Book Club: The Empress

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Author: S.J. Kincaid
ISBN: 978-1-4711-6918-2
RRP: $19.99
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.

S.J. Kincaid can be found on her Website and Facebook.

The Empress is published by Simon & Schuster and is available through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster a selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Empress so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

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18 thoughts on “Book Club: The Empress

  1. With all the political twists and turns of Game of Thrones and science fiction technology and intergalactic travel reminiscent of Star Trek, The Empress by S J Kincaid is a riveting read. I enjoyed it so much I forced myself to take breaks from reading it in one sitting, so that I could stay in this fantasy world just a little bit longer!!

    Although it is the second book in a trilogy and I had not read the first book, I found The Empress works quite well as a stand alone story. However when I did realise that it was part of a series, and read the synopsis of the first book, The Diabolic, a few things did make more sense, and I am keen to read both it and the next installment.

    The story centers on Nemesis (the Empress of the title) and Tyrus the new Emperor who has defied his world’s ruling class the Grandiloquy, to have Nemesis by his side. Nemesis is considered to be nothing more than a creature, not worthy of being seen as human (or even expected to have any humanity) let alone becoming Empress. However, ironically as the story unfolds it is Nemesis who reveals her true humanity as the other characters around her become the creatures, victims of their thirst for power!!

    I definitely recommend The Empress, and after its ending – which is a real cliffhanger – I am very keen to read the third book!

  2. The Empress. Well now this book was one that has taken me awhile to read, in fact I have re-read some of the pages, as I seemed to lose track with it. This is a book that I found very hard to put down, the story does go right through the pages, but if you do lose track, go back and read some, and it will then come to mind. I am looking at the local library to get the first book written by S J Kincaid…. This kind of reminds me of the star track and all that was involved when it first came out.. I admire the writer in being able to project the story the way she has done…

  3. The Empress is book 2 in a trilogy and I wasn’t aware when I signed up to review, however, It didn’t take me long to catch up and get the drift of what was happening.  You do have to concentrate a little bit to understand who is who and how the religion and politics tie together in this universe, and maybe that’s where reading the first book The Diabolic, would have helped, but overall I enjoyed the read.

    Nemesis is a ‘Diabolic’ she is seen as a dangerous creature, and a threat as the future bride to a young handsome Tyrus, ruler of the Empire. They are constantly under scrutiny, attack and attempted murder pretty much from the first chapter. The pace is fast and the fights and scheming on both sides are never-ending.  Nemesis is no sweet female, she is tough and ruthless and she often sits on both sides of good and bad. Any book that shows a strong female lead that isn’t always in need of rescuing or looking for a man is a good one in my book! I enjoyed the plot twists, although fans of the first book seem distraught at them from reading other reviews!

    There is quite a focus on politics and religion, which felt almost like a step back in time to Tudor heresy and the clash between the belief in the sciences over organised religion. Such ideas were seen as such a threat back then, and many lost their lives for their beliefs, and this re-imagining was intriguing to me as an older reader. The Empress may turn some younger readers off who want a little more action and fantasy and less politics and religion, after all, we get so much of it stuffed into our newsfeeds today, but the success of the first book The Diabolic cements this second in the trilogy as a success!

    S.J. Kincaid writes well and hits the perfect pace for a solid YA read. I would definitely read her other works.

  4. As with all good Young Adult books, this is also enjoyable and appropriate for adult readers. It is a little difficult to follow with the strange names and explanation of space ships and space etc. but I got used to it. I think for those who enjoy this sci-fi futuristic genre it’s worth reading the series, starting from the first (this is the second).

  5. I really enjoyed this book but it did take a few re reads of the beginning before I could grasp the fantasy world created-perhaps reading book one might have helped. It was lively, captured my imagination and held my interest throughout. I found Nemesis to be a heroine I could admire due to her strength and good qualities.. I even wrote out a few of the wisdom filled sentences which I felt worthy of sticking on my fridge for affirmation.. This one in particular spoke to me –“the best way to strip a secret of its power was to glare a shining light on it from the angle of choice to exhibit it fearlessly rather than hide from it ” (pp.10). In my opinion this was a worthy novel to spend precious time reading.

  6. The Empress by S J Kincaid is the 2nd book in the young adult science fiction / fantasy series The Diabolic. I was unaware of the series, so I have read it as a stand alone book. The Empress, although a good read, would have been an excellent read if one has read the first book. There is to be a third book.

    Nemesis is a Diabolic engineered to be human like but strong and powerful. She is in love with Tyrus and he with her. Tyrus has become the Emperor, but many oppose a Diabolic becoming the next Empress. They are struggling to survive many assassination attempts, while trying to wed and rule together without the Grandiloquy and Vicars opposing them.

    If you enjoy Star Wars /Game of Thrones this series is for you. There is lots of action, with the book ending without a conclusion……….so I will have to keep a look out for Book 3!

