Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

This sequel to The Diabolic begins with everything going their way for Tyrus and Nemesis.  Tyrus no longer has to act like a madman and is recognized by everyone as the emperor.  Everyone knows that Nemesis is a Diabolic and the future empress and while they might not be thrilled about that, it is clear that Tyrus will have it no other way.  However, although Tyrus has the scepter that gives him control over all the bots in the kingdom, it is not working.  Some research reveals that a majority of the vicars need to give their approval of the emperor for the scepter to work correctly and most of them have problems with the empress being nonhuman.  In addition to their problems with gaining approval for their match, Tyrus and Nemesis have to scheme against the cunning Senator Pasus who is bent on revenge for his daughter's death and determined to rule the empire one way or another.

This book was such a letdown from The Diabolic that my initial rating was one star.  After giving myself 24 hours to reflect, I bumped it up to two stars because it is not bad, just really suffers in comparison.  I seldom read sequels and when I do and am disappointed, I wonder if it's because the sequel is actually not as good or it it's because I've seen the author's tricks already.  I don't have an answer to that question with this one but here are some of my issues:
  • Tyrus is described on several occasions as always being ten steps ahead of everyone in his planning and yet he allows Pasus to get the drop on him more than once.
  • Despite his careful planning (which we are told about but don't always see materialize) he never tells Nemesis what he has in mind but instead asks her to trust him.  Then they leave their secret chat room and he turns on her and she's supposed to not act.  But when she does act, he later tells her she didn't do what he wanted.  Maybe he could give her a clue about what he's going to do so she won't inadvertently mess something up?
  • I missed the story and character development because the entire book was jumping from one life-threatening situation to another.  There's a blazing star that is meant to cook everyone!  There are Diabolics that are meant to kill Tyrus!  There's a black hole that will suck them in!  Here's someone else Nemesis wants to kill to protect Tyrus without his knowledge!  Here's a spaceship ripping the roof off their room!  The pace and action left no room for much of anything else and made it choppy for me.
  • Nemesis does grow as the story progresses but a huge part of the book is whether she is human or not and for quite awhile her reactions are complete devoid of empathy.  I feel sure that we, as readers, are supposed to believe she is capable of love and emotion but that is not shown in her interactions with others.
  • Why, why, why do neither Tyrus nor Nemesis kill Pasus in any of the situations where they had that possibility?  He is evil and has made it clear he plans to use them for the rest of their lives to his own ends.  As I noted above, he manages to back them into corners on several occasions so he's not a dolt who can be easily manipulated like so many others at court.  The reason to keep him alive: contrived narrative necessity.  
  • I read a review of the first book months ago that described it as a romance set in a space opera and that seems to be an apt description. That formula really seems to fit here as Nemesis and Tyrus are kept apart by forces but then have moments where they can really express their love but then she doubts whether he actually loves her or not but then he does but then maybe he doesn't....  My husband has a plausible theory about what is happening with Tyrus towards the end of the book which has to be what happens or else any reconciliation that comes about (and it must come about for the romance to be complete) is ridiculous.  
  • There is a great deal of use of drugs throughout the book.  I don't mind the references in general because it is clear that drug use is a part of the life for the royalty in the book.  Furthermore, Nemesis and Tyrus both seem to disdain their use and only use them as required to be social with Nemesis not feeling any effects from them and Tyrus working to limit their effects on him.  But one passage in particular stood out after Nemesis rescues Neveni from death:  "I made sure to dispatch a service bot her way with recreational narcotics.  Venalox was a dreadful narcotic, but I still had faith in other sorts.  Drugs were a most excellent means of coping with grief."  Two sentences, so not a big deal overall.  But it still stood out as something that concerns me in its message.
A disappointment all around.  I should've stuck with my usual never reading sequels policy.

No comments:

Post a Comment