My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the final book of the Diabolic trilogy, after a sizable gap between the second and third books (and the second book ending on a cliffhanger). It was long enough that I had to reread my reviews of books #1 and #2 to remind myself of the major plot points. This is a twisty, far-future tale of greed and deception and megalomania, in the setting of a galactic Empire run by a treacherous, murderous family. In this book's afterward, the author mentions that this was inspired by the book and miniseries I, Claudius. I can't comment on that as I've never read the book or watched the TV show, but I did note in my reviews of the previous Diabolic books that these are some of the most ruthless, unlikable, compelling characters you'll ever meet.
However, I didn't like this book as much as the other two. The main reason for this is what seems to be plot twists just for the sake of plot twists, not because they make sense in the context of the overall story. I also think that because of the plot doubling and tripling back on itself, the characterization suffers as a result. Specifically, the title character and our protagonist and narrator, Nemesis, the genetically engineered killing machine and former Empress, has her motivations and emotions whipsaw back and forth like a teeter-totter, as she alternately hates and loves her husband, the tyrannical Emperor Tyrus Domitrian. Several times over the course of this book, she wavers between saving him and killing him. I also didn't care for the fact that Tyrus is revealed to have set in motion an exceptionally deep-layered plot of intrigue upon intrigue, designed to bring down the Empire from within--but said plot requires him to manipulate Nemesis into thinking he is her enemy, and he never tells her what he is doing. All because her public hatred of him, and her fight against him which will lead the subjects of the Empire to rise up and overthrow Tyrus as the last Emperor, wouldn't be believable if she knew the truth.
I'm sorry, but that is bullshit. It's the mark of an arrogant, manipulative asshole who doesn't trust the people who love him and won't allow them to make their own choices. Nemesis finally breaks through, discovers the full extent of Tyrus' plans and decides to throw in her lot with him, but that left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Tyrus' deep-laid plan works in the end, and he and Nemesis ride off into the galaxy together (2,500 years of time dilation later, after she rescues him from the black hole he has been cast into), but that's why I didn't like this book as well as the first two. The plot twists needed to be pared back and some honesty injected into the narrative. But if you like court intrigue and deliciously nasty characters, this is definitely your kind of book.
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