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The Risen Empire (Succession #1)

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,731 ratings  ·  187 reviews
Captain Laurent Zai of Imperial Frigate Lynx must rescue the Child Empress, sister of immortal Emperor worshiped by 80 human worlds for 1600 years. Enemy Rix are machine-augmented humans who worship AI compound minds. Separated by light years, bound by an unlikely love, Zai and pacifist senator Nara Oxham face the Rix and hold the fate of the empire.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Tor: Tom Doherty Associates
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Community Reviews

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Kane
There is something unbeatable about being pleasantly surprised. This was my first time reading anything by Scott Westerfeld and I was extremely pleasantly surprised by The Risen Empire.

It is bad form to quote oneself but here is what I said about The Risen Empire when I compared it very favourably to Foundation in my sacrilegious review of Asimov’s space opera:

“Immediately after I "finished" Foundation, I picked up Scott Westerfeld's The Risen Empire… Intelligent turns of phrase? Break-neck act
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Gavin
This was a decent space opera sci-fi. The world building was very good and the technology in this futuristic world was fascinating. The story was based around the clash between two empires. The Risen Empire, a mix of normal humans and the immortal Risen, and The Rix, post humans who worship planet encompassing AI's as Gods.

I enjoyed the concepts and the moral questions the characters faced. The biggest flaw is that this book was too focused on the concepts and technologies. Dialogue between the
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Dr. Ben
Gave up after about 100 pages, so there may be redeeming qualities later on. At the point at which I gave up, however, there was very little story in this novel; there was some world-building, but mostly page after page of technophilia hidden under a veneer of fiction. This is hard, hard scifi, where the point in the writing isn't so much the telling of a story but of describing as much technological porn as possible. Pass.
Niall519
Possibly I've just read too many space operas over the past few years. This wasn't bad in any specific way, just didn't fail to entrance me the way it's evidently done for other readers. I imagine that the desires and difficulties in coming up with new technology and effects in SF like this must be the same for fantasy writers attempting to deal with magic. Unless you get lucky and strike a previously unmined seam of ideas or metaphors, it all suffers from being much the same as the other ten au ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Pretty good, this. The blurb on the cover hints that it aspires to the greatness achieved by Dune and Foundation. I'll contest that, but nonetheless this is a good science fiction novel. It's actually the first in a duology called Succession, the sequel being The Killing of Worlds.

Although I didn't care much for some of the symbolism and political humdrum, I would recommend this to people looking for a Space Opera flavoured with combat sequences. Or is it the other way around? Military Sci-Fi sp
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Phoenixfalls
This is the sort of space opera I can love. Forget Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy, with its sloppy (sometimes indulgent) writing and wooden characters; forget Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, with their climaxes that lead to nothing but futility; forget even Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga -- much though I love the characters and the wit, it doesn't have the breadth of imagination or the sheer scope that Westerfeld captures here.

The Risen Empire stars with a bang, throwing the
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Wealhtheow
Woah. The first book of this series begins with a dizzyingly exciting space battle that sucks you right into the action. It's only a few pages in that the reader realizes the ships are the size of a hangnail, piloted by remote. The Child Empress is being held hostage, and the ships are on a recon mission for the Imperial space ship in orbit round the planet, waiting to rescue her. The first book is very exciting, and while the technology Westerfeld introduces is wholly original, it still makes a ...more
Jacob
Despite a few glaring editing mistakes, this was quite good and would easily have received four stars, except it choked at the end and cut off without completing any significant part of the story. I understand about books in a series not standing alone well, but this is really only half a book. This is a pet peeve of mine, and here it's done so egregiously I considered taking it all the way down to two stars.

But there's a ton of neat things in here: nanotechnology such as smart clothing, people
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Nikola Tasev
I was expecting some over-the-top action 'warhammer'-style, and fearing some over-the-top bullshit 'Sten'-style. The eternal immortal God-Emperor confused me, I guess.
What I got had almost nothing in common with any of the two. The marine fighting was of 'Starship Troopers' quality - but it didn't end there. The descriptions of the spaceships and related technology were the best I've ever read - waaaay smarter and more advanced than 'Starfire', more detailed than 'Hyperion', better defined than
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Kristin
I really enjoyed this book and I think that was because my last couple of books have been just sort of eh. At least the last one in particular (Children of Huirn by Tolkien). I was craving a true scifi book (read space opera, space ships, aliens, and galaxies far, far, away) and The Risen Empire was exactly what I wanted.

