featured an uncompromising heroine. Its gripping narrative and evocative imagery generated nail bitingly tense situations. Meticulous world building, deft characterisation and shocking plot twists delivered something fresh for the dystopian market - an exhilarating sci fi thriller with Shakespearean undertones.

Kincaid's follow-up dispenses an intoxicating blend of political intrigue, pulse pounding action and destructive passion. Nemesis, a cruel, callous and superhumanly strong character with a lack of empathy, continues to evolve. Her relationship with the Emperor's son Tyrus goes into turbulent overdrive. Betrayals mount as the stakes get higher in a galaxy where power is given to the few who have control over machines and the majority of humans have been relegated to the role of 'excess' slaves. The divide of love vs the fear to trust plays out as the hedonistic grandiloquy battle to hold on to their privileged lifestyle aboard the Chrysanthemum, a dazzling arrangement of interconnected spaceships.

Nemesis fights for acceptance throughout, having been decried as an aberration by the Helionics. Can an odyssey to the Sacred City change things? The dictum that 'power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely' holds true as fresh horrors are unleashed including bio weaponry, Black Holes, time slips, malignant space and explosive decompression.

On the surface, Kincaid's novel is an entertaining sci fi fantasy with a dark underbelly modelled on the decadence and depravity of ancient Rome but it explores the need for empathy, the danger of becoming desensitised to violence, the harm caused by zealous religious beliefs, the evils of drug addiction and blood sports whilst also debating the ethics of genetic engineering. Her work encompasses politics, history, religion and science and would engender interesting classroom discussions.

378 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Tanja Jennings, school librarian

Reviewed by: Tanja Jennings


The Empress3/5

The Empress

S. J. Kincaid

Review

I'd just finished the earlier instalment, The Diabolic so I was lucky to jump straight in and pick up the story. With Nemesis to help him, Tyrus has taken control of the Empire. An idealistic and noble future lays ahead. But for those who have read the first book will know, there are plenty of foes to fill the spaces left by those already beaten.

With plenty of double-crossing and strategic manoeuvring, there are many surprises in store for this young couple. If you love plenty of action, this book will have you on the edge of your seat. Although there were plenty of plot twists in Diabolic, this instalment is where the real action happens.

There were times I wished the story unfolded differently but it was a tremendously powerful piece. A merciless, full-throttle plot, with plenty of surprises.

378 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Victoria Long, school librarian.

Reviewed by: Victoria Long