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The Emperor's New Clothes (Royce Ree #1): An Interstellar Heist

(Royce Ree #1-5)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  40 reviews
An intrepid secret agent...
Agent Royce Ree was once the best covert intelligence operative in the Empire. But all he's been able to accomplish lately is screw-up after screw-up. Now, the Emperor has assigned the once-great agent a mission: Royce needs to pull off the biggest heist the Universe has ever seen, or it’s bye-bye cushy government job, hello cleaning toilets in a
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published December 5th 2013
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  74 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Julio Genao
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all the gay sci-fi nerds in the world, and their heteronormative nerd associates
Shelves: loved
let. Me count. the motherfuckin' ways.

1. sentient housepets

2. FTL tech small enough to fit inside your skull

3. gay dudes whose gayness is incidental yet organically integrated into a clever plot

4. james. bond. in. space.

5. love, and stuff, but with cutting little comments because there's no way anyone will admit it

6. virtual-reality fashion sense so good nina garcia could never question your taste level on television


mr. mercer: you may proceed.

Bonus Omni
Rosa, really
Update 4/22/14

I read the last 20% after writing this review. I'm changing my rating to a full 5 stars. I have one thing to add: HOLY. SHIT.


4.5 stars

I think Aldous Mercer must have a very full brain.

If you have a snuffy nose, Mr. Mercer, don't get rid of the tissues - thar's gold in that snot.

(Yeah, that was odd, but in my defense Mercer's the genius, not me.)

I haven't even finished the book (I'm at 81%) but I feel driven to w
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi

The ability to read Goethe and Dostoevsky in original doesn’t give me any advantage to read science fiction in English. And it is maybe less to do with the ability to understand language though with the science fiction genre itself. I strongly believe that the regular readers of a science fiction genre have a different brain structure than me. They feel this imaginary world on the totally different level and can grasp immediately the meaning of the many words that don’t belong to our every day t
What an intro!  I knew immediately that Royce and I were going to get along great. Aldous Mercer picked exactly the right words to pique my interest.  I was delighted by all the showing, and with such an economy of words that each one was important to the story.  I was giddy and fervently hoping this was going to continue.

Sci-fi isn't my normal genre, but what I've read, I enjoyed.  Probably comes from a childhood watching reruns of the original Star Trek TV series with my father, quizzing him o
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So awesome! This book is spectacularly entertaining. It's a light-hearted, smart, funny, complex sci-fi story and I absolutely loved it. There were times when I wasn't at all sure what was going on, but this story is told in a non-linear way and it all gets explained in the end, and in rather spectacular fashion. It felt very cinematic to me, like one of those fun heist movies where the story goes back and forth in time a lot and how they pulled it all off it isn't revealed until the very end. I ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
One fine morning, Aldous Mercer decided to write a story. He found a shaded corner, sat down and wrote and saw that the story was good. But, he decided that if he messed up with the readers mind, there would be more engagement with the book. So he tore up the story in jigsaw puzzle size pieces and rewrote it all jumbled up. In this way apart from enjoying the writing (which is witty, humorous and intelligent) the readers also had to sort out the story and the characters and form a final picture ...more
Aimee ~is busy sleeping~
GUYS, GUYS THIS IS .99 FOR A FEW DAYS!! GET IT!!!! :D It's been rereleased with a pretty new cover. I had so much fun reading this book!

I'm sitting here still feeling absolutely stunned from what happened, so this will be short and simple and incoherent. I'll probably rewrite everything when I'm more awake. I can't even discuss anything because trust me, you do not want to be spoilered for this book. It's almost 5am now, that's how late I stayed up to read
Skye Kilaen
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Combine a heist story with divorced spies in space (who never stopped loving each other but neither is going to admit that first), and you get this seriously fun sci-fi romance.