  7. The Empress is a good read about survival, fantasy and love.
    We have politics and religion in space a fight to be in love and staying alive.
    A good read if you like science fiction I had trouble with the names of planets, people.

  8. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Empress by S. J. Kincaid. When I initially applied to read and review this book I somehow missed that it was the second in a series, although I have not (yet) read the first book The Diabolic I found that I was quickly able to pick up the thread of the story. I did find it hard to get into the book initially, but I think that was because I was getting my head around the characters and working out how it all fit together with not having the background from the first book.

    However once I got into the story I found it hard to put it down, Science Fantasy has always been my preferred genre and The Empress met all my criteria for a good read, well developed interesting characters, a strong plot with interesting and often unexpected twists, religion vs science, love, violence and a lesson in how power corrupts absolutely.

    The story revolves around two main characters, Nemesis, a female Diabolic, created as a “super human” killing machine, and Tyrus the last male Domitrian and heir to the throne. Tyrus for many years has acted as if he was mad in order to stay alive and now, as he ascends the throne as the new Emperor, he has created alarm among the Grandiloquy by stating that not only does he intend to marry the Diabolic Nemesis, considered to be sub human, but he also intends to restore the sciences in order to solve malignant space.

    As some within the Grandiloquy rise up against him, and attempts are made on Nemesis’ life, Tyrus decides that the only course of action is that he and Nemesis must determine whether the Interdict lives, and if he does implore him to grant personhood to Nemesis so they can marry.

    From here Kincaid weaves a tale of hope, love, murder and deceit until the book reaches its unexpected climax.

    Within this we learn why the exodus from Earth to the stars occurred, and what happens when a reason for leaving becomes misinterpreted and twisted so that it no longer resembles the original intent.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it is as well suited to the adult as the young adult market. I look forward to reading the third book in the series to see how life pans out for Tyrus, Nemesis and the other characters created by Kincaid (and I have every intention of sourcing and reading book 1 of the series also).

  9. Fantastic! In so many senses, this dynamic action book drew me in quickly in the first pages, who was this potential empress, Tyrus and the various players looking to be supreme ruler of the universe? Who were these people, planets and families. The story is action packed but as others have said I did get a wee bit lost in the middle, struggling to fully grasp everything going on, but the ending was thrilling! No spoilers here but it messes with your mind and emotions-who’s side is he really on… Most interesting to my mind were the thought proking concepts, bio-weapons, slavebots, beautybots, excessive use of drugs for everything- including to improve your sporting performance. There are also interesting spiritual concepts, faith versus science and the banning of science wrongly in the name of the Interdict. I give this 3/5, an enjoyable read, and I suspect for a YA even more stimulating!

  10. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for gifting me this book to read.

    The Empress by S.J. Kincaid is the book following her book Diabolic. I’ve read that there will be another book to follow making this a trilogy.

    The story is about Tyrus who is the new Emperor and Nemesis who will be the new Empress at his side. They are having a little bit of a problem with the Galaxy not wanting a Diabolic to be Empress.

    Not everyone is happy at having Tyrus as the Emperor and it doesn’t help that his scepter doesn’t wield to his touch. How can he control without it.

    These two are not meant to be together and It seems people are trying to kill them frequently, well mostly they are trying to kill Nemesis.
    This story is full of betrayal and intrigue love and strength.

    I found it really hard to follow along at the start and found myself reading bits over and over as I couldn’t quite work it all out.
    It seemed that we walked into a story and needed to find out where we fit in.

    Once I found myself at the point where it all began to flow for me I couldn’t put the book down.
    It has so much going on but in a good way that just builds the story.
    The characters are well developed and likeable and the female lead character is a wonderful strong character.

    Might have to hit up some shops to find the first in the series and hold out for the end book too.

    .

  11. The Empress is the second book in the Diabolic series however you could probably read “The Empress” on its own and still be in for a really good read. But if you truly want to understand and care about the characters reading “The Diabolic” first is my recommendation.

    Tyrus is now Emperor and with Nemesis by his side they plan to bring back science and knowledge. There are many that oppose the young Emperor and especially the idea of a diabolic becoming the next Empress. There are many attempts on their lives and Nemesis starts to take matters into her own hands to rid Tyrus of his enemies.

    Tyrus strives for a voluntary union throughout the Empire which has been ruled by fear for generations. Alectar van Pasus, his biggest objector, believes that Tyrus is being idealistic.

    ”If you give the people knowledge they will want more and then use that knowledge against you.” – Pasus

    ”Remove the reason for them to turn those weapons on us, and it will not happen.” – Tyrus

    ”They will turn those weapons upon us because they hate us, and they always have. Their descendants will hate our descendants, as their ancestors hated our ancestors.” – Pasus
    Is Tyrus idealistic or visionary? Is Pasus a realist or a pessimist?

