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Empire (Orson Scott Card's Empire Series #1)
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Empire (Orson Scott Card's Empire Series #1)

3.6 102
by Orson Scott Card

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The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

The battle rages between the high-technology weapons on one side, and militia foot-soldiers on the other, devastating the cities, and


The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

The battle rages between the high-technology weapons on one side, and militia foot-soldiers on the other, devastating the cities, and overrunning the countryside. But the vast majority, who only want the killing to stop, and the nation to return to more peaceful days, have technology, weapons and strategic geniuses of their own.

When the American dream shatters into violence, who can hold the people and the government together? And which side will you be on?

Orson Scott Card is a master storyteller, who has earned millions of fans and reams of praise for his previous science fiction and fantasy novels. Now he steps a little closer to the present day with this chilling look at a near future scenario of a new American Civil War.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A] blistering read. Card plots hard-boiled action just as well as Tom Clancy, and layers in character detail and dialogue you'll never find in a Jack Ryan novel.” —Entertainment Weekly on Empire

“A relentless thriller, which couldn't be timelier… 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.” —Booklist on Empire

The Barnes & Noble Review
Inspired by video game developer Donald Mustard and the design team at Chair Entertainment -- who are creating a multi-format entertainment franchise revolving around a second American Civil War that includes a video game, comic book series, etc. -- Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Orson Scott Card's apocalyptic vision of this near-future conflict is as chillingly conceivable as is it downright disturbing. (In the novel's afterword, Card states that coming up with a plausible scenario for such an event to happen was "sadly enough, all too easy.")

In an America where "divisive, vicious, hate-filled rhetoric" has increasingly dominated elections, the rift between the left and the right has become unbridgeable -- and something has to give. When terrorists assassinate the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, and other officials in a masterfully coordinated attack, the country slips into chaos and rumors spread about a vast right-wing conspiracy. At the center of the pandemonium is Major Reuben Malich, a celebrated war hero who is being set up as the fall guy. But as Malich and his crew race to uncover the real conspirators, an elaborate scheme has already been put in motion -- one that will transform America into a true empire….

Equal parts apocalyptic thriller, militaristic science fiction adventure, and soul-chilling political cautionary tale, Card's Empire offers readers not only a glimpse of a possible war-torn future for the United States but also a hopeful preview at what could be: "a single society, linked together by a shared culture, a shared history, and a shared future." Regardless of political affiliation, this thought-provoking novel -- and especially the author's candid afterword -- will spur hours and hours of heated discussion among those who read it. Paul Goat Allen
Library Journal
Violent infighting has the American Empire on the brink of destruction in this look at a possible future. Simultaneous Tor hardcover. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Orson Scott Card's Empire Series , #1
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Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
3.99(w) x 6.95(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt

EMPIRE (Chapter 1)


Treason only matters when it is committed by trusted men.

The Team of four Americans had been in the village for three months. Their mission was to build trust until they could acquire accurate information about the activities of a nearby warlord believed to be harboring some operatives of Al Qaeda.

All four soldiers were highly trained for their Special Ops assignment. Which meant that they understood a great deal about local agriculture and husbandry, trade, food storage, and other issues on which the survival and prosperity of the village depended. They had arrived with rudimentary skills in the pertinent languages, but now they were reasonably fluent in the language of the village.

The village girls were beginning to find occasions to walk near whatever project the American soldiers were working on. But the soldiers ignored them, and by now the parents of these girls knew they were safe enough—though that didn't stop them from rebuking the girls for their immodesty with men who were, after all, unbelievers and foreigners and dangerous men.

For these American soldiers had also been trained to kill—silently or noisily, close at hand or from a distance, individually or in groups, with weapons or without.

They had killed no one in front of these villagers, and in fact they had killed no one, ever, anywhere. Yet there was something about them, their alertness, the way they moved, that gave warning, the way a tiger gives warning simply by the fluidity of its movement and the alertness of its eyes.

There came a day that one of the villagers, a young man who had been away for a week, came home, and within a few minutes had told his news to the elder who, for lack of anyone better, was regarded by the villagers as the wisest counselor. He, in turn, brought the young man to the Americans.

The terrorists, he said, were building up a cache of weapons away to the southwest. The local warlord had not given his consent—in fact, he disapproved, but would not dare to intervene. "He would be as happy as anyone to be rid of these men. They frighten him as much as they frighten everyone else."

