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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as good as Empire
The sequel to his recent book, Empire (Tor Science Fiction). Hidden Empire is a different sort of book than the previous novel was. While Empire dealt with an impending civil war in America along red-state / blue-state lines and the men pulling the strings behind the war, Hidden Empire deals with an epidemic in Africa and the social, political, religious, and military...
Published on December 27, 2009 by Matthew Eland

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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great.
I'll start this review by saying that I've been a fan of OSC for close to 25 years now, and have read just about everything that he ever wrote.

However, I've noticed that his latest books (maybe for the last 8-10 years or so), have really gone downhill, not in their craft, which is superb, but in their plotting and storylines.

Hidden Empire is no...
Published on January 11, 2010 by Laurence Moroney


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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great., January 11, 2010
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This review is from: Hidden Empire (Kindle Edition)
I'll start this review by saying that I've been a fan of OSC for close to 25 years now, and have read just about everything that he ever wrote.

However, I've noticed that his latest books (maybe for the last 8-10 years or so), have really gone downhill, not in their craft, which is superb, but in their plotting and storylines.

Hidden Empire is no execption to this. It comes across (like many of the 'Shadow' books) as just another episode in a franchise, instead of as a work in its own right. I used to be amazed at how much epic story Card could put into 300-400 pages, but now I'm disappointed at how little he gets into the same amount, and it looks like Empire is going the same way and is going to drag out across many, many volumes, each of which advances the overall plot about as much as an episode of a TV series.

[Mild spoilers here]
Epidemic breaks out in Africa, USA quarantines unpopularly, Christians break the quarantine, Christians are attacked, USA defends them, and a little twist at the end of how some US soldiers respond to their president's action when he comes out smelling of roses.
[END MILD SPOILERS]

Don't get me wrong -- it's a *GREAT* story, and it is *BEAUTIFULLY* written, but it feels deliberately small so that many more books (and thus royalties) can be squeezed out of the story of how Torrent will repeat the history of the roman empire and take the USA from Republic to Empire.

Mr Card, if you're reading, take it from one of your readers who has followed you for years. You're losing me. When once upon a time I would be there on release day to pay $25-$30 for the hardback of your book, now I'm content to wait for it in the public library. I made an exception for Hidden Empire, as it was my second Kindle purchase (my first was a book that I wrote myself, just to see how it would look on Kindle! :) )

I don't think I'll make that exception for volume 3. Sorry.
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44 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rare misstep, March 26, 2010
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This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
I've been an avid Orson Scott Card reader for years now, and am continually impressed by the sheer volume of great ideas he brings together in his novels. The Ender series, his short stories, and Alvin Maker series are among my favorites of the genre. Hidden Empire is no such thing. I had mixed feelings with the first Empire novel, due to the amount of time it spent bombarding me with political philosophies I disagree with. But that book made up for it with an incredibly interesting story, interesting characters, and OSC's usual terrific prose.

Hidden Empire had all of the bad of Empire, with none of the good. It felt more like an infomercial for Fox News and Christianity than a Sci-Fi thriller. At least three separate times he referenced Fox News by name specifically to favorably contrast them with their competitors. We were told that MSNBC thinks Christians are stupid. We were told that Fox got to interview the leader of a movement while the 'other' networks just found the craziest people they could find. Even if I agreed with that (I don't), and even if it were true (it isn't), it has no place in a novel like this. For a novel that claims to be against blind partisanship and political extremism, jumping into the ring to say which news network is superior is hypocritical at best, outright insulting to readers at worst.

As for the plot itself, it's almost non-existent. When I read books, I always come in to work the next day wanting to talk to friends about the details of what was happening. In this book, almost nothing happened worth talking about. The first 275 pages of the 330-page book were almost completely devoid of what anyone would define as an 'event'. There was a rescue from an embassy, and that was about it. The best way to summarize this point is to say that the plot description written on the dust jacket of the book doesn't start until the last 30 pages...no joke. I honestly had to check to make sure that the book I was reading matched the dust jacket, that's how little the book resembles the description. And in an extreme case of irony, the dust jacket description uses the phrase "quickly runs afoul", as in the protagonist QUICKLY got on the bad side of someone. How page 300 out of 330 is 'quickly' is beyond me. The cover of the book also shows a scene from the first book, not this one, probably because there was almost no action in this one to put on the cover. It's misleading to say the least.

