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The Empress Game

(The Empress Game Trilogy #1)

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  936 ratings  ·  159 reviews
One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled, that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage. It’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat in the ancient tradition. Now that tournament, the Empress Game, has been called and the females of the empire will stop at nothing to secure political ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Titan Books (first published July 10th 2015)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  936 ratings  ·  159 reviews


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Bradley
Oct 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera
Okay, seriously, this took a long time for me to start caring about the characters, but it finally happened well after the half-way point of the book. That's a real shame, because I was frankly bored out of my skull by most of it.

Best Space Opera? Please.

We got ourselves a bit of knife fighting in a tournament and then a road trip with blackmailing spies and a con job to put an empress on the throne of a multi planet empire. If that isn't bad enough, we've got the old trope of princess-in-disgui
...more
Lindsay
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A preview of the next Disney animation where they get all their movie princesses together and make them fight with kris knives in gladiatorial combat. (My money is on Mu Lan).

Ok, it's not that. That would be cool. This is also cool, and does feature princesses fighting in gladiatorial combat, but we also get politics, psionic powers, spy agency intrigue and a romantic subplot.

Kayla is a princess from one of the Wyrd worlds. Populated by psychics and where the women are much stronger and larger p
...more
Maria V. Snyder
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This debut novel was written by one of Seton Hill University's MFA graduates and I bought a copy during our annual Super Mega Book Signing in June. Rhonda and I were in the program together, but she was a few semesters ahead of me (and she hung out with the cool kids ;).

The book is science fiction with romantic elements (some might call that space opera). I really liked the main protagonist - Kayla is a kickass heroines but she's not obnoxious about it (I like strong independent characters, but
...more
Justine
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Delicious page-turning badassery (is that a word?)

This book has action, deception, drama, evil mind-control experiments, a devastating nanite plague, and high ranking ladies kicking butt in gladiatorial style games to determine who will be the next Empress. What's not to like? Nothing! This book was awesome.
Robyn
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
4.5. Extremely readable, densely-packed start to what will hopefully be a very exciting series. There's so much in here that it is hard to know where to start - pit fighting! nanobite virus! an empire at war with a race of psychic, crazily advanced technological people! factions within the diplomatic corps! And I haven't even mentioned the main event - the gladiatorial fights to select the next empress, wherein our intrepid heroine, Kayla, must impersonate a princess and win her the hand of the ...more
Helen
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much happening in this that it's difficult to decide what to say! We have a fighter and her kid brother desperately trying to stay alive, gladiator-style games to choose a bride/empress, major bad guys and regular ones. Betrayal, loyalty and romance. Sigh, that kiss...

Basically read it!
Liviania
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
In the intergalatic empire at the center of THE EMPRESS GAME, the new empress is chosen through a tournament. As this is obviously a cracked way to determine a political ruler, cheating is rampant. Isonde, a political mover and shaker who is also the beloved of the emperor, enlists help to find a body double who can fight. Her man Malkor finds Shadow Panthe, whose true name is Kayla Reunimon. She is, of course, secretly the princess of a conquered world.

Despite being in the title, I found the ga
...more
Al
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One review/recommendation of this book said if you like Jack Campbell then you might like this. I scoffed at that since Jack Campbell is, in my opinion, of the finest hard SF authors. But I was intrigued, so I requested the book from the library. I downloaded it,put off starting it for a few days then finally started reading. I could not put it down until I finished the book.

This book is not hard SF. It is,however,a finely crafted book with a plausible world view and characters that have a good
...more
Jen Brooks
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: space-opera
This space opera has it all: It’s gut-wrenching. It’s thoughtful. It has strong science fiction elements, and it’s full of seriously kick-ass fighting scenes.

Kayla Reinumon is an exiled Wyrd princess forced to hide her identity and fight in the Blood Pit to keep herself and her young brother alive. IDC agent Malkor Rua finds her there and, ignorant of her true identity, convinces her to play the starring role in the biggest con in the empire—the fixing of the Empress Game, a martial contest whos
...more
Jordan
Always a pleasant surprise when a book exceeds your expectations. I feared this one would be a cheap Hunger Games knock-off, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. It’s way more interesting and the world is far more fleshed out than that comparison would imply….

