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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Scott Westerfeld's hardcover debut is an oxymoron of sorts: a fast-paced space opera. The Risen Empire, the first book in a projected duology, hits the ground running and never slows down. From the very first page, the reader is immersed in an epic clash between ideologically divergent civilizations.
The Risen Empire spans 80 worlds and is ruled by an emperor who has been undead for thousands of years. In a society where selected citizens can be granted eternal life, a political and socioeconomic division has begun polarizing groups within the empire. The Rix Cult, on the other hand, are quickly evolving cyborgs with one mission: to seed worlds with compound AI minds and move on. When the Rix attack an imperial planet, kill the Child Empress (the emperor's sister), and successfully seed a compound mind on the planet, all the empire's secrets are suddenly made available to the Rix. Something drastic must be done to stop the cyborgs from obtaining that knowledge…
Westerfeld has written some outstanding novels (Polymorph and Evolution's Darling), but The Risen Empire is easily his best offering to date. A sleek, stylish plot, excellent character development, and the subtle blending of hard science fiction with (an unlikely) romance make this a novel filled with surprises. I can't wait for the concluding novel in this duology. Paul Goat Allen