Galactic agent Royce Ree and his aristocratic ex-husband Les are thrown together on planet Baldessh during Ree's mission to steal another civilization's impeccable sense of style. Ree's on his last chance after one too many failed missions, and Les has an Imperial chip in his head assigning him to steal the Baldesshi FTL
Angel Martinez
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-sf
A Retief For A New Generation

Humor in Science Fiction is not a new thing. Readers seem surprised when they encounter it. Sometimes it's episodic humor in otherwise serious stories, (see most conversations between Miles Vorkosigan and his cousin Ivan) sometimes the story itself is farce/ satire (see Douglas Addams entire body of work) and sometimes we're looking at a Comedy of Ideas (see Keith Laumer's Retief novels.)

While there are farcical moments in Royce Ree's first full adventure, this reall
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is simply an amazing book. It has everything I love in science fiction: an interesting universe, cool tech, strange fantasy-esque elements, fun characters, crazy hi-jinks, hidden plots, and at the core a great plot.

If you're coming from outside the "M M Romance" subgenre (as I am), don't let that divert you. While there is a strong romantic subplot between the two male leads, it is treated as in any 'mainstream' sci-fi novel: an essential part of the plot, but if you're looking for erotica,
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, eh
[So, I finally got around to reading this. To be fair, what I read was the original serial-ish format thing released on Smashwords, which had been sitting around unread for quite some while. I'm putting my review here since I read them in quick succession without noting comments (bc I was reading on my phone, and it really isn't as convenient for me to type as I read there), and I have no idea how similar or different this omnibus edition is.]

I find that Mercer does this thing where you really h
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't let this book fool you. It's actually got a great sci-fi plot hiding behind humor. These books are supposed to be funny, and they are! I had several giggling fits reading this. But behind that, is a very clever plot. Not to give away too much, but you don't figure it all out till the end. At which point there's quite a bit of satisfaction over the whole thing. Because along the way, there are several moment where you wonder if you're going to be wildly disillusioned and disappointed by how ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-sci-fi, x-anthology
Not easy to say something about The Emperor's New Clothes without one or the other spoiler. Is it already a spoiler saying that this is not the straight-forward story about a spy who's determined to get his ex back that it's pretend to be? Okay, maybe not that straight forward either because first it seems like a unlikely coincidence that they both meet during each of their own mission and then Royce is doing everything incl. jeopardizing his own mission to save his ex who left and divorced h

2,5 stars
The plot confused the hell out of me. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with non-linear writing and only revealing the whole picture bit by bit, but this bordered on ridiculous. Even now, I'm not 100% sure what happened.

Also, even I could find numerous problems with tense (and that's saying something) and incorrect word use. Even the name of the MC changed from Les to Las once. It seemed like almost no proofreading had occurred before publishing :(

I'm not saying that there were
Book Review originally published here:

The Emperor’s New Clothes is amazing. It’s so hilarious, imaginative, and refreshingly original that I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. The main character, Royce Ree, has a sense of humor that completely matches my own.

Here’s an example from one of the first pages.

“Retrieval of what, agent?” asked the Spymaster, finally.

“Their impeccable sense of style, sir.”

“And yet…and yet what you actually brought me wa
Hm, Aldous Mercer knows how to pull a readers into his story, I give him that. The way it starts is really good, but I missed some basic informations about the world this story is build on.
A reader is thrown into the story, in the middle of an action, but soon we are thrown in the past for eight day precise and can experience what brought one mentioned character, Agent Royce Ree, to the starting point of this story. So from this point, yes, this story is interestingly build and written. I liked
Adrian Fridge
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, gay
Take a gay James Bond, add in a dollop of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and invoke a retelling of the classical Emperor's New Clothes, and you get this story.

Royce Ree may come off as less than efficient at times, but every single thing he does is pre-planned. He gets reunited with his ex-husband during a mission, and what starts as a heist becomes a rescue. The old flames have to reconcile their past relationship as they maneuver around a planetary takeover by pirates. The humor is mostly i
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light hearted and fun read. For whatever reason, this reminded me strong of the Stainless Steel Rat series. Not in any of the details, really, more in feel and overall serious/ridiculous. With how much fun this was, (view spoiler) I'm very much looking forward to reading more in this series.