Premise of the book is the Risen Empire is ruled by the Emperor, who is 1500 years old (give or take a bit). He discovered how to defeat death and the reason was his younger si
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Jason
Mar 04, 2010 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: purlewe, Scott Randall
Honestly one of the best sci-fi books I've read in a while. The Succession books are a space-opera genre of sci-fi books cut from a similar cloth as Dune. The setting focuses on the conflict two major galactic empires; the story takes place within the Risen Empire, which is ruled by an Emperor who has made himself immortal through the use of a strange symbiotic organism and has used it to create a ruling class of undead immortals. I say undead, because you have to die for the symbiote to work. ...more
Erica
Some books take a while to really get going, and some books throw you into the action from page one. This book was one of the latter. It opens with a thrilling space battle with a completely unexpected twist, and had me completely hooked from the get-go.
This is hard science-fiction (as opposed to the science fantasy from authors such as Jack Vance), with space travel at percentage-of-lightspeed, advanced technologies that sound scientific and plausible, and a suitably advanced culture that is co
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Mark
Action-oriented, classic space opera with a nice "clash of civilizations" woven in. The story revolves around an Empire of 80 worlds ruled by "the dead". When elite members of society die, they are "risen" via the use of a symbiant and become part of the ruling elite. It's essentially a perverse feudal society where the Living do all the work and the Risen possess all the wealth and power. But because they don't die, the lords tend to outnumber the serfs by a considerable number.

The tale is told
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Nikki
The main thing was that I didn't really feel the characters that well. I felt the book was written more about the technology and the backdrop than about people -- which is fine, and I've come across it a lot in sci-fi, but it isn't the way I prefer books to be. No matter how many people waxed lyrical, in the text, about Laurent Zai, I didn't care that much about him. Honestly, my favourite character was one of the bits of technology -- an intelligent house.

That aside, I did enjoy it, and the phy
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Lara
I didn't love this. I liked it at the beginning. Things started out pretty interesting--some intriguing concepts, a hostage rescue attempt in progress, cool technology. But then it just...floundered. I feel like the whole thing suffered from too little in the way of character development (yes, details are given about the characters, but none of them really felt real or alive to me) and far too much in the way of differing view points (seriously, like 17!). There's also a lot of jumping about in ...more
Jamie
I think I have a crush on Scott Westerfeld. His bio says he's also a software designer and music composer, and his writing is delightfully diverse. His Uglies series is YA dystopic fiction. His Leviathan series is steampunk for a slightly younger audience. This series is straight up science fiction, a so-called space opera along the lines of Asimov's Foundation series. The plot is more active and complex than Foundation, and contains extremely satisfying characters and devices. In this world, th ...more
Meagan
This is not a complete story. And while this subgenre is my thing, I don't know if I care enough to finish it?

First Scott Westerfeld I actually finished though, so that's something!
Peter
The Rix, a cult of machine-augmented humans who want to propagate planet-scale AIs throughout the galaxy, have just launched a major operation on the planet Legis XV, a world part of the Risen Empire, and the current location of the Emperor's little sister. If Captain Laurent Zai doesn't get her back, not only is a major war likely, but he'll be expected to sacrifice his life for his failure. This is how it is in the Empire, a society long on traditions established by the immortal leader, who di ...more
Wendy
A compulsive read, packed with action, interesting characters, and an insane amount of original sci-fi ideas. More, please.

[Second part is not as good; together I'd rate the series a 4. But this book was really exciting and also introduced me to Westerfeld whose books I have been plowing through ever since. High points for that.]
Masha Toit
What a fantastic book.
This is a real classic Sci Fi. Great story telling, engaging characters and fascinating technology. I particularly like the fact that while it uses the classic story-line -- a human centered civilization is attacked by aliens (or in this case, trans-humans), the enemy is not portrayed as "evil".

