Review: THE EMPRESS by S.J. Kincaid

Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Page Count: 378
Release Date: October 30th, 2017
Series: THE DIABOLIC, Book 2
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars – Really Liked It!

Warning: Light spoilers for book one, THE DIABOLIC ahead!  Haven’t read THE DIABOLIC?  Read my review here!

33652251._sy475_Nemesis and Tyrus have won the battle, but not the war.  Having outmaneuvered many a murderous relative and noble, Tyrus has claimed the throne and hopes to finally implement reforms that will better the lives of the “excess” humans who live on planets, and finally allow the sciences to be pursued once again. But Tyrus soon learns that his ability to rule effectively rests on his winning the support of the Vicars, the religious leaders of the Imperium – and they will refuse to support the heresies of science or Tyrus’s marriage to genetically-engineered Nemesis.  Determined to make his dreams a reality, Tyrus and Nemesis embark on a dangerous voyage to the hidden Sacred City, home of the Interdict, the head of the Helionic faith, in the hopes of convincing him to reverse the centuries-old bans on science. But the journey to the Sacred City is costly, and with old enemies circling, Tyrus’s hold on the throne is in jeopardy.  He can only rely on Nemesis – and she will stop at nothing to keep her love safe.

THE EMPRESS is a heart-breaking, twisting sci-fi tale that continuously surprises. I admit, during the first third of the book, I was of the belief that this was going to be a solid-but-not-as-good-as-book-one, kind of sequel.  That’s largely because the author started delving more into the world-building, revealing the Imperium’s origins and relationship to Earth, showing how the society that exists today came to be. It was intriguing, but not the high stakes of THE DIABOLIC.  Eventually, however, a moment comes that changes everything about the trajectory of the story, and from then on the tension was pushed to the max.  The deadly political maneuvering returns, and consequences from which there is no escape.  This is not a series that pulls punches, and I love it for that.

There is one small flaw that held over from book one, and that is that sometimes Nemesis can feel a little too passive in the story.  As someone literally designed as a very-unsubtle-bodyguard, planning is not her strong suit. Nemesis tends to react to things in the moment, which means that other characters are often the ones making the big moves.  That’s not to say that she doesn’t have an effect on the story, for she certainly does.  It just means that there are moments where someone comes and says “Okay, I’ve done X and Y off-screen, let’s see how this plays out.”  To be fair, there is a balance to her teaming with Tyrus – he’s the brains, she’s the brawn, so to speak.  But I did wish at times she had a little more initiative.

In short, THE EMPRESS is a fantastic follow-up to THE DIABOLIC; if you liked the first book, there’s plenty to love in this sequel.  It takes a bit to get going, but once it does, the ride doesn’t stop until the end.  The final book in the trilogy, THE NEMESIS, should be hitting shelves sometime in 2020 and I cannot wait to see the clash that will bring this arc to a close.

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