Note that I received a complimentary copy of this book.
Mar 10, 2014 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-dont-own
DNF'ed at 21%

Hopelessly lost and I'm not invested enough in the characters to even try and figure shit out. Between the FTL-variants, FTL drives, and dholags, I couldn't give a rat's ass about the Kova, the Spymaster, or Drivepolitiks. I'm just sayin' ... Sorry, not my cuppa.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay-sf, gay-mystery
This M/M SF work, a reworking of formerly published shorts and first instalment in a planned series, balances precariously and not always successfully between comedy, romance and intrigue.
You will notice I have not mentioned SF: the reason is that the SF setting, though pervasive, is hardly essential to what is, essentially, a spy story with a 007 - Roger Mooreish - touch. The same goes for the M/M element as, in the world imagined by the author, nobody bats a single eyelash at the leads' sexual
Jenn (not Lily)
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ku
Part sci fi space opera, part spy novel, part Preston Sturgis screwball romantic comedy. I wasn't expecting much out of this, but I loved it once I got into the appropriate mindset. I only wish I could see more of Les and Royce in love...sigh.
Sadie Forsythe
4.5...but I'll round up for pure enjoyment

I picked this up yesterday, after seeing it recommend in a thread I was watching in a semi-stalkerish know, reading all the posts while only being marginally involved myself. Since picking a book to read from the thousands I own can sometimes take me hours, I decided to just forgo the search, buy this one and read it. Done. Annoying decision-making process completely sidestepped. Score!

So glad I did. I just plain had a blast reading this. I th
Nov 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
*** DNF at 37% ***

Okay, the idea is probably great, the characters have potential, as has their romance, there is some quirkiness here, too.

But... The narration about killed this for me.

It is so choppy. There is a new chapter every other page, and there is almost always a short gap in time and space. At the beginning of each chapter there is some log entry from a conversation, or whatever, with no real connection to the current scene. I just could not get into the flow. Exhausting.

There is absol
Kristy Maitz
I don't know if it just me or is that writing stile unattractive. I had very hard time reading that book because of it.

I lost interest in story plot from the point where main character lets you know he has ex husband named Les. Everything could be much more interesting and pulling if both character did not have history between them.

That sparkle when two character come together because they are attracted to one another is gone in that story plot. A lot of story for example "the world we are rea
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-2013
First, I would like to thank the author Aldous Mercer for giving me this book for an honest review. I enjoyed reading this Omnibus, it was a bit different, but a good different. The characters are well defined and the world building is quite good also. I look forward to reading more from Aldous Mercer.
I liked it for the most part, but, honestly, I got a little lost at times. The end especially, with the jumps back in time, left me scratching my head and not sure if I missed something. Some of the info revealed also changed how I felt about Royce in a negative way.
Is there more where this came from?
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Great story! Loved the humor and Royce and Les! I loved the baby gorilla, too! I was surprised by the twist at the end. Royce was very inventive.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book didn't hook me until I was a third through, and I might not have stayed with it if it hadn't come highly recommended. I'm really glad I persisted, though.

I was dissuaded partly by a general sense of not knowing what was going on (and even by the end of the book, I was unclear on some of the "why's" even when I knew the "what's" and "how's"), but mostly because the tone felt inconsistent. I didn't feel like it committed either to "Hitchhiker's"-style OTT zaniness or "Star Wars"-y space-
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A native of Toronto, Aldous Mercer enjoys martinis and relaxing on the beac-ha! No.

Aldous Mercer is a workaholic with a penchant for numerical mind games and caffeinated beverages. He uses his degree in Engineering to ensure that none of the spaceships in his books have cubic pressure-vessels. In real life he always annotates Engineering Drawings in Iambic Tetrameter.

Other books in the series

Royce Ree (5 books)
  • The Emperor's New Clothes (Royce Ree, #1)
  • Drivepolitik (Royce Ree #2)
  • The Gorilla in the Vents (Royce Ree #3)
  • Madman's Rue (Royce Ree #4)
  • Imperial Command (Royce Ree #5)

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“Our gods," said the Warlord, "favor men that smile before they die. You'll go straight to heaven, Agent Ree."
"I doubt it," said Royce. "The Empire has found no proof of your 'heaven'. And we've looked, believe me.”
“I thought you didn't love me anymore."
Royce's brows furrowed. "What does sex have to do with love?”
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