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The Praxis

(Dread Empire's Fall #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,474 ratings  ·  146 reviews
“Space opera the way it ought to be [...] Bujold and Weber, bend the knee; interstellar adventure has a new king, and his name is Walter Jon Williams.” -- George R.R. Martin

The first book in the completed Dread Empire's Fall trilogy, followed by The Sundering and Conventions of War.

All will must bend to the perfect truth of The Praxis

For millennia, the Shaa have subjugated
Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Harper Voyager (first published 2002)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,474 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Miloș Dumbraci
decentă, nimic remarcabil pozitiv sau negativ. o carte ce mi-ar fi plăcut în adolescență, dar acum nu am putut trece de jumătate.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chiar daca a inceput mai greu, dupa jumatate incolo parca nu mai puteam sa o las din mina. Foarte multa tensiune si abia asteptam sa vad care e finalul. Ce nu mi-a placut e poate traducerea sau bunul de tipar. De vreo 2 ori parea ca daca trec de la o pagina la alta nu are continuitate, parca lipsea ceva. Si cel mai enervant, si am mai patit asta intr-o carte, acelasi personaj il regasteti sub 2 nume in carte. Ba ii zice Gica ba ii zice Misu. Nu mai intelegeam despre cine e vorba. Nu a fost grav ...more
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.

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.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
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: sf, book-club
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
Don Dunham
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
just finished the series. (GnashTag: space opera, hard scifi.) the author knows his business and delivers on multiple levels. I enjoyed that the protagonist, while heroic was very human, subject to temptations, jealousy and conceit. I also admired the author dealing with the natural universe in a respectful way, very little magic. I'm sure some will find the extra work the author did to deal with the vastness of space tedious, I enjoyed it.
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This trilogy (of which this is the first) was one of my favorite "space opera" reads in a long time. I loved the characters, who were unique, flawed but likeable, rather than the cartoon heroes and heroines of so many such novels. Everything doesn't work out "just so." Not profound but highly recommended as really good science-fiction entertainment.
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all scifi space opera buffs
Shelves: scifi
Surprisely good space opera war story after a somewhat slow build up. Only bought the first book of the series and now have to find the rest. Anxious to get to next book, several interesting subplots to track down.
Mihai Dan
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All in all is a very pleasant to read book with nice developed characters and lots of action.
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic excellent space opera. Just the right amount of physics to make it believable. The rest is characters and politics and war. Good stuff.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I like what the writer tried to do with his world but the characters were swept in the currents of the wider plot's demands. There were quite a few times I thought we were finally going to see some real, hard-hitting consequences from the characters' experiences and actions (such as (view spoiler) ...more
Roddy Williams
‘The empire of the Shaa lasted 10,000 years. Years of terror, infinite violence and oppressive, brutal order. Now the Shaa are no more, but the terror and violence are only beginning…

The Shaa, rulers of the universe, began to commit ritual suicide when it became clear that their minds – profoundly intelligent but limited – would accept no further information. near immortality was their one, great mistake. And so began the war between the Naxids, oldest client race of the Shaa, who believed thems
Denver Public Library
The Praxis by Walter Jon Williams, the first in the Dread Empire’s Fall trilogy. Williams writes a real classic epic SF, the universe has been conquered by the Shaa, elephantine ostensibly immortal creatures (who wouldn’t curse anyone else with long life so they prohibit anyone from finding the science behind it) as the Shaa espouse “all that is important is known”. The Shaa have ensured peace throughout the ‘verse with the simple threat of total annihilation for any who do not get in line and f ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the halfway point I was wondering why this was categorized under "Space Opera". It does take place hundreds of years from now, in a galactic empire spanning many star systems encompassing various alien races, but between worldbuilding and character establishment and flashbacks, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of space, operatic or otherwise. All of the aforementioned things are handled quite well, and WJW does a great job of putting you into the shoes of his leads and giving you the feel ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one grew on me; it held my attention during a slow build because of really intriguing characters. I don't know that I bought that humans would knuckle under an alien species, but that was the premise: an alien species called the Shaa imposes The Praxis over all the races it encounters, and then after hundreds of years, the last Shaa dies. One of the previously subjugated races decides it’s the best one to keep asserting the Praxis and attempts a takeover, but (hah!) the humans (and other ra ...more
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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 (4 books)
  • The Sundering (Dread Empire's Fall, #2)
  • Conventions of War (Dread Empire's Fall #3)
  • The Accidental War (Dread Empire's Fall #4)