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The bloody tournament to determine the new empress of the intergalactic empire may be over, but for exiled princess Kayla Reinumon, the battle is just beginning. To free her home planet from occupation, Kayla must infiltrate the highest reaches of imperial power. But when a deadly nanovirus threatens to ravage the empire, it will take more than diplomacy to protect her homeworld from all-out war.

352 pages, Paperback

First published October 25, 2016

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About the author

Rhonda Mason

4 books91 followers
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. In between preserving sea grass and deterring invasive species, she snorkels every chance she gets. She has a masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, specializing in Speculative Fiction. You can find her at www.RhondaMason.com.

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5 stars
67 (21%)
4 stars
146 (47%)
3 stars
78 (25%)
2 stars
13 (4%)
1 star
3 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,248 reviews218 followers
November 7, 2016
Kayla is on the imperial homeworld of Faladar stuck pretending to be Princess Isonde, perhaps forever. Her ally and lover Malkor has been stung by her readiness to leave him. What's left of her family is supposedly safe on their way out of imperial space. And the nanobot plague is still spreading through the Empire and the Wyrd world Ordoch is still being occupied. But the forces within the IDC that had backed the insane Wyrd scientist Dolan are regrouping and have been barely affected by his loss.

I liked this one much more than the previous book. It's not as simple as good guys and bad guys here with even the "good guys" behaving wretchedly at times. It's a little frustrating to see the antagonists get such a free ride for most of the book though; Kayla's team are frustratingly reactive and for a top-notch espionage team seem to fail to prepare for some very logical contingencies.

I like that we get some flavor of both Ordoch and the Wyrds with this one. In general I appreciated the distance from the first book. The Kayla/Malkor match is a bit easier to swallow with some distance, but even so I don't buy that Malkor would be upset about Kayla's choices at the end of the previous book (she's literally been trained from birth to protect her brother). Similarly there's a choice that Kayla makes later in the book that I don't really buy either. Like the first one, the relationship here is the biggest flaw in the book for me.

Finally the book ends at a good point. Obviously lots of good material and setup for book three, but no cliffhanger.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,112 reviews301 followers
November 17, 2016
An excellent follow up to The Empress Game that carries the story solidly and provides some nuance to characters that were fairly straightforward in the first book. Middle books cn be challenging, but I thought this one delivered, including a decent amount of closure for the ending while still setting things up nicely for the conclusion to the trilogy.
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
November 23, 2016
Whew. A LOT happened in this one - though I have zero clue where it is all going! Very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Helen.
872 reviews2 followers
November 21, 2016
Fun! The snappy dialogue is really quite funny at times and lends itself to the pacy plot. Kayla would be an exciting heroine in a weekly sci-fi, battling new enemies whilst the end-game draws ever nearer.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,306 reviews149 followers
April 2, 2020
The bloody tournament to determine the new empress of the intergalactic empire may be over, but for exiled princess Kayla Reinumon, the battle is just beginning. To free her home planet from occupation, Kayla must infiltrate the highest reaches of imperial power. But when a deadly nanovirus threatens to ravage the empire, it will take more than diplomacy to protect her homeworld from all-out war.

I read the first book in this series The Empress Game 4 years ago, and although I liked it, for some reason I didn't get around to continuing until now. I think I liked this book a little better than the last one, although I felt it dragged a little at one point. I also feel like the character development could be better, but this is a good mid-series book. It didn't feel like filler the way a lot of middle books can, so I was pleased with that..

There were several things that I had forgotten in 4 years, but most of it came back to me as I read. Quite a bit happens in this book as it switches back and forth between where Kayla is, to where her brothers are. I enjoyed the parts with Kayla the most, but both were good. One thing I find interesting about this series is that, despite it being a space opera with all that technology, the main character still prefers to use her kris blades in a fight. She is very good at hand to hand combat, so this makes sense. In my opinion, the best part of this book, was the kick Kayla gave someone who so deserved it! Talk about satisfying! I felt as betrayed by this person as she did.

While I liked this a lot, I will say that, despite the predicament the characters are left in, I am not eager to start the last book in this series any time soon. I'm not sure why I don't feel that urgency to read on, but maybe that is why it took me 4 years to come back in the first place. I am not going to wait another 4 years to finish this trilogy though. I plan to finish it up some time in the next couple of months.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for J.L..
Author 8 books44 followers
December 5, 2016
Disclaimer: I attended the same graduate school program as the author and consider her a friend; however, I purchased my hardcopy version of this novel for full price.