In short, if OSC had published this book in 1985 instead of Ender's Game, we would have no idea who he is. His political beliefs and religion have completely overshadowed his ability to construct an interesting narrative. One-dimensional characters, horrific pacing, lack of action, and an absurd amount of preaching make this a book to avoid.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as good as Empire, December 27, 2009
By 
Matthew Eland (Columbus, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Hidden Empire (Kindle Edition)
The sequel to his recent book, Empire (Tor Science Fiction). Hidden Empire is a different sort of book than the previous novel was. While Empire dealt with an impending civil war in America along red-state / blue-state lines and the men pulling the strings behind the war, Hidden Empire deals with an epidemic in Africa and the social, political, religious, and military response to that outbreak. The conspiracy elements which gave the original novel so much of its power are much more subdued in this novel, though still present to some degree.

I enjoyed the novel, especially the parts involving President Torrent (clearly a favorite character of Card's), but I wish it focused more of its energy on conspiracies and/or politics instead of concentrating on efforts to fight a viral outbreak. I appreciated the chapter introductions, typically written from President Torrent's perspective, and the feel and depth of the characters.

As a Christian I appreciated Card's interjection of Roman history involving the plague outbreaks and the Christian response to those events, though parts of the book feel like Christian Fiction and I wonder how readers who do not share my faith will respond to these sections. It all fits with history and the comparison of Empire's America to Rome, but again, it's a different sort of book than Empire was.

The book is incredibly modern in its setting: references to modern-day Russian and American politics, culture, board games, military technology, and even the Kindle (which I read the book on).

Bottom line: I enjoyed the book, though not as much as Empire. I hope that the series will continue and look forward to reading more about Card's Imperial America.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horribly Disappointed, December 29, 2012
This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
I've been a been Orson Scott Card fan my entire life ever since reading Ender's Game and all of the Shadow series but I recently tried to read the Empire series and was horribly disappointed. After reading Empire, which was a decent book and probably about a 6.5 out of 10, I was looking forward to seeing where the series progressed from there. I am sorry to say that it didn't progress at all. Not only was all of the action from the first book entirely lost, it was so incredibly boring and unbelievable that I couldn't even finish the book. Halfway through the book it became glaringly obvious that Card was not going anywhere with the plot and that things weren't going to change. I believe that the plot didn't even matter to him and that the true goal of the book was to push his agenda of Fox News, Christianity and all Liberals are idiots and thoughtless murderers (I'm not exaggerating, he starts the book by claiming that Liberals want 90% of the world to die to put an end to global warming, which according to him isn't even a real thing). His claim that Christian love is all it takes to stop an Ebola type virus is absolutely ludicrous and I lost count of the number of times that he stated that Fox News was the only news source in the world that really cares about the truth. I realize that a writer is allowed to have an opinion and that he can publish it all he wants but it is nothing like any of his previous books and is so unbiased that it deserves a disclaimer on the front cover. What's even worse is that for someone who spent most of his professional career writing about children, he has absolutely no idea how to write a believable child in this book. All of the children have the intelligence of a college professor by the age of 12 and somehow they have read every book ever publish and can argue politics better than your average senator. The lack of being able to write a believable child makes it almost impossible not to feel awkward when reading the family dynamic of the story and it makes the book entirely worthless because you can't connect with the majority of the major characters on a personal level. I'm currently a political science major in college and have thoroughly enjoyed many of the political aspects of Cards works but I can honestly say that this is one of the worst, if not the worst, book about politics that I have ever read and by far the worst book by Orson Scott Card that I have ever read. It has no redeeming values and I advise anyone thinking about purchasing it to please save your money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mediocre book from a great writer., May 6, 2012
This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
I'm a big OSC fan, and have read most everything he has written, even some works not in the mainstream (for instance, his movie reviews, posted weekly on his website, are a treat). When it comes to storyline, developing characters in meaningful ways, and deftly dealing with complex moral issues, Card is one of the best. I have told myself before that I would read the back of the Wheaties box, if he had written it. That said, this futuristic series-- beginning with the first in the series, "Empire", and continuing with this second volume-- is not up to Card's usual standards.

