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Hidden Empire Hardcover

3.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Empire Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0044KN2B6
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,093,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure how this story was going to work when I started, but you can always count on OSC to surprise you with some clever plot twists and an unexpected resolution. It's still kind of different reading Card without and true fantasy or supernatural elements, but he is a master at storytelling, and this book was no exception.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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