Thursday, March 12, 2009

Succession series; Scott Westerfeld

This is a space opera written by young adult author Scott Westerfeld, who is also known for the Uglies series and Peep. Mr. Westerfeld originally wrote this as one manuscript, but according to his website in the United States The Risen Empire was split into two books at the behest of “a large book chain”. Thus, in the United States it is available in two volumes. The Risen Empire and The Killing Fields are the two titles in the U.S. In the United Kingdom it was published in its original format as one volume titled: The Risen Empire, ISBN 0-7394-3801-8. The two volumes are a continuation of one story. Do not begin The Risen Empire without also having The Killing of Worlds as well. After reading this I hope Mr.Westerfeld writes more books in this world, I really enjoyed these novels.

The setup is a plot within a plot involving politics, religion and technology. Deception. Fear of the unknown. Secrets. The overarching plot is relatively straightforward. You have two competing empires fighting over one planet, Legis XV. The Risen Empire of the title is a conglomeration of eighty worlds ruled by the Emperor and his little Sister, who is known as the Child Empress. The Rix’ (the competing empire) preferred method of conquest is by propigating so called ‘hive mind’ or ‘compound mind’ computer entities made up of all computers on a given world on planets they’ve conquered. The Emperor & his government & their peoples disagree. They feel that people should control the machines, not the other way around. All of this comes to a head on the planet Legis XV when the Rix manage to take the Child Empress hostage. Thus all of the might of the Risen World Empire is brought to bear to rescue her.

The other plot involves the military officer, Laurent Zai, of the Risen Empire, his ship Lynx, both of whom were sent to Legis and the highest political officials of the Emperor and a cover up. Due to the distances and the time required for travel, the story evolves across two planets, Legis and the Emperor’s home planet (simply called Home) as well as the frigate space ship which spends much of its time in an ongoing fight. Kind of like a fight between the giant navy ships of the early 19th century, space battles involve lots of physics and educated guesses about the enemy’s tactics and pushing your crew and your ship to the limits of its physical capabilities. Similar to chess, except with real people as the stakes.

This is my first foray into ‘space opera’ and I have to say I enjoyed it very much. Lots of adventure and edge of your seat military operations with a bit of romance and treachery thrown in for good measure. Mr. Westerfeld wraps up just enough threads to satisfy this reader and leave me hungry for more. Very highly recommended.

UK Edition

Images found on Macmillan and Powells.

1 comment:

Kailana said...

After I read the book that is related to Peeps, I think I will probably see if my library has these books! I am really enjoying Westerfeld so far. :)