The Empress by S.J. Kincaid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book...oh my. Let's just say if you like books filled with twisted, murderous, amoral sociopaths, this is the book for you.
That I not only finished this book, but gave it the rating I did, is testament to the author's skill in worldbuilding and plotting, and yes, characterization. These people are not likable, not in the least (even the moment the protagonist Nemesis makes a conscious decision not to murder someone is because she realizes it's not necessary, not because she has any particular moral objection to killing) but they are compelling. I had to read on and find out what they were going to do next. This book is also filled with plot twist upon plot twist, with the final one setting up what promises to be a helluva confrontation in the last book.
Needless to say, with all of the above, this is a pretty grim tale. But with these characters and this vicious backstabbing world, it couldn't be any other way. This is an exploration of the addictive rush of power, its use and abuse, and whether the ends justify the means, ramped up to a galaxy-spanning scale. (I do hope in the third book someone gets to visit Earth and we see Humanity Prime. Although that might be too much of a literal deus ex machina.)
If you're tempted to tackle these books, just be aware that they are not lighthearted fare, and there are hardly any "good" characters to be found. But if you can handle that, this is a riveting story.
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