Often, middle books in a trilogy act as placeholders. Things happen, but mostly just to get the characters from point A (the exciting first installment) to point B (the hopefully epic final book). Mason's second book in her Empress Game trilogy is much more in "Empire Strikes Back" territory. A truly excellent novel in its own right, with enough twists and turns to make me genuinely fear that the characters might not even make it to book 3. This includes a truly stunning plot twist that I never saw coming.

In true space opera fashion, the stakes get bigger in this book, not just for the characters, but also for universe they inhabit. While Kayla is still very much the hero of her own story, other characters in this world never feel like mere secondary supporters. All of them, from Kayla's love interest Malkor to her twin brother Vayne, have their own interconnecting sagas to play out.

While this book was long, it never dragged as I read it. Mason's narrative style flows easily, and each of her point of view characters maintain distinctive voices. I'm excited to see what happens to everyone next, in the final installment of the Empress Game.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,387 reviews293 followers
November 3, 2016
It is getting intense in this one. The arena fights are over, Kayla won as her princess persona and now that princess is in a coma.

Kayla, well she is a fighter, obviously. And she does not have it easy. She had no choice than to fight in the arena. She has to pretend to be the princess. All because of who she was. And it does make me dislike the princess and the ones doing it to Kayla. She just wants her family and her country back.

It's not always easy to know who the bad ones are here. Yes I get that the princess has her plans, and she does want Wyrd space to be free. So she does get that the Empire is bad. But the way she does it, not cool.

There is a lot of action. Bad guys, conspiracies, space travel, a big bad virus, yes like I said things are heating up. And it did make it an interesting ride.

I tried to check since it does give me a YA feeling, but no one had placed it under YA, so I am unsure. But it really works both as adult and YA. Adult for the kick-ass stuff, YA because of the simpler way of it all.
Profile Image for Malaraa.
293 reviews8 followers
November 19, 2016
This series is definitely getting better, the first book was fun, but this was a little more serious, and a little better for it. The plot seems to be coming together pretty well, things both got more complicated, and felt like they were heading towards a plausible, if maybe messy, resolution. Very enjoyable, and I'll be eager to read the third one and find out how it all resolves. Given certain other books I've recently read, it's worth taking a moment to note that in this series that I can believe in and can find respect for, or at least interest in, even some of the characters I wouldn't say I quite liked. Complexity, folks. It makes such a difference when you have even a smidgen of it.....
Profile Image for Shaz.
447 reviews14 followers
March 25, 2023
A fun quick read which in fact does not suffer from middle book syndrome and the writing is better than in the first book. The whole virus and pandemic thing in this is entirely unplausible so I kind of try not to think about it too much. But the characters tend to be believable and the story is engaging. There is one viewpoint character in this book though that I didn't find at all convincing or likable and I'm not even sure her viewpoint was entirely necessary. I didn't actually mind reading those sections, but in retrospect the closure left me unmoved. But that is not the case with most of the other characters.
Profile Image for Fika.
17 reviews
August 2, 2020
For such a badass character and epic space warfare, I found the writing is quite ‘dry’. Very hard to engage at first (as I didn’t read the 1st book) - with so many characters with made up names, living in a made up world - but it gets interesting as the betrayals and fight scenes coming in. Weird choice of the f-word, making it even more awkward to read.. Nonetheless, it’s the best $3 I’ve ever spent.
Profile Image for Andy.
316 reviews24 followers
November 15, 2016
Enjoyed the second book in the Empress Games trilogy.

The first book was all about introductions to the characters, the worlds, the gladiatorial games and the reveal of a conspiracy within. Carrying on where the first left off, the second book takes everything and delves more deeply into the conspiracy, the history of the Empire, the Wyrds and Ordoch, with twists and turns, and more games, this time of politics instead of combat, although Kayla does still get to kick some ass!

An excellent space opera series with compelling characters and a suspenseful story. Looking forward to seeing how the trilogy concludes.
Profile Image for Nadina.
2,437 reviews3 followers
August 27, 2018
It felt a little difficult to read and follow in parts (maybe just because I'm so used to reading teen and juvenile fiction at the moment that my brain was just slower at processing parts) and I did find myself rereading a couple of paragraphs here and there, but overall I really enjoyed this second book of The Empress Game and am looking forward to reading the third book.
This was filled with lots of plotting and scheming and twists that were somewhat unexpected.
I love the crew of the Yari and the Ilmeneans and I'm glad the story focused on what was happening with them and not just with Kayla.
There was some great character development in this book and I liked the tension between Kayla and Malkor after she almost left him behind in the first book.
My progress with this book started slow but I ended up pretty much consuming the rest of the book today, not wanting to put it down, wanting to know what was happening, so I read probably just under half the book in one day.
Profile Image for Barbara.
96 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2017
An exciting sequel in this trilogy--once you get passed some politicking in the beginning. The story is split across the POV of four different characters, but mainly Kayla's of course.

