Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Day 26a: Review "The Last Emperox" from John Scalzi

This article is part of The 100 Days Offensive. Got to Day 26 or Day 27.

I could not sleep last night. Went to bed early, but did not sleep through. So around midnight I started the last part of John Scalzi's "The Interdependency" series (3 books) and finished it in one go.

What drew me to this series? Primarily it was the author who has provided me with interesting, light reading material in the past. I am also following him on his blog, which (in the days of social media) grants him a huge brownie point from my side.

But there was another song the sirens sang: the setup of "The Interpendency". It is an interstellar human civilization that settles across the Galaxy and uses the properties of a natural phenomenon called "the flow" for faster than light travel. In order to ensure peace and co-existence the habitats are designed to be mutually interdependent (hence the name). One literally cannot exist without the others, only one lonely planet at the far end of the flow may be self-sustaining. And now everything falls apart as "the flow" ebbs away.

I was interested because "The Interdependency" does make a good allegory for the current world. Even the biggest and mightiest nations depend on other, smaller nations for oil, minerals, workforce or other services. While in the novel, the system is designed this way, we created our own interdependency through our drive for efficiency. As in the book, our civilization is threatened by natural disasters like Corona or Donald Trump that are amplified by mutual dependencies.

The third installment (The Last Emperox) is by far the strongest book in this series. The first part (The Collapsing Empire) could intrigue the reader through the setup and the interesting characters (I think nearly everyone will love Lady Kiva Lagos) in introduced, but it felt a bit slow. The second book (The Consuming Fire) suffered from the lack of new captivating figures, setups and ideas to introduce while also being unable to bring forward any conclusion. Even though it was rather short, I had to struggled with it.

No such problems plague "The Last Emperox".

The characters and the author both have to make hard choices but all of them do not hesitate. Action scenes are necessary parts of the plots and not just sections of relief for the intrigue-weary reader. The pacing is excellent, there is always something you expect on the next page (though the delivery also carries some surprises). The antagonist has a realistic plan, a full-flavor personality and manages to win at least the grudging respect of the reader. You get an ending and closure though it is not the one you expected.

Even though I was deadly tired, I tore through the book like a starved man through chocolate. It was just about 4 a.m. when I finally arrived on the last page. I really loved it and am not sorry for the lost sleep.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that you have to read through two OK-to-good books to start with this one.

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