The young man was also, obviously, afraid.

The Americans got directions from him and strode out of the camp, following one of the trails the shepherds used.

When they were behind the first hill—though this "hill" in most other places would have been called a mountain—they stopped.

"It's a trap, of course," said one of the Americans.

"Yes," said the leader, a young captain named Reuben Malich. "But will they spring it when we reach the place where his directions would send us? Or when we return?"

In other words, as they all understood: Was the village part of the conspiracy or not? If it was, then the trap would be sprung far away.

But if the villagers had not betrayed them (except for the one young man), then in all likelihood the village was in as much danger as the Americans.

Captain Malich briefly discussed the possibilities with his team, so that by the time he gave his orders, they were all in complete agreement.

A few minutes later, using routes they had planned on the first day, before they ever entered the village, they crested the hill at four separate vantage points and spotted the armed men who had just entered the village and were taking up many of the positions surrounding it that the Americans had guessed they would use.

The Americans' plan, in the event of such an ambush, was to approach these positions with stealth and kill the enemy one by one, silently.

But now Captain Malich saw a scene playing out in the center of the village that he could not bear. For the old man had been brought out into the middle of the sunbaked dirt of the square, and a man with a sword was preparing to behead him.

Captain Malich did the calculations in his head. Protect your own force—that was a prime concern. But if it were the only priority, or the highest priority, nations would keep their armies at home and never commit them to battle at all.

The higher priority here was the mission. If the village sustained any casualties, they would not care that the Americans saved them from even more. They would only grieve that the Americans had ever come at all, bringing such tragedy with them. They would beg the Americans to leave, and hate them if they did not go.

Here were the terrorists, proving that they were, as suspected, operating in the area. This village had been a good choice. Which meant that it would be a terrible waste to lose the trust that had been built up.

Captain Malich took his own weapon and, adjusting wind and distance, took careful aim and killed the swordsman with a single shot.

The other three Americans understood immediately the change of plans. They took aim at the enemies who would be able to take cover most easily, and killed them. Then they settled down to shooting the others one by one.

Of course, the enemy were firing back. Captain Malich himself was hit, but his body armor easily dealt with a weapon fired at such long range. And as the enemy fire slackened, Malich counted the enemy dead and compared it to the number he had seen in the village, moving from building to building. He gave the hand signal that told the rest of his team that he was going in, and they shot at anyone who seemed to be getting into position to kill him as he descended the slope.

In only a few minutes, he was among the small buildings of the village. These walls would not stop bullets, and there were people cowering inside. So he did not expect to do a lot of shooting. This would be knife work.

He was good at knife work. He hadn't known until now how easy it was to kill another man. The adrenalin coursing through him pushed aside the part of his mind that might be bothered by the killing. All he thought of at this moment was what he needed to do, and what the enemy might do to stop him, and the knife merely released the tension for a moment, until he started looking for the next target.

By now his men were also in the village, doing their own variations on the same work. One of the soldiers encountered a terrorist who was holding a child as a hostage. There was no thought of negotiation. The American took aim instantly, fired, and the terrorist dropped dead with a bullet through his eye.

At the end, the sole surviving terrorist panicked. He ran to the center of the square, where many of the villagers were still cowering, and leveled his automatic weapon to mow them down.

The old man still had one last spring in his ancient legs, and he threw himself onto the automatic weapon as it went off.

Captain Malich was nearest to the terrorist and shot him dead. But the old man had taken a mortal wound. By the time Malich got to him, the old man gave one last shudder and died in a puddle of the blood that had poured from his abdomen where the two bullets tore him open.

Reuben Malich knelt over the body and cried out in the keening wail of deep grief, the anguish of a soul on fire. He tore open the shirt of his uniform and struck himself repeatedly on the chest. This was not part of his training. He had never seen anyone do such a thing, in any culture. Striking himself looked to his fellow soldiers like a kind of madness. But the surviving villagers joined him in grief, or watched him in awe.

Within moments he was back on the job, interrogating the abject young betrayer while the other soldiers explained to the villagers that this boy was not the enemy, just a frightened kid who had been coerced and lied to by the terrorists and did not deserve to be killed.

Six hours later, the terrorist base camp was pounded by American bombs; by noon the next day, it had been scoured to the last cave by American soldiers flown in by chopper.