Prabhanshu
This is really terrific science fiction novel. A most intriguing plot that goes back and forth between the military aspects of the story, which are bthrilling, and filled with imaginative and cool technological creations, the other half of the book deals with the political conflict involved in the decision to go to war with a rival faction of humanity. The books shifts between the character's viewpoints, settings, and also flashbacks, but the author effortlessly keeps it together and it is not d ...more
Randal
Nov 30, 2014 Randal rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gullible series readers
Well, until the ending turned out to have resolved NONE of the main plot threads of the book, I was enjoying it. I don't think adding a subhead on the title page (with no suggestion anywhere else) that it's only the first part of a series is sufficient warning. Most series can be read in whole or in part (Lord of the Rings, Dune, Shannara, Thomas Covenant, Foundation, etc., etc.) and I think it's wrong to sucker in an audience by giving them half a story.
Even as the book was drawing to a close w
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Rebecca
This is the 2nd time I've tried to read this. And I managed to succeed this time. It's an interesting story, but still a difficult read. It required a lot of my attention, and I just didn't have it to give. Loved the font, though!
Spiro
First off, I have to say I'm not a fan of military SF, or hard SF, so to Westerfeld's credit and writing skill, I stuck with this for over half the book.

He has some interesting ideas, and certainly I approved of his solution to ending tradition, and that's partly what kept me going.

But in the end, it suffered from too much characterisation (seems to be common with modern novels). I know that sounds odd, but his penchant for the minutia of everything just left me thinking, time and time again, "
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Frank Harris
The Risen Empire is chock full of inventive, interesting and original science fiction concepts, interspersed with pretty exciting action and romance.

:spoilers:

But it's only half a book! It builds up to three related climaxes, each tense and complex and ready to burst, gets right to the edge, and...and....no, you just have to find out by buying the next book. I'm actually irritated enough by that surprise that I'll put off reading the next one in the series, if I get to it, despite how much I lik
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Billie
I decided to try Westerfeld's grownup books out, and this definitely was not the breezy page-turner his YA books are. The first half dozen chapters were frustrating, though kind of clever in retrospect, once you began to understand the technological minutiae of the intelligencer ships. I liked the sentient house. I thought the imperious immortal cats were a nice touch. But I give it the extra fifth star mainly because I appreciate his inclusivity of women as commandos and senators without making ...more
Xan
No sé que decir. Hace dos día que lo terminé y me siento incapaz de formar un juicio sobre el libro. Humanos inmortales contra inteligencias artificiales conscientes. A priori suena interesante, pero me pasé el primer 25% del libro tratando de entender la sociedad en la que transcurre el libro. Y cuando al fin empiezo a entender de que va la cosa el libro me deja a medias. Vale, es una serie y lo sabes de antemano, pero no me parece honesto acabar en falso el libro.
Por lo demás nada que destaca
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An Odd1
Ends on double romance cliff-hanger. The feelings of two couples are crucial to a galactic battle. Space frigate ship Lynx Captain Zai fights far from his love, Senator Oxham. Enemy Rix commando H_ard and her human captive Rana grow closer. (view spoiler) ...more
Kaethe
I've been meaning to read this forever, but hadn't quite gotten around to it. Then, on a quick library run to pick up a request that had come in, Veronica was talking about reading Uglies, and how much she was loving it, and how Peeps is currently her favorite book. So, he was fresh in mind and I ambled over to the shelf to see if it was in. And it was. So now maybe I'll get to it before my time is up.

***

Oh, my yes. I do enjoy a good swashbuckling naval battle in space with tricky tactics, and o
...more
Cassy
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13957
Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and his next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.

His book Evolution's Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation f
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More about Scott Westerfeld...

Other Books in the Series

Succession (2 books)
  • The Killing of Worlds (Succession, #2)
Uglies (Uglies, #1) Pretties (Uglies, #2) Specials (Uglies, #3) Extras (Uglies, #4) Leviathan (Leviathan, #1)

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