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The Risen Empire (Succession) Hardcover – March 1, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Succession Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Westerfeld's (Evolution's Darling) exceptionally smart and empathetic novel, the first of two in a series, confirms the buzz that space opera is one of the most exciting branches of current SF. In an interstellar empire of 80 human worlds, ruled by an emperor who lets selected humans cheat death, tensions between most humans and the resurrected elite, aka the Risen, are increasing. The Rix, a cult of cyborgs who worship compound AI minds, hunger to liberate the empire's worlds from mere human control. When a Rix raiding party captures the emperor's sister, Capt. Laurent Zai of the Imperial Navy must save her. Viewpoint rapidly shifts from character to character and from a vast perspective to an extremely small one-that of the intelligence scouts Zai sends ahead of the rescue mission, nano-machines smaller than insects. Keeping the reader constantly off-balance, Westerfeld skillfully integrates extreme technologies with human characters.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The emperor, surrounded by his elite of those chosen to become undead, has ruled for 1,600 years, and the empire has become decadent, with the gap between the living and the Risen growing apace. Then the Rix--computer-augmented humans who revere planetary AI--kidnap the child empress on her own planet, Legis XV. Not only does this threaten the emperor's great secret, it is the furthest incursion into imperial space that the Rix have yet made. Captain Laurent Zai is charged to effect the empress' rescue--a dangerous, almost impossible task. Meanwhile, the woman he loves, a senator of the Secularist Party of the living and against the Risen, is enmeshed in the political consequences of the Rix invasion and the preparation for war. It doesn't take long for the Legis XV computers to become a compound mind a la the Rix and fight for survival, too. Westerfeld manages the action impeccably, and he leaves threads of plot hanging for a grand space-opera finale in a promised sequel. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Succession (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765305550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765305558
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,617,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In the far future, people wear nanotech uniforms that will each second reform themselves to the wearer's shape, pilots will "fly" vessels less than a millimeter in diameter, AI's will take over planet-wide information systems and devices and form a "compound mind", and cultures will war with each to death and destruction. All of this is semi-interesting in its own right and is handled extremely deftly in this work, but it still is standard science fiction. But also in the future? The dead will rule, empathy will be treated with drugs as a side-effect, and oh yes, one of the more interesting characters/narrators will be a house. This is poetry.
While there was once a time when I read mostly science fiction, I long ago moved into fantasy when looking for lighter reading and while I still dipped into the pool now and then, I never was impressed enough to wade back in fully, though I sometimes found things I liked quite a bit (Dan Simmons' Hyperion series for instance). If I thought there were more books out there like this one, I'd throw on my goggles, suit, and fins and jump in for an extended stay.
As mentioned, the science part of Risen Empire is smoothly handled--the jargon never gets in the way, the devices themselves and their application are fascinating, and it's all tied so tightly into what's happening that you never feel lost or confused in a sea of technological jibber-jabber. Even better than the science, though, is the human side of this novel. The political premise, that one empire, ruled by the dead--eternals tightly tied to the emperor who alone can grant that immortality--is slowly stagnating and is starting to face internal dissent by some of the living is wonderful.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Risen Empire is creative, epic, and very captivating. Well, let me put a disclaimer on that: the plot was very compelling, but the language was cumbersome at times. Westerfeld has a great grasp of language and has a very detail-oriented and descriptive style. Westerfeld also has managed to create some very interesting technologies, weapons, ships, etc. and provides us with a vivid image of how each works and how each fits into the fictional politics and economy.

The problem occurs when the two collide: sophisticated explanations of technology sometimes get lost in flowery language, making some passages (lasting as long as a few ages) difficult to get through. I found that the pace was broken in this way about two or three times throughout the novel.

But that's a small criticism for a book as enjoyable as this. For those that like to dig into sci-fi technology, this book is a gem. It also has solid military sci-fi elements and good action. For those who like character stories, there is a wonderful (but very bizarre) relationship that occurs near the end... good stuff.
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Format: Paperback
I grew up loving Science Fiction, but I stopped reading the books and novels because they were so unoriginal. This book could serve to bring me back to the genre. It has the following:
1. Flawed, human heroes. I am quite tired of superheroes in SF. I refuse to read those books where the characters are the "best, of the best, of the best, of the best, of the best- and unmatched in everything that they attempt to do".
2. Great technology, fully explained and described by the author.
3. Politics and Religion.
4. 3-dimensional enemy, the Rix.
5. Actual descriptions of places, environments, and locales. Too much early SF was carried strictly by dialog.
6. Exciting, detailed action scenes.
This 2 book set is a movie waiting to happen

The SF community should beg this Scott Westerfeld fellow to write more SF novels.
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Format: Hardcover
OK. So you have to buy two books, instead of one to get the complete story. This book, while not up to the level of Alastair (no relation) Reynolds or M. John Harrison's brilliant Light, is so crammed full of ideas and oblique perspectives that the first volume ended at just the appropriate place to let it simmer and percolate in the old subconscious for a bit. ("Brilliant Light." Ha ha.) The anticipation of a return to the universe of The Risen Empire, alone justifies this approach.
If this were not as good a novel, then I probably would have been testy about having to buy two (rather short) volumes. Of course, I would not have bought the second.
This book is full of poetic images, like the dead cat farm, that are scattered as if thrown away. I enjoyed it so much that if I had been able to finish it in one swell foop I would have been left regretting that it ended so soon.
It faintly embarrassing that I now love Space Opera this much. It is out of character that this sub-genre, which, except for Nova, never really interested me, has now become vital literature in the wide spectrum of science fiction. I'm a slipstream/new wave kind of guy. What am I doing reading this stuff? (Having a great time - that's what.)
(I apologize for the second sentence of the last paragraph.)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll admit it, I had to start this book twice. The beginning really threw me off. I'm a sci-fi fan, but I'm not particularly interested in battles and such. So, the beginning was difficult for me to get through. I thought, "There is absolutely no way I'm going to like this book." But the second time I tried to read it, I pressed through the beginning battle. I'm glad I did. Because I actually ended up really liking the book. Though I will tell you, my eyeballs glazed over when it got into battle or tactile detail. I'm such a girl about some things.

This book reminded me so much of the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card.Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1)

All in all it was a really good book. Now, I must acquire the next one.

And a note about the cover. Who on earth chose that cover for the MMP? It looks like one of those books an old man reads, not something from Scott Westerfeld. I felt like I needed a book cover for reading in public. I felt like I needed to tell everyone that glanced at me and the book, "No! No! This isn't a book I lifted from my Grandpa. It's really cool. It isn't a book for old men, I swear!" I felt judged because of carrying this book's cover around. (All that was said jokingly, if you cannot tell. So don't hate mail me about the virtues of not caring what other people thing. Please and thank you.)
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