Then they were all pulled out. The operation was a success. The Americans reported that they had suffered no casualties.

"From what one of your men told us," said the colonel, "we wonder if you might have made your decision to put your own men at risk by firing immediately, based on emotional involvement with the villagers."

"That's how I meant it to appear to the villagers," said Captain Malich. "If we allowed the village to take casualties before we were on the scene, I believe we would have lost their trust."

"And when you grieved over the body of the village headman?"

"Sir, I had to show him honor in a way they would understand, so that his heroic death became an asset to us instead of a liability."

"It was all acting?"

"None of it was acting," said Captain Malich. "All I did was permit it to be seen."

The colonel turned to the clerk. "All right, shut off the tape." Then, to Malich: "Good work, Major. You're on your way to New Jersey."

Which is how Reuben Malich learned he was a captain no more. As for New Jersey, he had no idea what he would do there, but at least he already spoke the language, and fewer people would be trying to kill him.

EMPIRE. Copyright 2006 by Orson Scott Card.

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.

Brief Biography

Greensboro, North Carolina
Date of Birth:
August 24, 1951
Place of Birth:
Richland, Washington
B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981

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Empire 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 102 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The two extremes in the USA have reached a point of hatred that threatens the fiber of the country. Neither extremist group wants to compromise because they believe that makes them seem weak. The vast center prefers harmony, but they are considered expendable pawns by the right and the left who each assume the mantle of righteousness. In this divisive world of hate, the final blows occur almost simultaneously. Terrorists kill the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, and other VIPs leaving a chaotic nation without leaders. The right blames the left for being soft on Al Qaeda the Left blames the Right for failing to protect the infrastructure.------------- Major Reuben Malich was near White House when the rocket attack killed POTUS, and the Defense Secretary. Initially considered a hero for saving lives, soon Rube is accused of carrying out the assassination. With his new assistant Captain ¿Cole¿ Coleman and a few other trusted aides, Rube investigates and soon believes the recent assassinations is the first stage in a coup to turn America into a world dominating empire to outlast the five centuries of Rome. The 'Progressive Restoration' has begun as the second American Civil War has exploded into open hostilities.----------------- Extrapolating from the hatred that has divided the country, Orson Scott Card provides a cautionary futuristic science fiction thriller. The war seems a plausible outcome though the recent election controlled by the middle brings new hope that maybe we can get along. Readers will appreciate this powerful military thriller yet extremists on both sides will condemn Mr. Card for failing to take their opinion while missing the whole point of this strong thriller that either extreme could destroy the values of this country with their no compromise idealism.--------- Harriet Klausner
FlaRobb More than 1 year ago
The book was a very fun read but left, in my opinon, one big hole at the end. The question of who killed the president and how was not fully explained. However, it does provide a very good look into a possible future. Lastly the cover art and words do imply a much wider war front that is seen in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i'm a long time card fan and have read almost all of his books and empire was as good as many of them. however, it wasn't on the level of ender's game, speaker for the dead, seventh son, or ender's shadow. but you can't write a new york time's bestseller every time. having said that, i think that empire was a book worth reading. it is heavily drenched in american politics of a few years ago, but the real story is driven by fair-minded characters. people have complained that card was too biased in this novel but i didn't get that impression at all. and if it feels too much like a video game it's because card was writing a novelization of a video game with the same name.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite aread. Full of parallels to current politial situations. Exciting and every bit as gripping as his Ender novels. Card never disappoints.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So i reccomend getting the book, it amazingly depicts scenes settings and plots that just run rampant in your mind, BUT most people will not mention it is a sequal to enders game. John paul (j.p.) is the name of the wiggins father. Anotherbut though, four stars because i feel it is a thinly veiled attack on the left wing side of a political standpoint. Also lots of untied knots at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For a kid like me who doesn't care about politics it a great book
Godswork More than 1 year ago
Yes it's a book about a very possible future, one that many great nations time and again have represented. Days of chaos followed by a sturdy rule that would extend the life of the nation for a few more centuries. Why can't such a thing happen in the united states as well? Read the book and you will not regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First book I have read by this author, and to my surprise it has become one of my favorite books. I have now ventured into the second of this duet series and hope it will be just as good.