Kayla is one of my new favorite heroines. Of course, I always like the snarky ones, they're the most relatable. All the characters have their own strengths, even when they're usually in large groups.

Very excited for the third book!
Profile Image for Sarah.
531 reviews5 followers
October 5, 2017
It had been a while since I read the first book in this series so it took me a few pages to get my bearings. I enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first The excitement and conflict really ratchets up in the last bit of the story and it's going to be interesting to see what happens from here. I look forward to reading the third book.
Profile Image for Pamelia.
312 reviews10 followers
June 24, 2019
I enjoyed this 2nd installment of The Empress Game trilogy. The book stays on task with action and story progression. I will be going on to read the final book. The author does do a bit of unnecessary repetition on descriptions of both people, history, and internal dialogue/thoughts. I resorted to skimming whenever it popped up. The page count could have been trimmed some if the repetition of details had been better managed. Still a good book irregardless.
Profile Image for James.
3,293 reviews18 followers
June 18, 2017
More bizarre fantasy/ SF action that's a decent read but a bit nonsensical in spots, Kayla still a fun character and the YA romance is kept to a minimum. You must read the first book or you will be totally lost.
265 reviews
May 15, 2017
Satisfying followup to the first one with additional world building. Cant wait for the next one.
591 reviews32 followers
November 26, 2018
i thought i loved you, it was just how your now-consummated romance looked in the light

some stories just don't survive established relationship...
Profile Image for Jessica Earl.
180 reviews4 followers
January 6, 2019
This second book of the trilogy did not disappoint!! So kickass! I cannot recommend this trilogy enough
110 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2019
Was fun until I realised it was doing Empire Strikes Back then it took me about 2 months to read the last 50 or so pages
Profile Image for Ben Hickerson.
33 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2020
It was a improvement over the first book I felt, more political intrigue less knife fights.
64 reviews
January 9, 2017
I know this is a trilogy and so the author has to consider the overall story arch, but this book was poorly structured in my opinion.

It felt like Kayla (and vicariously the reader) had her ass kicked, beaten down to the floor, and stomped on for good measure, with no big triumph to make it all worth it. The only 'win' she scored was

I will read the third book, in the hopes that it will have a plot spectacular enough to turn around my opinion. But I won't hold my expectations too high like I did after reading the first book, considering the disappointment I had with this one.
Profile Image for Diana Botsford.
Author 4 books12 followers
November 2, 2016
Complex, suspenseful, and full of surprises, Cloak of War extends Mason's unique spin on what makes a space opera compelling while delving further into the lives of her deeply developed characters. Our hero Kayla gets plenty of heart-pounding action while wending her way through the Empire's politics and its manipulative media machine. Other characters we fell in love with in the first novel (Empress Game) are back as well, their struggles spanning light-years and giving us insight into the Empire's long, dark history as well as more than a glimmer of what confrontations lie ahead in the trilogy's conclusion.

While I hesitate to give away any details for fear of ruining the book's twists and turns, I will say that Cloak of War is an absolute page turner with what has become some of my favorite characters!
Profile Image for Tim Gray.
981 reviews4 followers
December 10, 2016
Got this book free in a Goodreads giveaway. A nicely realized piece of science fiction with a lot of 'politics' and thriller like qualities. There were moments of confusion for me (I haven't read book 1 yet, this is 2) - but I enjoyed it enough to order book 1. Certainly one for kick ass heroine enthusiasts.
Profile Image for Tim Gray.
981 reviews4 followers
December 14, 2016
Got this book free in a Goodreads giveaway. A nicely realized piece of science fiction with a lot of 'politics' and thriller like qualities. There were moments of confusion for me (I haven't read book 1 yet, this is 2) - but I enjoyed it enough to order book 1. Certainly one for kick ass heroine enthusiasts.
6 reviews
February 8, 2017
Unfortunately, not nearly as good as the first installment. Not much action, a lot of boring explanations. Only gets decent towards the end - the first part would have deserved just one or 2 stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kristel.
398 reviews11 followers
December 30, 2016
I think there was too much discussion on politics? I really missed all the action. And it seems like they keep losing at any situation that they are in. Hopefully the last book would be better.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

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