What I liked: The "Empire" series starts with an interesting premise-- a future of global unrest, totalitarian government, religious oppression, these themes should be compelling and relevant. And Card's writing, even if not his best, is still above average.

What I didn't like: No characters I cared about. Story line that took much longer to get anywhere, even compared to the first book in the series. The religious angle, which Card usually handles with subtlety and skill, seems clumsy and too overt in this story. Mostly, I did not like that Card seems to be phoning this series in, like the books some famous authors only lend their name to, while a less skilled, less well-known co-author does the heavy lifting. The result rarely measures up to the name on the cover.

That's how I feel about this book, and this series. Not a bad book per se, but Card can do better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars just wondering, January 15, 2012
This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
I have never heard of OSCard until I bought this book at the dollar store. It sounded interesting but I could never get into it. It is slow moving and not very compelling, but I kept reading until I got tired of it. Then I went to Amazon to read the reviews and agree with the one and two star reviews. It's pretty boring and the script is not realistic in my opinion. I will skip to the last 30 pages and may be surprised, but I doubt it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love Card, but this book was a little bleh, October 14, 2010
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This review is from: Hidden Empire (Kindle Edition)
Orson Scott Card, to me, is a master of understanding human nature. This book was entertaining but lacking that essential Card quality that makes his books outstanding. It's a good read but if you are looking for the depth and brilliance of the Ender series or even the plot twists and greatness of the original Empire you will be disappointed. I look forward to the master returning in his next book :)
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars wishing for the old OSC, February 13, 2011
This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
I've read most of what OSC has written and I'm a big fan of the Ender series and I like his fantasy also. But really I picked up this book hoping that it would be better than the first one - and this one is much worse. To be honest had I known that this was a book that was geared toward making a video game I wouldn't have read either one? The first book I found silly, but not idiotic or downright offensive. This book goes a long way toward being offensive - the conservative republicans always right and the evil progressives are out to take over the world. That being said if the plot made sense and moved along I could take that, but the characters act out of character and the plot is disjointed, and it doesn't really move very fast. OSC also seems to have lost his ability to write in the minds of a 10 to 13 year old, not to mention the women in this are also too hard to believe. Couple that with the overt preaching, ideological talking points that lack a factual basis I couldn't recommend this to anyone.

Note to Mr. Card: Be careful what you wish for, as a Mormon, the Christians you lionize here will be the first to turn on you should they ever achieve real power for not practicing the "correct" version of Christianity and will take away exactly what you fear, the religious freedom to worship as you chose. Fundamentalist Catholics should also take note of this so that both don't turn into "useful idiots" for the protestant Christian extremists.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Late Heinleinitis, February 17, 2010
This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
Just as Robert Heinlein, Mr. Card has become "preachy". "Hidden Empire" struck me as a collection of OSC's "Ornery American" pieces altered to fit a story line.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a fan of Card's political novels, November 21, 2010
By 
J Davis (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hidden Empire (Hardcover)
I have been a huge fan of Orson Scott Card for many, many years. I loved all the Alvin series, the Ender's series, the women of the Bible series, and other novels such as Lost Boys, Magic Street, and Homebody. Then recently I picked up Empire. I had to put it down after the first sixty pages or so because it was painful for me to read; it struck a little too close to home with some people issues I was dealing with at the time. This week I really wanted to read an Orson Scott Card novel and picked up Hidden Empire. Guess I should have read the back cover a bit first because I was expecting an Ender type story, not another Empire story. This book is very political, dark, almost editorial in nature. A "what's going to happen in the future if we don't get our act together as a nation" story. I quit reading it after the first three chapters because I did not like the negative attitude and disagreed with the political viewpoint. I do hope that when Card gets through this phase of his writing career, he will return to something that I enjoy again, because he is a fine author. I just don't enjoy this series at all.
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Hidden Empire
Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card (Hardcover - December 22, 2009)
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