    This book gives more of an overview of the universe they preside over and more of the politics. There is much death, destruction and cruelty. At times it feels like all hope is lost and then there are the twists and turns. No-one can be trusted! Nemesis’ character continues to evolve and her love for Tyrus never waivers.

    Kincaid doesn’t balk at making her heroes submissive or evil, even turning on each other with venom thus sending the reader on a roller coaster of emotions as you follow Nemesis from despair to euphoria then plunged back into despair and when you think you can’t get any lower…..that ending!!!
    This book made my heart race, made me happy and made me angry…… a lot. Life doesn’t always go smoothly; we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes evil prevails.
    Bring on book three!!!!!!

  12. I couldn’t get into the book and didn’t like the way it was written. I am afraid this one isn’t for me.I couldn’t get to the end of the book.

  13. The Empress
    SJ Kincaid
    Simon & Schuster
    A book to make you think, great to read with some one and discuss. 3/5
    I really enjoyed the start of this book, quickly catching up on what I had clearly missed in the first book. The action kept me turning the pages, wanting to know the answer, what was going to happen? As I tried to keep up the names and places, I think I had that okay but in some bits I felt like I had missed something, but I think it was just where chunks of time passed suddenly. The ending is certainly not one I guessed and I can see how that leads and hooks you to the final part of the trilogy, very clever. Really interesting and good to discuss with others as it seems that the social and religious themes, well thought out. Something really different and I would recommend it for that reason.

  14. I loved this book!
    I thought it was very well written. One of those great YA books that can be enjoyed by adults too. S. J. Kincaid does a great job of creating a world for her characters, and the characters are well developed.

    Set in a dystopian future, where mankind now lives in space. The central character is Nemesis, a Diabolic (a genetically engineered bodyguard). She is such a wonderful protagonist, and it is very rewarding to watch her grow.

    This is a fast paced, rollercoaster of a read, full of plot twists and turns, that is simultaneously gripping and harrowing (although there is a lot of politics and religion which may put off some readers.)
    Part of me wishes I had read the first book (this is the second in a trilogy) before I read this one, as although you get the gist of what happened it would have given it a bit more context (plus I suspect I would have really enjoyed it too, oh well, I will just have to go back and read it now), and I am definitely looking forward to the third book (especially after the cliff hanger ending).

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Empress, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

  15. I wish I had read the first book before starting The Empress, but it didn’t take long to imerse myself in the story. I found it tricky to read sometimes and had to slow down and/or re-read parts which meant it took longer to get through than I would have liked, but I am glad I did this as it meant I could enjoy it more.
    Just when you think you have things figured out S.J.Kincaid throws in something that we couldn’t have seen coming and we are led along a different path than expected! This happened several times and I know that on occasion I actually gasped with surprise! Especially with the outcome of Nemesis and Tyrus!
    Am really looking forward to the next book and am hoping to go backwards ow and read the first one too!

  16. The Empress is a dystopian YA book which is one of the genres I feel has really become very popular in recent years. This book is apparently the second in a trilogy by S.J.Kincaid so I will need to go back and read the first tale in this story.
    The main character in this story is Nemesis who is a diabolic which is seen as a humanoid creature but not as a real human being. She ends up marrying the new Emperor Tyrus which is a not what the kingdom wants because of her diabolic status. They do make a great pair though and ending up falling in love despite the fact that Nemesis is programmed not to have emotions. This book really explores the reasons why humans now live in space and the true meaning of humanity which can come from creatures that aren’t even human.
    It is a great story for anyone who loves a dystopian story and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the last book in the trilogy.
    Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.

  17. The Empress is a book that you really need to be left alone to read. At times my life gets a little hectic so I tend to read a few pages here and there at times rather then being able to sit down and read 50 pages or more in one shot but The Empress is not a book that you can do that with. I found that if I sat down and read a couple of pages and then received a phone call or there was a knock at the door then once I got back to my book I would have totally lost what I had just read and would need to reread pages. This happened often which was frustrating and I found it took me a lot longer then it should have to actually get through the book.
    The Empress in parts is heavy going with a lot of Sci-fi type violence with an undercurrent of a love affair between two characters who both have their own baggage to deal with. There is so much action and so many twists and turns with this book that you really need to pay attention. The ending certainly leaves you knowing that there is more to come.
    If you choose to buy this book then grab the book, a drink and some nibbles and lock yourself away from everyone and just get reading.

  18. The Empress is a great book to read, once you get into it. Given that it is the second book in the series it takes a little to get up to speed with the characters, the relationships and the politics involved however once you are up to date, things fall into place really well.

    The plot line is excellent with a really creative way of limiting the power of the Emperor (which I enjoyed) and added another level of politics unbeknownst to most of their society. I loved the twists and turns, the power hungry verses the inherited position and the trials and tribulations of an unsanctioned love in a public couple.

    This is a great book to keep you on your toes, second guessing what you thought to be the ‘right way’ and the complexities of the characters. A very enjoyable read.

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