Kayla Reunimon is not someone you want to mess with. Her family is dead, killed in a coup orchestrated by treacherous agents of the Sekian Empire in an attempt to bend the advanced technological expertise of the Wyrds to thei
...more
Tami
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very solid SciFi-Adventure. I enjoyed this story, I liked and felt with most of the characters - some very likable and some were more complex, like Isonda.
 
The pace was good and the world-building was done with some creativity, though it reminded me a bit of Star Wars (Episodes I to III) with the old-fashioned traditions and customs combined with fantastical high-tech.
 
I deducted a point for the bit lackluster romance part. I didn't feel the love. The feelings between Corinth, her little brother
...more
Rinn
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

Lately, I’ve had this really bad habit of receiving fantastic looking books, making plans to read them as soon as possible, and then ignoring said plans. And almost every single time, when I finally get round to the books, I wonder why it took me so long. The Empress Game was another fine example of this.

The focus of the story is the Empress Game itself, but it was so
...more
Charity
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! DID IT SERIOUSLY JUST END LIKE THAT?! CAN'T BELIEVE IT. I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT NOW!!!!!

This book was amazing. It managed to got me on board the train from the very first page, and by the end of the ride, I was left in a daze. Wow. I will definitely be reading the next book of the series once it comes out.

Really enjoyed the setting of the romance in the book. It was not rushed. It proceeds slowly and actually get a chance to develop, unlike some book
...more
Ctgt
Aug 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good story that was on its way to a solid 4 stars until the end. An unknown pit fighter is recruited to impersonate a princess in the Empress Game to crown the new ruler. I liked the background of our protagonist, Kayla and the tech that was used to allow her to pull off this con was interesting. This is a good popcorn type book with good action and some interesting political intrigue. But there was a flip flop with some decisions by Kayla at the end that I just couldn't get pa ...more
Ron
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Think The Hunger Games meets Double Star with a dash of Tristan and Isolde.

The wonder is not that I rated this book so low, but that I finished it. The setup is hokey, plot is derivative, and characters are cardboard. But I did read it all because Mason’s storytelling is wonderful. Her prose is compelling and just when you’re starting to wonder why you’re still reading this, she throws a curve.

Probably the only worse way to choose a ruler than heredity is combat. Oh, and all the contestants for
...more
Nicole
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It has been a while since I've read a proper story filled with enough twists and turns to keep me on my toes. Can't wait for the next one.
Mieneke
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2015
The centre of the cover and the absolute star of the book is Kayla Reunimon a.k.a. Shadow Panthe. I adored Kayla. She is a fantastic character, both as Kayla and in her persona of Shadow Panthe. Much of what defines Kayla and by extension Shadow, is her family past and her fierce protectiveness of her little brother, Corinth. Kayla fled her home world with Corinth after seeing most of her family killed by a traitorous scientist from her home system of Wyrd space. I loved the setup of the Ordochi ...more
J.L.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: july-2015
Disclaimer: I attended Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program with the author and consider her a friend. I purchased this book for full price, though I had the luck to snag it at a book signing a few days before the official release.

I read space opera, but I mostly read space opera by one particular author (Catherine Asaro’s Skolian Empire series), because I measure all else by that standard.

Now I read space opera by two authors.

Despite the use of “game” in the title an
...more
Patrick Scattergood
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Visitors to this blog will most definitely have realised by now that I love a good ol' bit of science fiction. Book, movie, television show, I'm not fussed which form of media it takes as long as it grips me.

Well The Empress Game by Rhonda Mason is a book that falls in to that genre and comes with a fair bit of talk and hype around it. I must admit that I wasn't familiar with her work so I came in to this book with a fairly open mind.

Apparently this is going to be the first novel in a trilogy a
...more
Lais
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
AMAZING!!!!!

I'm in a space opera romance phase and to find female pov are pretty rare!

Kayla is a badass,loyal,strong,thoughtful,smart,rational,real character.. who have to deal with overwhelming situations and she makes wise choices!

Malkon is a great character with his own disputes and hard choices and his growth to understand where his loyalty should lay is amazing.

