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The Praxis

(Dread Empire's Fall #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,046 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Revised, Improved, and at a Better Price!

“Walter Jon Williams has succeeded in creating the perfect contemporary space opera, revved up and ready to take the SF genre by force with all the artistry and panache one could ask for.”

“This is a hugely fun ride. It has empires crashing, civil wars, aliens, humans, scheming clans, plucky young heroes and villains fi
Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Published November 28th 2015 by World Domination, Ltd. (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Dirk Grobbelaar
The Praxis is the first book in the Dread Empire’s Fall trilogy and, if you enjoy grand old space action stories, you could do a lot worse than giving this a try. It has space combat, political intrigue, human drama, interesting aliens, and everything else you could wish for in this kind of thing. What’s more, the character development is quite good, but in order to appreciate the full scope you would have to get around to the sequels as well.

I knocked off one star because the book has a long b
Jun 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space-opera
I am going to start out by saying that Walter John Williams is an accomplished writer. He has begun to spin a tale here that has me very interested in the trilogy.
No doubt that this is a space opera and it does have a fair chunk of your bog standard space story lines. But Williams creates a very interesting universe that you get to see at the end of its current cycle. A superior race has ruled for 5 or 10 generations (i forget which) and ha sbrought peace to, well everyone. But only because if y
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly good. Not freaking fantastic, but really, really good.

Of course, I have to discount the opening which made me want to run and hide, saying, "no, no, this book is so not for me," with all its stuffy space fleet stuff, but once we got into everything else almost immediately after the slog of a beginning, I was hooked.

One really shouldn't judge a whole series based on the first 30 pages. I should know better. And I was right. The life on the planets set me right. We got to see how the
Arik Knapp
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only science fiction series that comes close to Dread Empire's Fall in terms of scope, characterization, and sheer brilliance would be Leviathan Wakes, or possibly Asimov's Foundation.

What it's about? Roughly, humanity is part of a Romanesque galactic empire 10000 years in the future. Travel is done through wormholes, the navy hasn't fought a real war...ever.

In short, it's about the collapse of an empire, and it avoids a lot of the typical trappings of sci-fi: the protagonists aren't simply
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Walter Jon Williams is the author of the sleek, sophisticated ripped-from-tomorrow's-headlines series that kicked off so memorably with This Is Not A Game. Before he dipped his toe into flashy techno-thrillers, however, he penned the more stately Dread Empire's Fall series. How does WJW manage with grand spacer opera and military sci-fi? Based on the first book in the series, The Praxis, the answer is: quite well!

The author has set a challenge for himself by putting the ending of the story right
G.S. Jennsen
At times it felt a little like I was reading a regency romance instead of a space opera, what with all the lords and ladies and patrons and frilly tailored attire.

But Gareth Martinez is an instinctively likeable protagonist (sometimes in spite of himself), and once we finally got to space for real (nearly 2/3 of the way through the book), the story pivoted nicely toward space opera, with compelling and unique space battles and clever conflicts. I plan to read Book 2.
Nora Grace ♌️
I stopped reading The Praxis after the fifth use of the word "lush" to describe a woman's body. (So I read about 30% of the novel.) Regardless of the discomforting objectification of women, even when they're doing their highly skilled jobs, The Praxis lacks the world building that I think is necessary at the start of any sci-fi novel. I felt thrust into a complex setting without much explanation along the way. The Praxis also lacks something that makes it "The Praxis"/ "Dread Empire's Fall" like ...more
Okay, I reread this book after about 3 1/2 years since my first time and I have to bump my rating up to five stars.

This book is exactly what Space Opera and Military Sci-Fi should be, it sets out to create a sweeping, fully realized world inhabited by unique, interesting characters and serves up a plot that is equally personal and melodramatic. Its not often that I say that I wish a book were longer, but in this case I wish there were an extra 100 pages to describe the world, its history, the ch
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-2019
4.0 Stars

Jo Walton, when reviewing the hugo award nominees for 1998, makes this observation about Walter Jon Williams after talking about one his earlier works, City on Fire: "It’s not in print, and it’s in the library in French only, thus reinforcing my perception that Walter Jon Williams is massively under-rated."

After reading The Praxis, I have to agree with her.

It's not that The Praxis is an incredibly ground-breaking novel, but it's a well written novel in a sub-genre that has always been d
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-sf
This review applies to all three books in the trilogy. They can hardly stand on their own as separate books, after all.

I think the main drawback of these books is the lack of author's imagination, lack of consistency in world-building, weak technical background, and too much repetition.

On some distant planet, a conglomerate of humans and non-human species who built a ring that circles the whole planet and elevators from surface to orbit, are still driving around in cars, go to restaurants, do sh
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reread this to prepare for Walter Jon Williams' new book in the series. (Which will be the 4th major, 6th overall.) It held up very well on the second read. Damned good space opera. Williams is a very good writer. 4+ stars.
Jamie Collins
3.5 stars, this is fun space opera. I was recently complaining about the rushed pacing of another book, but this one nearly goes too far in the other direction: the plot does not kick in until past the halfway point, and this is only the first of a three-part story. It takes a little effort to get past the sluggish beginning, which is packed with a little too much exposition.

The known galaxy was long ago conquered by the Shaa, who imposed on all its subjugated races a repressive, draconian legal
Vincent Stoessel
I would have given this book 4 stars but it didn't start getting good for me till chapter 7.
Too much time was spend on the early character development while neglecting the main plot.
This is my second attempt and I'm glad I finally finished it as it finished really strong. Probably will read the sequel.
Update: the next 2 books in this series make slogging through this book worth the effort.
Teri Uktena
I found this boring. The action at the beginning is raw and interesting and the world building makes me want to know more. However, that gets done all too soon and then we have two characters, both of whom are interesting, but nothing happens. And then more nothing happens. And what does happen is cliche', predictable, and telegraphed way in advance. In the end, I just didn't care enough about what had been teased in the beginning to wade through all the rest. :(
Michael Pang
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ship to ship" (versus space marines) military scifi.