iWrite16 More than 1 year ago
Being a fan of Orson Scott Card's, my expectations for this book were very high. Once again, Card has far surpassed my expectations! I would love to write a twenty page review complimenting Card's masterpiece, but I don't want to give anything away. Instead, I will just say this : READ IT. =)
Stapler More than 1 year ago
Another outstanding and creative read by Card! Let's hope his fiction remains fiction and not prophecy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is indeed right-wing slant in the novel, and this title, as Card's first thriller it cannot compete with the classic ones like Tom Clancy/Michael Critchton. But it is still an interesting novel with good imagination. Go read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Orson Scott Card is most indefinitely the best storytelling author since Lewis, Bradbury and that rare breed of writer. He maintains the tremendous style of writing which I have come to deeply enjoy. He is the best modern Science Fiction/Fantasy author of today. This book is a pure continuation of his talents. For those that desire a magnificent work of writing in general, select this masterpiece, and for any of you Orson Scott Card fans like myself, get this book IMMEDIATELY!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Captain Coleman 'Cole' is assigned as the new aide for Major Reuben 'Rube' Malich. However, Rube never comes into the office and never calls. His secretary, DeeNee, says she cannot help him. According to DeeNee, who has no way to contact him, Rube seldom shows at the office except to pick up messages and leave again. No one knows what Rube does or where he goes. DeeNee assures Cole that Rube knows he has arrived, but all he can do is stand around and wait for what could very well be days or weeks. Within minutes of Cole finally meeting Rube, chaos comes storming in! The Vice President is killed in an 'accidental' car wreck. Only few minutes later, the President and the Secretary of Defense dies when a rocket hits the west wing of the White House, at the very section the two were in a meeting. Everyone is calling Rube and Cole 'heroes'. Had they not been there and acted immediately, it would have been much, much worse. But the two heroes know that Rube is being set up to take the fall. .............. Rube has his wife and kids move in with a relative in West Windsor, New Jersey. Before joining them, Rube and Cole must meet up with Rube's old buddies from Special Ops for some serious brainstorming. The men have not been in New Jersey with the family half a day before chaos comes stomping (literally) back in. This time it is fourteen-foot-tall, bulletproof, heavily armed globes on mechanical legs. The mechs, along with gunmen on individual hovercrafts, succeed in seizing New York City and establishing the 'Progressive Restoration'. They claim to be restoring the government to what it should have been and even invite other cities and states to join them. It looks as though a second American Civil War has erupted. One side has high tech weapons. The other side has militia footmen, Rube, and Cole. .................. ***** Author David Weber is diabolical in writing books with military tactical maneuvers. Author Tom Clancy is clever in writing books with espionage. But author Orson Scott Card is brilliant in a way that is difficult to define. Card loudly attacks your physical senses, while at the same time he silently infiltrates your mind and twists your very way of thinking. The most horrifying part is that as I read, I could detect no flaw in the strategies. It is all perfect...and very possible. I strongly recommend ordering pizza to be delivered and unplugging the phones before you even open the cover of this military/political thriller. Stellar! *****
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any at all respond
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rue said that that shadow angel was an imposter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok. Tp be appointed to anything you must post frequently and wheb we have war games fight well. Then you probably will become appointed to a post. Jill is the captan since she was here first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Commander. She's a dragon. She can shoot lightning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Camper - Anyone not listed. <br> <br> Sergeant - KC, Robo, Stormbringer, Duke<br> <br> Captain &star - Jill <br> <br> General &#19977 - Turner, Rue <br> <br> Leader of the Empire &theta - Shadow Angel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I expect more from Orson Scott Card. I have enjoyed his other books, but this one seemed like the work of a lazy author. He took an interesting, potentially thought-provoking idea and turned it into a shallow platform for his political and cultural beliefs. I'm not saying this because I disagree with him, but because it is disappointing. To make an plot work, you need well-rounded characters, not caricatures. He throws a few bones to the other side, so that even halfway through the book I hoped there might be a plot twist or two coming, but no. Just a trite story that reads like a retread of Red Dawn. I can picture the checklist of bad guys he must have had pinned to his wall while writing this novel, because he hits every boogey-man (or woman) of the right-wing in this book. In the end it didn't make me think, like a good book should. It made me roll my eyes. Too bad. It could have been really good, and I think that the people he hero-worships deserve better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can imagine this happening right now. Easy read also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago