The undead Emperor has ruled the Eighty Worlds for sixteen hundred years.
His is the power to grant immortality to those he deems worthy, creating an elite class known as the Risen.
Along with his sister, the eternally young Child Empress, his power within the empire has been absolute.
Until now.The empire's great enemies, the Rix, hold the Child Empress hostage.
Charged with her rescue is Captain Laurent Zai. But when Imperial politics are involved the stakes are unimaginably high, and Zai may yet find the Rix the least of his problems.
On the homeworld, Zai's lover, Senator Nara Oxham, newly appointed to the Emperor's War Council, must prosecute the war with the Rix while holding the inhuman impulses of the Risen councillors in check.
If she fails at either task, millions will die.And at the centre of everything is the Emperor's great lie: a revelation so shattering that he is willing to sanction the death of entire worlds to keep it secret ...
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 720 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 19/01/2006
- Category: Science fiction
- ISBN: 9781841493725
- EPUB from £4.99
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by diehardkev
This is one of the finest space operas I have come across in recent years. In fact to label Risen Empire as a space opera almost does it an injustice - the breadth of issues and technologies puts many a hard SF novel to shame. The Risen Empire is ruled by the Risen Emperor who has achieved immortality for himself and an elite few through symbiosis with an alien organism. Ruling over the Empire, peace has spread across the galaxy until a cult known as the Rix invade the heart of the Empire and galactic war breaks out. From the first chapter, it's full throttle action as an Imperial Squadron strike back at the Rix. It appears at first to emulate the traditional spaceship enagement popularised in Battlestar Galactica, but Westerfeld instead incorporates microtechnology - the ships are the size of dust grains and are operated by remote from an orbiting mothership! This kind of fresh approach and scale is the norm throughout the book and make it something extra special in my book. There is also a strong political theme. The Empire is ruled by people who never "die" and a renegade political group believe that this can only stifle the growth of humanity and also questions its need to go to war. Looking around the world today, its not hard to see where some of these themes have been reflected from.This is hard hitting and epic science fiction and although falls slightly short of being directly comparable to Dune, can easily sit proudly alongside it on any SF readers shelf.
Review by lorelorn_2007
In humanity's far future, there is an Empire ruled by the dead. After sixteen hundred years, the wealth of the dead surpasses that of the living, and progress has ground to a halt, for what need have the dead of progress?As the Empire's enemies circle, The Great Secret is revealed, a secret that could unravel the Empire, and one the Emperor will stop at nothing to protect.As with other science-fiction works this one ponders the effect of vastly extended lifespans on human progress. If paradigms only shift when its defenders die, what happens when they live forever? In this society Westerfeld has contracted, to choose death is an act of rebellion, a salute to progress.
Review by suffe
What if death could be conquered and eternal life could be achieved. At the base level, this is the question that Risen Empire tries to answer. Spiraling out from this permise other complicated questions arise; honesty, loyalty, religion, economy, inteligence and self-awareness.The book does manage with many of its attempted goals. The culture and system of the empire itself is fairly well thought-out and it works well as a playground for the events that take place. In some ways the story hinges itself slightly too much on the much sought after answer to the Question - the Emperors Secret - but other than that, there is a good interplay between the different parts and things move forward in a good way. The non-linear flashbacks, if they can be called that, work fairly well as a device. Told in cronological order they would probably have felt slightly tedious but instead they give you relevant background information.Characters don't have an extreme dept and can sometimes feel a bit under-developed or shallow but function within the set framework. Though archetypical they do their intended work. Some of them even do more than that.In conclusion; the major strenghts of the book is by far the ideas that are presented, the broad strokes of the envisioned empire and its culture, the new ways at which it looks at near-singularity societies and their inner workings. These are the reasons, and they are very compelling, to read this work.