The book is action packed, so many different situations... the bloody pit, the empress game,political alliances,rescues,betrayals a
...more
G33z3r
A space opera fantasy in which our heroine, Kayla, is a deposed Princess whose family was killed in a coup sponsored by the nasty Galactic Empire, and who's currently hiding with her psionic little brother among a wretched hive of scum and villainy, making a living by gladiatorial combat. Improbably, those combat skillz get her recruited to impersonate another Princess in the Hunger For Power Games of Royalty to determine the new Empress.

This is space fantasty the way Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote
...more
Ron
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’ll try to describe this novel without using the done-to-death term “kick-ass.” There’s action, for sure, intrigue, adventure, and a dash of romance. (But not that swoony, hearts & flowers mushy stuff.) Characters (especially Kayla) are vivid and just off-center enough to be unique. Although it’s space opera, most of the action takes place planetside, but there’s so much going on you won’t miss it. The most refreshing thing I found about this novel is the subtle world building. No info dump ...more
Diana Botsford
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mason revives the space opera genre with a compelling, heart-wrenching, character-driven plot that will keep you on your seat's edge, turning every page long into the night. From the very first page we're committed to Kayla Reinumon's struggles to hide from a hostile galactic empire that had slaughtered her royal family. Barely eking out a life as a pit fighter on the fringes of the empire, her efforts to stay out of sight come into jeopardy when she's unwillingly drafted by a government faction ...more
Carolyn
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the Miles Vorkosigan series
Quite enjoyed this, read it pretty quickly.
Despite other reviews, this is not about a fight to the death of the contestants (it's point-based sparring, with the best two out of three winning the match), and the winner of the contest does not become the ruler of the Empire. The winner marries the heir to the Emperor, and will become the Empress-apparent, but in the very complex political system of this empire, she will only be one member of a Council with 7 members. A lot of personal wealth and p
...more
Tara
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
OMG. This is the space opera I have been waiting for ever since I finished Elizabeth Moon's Familias/Serrano/Suiza series. This is a shining example of everything right about my favorite genre.
JAIME
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
2 stars because I'm feeling generous.

Review will never come.

Jasmine
Aug 04, 2017 added it
Shelves: grown-up, orbit
Okay so a surprising amount of insta-love, which I didn't see coming. For all the complaining grown up readers do about YA love triangles and Insta-love, I keep thinking I'll get more nuanced approaches to forgiveness and romance than I do.

Cool world, I care deeply about the characters (some of the characters), I want to know what happens next -- I'm just grumpy about the victory conditions of the ending.
El-jorro
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bookworm Speaks!

The Empress Game

The Empress Game Trilogy Book 1

by Rhonda Mason

Acquired: Barnes and Nobel Booksellers
Series: The Empress Game Trilogy
Paperback: 352 Pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Language: English
Subject: Fiction

*****

The Story: One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled: that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage. It’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat. Now the tournament, the Empress Ga
...more
Tammie
3.5 stars. I went into The Empress Game expecting a space opera. While this is being classified as one, and in some aspects it is, it didn't feel like one when I was reading it. It read more like an other world fantasy - one that wasn't all that original. However, I was immediately drawn into the story and I liked it even if it lacked some depth and originality.

The Empress Game is a tournament where the winner gets to be - well, the Empress. I did not think this to be a very plausible way for a
...more
Lesley
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The Empress Game is a space opera featuring an all-lady combat tournament, a group of outsiders who possess mental powers, and a massive political conspiracy (several, actually). If that doesn’t make you want to read this book, just dive into the first chapter and within a few minutes, you’ll be hooked.

The Empress Game starts out with a punch, introducing us to our badass main character Kayla in the most awesome way possible. I absolutely love that opening fight scene. There are plenty more afte
...more
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Rhonda Mason divides her time between writing, editing, bulldogs and beaching. Her writing spans the gamut of speculative fiction, from space opera to epic fantasy to urban paranormal and back again. The only thing limiting her energy for fantastical worlds is the space-time continuum. When not creating worlds she edits for a living, and follows her marine biologist husband to the nearest beach. I ...more

Other books in the series

The Empress Game Trilogy (3 books)
  • Cloak of War (The Empress Game Trilogy, #2)
  • Exile's Throne (The Empress Game Trilogy #3)
“::Fight, Kayla. You are the sea that swallows her river, the sky that absorbs her smoke. Absorb her flow. Make it yours.:: Kayla” 0 likes
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