Slow build, but finishes very nicely.
D. H.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book consists of the worldbuilding slowly coming into focus, and once all the complexities are understood, it takes off, and boy does it get interesting. It has the biggest turn around I've ever experience at the midpoint. I recommend anyone who starts it read it all the way through.
Paul Darcy
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
by Walter Jon Williams, published in 2002.

Space Opera - I just love it. This, “The Praxis” from Walter Jon Williams, is indeed what I believe to be classified as space opera. We have alien races, epic space battles and operatic situations.

This is the first part of “Dread Empire’s Fall” trilogy, and it starts off rather slowly. In fact, it starts off so slowly we don’t really get to any significant action until three quarters of the way through the novel.

Which seems to annoy many readers, but not
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a reread after a decade or so; I enjoyed it then and now. It starts off as basically a feudal/fantasy romp in space. We are introduced to a baroque pageantry of a society, with many races under the heel of the Shaa. Within the subjugated races we have feudal lords and their vast estates. Humans were the third race conquered by the Shaa, all 'united' by the 'Praxis', a Shaa philosophical creed. The last living Shaa dies, however, and another race picks up the Shaa mantle, declaring they a ...more
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I want boring sci-fi, I’ll read Dune.
Ohhhh! Shots fired!
Decent Space Opera, in the vein of Scott Westerfield and Michael F. Flynn.

So it't not top notch, brain behind Sci-Fi. I'm not gong to gush over it to friends. But it's really entraining brain candy. Nothing too deep, but the characters are liable, the setting is novel enough to enjoy, the politics just intriguing enough. I've finished book one and immediately stated book 2, so I guess that's as much as you need to know.

Peter Tillman
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Held up well to rereading -- I liked it more than the first time. The cast of aliens reminds me of Sliverberg's Majipoor.

Williams is a fine and under-rated writer.

The review you need to read:
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Agree with reviewers who found the bones of a decent space opera deeply, DEEPLY embedded in inconsequential back stories, simplistic society building and tedious detail. Not feeling any need to continue with the series.
Michael Burnam-Fink
The Praxis is grand space opera with the fatal flaw of being glacially paced. For thousands of years, the galactic empire has been dominated by the all-powerful Shaa, who haver gathered the lesser races beneath them. But the Shaa have dwindled, and their last survivor is dying. Something like 80% of the book is taken up with the mundane business of main characters in these last days of peace. Martinez is a junior officer in the navy, maneuvering to advance his own career and his noble house. Sul ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Space opera

The galactic empire known as the Praxis is on the precipice of cataclysmic change as the last absolute leader, the Shaa, expires. The Navid, an elder race, seeks to ascend in the empire by capturing and assuming its military resources by any means. And suddenly, the traditional ways of patronage and royal order are gone, and Lt. Gareth Martinez finds that he must prove himself by what he can do rather than who he is connected to. Also caught in this transition is pilot Caroline Sula w
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Two interesting characters raise their status due to their knowledge, skills and bravery as the Praxis Empire comes to an end. The action kept me reading as did the interplay between the characters.
Dev Null
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A second read-through for the series, and I enjoyed it very much the second time too. It's a detailed, believable universe with realistic-seeming space battles that don't just wave a hand and disregard all of Newtonian physics. No artificial gravity or warp drives here. That, combined with the stilted, stratified society of the Praxis, makes the whole thing read a bit like one of those 18th century naval stories. There's action, and politics, and a bit of romance.

On that latter count, I quite li
Michael Hirsch
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Somehow I ended up with two copies of this book--one from the local thrift store and one from a used bookstore. I guess lots of people are getting rid of it, though I don't know why. I thought it was one of the best space operas I've read. I didn't give it 5 stars because it really isn't a complete novel. It is clearly just the setup for the main story yet to come.

I like the way space travel worked in this one. There is the typical "magic wormholes" that let you go FTL, but between wormholes you
Samuel Lubell
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, sf
This is really good space opera with one major flaw. Humans are a small part of an interstellar Empire. But when the last of the alien race who brought the Empire into being die out, one of the races makes a play to take it over. The two main characters, Lieutenant Gareth Martinez and Cadet Caroline Sula, deal with their careers and their relationship to each other. Gradually, the author reveals Sula's background through the story of ambitious commoner who feels that Sula is wasting her life. An ...more
Alissa Thorne
Takes place in an interstellar, multi-species, centrally governed future. The story arcs surrounding the primary event (withheld for spoilers) involve politics, social status, and military exploits.

With the exception of one character and story line, I found it all terribly dull. The characters were uninteresting, underdeveloped, and unlikable; the motives behind the military exploits largely unjustified; the social import of the politics completely unexplained; and the climbing for social statu
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Walter Jon Williams has published twenty novels and short fiction collections. Most are science fiction or fantasy -Hardwired, Voice of the Whirlwind, Aristoi, Metropolitan, City on Fire to name just a few - a few are historical adventures, and the most recent, The Rift, is a disaster novel in which "I just basically pound a part of the planet down to bedrock." And that's just the opening chapters ...more

Other books in the series

Dread Empire's Fall (5 books)
  • The Sundering (Dread Empire's Fall, #2)
  • Conventions of War (Dread Empire's Fall #3)
  • The Accidental War (Dread Empire's Fall #4)
  • Fleet Elements (Dread Empire's Fall #5)

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