Review: BEYOND THE EMPIRE by K. B. Wagers

Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 388
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Series: The Indranan War, Book 3
Rating: 5/5 stars – Loved It!

61ghtnq8szl-_sx331_bo1204203200_It is a testament to how much I enjoy the world of Hail Bristol that I have finished THE INDRANAN WAR trilogy within a year of reading the first book, instead of leaving the series unfinished like so many others. BEYOND THE EMPIRE is a highly satisfying conclusion to this space opera, making this a series I can wholeheartedly recommend to anybody who likes action-driven adventures, especially with kick-ass heroines in the lead.

BEYOND THE EMPIRE picks up a few days after the events of AFTER THE CROWN, when Empress Hail Bristol, former gunrunner, was forced to go on the run after a coup on her home planet, along with a simultaneous assassination attempt during peace talks on a neutral planet.  After securing alliances among old criminal contacts and a successful recapturing of a sizable chunk of her empire’s fleet, Hail is ready to set her sights on reclaiming her throne.  More importantly, however, she’s determined to finally unmask Wilson, the mysterious man who not only orchestrated the coup, but was also responsible for the death of her entire family, including her father twenty years ago.  Hail’s been tracking him ever since that first death, and she’s determined that his reign of bloodshed end now.

I will admit that the first third of the book is a little more on the methodical side, as Hail and her allies plan how to best deal with the coup at home and insidious Wilson.  There’s still plenty happening: deals being negotiated with other empires, heart-to-hearts between characters about what’s at stake, investigations into the man behind it all.  But once the starting gun is fired, this book is a race to the finish line.  As to be expected in a finale, nobody is safe from danger, and your heart will suffer a little in the process.  But this is also a finale that gives Hail Bristol many glorious moments as she takes back her empire.  The image of Hail putting on her “best gunrunner smile” as she contacts certain enemies to demand their surrender is one that fills me with glee every time I think of it.  This is a woman who knows her responsibility to her people, but also isn’t above having a little fun while she’s saving the day.

BEYOND THE EMPIRE is the conclusion to THE INDRANAN WAR trilogy, but it is not the end to Hail’s adventures.  Seeded throughout this finale are the threads that will come together in THE FARIAN WAR trilogy, which began with THERE BEFORE THE CHAOS in Summer 2018.  I felt there was an adequate balance of setting up a new challenge down the road without detracting from the finale at hand.  I’m very much looking forward to the new series, not only because it means more time with Hail, but because we will finally get to see more of the Farians, a humanoid race with healing abilities that has been fairly circumspect in their dealings with humans. Although a few Farians have figured prominently in the first trilogy, we know relatively little about them – which is exactly how the Farians want it.  I cannot wait to see what further adventures await Hail and her loyal band of Bodyguards and miscreants.  Long Live the Gunrunner Empress!

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