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Empire Hardcover – November 28, 2006

2.7 out of 5 stars 318 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Empire Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Right-wing rhetoric trumps the logic of story and character in this near-future political thriller about a red-state vs. blue-state American civil war, an implausibly plotted departure from Card's bestselling science fiction (Ender's Game, etc.). When the president and vice-president are killed by domestic terrorists (of unknown political identity), a radical leftist army calling itself the Progressive Restoration takes over New York City and declares itself the rightful government of the United States. Other blue states officially recognize the legitimacy of the group, thus starting a second civil war. Card's heroic red-state protagonists, Maj. Reuben "Rube" Malek and Capt. Bartholomew "Cole" Coleman, draw on their Special Ops training to take down the extremist leftists and restore peace to the nation. The action is overshadowed by the novel's polemical message, which Card tops off with an afterword decrying his own politically-motivated exclusion from various conventions and campuses, the "national media elite" and the divisive excesses of both the right and the left.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Some video-game developers asked Card to write a scenario for "an entertainment franchise . . . about a near-future American civil war." They came to the right man and held off on releasing the game until he completed this relentless thriller, which couldn't be timelier and is, for all its hyperactivity and flip, Hollywoodish one-liners, heartfelt and sobering. Its heroes are two special-ops army officers who keep their oaths to defend the U.S. against all enemies when far too many of their ostensible colleagues have decided to abandon theirs. A rocket hits the west wing of the White House, killing the president, vice-president, and secretary of defense. While those directly responsible are Arabs, the next day, 14-foot-tall, bulletproof, armed globes on mechanical legs, backed by shooters on individual hovercraft, seize New York City by killing anyone in uniform. None of the new attackers looks anything other than American. A "Progressive Restoration" administration is established in the city, and it encourages other cities and states to join it to restore government as it should have been but for the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004. Intriguing plot wrinkles come fore and aft of those basic developments, there are many deftly shaped supporting players, and major shocks explode in a split second (no Stephen King slo-mo for Card!). Moreover, all the action doesn't obscure the author's message about the dangers of extreme political polarization and the need to reassert moderation and mutual citizenship; indeed, it drives it home. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Empire
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (November 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765316110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (318 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,634,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary Platt on November 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was expecting science fiction from Orson Scott Card. Never having read any of his books before this one, I was curious about him, but since he was very well published I assumed the quality of his work was high. I was not disappointed. It's not what I would call "science fiction" in the classic sense. It's more like political/military fiction, a la Tom Clancy, which is a good thing. I know, from decades of personal experience, that a book is well-written and entertaining if I can see and hear the characters and the scenes in my head, like watching a movie only I can see and hear. I was easily able to do this with "Empire" and its sequel, "Hidden Empire." Considering the current state of our political system and gearing up for a presidential election roughly a year away, the events depicted in this book are very topical, even though it was written about 9 years ago. If anything, our system is even more polarized now. It's frightening to contemplate hard-liners on both sides taking the law---not to mention, futuristic weaponry--into their own hands to start a second civil war in this country. Glad this was fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't mean to scathe an author I have for so long respected, but given my reaction to this book I don't see how I can do otherwise. On one hand, plot mechanics and the language of the book are blatantly recycled from his Ender series. The obsession with the word "jeesh" and certain actions with .22 pistols are laughable distractions for anyone who's read any other OSC.

The other hand, the more important hand to me, is that Card's language throughout is blatantly offensive to my value system. Card and I have opposite sociopolitical views, which I have known for a long time. That said, I have respected him for years because he always argued his value system in a way that I respect. From reading Card's work in the past, I was able to understand and sympathize with Conservative viewpoints. That said, he abandoned his intellectual approach in this book in favor of cheap shots barely worthy of best seller of the week pulp novels. I had to check the cover every few minutes to make sure it was still an Orson Scott Card book.

The only entertaining parts of the book, which ends in a total fizzle, are the action sequences... which are practically written to go straight to a movie. It's strange, the moment the book goes to an action sequence bizarre sci-fi machines come out of the woodwork. Nothing believable ever happens in the entire book, and the action sequences only serve to drop the credibility of the story.

I don't recognize this author as the man who wrote Ender's Game or Xenocide, two of my favorite books.
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Format: Hardcover
Ender's game is one of the great science fiction novels. It's characters are well-rounded and the society Ender lives in gradually unfolds as we see him react to it.

The somewhat lurid cover of Empire--and Card's name--led me to pick the book up from the new books section of my local Barnes and Noble. I really looked forward to several enjoyable hours in Card's universe, thinking, perhaps, that it was a prequel to the Ender novels.

I always give a science fiction author my willing suspension of disbelief when I start a story. To do less is to imply that I already know all about the story line. But this participation by me as a reader is fragile, and depends on the skill of the author and of me as an educated reader to keep alive.

Sadly, that belief died an excruciating death during the first few chapters, and never recovered. Card has complained that Empire is viewed as good or bad depending on the political views of the reader. That may be the case but as an independent voter, leaning toward Libertarian, I am not wedded to either the far right nor the far left. I find them both equally odious.

I enjoy Atlas Shrugged as well as more liberal stories such as Brave New World (liberal in the classic sense that the state knows best). In Empire, Card tries to paint both sides as evil, with the liberals in the most evil column and the conservatives in the "maybe-a-little-evil" position.

Fine. I can live with this when it is skillfully woven into a story line. I didn't see that in Empire. CNN = bad. FOX = good. Red states = good. Blue states = bad. Again, if it is a given, I can accept that in a story. But Card seems to have forgotten that editorializing through characters is a thin film to base a book on.
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23 Comments 290 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Orson Scott Card does nothing if he doesn't thoroughly analyze a topic through his novels. Some may be pure fiction, such as time travel analyzed in Pathfinder and Ruins, stand-ins for the non-fictional such as the Ender series where he analyzes hatred of and hostility towards those who are different (Ender's Game), then dealing with the consequences of how you treat those who are "other", alien or different than you. In Empire and Hidden Empire, Mr. Card reflects on the political chasm of those who are conservative and those who are liberal (red state vs. blue state), a civil war that results from the chasm and a potential leader who views the only solution to that and other global problems is to become a benevolent dictator, albeit one who keeps the form of democracy.

For full review: http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-Yu
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