Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
I read The Diabolic thinking it was a stand alone, then discovered it was set to begin a trilogy. Finally the 2nd book is in my hot little hands and I was excited to immerse myself back in the world created by Kincaid.
The Empress is one of our book club reads, that I didn’t quite get finished in October, and so it was picked up by a selection of our readers who had not read The Diabolic. I think it will hold up as a stand alone because there is a self contained story but I am enjoying watching the evolution of our heroine Nemesis.
Kincaid returns to the dystopian future of our race, now living largely in space, as a new Emperor is crowned and plans to make some big changes. His plans to wed a diabolic and make her his Empress do not go down well, Nemesis is a humanoid creature but she is not recognised as a person and she is never going to be recognised as an Empress.
The Empress takes us deeper into the world created by Kincaid and we are given some important history lessons that go a long way to explaining how this all came to be. I loved the history element; learning why people now live in space and what happened to old Earth.
Nemesis is an impressive character who I just grew to love even more. She is a Diabolic, created for strength and stealth with a total lack of emotions yet she is the one who sees the inherent wrongness in creating living beings for sport or servitude. It seems that being human doesn’t necessarily breed humanity; and though Nemesis can be granted personhood it is always going to be touch and go whether that will be respected, though it has to be recognised.
Tyrus has spent his life playing a part to stay alive until the time he became Emperor and now that the day has come it seems the fight is far from over and fortunately he has chosen to share his life with Nemesis, the perfect candidate to help keep him safe. The two make a formidable pair but even they end up overestimating their abilities and end up separated.
The pacing in The Empress was pretty full on, though the story spans years there is always something happening; usually something underhanded and nefarious. The more Nemesis seems to find emotion and humanity the more inhumane those around her begin to act. The Empress is quite a study in human behaviour and the insidious erosion of morality by power.
I enjoyed this read, the characters are well developed and I found the world building to be well thought out. The progression of Nemesis’s character in The Empress was interesting to follow. She has always been told there is no divine spark within her because she was created instead of born, and her DNA contains traces of many different species but her humanity seemed much more developed than some of the rich and powerful humans she shared a society with. She fought hard to move away from her nature as a killing machine, even though that seemed like the easiest way to protect Tyrus and at times we are all left questioning the cost.
Friendships and true loyalty are very hard to come by in a world of alliances and payoffs so it is interesting to watch the relationships between characters unfold. Tyrus is the love of her life and Nemesis has always been told she is not capable of love. Tyrus has spent his entire life unable to trust anyone but Nemesis seems to be the exception. How will it all play out? Will it all unravel?
Tyrus and Nemesis have affected a great change in the Empire, though not as they expected, and I am looking forward to seeing what they face in the final book of the trilogy. I hope we don’t have too long to wait.
An intense and violent ride through an inter-galactic future that is sure to captivate and entertain.