Review by shanaqui
The main thing was that I didn't really feel the characters that well. I felt the book was written more about the technology and the backdrop than about people -- which is fine, and I've come across it a lot in sci-fi, but it isn't the way I prefer books to be. No matter how many people waxed lyrical, in the text, about Laurent Zai, I didn't care that much about him. Honestly, my favourite character was one of the bits of technology -- an intelligent house.<br/><br/>That aside, I did enjoy it, and the physics didn't leave me behind too often. And nor, thankfully, did the politics, of which there was a moderate amount (since one of the main characters was a senator). If you like sci-fi, I think I'd recommend it. I'm rapidly discovering, though, that sci-fi really isn't my genre, since there's more often a focus on technology than on characters.<br/><br/>The ending felt strange to me, in that nothing was resolved. The empire may or may not fall apart. The compound mind may or may not triumph. Senator Oxham and Captain Zai may or may not see each other again. But I did like the closing scene, which is set ten years before the main action of the book (and we get little glimpses of "ten years before" throughout the book). The very last lines of it are lovely.<br/><br/><I>[They] had taught [him] one certain rule: never laugh at a kiss. A kiss was mysterious and powerful, fragile and invincible. Like any spark, a kiss might fizzle into nothing, or consume an entire forest. A kiss was no laughing matter. Not for the wary.<br/>A kiss could change the world.</I><br/><br/>It does seem odd for that to be the final word, since that's very strongly about the characters rather than war/technology, but I did love it.<br/><br/>The main thing that interested me had little to do with the plot, oddly enough. This involved throwing the word "synaesthesia" around a lot -- in the book it's used as a way to handle multiple lots of data at once and to experience data in a deeper way. I think it was mainly interesting to me because it made me realise I have synaesthesia -- I can taste words. But that's beside the point!<br/><br/>(Edit: After writing this, at the time I read the book, I realised there was another book in the series. For whatever reason, on my edition says this <I>nowhere</I> in it.)
Review by AHS-Wolfy
Humanity has conquered death! Not just once but in a few different ways. The eighty worlds of the Risen Empire have accomplished this by dying (d'oh) and then, through the addition of a symbiote, returning to life (woohoo!) but with a somewhat decreased appetite for the general day-to-day experiences. Unfortunately this option is not available to everyone, only the supremely wealthy or those who have provided a special service to the Empire or the Undead Emperor (no, this is not a vampire book) are found worthy of immortality. Another branch of humanity, the Rix, took the technological route, augmenting their bodies and continually upgrading the parts that wear out. Their central tenet is the propagation of the compound mind, planet-sized AI's whom they worship and venerate above all else. A second war between the Risen and the Rix looks likely when the latter takes the Child Empress, sister to the Emperor, as hostage while it seeds a mind on one of the empire's planets. Newly promoted Captain, Laurent Zai, is the one tasked with the rescue mission and failure to save the Empress will result in an Error of Blood, ritual suicide that precludes any chance at immortality. But it's not just the one planet that is in danger here for the Emperor has a secret and if this knowledge should become widely known then the very existence of the empire is also at stake.To me, Scott Westerfeld is primarily known for his YA series but here he has created a compelling space opera that contains hard science, military action (ground and space), political manoeuvring, philosophical questioning and even a little romance thrown in for good measure (more than a little if I'm honest as it's a driving force behind the primary narrative). The story is told from the perspectives of those characters that are most involved in the current action so the reader is never far from the centre of the story as it unfolds. There are also some flashback segments that help explain the relationships of some of the principals and to underpin some key plot points. The pacing of the book is top-notch, the action parts of the story are brilliantly imagined and will have you on the edge of your seat while the in-between sequences will leave you pondering some weighty subject matter.If I have managed to pique anyone's interest in this book then I will add a warning that you will need to be careful which version of this title you pick up. Having being written as one manuscript the work was originally published as two books, being split at a major bookstore chain's request. Confusingly republished as a single entity later on under the same name as the first of the duology. As the split occurs just before the story really takes off I doubt I would have had the inclination to continue on to [The Killing of Worlds] straight away. There's quite a marked difference in the number of people who have book 1 in their LT library as to those who have book 2 so it looks like I'm not alone in that thinking.That warning aside, this is an excellently crafted space opera that almost makes me wish that Mr. Westerfeld's YA books didn't quite garner the praise they do and then maybe he'd write more of these kinds instead.