Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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Another post-New Year review: The Risen Empire

Scott Westerfield's The Risen Empire is another example of the new generation of space opera. The first part of a two-book novel called "Succession", The Risen Empire is a story of a stagnating empire, ruled by the immortal dead.  Relativistic starships and FTL communications hold the worlds of the Empire together, but true power comes from the Emperor, the man who controls the keys to immortality. In a universe of transhuman societies, the Risen Empire is struggling to avoid absorption by the Rix, a race of cyborgs who worship the planetary machine intelligences that are the ultimate expression of networked societies.

A Rix fleet has arrived in a border system, capturing the Emperor's sister and planting the seed of a planetary mind. The only hope is a single frigate, the Lynx, and its captain Laurent Zai. Separated by light years from his political masters, and his lover, the captain has to rescue the Child Empress. It's a mission that will lead him to the edge of his honour, and to the possibility of transcending the rules that bind the Empire together...

This is an intriguing novel, well written and complex, brimming with the moral ambiguities that characterise the New Space Opera. Westerfield sketches out the various evils that face his hero, and leaves us wondering just how he and where he will end the story. Long descriptive passages carry us to and from the action, while flashbacks flesh out the life and motivations of Captain Zai. However, we will have to wait for The Killing Of Worlds.

An interesting and intriguing novel.
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